Missouri is hoping to build off an intriguing 2017 season in which it lost five of its first six and then won its final six of the regular season. That had to do with Schedule, but it was a good performance for head coach Barry Odom in his second year in charge. Now with a new coordinator to lead a high-powered offense in Derek Dooley, the Tigers will look to match last year’s numbers. They had the third-best spring odds in the SEC East to win the National Championship at +13500 (5Dimes Sportsbook) behind Georgia and Florida.
Quarterback Drew Lock (+3800 for Heisman) is the player to know on offense and his return should be enough for this group to average around 37.5 points per Game again. Dooley comes from the Cowboys as a WRs coach, but he spent a few years as Tennessee head coach before that. There is a learning curve with Dooley even though he’s using a lot of the spread attack, while also incorporating some concepts from the NFL. Lock would ideally like to match 2017’s numbers after going for 44 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 9.46 yards per attempt. There are some pieces gone around him with the biggest being a couple offensive linemen, but LArry Rountree III (703 yards, 6 TDs) and Damarea Crockett (6.0 ypc) provide experience in the backfield, while Emanuel Hall (817 yards, 8 TDs) and Johnathon Johnson (724 yards, 6 TDs) are both expected to step into bigger roles as receivers. The path to victory is through these guys and that’s been the case the last few years.
The defense continues to be the main issue for the Tigers after allowing 260 passing yards and close to 32 points per Game. Last December, co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Ryan Walters was promoted to a full-time coordinating gig and it’s hard to see that being a huge difference for a group that lost seven starters.
The line should be the best unit despite losing a couple pass rushers. Terry Beckner is a beast inside after seven sacks last season and he’s joined by experience with Texas transfer Jordan Elliott expected to help out. The rest of the defense is still a mixed bag that lacks outstanding talent with the secondary having to replace three starters. They played well in the spring Game, but a lot of that had to do with playing against a new offense and Lock only attempting 13 passes. For this group to surpass last year’s numbers, linebacker Aubrey Miller will have to live up to the hype after 10 tackles in the spring scrimmage.
As for the Schedule, things line up nicely for the Tigers to get a couple early wins under their belt. However, trips to Purdue and South Carolina may need to be upsets unless they plan on taking down either Georgia or Alabama. If not, Missouri could be set for a 2-4 record for the first half of the season. The good news is that things open up again in the second half with home Games against Memphis, Kentucky and Vandy all being more than winnable. If all goes well, the Tigers could reach eight wins, and that’ll be the goal in addition to winning their bowl Game this season. With a lot of questions on defense, seven wins is the more likely route, if not six due to an improved SEC East.
2018 Missouri Tigers Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Tennessee-Martin
Sept. 8 vs. Wyoming
Sept. 15 at Purdue
Sept. 22 vs. Georgia
Oct. 6 at South Carolina
Oct. 13 at Alabama
Oct. 20 vs. Memphis
Oct. 27 vs. Kentucky
Nov. 3 at Florida
Nov. 10 vs. Vanderbilt
Nov. 17 at Tennessee
Nov. 24 vs. Arkansas