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Monday, October 30, 2006

Missouri Preview

Enrollment: 27,985
Conference: Big 12
Stadium: Faurot Field (Capacity: 68,349)
First Year of Football: 1890
All Time Record: 567-494-53 (.533)

Head Coach: Gary Pinkel
5th year as head coach at Missouri: Career record at Mizzou: 29-30

Team Overview

Last Season: A year ago Missouri finished 7-5 and ended the season with a 38-31 win over South Carolina in the Independence Bowl.

This Season: The Tigers returned 17 starters and had a lot of talent in place, meaning the temperature under Pinkel’s chair would rise with mediocre results. The biggest question coming into the season was how to replace Brad Smith. Chase Daniel has become the answer and Mizzou currently finds itself at 7-2.

On Offense: Missouri’s offense hasn’t skipped a beat without Smith, and in fact, might actually be more consistent. The Tigers currently rank 19th nationally in total offense and are averaging 413 yards/game. Chase Daniel is a gritty performer who is capable of carrying the team on his back. Although he is just a sophomore, thus far, he has been able to do all that has been asked of him within the offense. He is completing 65% of his passes for 2287 yards and 19 TDs with 8 INTs. He has also rushed for 322 yards and another 4 TDs.

The Mizzou rushing attack averages 155 yards/game places it 42nd nationally and 8th in the Big 12. The Tigers running game is led by Tony Temple. Temple missed the spring with a shoulder injury, but has bounced back and shown improved durability. He has racked up 662 yards and 3 TDs. Jimmy Jackson, Earl Goldsmith and Marcus Woods will also see action against Nebraska. Goldsmith is extremely quick, while Jackson has a bit more power than the other Tiger RBs.

While the Missouri receivers are talented, they are actually overshadowed by the most talented tight end duo in the nation. Junior Martin Rucker (Mike’s lil bro) and sophomore Chase Coffman are both big targets with extremely soft hands. Although Rucker was the more known of the two going into 2006, it is Coffman that is having the bigger year. He currently has 40 catches for 402 yards and 5 TDs. If we don’t see a big play from one of these two, I will take back all of the nasty things I’ve said about our safeties.

At WR the Tigers are led by William Franklin. Franklin has pretty good size (6-2, 205), great speed and sensational leaping ability. He currently has 42 receptions for 743 yards (17.7 yards/rec) and 6 TDs. Joining Franklin are Brad Ekwerekwu, and freshman Jared Perry. Ekwerekwu is 6-4 and 215 pounds with good hands and shifty moves in the open field.

Missouri has four returning starters along the offensive line, led by senior center Adam Spieker who is a three-year starter. Missouri’s tackles are Tyler Luellen and Joel Clinger. Luellen has a long frame at 6-7, which provides him with excellent reach in pass protection. Clinger has a terrific motor, which allows him to be an aggressive and devastating run blocker. On the inside, the Tiger guards are Monte Wyrick and Ryan Madison. Wyrick is the heaviest of the OL at 320 pounds, as well as one of the Tigers’ strongest players. Madison is just a sophomore, but has been dependable thus far.

On Defense: The Tigers’ defense has shown tremendous improvement over its 2005 efforts. Missouri currently ranks 26th nationally and 2nd in the Big 12 in total defense. The Nebraska offensive line will benefit from absence of Mizzou DE Brian Smith. Smith an explosive pass rusher who had 7.5 sacks in 2006 was lost for the year to a hip fracture while blocking on a fumble return against KSU. Stepping in for Smith is Xzavie Jackson, who has good size and a great deal of experience. The other DE spot is manned by Stryker Sulak. Sulak has good strength and a nice burst to the ball. On the inside, the Tigers rely on DTs Lorenzo Williams and Evander “Ziggy” Hood. Williams’ speed will almost certainly cause problems for the interior of the Husker line and Hood has been great against the run.

The middle of the Tiger linbacking corps is filled by Dedrick Herrington. Herrington is a former safety who combines great size with the athleticism of a DB to make big plays from his MLB spot. Mizzou’s leading tackler is OLB Marcus Bacon who has 81 stops. Bacon is another former safety who flys to the ball. At the other OLB spot is sophomore Brock Christopher. Christopher is the team’s biggest LB who makes up for a lack a range with his tremendous tackling ability.

Missouri’s secondary continues to improve and the Tigers are currently 2nd in the Big 12 in passing efficiency defense. The cornerbacks are Darnell Terrell and Hardy Ricks. Terrell is another big CB at 6-2, but is also incredibly athletic. He has 1 INT and 7 passes broken up, and has also forced a fumble in 2006. Ricks was a sought after recruit who has 31 tackles and on PBU on the year. Missouri has one of the nation’s top safeties in David Overstreet. Overstreet is smart and has a nose for the ball, he is currently third on the team in tackles with 66. The FS is Brandon Massey, who is tied for the team lead in interceptions with 2.

Special Teams: The Nebraska kickoff team might get the break it needs, as Mizzou ranks 86th nationally in kickoff returns. Earl Goldsmith averages 20.6 yards/return and has a season long of 32 yards. Marcus Woods and Tommy Saunders split the punt return duties, although Saunders has had more success on the year. Missouri’s kicker is Jeff Wolfert. Wolfert is 11/13 on the year with a long of 44 yards. Adam Crossett handles the punting duties. He averages just under 40 yards/punt and has placed 9 out of 31 punts inside the 20.

Random Notes

Series History: This marks the 100th meeting between the two schools. Nebraska leads the all-time series 62-34-3.

I Can’t Believe I Looked It Up Either: Nebraska has scored 24 total points in each of the last four meetings with Missouri. The Huskers are 2-2 in those games.

Fading Out: Under Pinkel, in the last five regular season games of each of his five seasons, Mizzou has gone just 10-15 and has only beaten one team (Iowa State in 2004) in November that finished with a winning record.

Six Degrees of Beano Cook: In 2005 Missouri beat Nebraska 41-24.