July 31, 2007

Like father, unlike son: Camp preview

Camp opens Saturday. Give me the major offensive question mark you have.

Mike: I'm still not sure if the offensive line as constructed can block all that well for the running game. I have the sneaking suspicion that what Tony Temple got last year was largely because of Tony Temple.

Gabe: I was one of the toughest critics on the line last year, but they were all right. My question mark, and there aren't many, also revolves around the running game. Does Mizzou have a viable option behind Temple? He can't take every snap, especially in this offense. The Tigers have to find a guy that can consistently be the number two option. I hate running back by committee as the starter and I don't like it anymore as a backup. I think Marcus Woods is going to take charge here, but it doesn't matter who it is, as long as somebody does.

Same question on defense.

Gabe: Who starts opposite Darnell Terrell and will the cornerback spot be at least serviceable? I like the safety spot, but to be honest, the corners scare the crud out of me. There were times Hardy Ricks looked great last year. There were other times he, well, didn't. But if Castine Bridges or anyone else was better than Ricks, wouldn't they have played last season? Missouri is going to have to win some shootouts this year, but I don't think they want to be in one every week. Someone has to step up opposite Terrell to make sure that doesn't happen.

Mike: I'm going to look up front again on this one. I like Lorenzo Williams and Ziggy Hood. But Missouri is basically replacing two defensive ends and the Tigers couldn't stop the run last season. I want to see MU's defense be as good against the Big 12 as it seemed against the non-conference patsies last season.

Finish this sentence: This camp is a success if…

Mike: ...if the defense shows it can be half as good as this offense. That's all it takes for a great season, for MU's defense to be simply average. But that said, we won't know that until the games begin. And perhaps not even until Oct. 6, the night Nebraska comes to Columbia.

Gabe: You are right in the broad sense, but like you said, we won't know the answer to that for a long time. To me, it is a success if everyone comes out of it healthy. That is #1. If you lose a Chase Daniel, Tony Temple, Lorenzo Williams, somebody like that in camp, it changes everyone's prediction for the season, and maybe by a bunch. Any coach will tell you his number one priority in camp is to get through it and get to the opener healthy.

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