With only a few months until Mizzou's football season begins in St. Louis, the big guys here at Bleacher Report have asked me to answer a few questions about the Tigers' team this season.
This is my first Mizzou roundtable, so everybody be sure to give me feedback and comments about your thoughts. Thanks a lot!
1.) Looking at the 2008 recruiting class, it has to be a little disappointing that it only ranks fifth in the Big 12 according to Rivals.com. Do you think that this recruiting class is a disappointment considering Missouri's new high expectations?
I definitely don't think that the 2008 class is a disappointment. Oftentimes, schools see dividends for big seasons a year or two down the road. The payoff for a fantastic 2007 season will definitely occur—it will just take some time. Also, recruits want to make sure Missouri can maintain a consistent level of success.
That being said, the 2008 class has some great players. Blaine Gabbert is one everybody knows about, but OL Dan Hoch could make the two-deep as a true freshman, and Rolandis Woodland should play as well, especially after the injury to Danario Alexander.
There were a lot of good classes last year in the Big 12, but how much do ratings really matter? The Tigers are led by some players who weren't heralded coming out of high school. This class will definitely play great ball in the future.
2.) We all saw Chase Daniel become a nationally known quarterback last year after he threw for 4,170 yards and was a Heisman finalist. How realistic is it that Daniel actually wins the Heisman this year?
I think it's a realistic possibility that Chase wins the Heisman. I don't think it's likely. Tim Tebow is returning, and other players like OSU's Chris Wells and Georgia's Knowshon Moreno are getting a lot of hype as well.
Also, Daniel plays with a lot of talented players on offense. Those players, especially Jeremy Maclin (who might earn consideration himself), will take the spotlight away from Daniel a little bit.
That being said, there's certainly a chance, but Mizzou would have to do well and probably go undefeated to the Big 12 Championship game.
3.) Wide receiver Denario Alexander just recently had surgery to repair his re-injured ACL. He is not projected to be back in playing shape until the beginning of the conference season next year. How much will this affect the Tigers as a whole? How will this affect the stats that Jeremy Maclin will be able to produce with the defenses more able to focus on him?
I don't think this will affect the Tigers or Maclin all that much. Although Alexander is definitely the best threat after Maclin, players like Tommy Saunders, Jared Perry, and Chase Coffman are definitely talented. Freshmen Wes Kemp and the aforementioned Woodland could earn some catches too.
Offensive coordinator Dave Christensen has never had a problem scoring at Mizzou with Chase Daniel at the helm, and I don't expect him to start now. RBs Derrick Washington, Jimmy Jackson, and Devion Moore will also bother opposing defenses. The Tigers will be fine.
4.) Will the Tigers win the Big 12 North again this season? What will be the biggest games in determining this?
Ha. What a blunt question. Yes, I think the Tigers will win the North again.
Obviously the November 29th showdown against Kansas will be huge, but maybe not as huge as some think. Remember, conference records factor in games from both divisions, and the Jayhawks play at Oklahoma and at Nebraska, plus home games against Texas Tech and Texas. That's a massive leap from their cupcake schedule last year.
I see a couple of hidden traps. The game against Nebraska might be tough, since the Tigers haven't won in Lincoln in over 30 years. Also, the October 18th game in Texas should be an enormous game. The Tigers seem to be better than the Longhorns (finally), so if they can execute and escape with a win, that would probably be their most difficult game.
5.) How realistic is it that we see the Tigers playing in a BCS bowl game come season's end?
Pretty damn realistic. The Tigers should have been in a BCS bowl game last year, and they should be even better this season. With pollsters and experts actually watching the Tigers, an 11-2 or even 10-3 record should be enough to land Mizzou that much-coveted BCS bid.