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?
Though their class was rated only fifth in the Big 12, it was still a top-25 class according to Rivals. There are several potential future difference-makers and starters in the group, led by QB Blaine Gabbert, who's 6'5", 230 pounds, and not only has the arm, but also the mobility that makes him a perfect fit for Missouri's explosive offense.
Gary Pinkel added some prime targets on offense in Wes Kemp (6'4", 223 lbs), Rolandis Woodland (6'4", 205 lbs), and TE Andrew Jones (6'5", 230 lbs), and another Temple will be in the backfield, as Drew, brother of Cotton Bowl record-breaking back Tony, signed with Mizzou.
The defensive side of the ball was addressed thoroughly, as top talent was signed on the defensive line at linebacker and in the secondary. Everyone in the class may not have four or five stars, but you'll be hearing from several of them over the next few seasons.
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?
There's a good chance that Daniel could win the Heisman this year, but it both depends on how well he and Missouri do and on how well the likes of Tim Tebow, Pat White, and others do.
The Big 12 has several candidates in Daniel, Kansas' Todd Reesing, Texas' Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree at Texas Tech, and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford. Daniel, Bradford, and Harrell are 1a/1b/1c in the Big 12 in my book and near the top of my list overall, along with Tebow, White, and Ohio State's Chris Wells.
Which one of those guys has the best chance at the Heisman could come down to which one of those teams takes the conference title/has the best season.
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?
Alexander's absence will definitely be a blow. He did miss five games last season, but he's a guy with impact potential, as shown by his eight-catch, 117-yard performance in the win over Kansas.
However, the offense shouldn't skip a beat, and Maclin's numbers shouldn't suffer. Alexander's likely replacement, Jared Perry, had a quiet sophomore season, but he was an honorable mention Freshman All-American in 2006 (37 catches, 429 yards, three TD).
Perry is a burner with big-play potential, and he'll give defenses yet another target to worry about, which will free up Maclin, Chase Coffman, and Tommy Saunders to make plenty of plays.
4.) Will the Tigers win the Big 12 North again this season? What will be the biggest games in determining this?
They're my pick to win it, but the road to the Big 12 North title is certainly not going to be easy. There are tough road games against Nebraska and Texas and home games against pretty good Oklahoma State and Colorado teams. If they can survive all of those with, at worst, one defeat, the regular-season finale against Kansas could be the title decider once again.
5.) How realistic is it that we see the Tigers playing in a BCS bowl game come season's end?
Given how things turned out last season, not winning the Big 12 North title may be their best route to a BCS bowl! In all seriousness, the chances of Mizzou being in a BCS bowl are very realistic. There are several tough games on their schedule (including the season opener against Illinois), and I'm not even counting the Big 12 title game against Oklahoma/Texas/Texas Tech.
However, the Tigers have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and I think they're one of the best teams in the land. We know all about the offense, but their defense could be one of the nation's best as well, with the likes of safety William Moore, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, and end Stryker Sulak leading the way.
If Missouri can make it through the season unbeaten—or even with one loss, they could not only be in one of the big-money bowls, but they could be one of the last two teams playing in January.