Missouri Football: 9 Items on the Summer 'To-Do' List
Last year, Missouri was one of the best teams in the Big 12 Conference. They finished 10-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12.
Their season ended with a 27-24 loss to Iowa in the Insight Bowl.
The Tigers have the majority of their team coming back in 2011.
They have been a bowl team for a number of years in a row but making a major bowl is their goal this season.
No. 9: Preparing for Opener vs. Miami (OH)
Preparation for the opener isn't happening now but will later in the summer.
Missouri can't allow Miami (OH) to shock them in the opening game. The RedHawks are a team that won the MAC conference in 2010 with a 10-4 (7-1 MAC) record.
They won't be afraid to go to Missouri for the opener because they went to Gainesville last season to play Florida.
Missouri should be able to win this game but the RedHawks are a formidable opponent that will be looking to prove themselves to the big boys.
No. 8: Staying Healthy
Health concerns flood football teams across the country year in and year out. Hopefully, the Tigers can stay relatively healthy this summer.
A major injury to one of their feature players could set-back the entire 2011 season.
Solid training, preparation and staying healthy will be the focus for all college football teams like every season.
Unfortunately, injuries are a part of sport and it will happen to a number of teams this summer.
No. 7: Working on Being a Better Road Team
The Tigers were 2-2 on the road last season including a loss at Texas Tech 24-17.
They only had four road games in 2010 but in 2011, they will have five road games. One game isn't much of a difference but with a 12 game season it may mean more than you think.
September 9th - Arizona State
September 24th - Oklahoma
October 8th - Kansas State
October 29th - Texas A&M
November 5th - Baylor
No. 6: Finding an Identity on Offense
Blaine Gabbert is gone to the NFL and James Franklin is now the man for the Tigers.
Gabbert threw for 3,186 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011.
Missouri attempted 490 passes compared to 439 runs last season. Will the offense be more balanced this season?
This is something that will need to be addressed. They need to give Franklin as much protection as possible but still maintain their regular offensive strategy. They have the receiving weapons with T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew returning so they have to find ways to give them the ball.
No. 5: Replacing Tim Barnes
Other than Gabbert, Tim Barnes is the only offensive starter that isn't returning. So who will step in and fill the center position? Junior Travis Ruth will replace Barnes.
Ruth is 6'3" and 290 pounds. Chemistry between quarterback James Franklin and Ruth has already begun, but will need to get stronger as we get closer to the start of the season.
No. 4: Strengthening the Secondary
In 2010, the secondary of the Tigers only gave up 203 yards per game. This year, though, it could be a concern.
The secondary will be a major focus of the Tigers this summer. They return only one starter, safety Kenji Jackson.
It will come down to EJ Gaines, Kip Edwards and Tavon Bolden. The secondary could be a problem for the Tigers but these three have talent that could potentially make the secondary reliable.
No. 3: Replacing Aldon Smith
Aldon Smith was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the seventh overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
He recorded 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2010. He was consistently causing havoc when he was on the field.
He was a First-Team Freshman All-American in 2009.
Finding a replacement for Smith won't be easy but Missouri has some capable guys to fill the void. Jacquies Smith, Brad Madison, Kony Ealy, Sheldon Richardson and Dominique Hamilton will all play roles for the Tigers defensive line.
No. 2: Replacing Blaine Gabbert
Sophomore James Franklin will be the man to replace first-round draft pick Blaine Gabbert for the Tigers in 2011.
Franklin was 11-14, 106 yards in his freshman season.
He is 6'2" 230 pounds from Corinth, Texas.
Franklin has some big shoes to fill but he doesn't need to try to be like Gabbert, he needs to be himself. He will have a solid backfield with De'Vion Moore, Henry Josey and Kendial Lawrence all returning.
He will also have something that every young quarterback needsa great tight end. Senior Michael Egnew will provide the security blanket for Franklin through his ups and downs.
No. 1: Maintaining Outstanding Defense
Missouri isn't exactly known for being a defensive program. Last year was much different than previous years though.
In 2010, the Tigers defense held opponents to 16.1 points per game. They did a great job of not allowing points even though they gave up a decent amount of yards (356) per game.
They will need to continue to be a bend but don't break defense.
Defense will win or lose games in any sport. A great defense will put less pressure on James Franklin and the Missouri offense. Depending on the secondary, the defense should be reliable once again.