Missouri Football: Predicting the Offensive Depth Chart for the Season Opener
The Missouri Tigers' offensive depth chart is one of the most stable in all of college football.
Nine offensive starters return in 2011, with only the center and quarterback positions welcoming new starters. The Tigers run the spread offense that deploys four or five receivers on every single play, so players are constantly rotating in at these positions.
This year, the offensive guards will be a down stance for the first time in many seasons. The tackles will still stand up and special packages have been installed for short-yardage and goal line situations.
With so many backups seeing playing time at all the offensive spots, drawing up the depth chart becomes that much more important.
Here's a look at Missouri's projected offensive depth chart for the season opener against Miami (OH).
Elvis Fisher: 6'5", 295 lbs., Senior
Anthony Gatti: 6'6", 295 lbs., Freshman (RS)
Senior Elvis Fisher returns as the unquestioned starter for the 2011 season. Fisher is a four-year starter and an All-Big 12 performer for the Tigers, having started 40 consecutive games.
He missed all of spring football recovering from shoulder surgery, but he will be ready for opening practices. His backup this season will be redshirt freshman Anthony Gatti.
Gatti, a former three-star recruit, is the team's left tackle of the future. He's one of the biggest players on the team and will likely rotate in spot-duty for Fisher during his first active season.
Fisher is an outstanding lineman, and Gatti has a lot of potential. He'll mentor Gatti during his senior season while he continues to anchor one of the nation's best offensive lines.
Jayson Palmgren: 6'2", 305 lbs., Senior (RS)
Justin Britt: 6'5", 295 lbs., Sophomore (RS)
Jayson Palmgren started his first full season in 2010 and enters his senior season at the left guard spot. He is the smallest starting offensive lineman, but makes up for his relative lack of size with physical run-blocking.
He'll be backed up by versatile sophomore Justin Britt. Britt can play almost any position on the line, including the vital center position.
Palmgren will get the majority of the snaps, with Britt rotating in reserve duty at a multitude of positions on the offensive line next season.
Travis Ruth: 6'3", 295 lbs., Junior (RS)
Mitch Morse: 6'6", 280 lbs., Freshman (RS)
Missouri has some big shoes to fill at center with the graduation of star lineman Tim Barnes in 2010. The situation is very fluid, but based on spring performances, it looks like junior Travis Ruth will ultimately get the nod as the starter.
Ruth played behind the incumbent Barnes for three seasons, making him the most experienced center on the roster. He will have to grow up quickly in 2011, as he will be the only new player on a very experienced offensive line.
Freshman Mitch Morse has an outside chance to steal the job. He's physically imposing and is one of the stronger players in the program. However, he struggled mightily with the shotgun snap during spring scrimmages, so he probably needs more time to learn the position.
This is the biggest question mark on an otherwise solid offensive line.
Austin Wuebbels: 6'4", 295 lbs., Senior (RS)
Zack Meiners: 6'6", 305 lbs., Junior
Adding to the wealth of experience on offense is senior right guard Austin Wuebbels. The three-year starter was an All-Conference performer last season, and the team expects him to take another step toward greatness in 2011.
Wuebbels is rock-solid, but his backup Zack Meiners is no slouch either. The 6'6" junior started at left tackle in place of the injured Elvis Fisher this spring and added to his versatility for the Tigers. Meiners is a talented player and will contribute on special teams and spot-duty.
Wuebbels could be on his way to his best season at Mizzou, while Meiners waits in the background to learn from an experienced starter.
Dan Hoch: 6'7", 315 lbs., Senior
Chris Freeman: 6'8", 335 lbs., Sophomore (RS)
Like Elvis Fisher, Dan Hoch is the shoe-in starter at right tackle for 2011. The 6'7" senior was second-team All-Big 12, leading an offensive line that allowed merely 22 sacks. He's the most talented lineman on the roster and could find himself drafted early in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Behind Hoch for 2011 is behemoth sophomore Chris Freeman. Freeman is a project for the Tigers considering that he only started playing football in his junior year of high school. He looked much better this spring following his first season on campus, but he will struggle to get playing time until the coaches feel he's developed enough.
Hoch will be one of the top offensive lineman in the nation, and will serve as a great example for the developing Chris Freeman in 2011.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jerrell Jackson: 6'1", 185 lbs., Senior
L'Damian Washington: 6'4", 185 lbs., Sophomore (RS)
Rolandis Woodland: 6'3", 195 lbs., Junior
Senior Jerrell Jackson returns for his final season as the starting X-receiver and could become one of the bigger playmakers in the Big 12. Jackson fought through a wrist injury last season, but still managed to haul in 656 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Rotating players L'Damian Washington and Rolandis Woodland will contribute for the Tigers. Both players have shown a lot of improvement heading into 2011.
Washington is a lanky receiver who made some eye-popping catches this past spring. Meanwhile, Woodland suffered a foot injury that cut his spring campaign short, but he played in every game last season and made catches in key situations for Mizzou.
Missouri hopes Jackson can become the big-play receiver they were missing last season, but don't count out Woodland or Washington to make things interesting for the Tigers at the X-receiver spot.
Michael Egnew: 6'6", 240 lbs., Senior
Eric Waters: 6'4", 230 lbs., Sophomore
Tight end is the biggest no-brainer on Missouri's offensive depth chart. All-American Michael Egnew will start and play every meaningful snap for the Tigers as the returning team MVP in 2011.
Egnew led all tight ends in receptions last season, grabbing 90 passes for 762 yards and five touchdowns. He'll look to post All-American numbers again next season.
Eric Waters is a talented sophomore who found his way on the field as a true freshman last year. He'll contribute on special teams and limited duty on offense.
Waters has a lot of potential in the spread offense, but he'll have to wait his turn while Egnew shines in his senior season.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
T.J. Moe: 6'0", 200 lbs., Junior
Gahn McGaffie: 5'10", 190 lbs., Junior (RS)
Bud Sasser: 6'3", 215 lbs., Freshman (RS)
The emergence of T.J. Moe in 2010 solidifies the slot receiver position for Missouri going into next season.
Moe was one of the toughest players on the team last year and performed well in every situation he faced. Switching to receiver before the season, Moe caught 92 passes for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns.
Moe will get the most snaps at the slot, but a few players will see time at the position in the spread attack.
Gahn McGaffie is best known for his electrifying kickoff return against Oklahoma last season, but he had a strong spring as a receiver and impressed the coaching staff with his hands. Bud Sasser is a big-bodied freshman who may prove to be too talented to keep on the sidelines for long in 2011.
This is one of the deepest positions on the Tigers offense, with former four-star speedster Jimmie Hunt listed fourth on the depth chart. Moe will led the way in front of a plethora of talented receivers at the H-receiver spot.
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Wes Kemp: 6'4", 220 lbs., Senior
Brandon Gerau: 6'0", 185 lbs., Senior
Marcus Lucas: 6'5", 205 lbs., Sophomore
Three-year starter Wes Kemp returns to man the Z-receiver position in 2011. Kemp would like to make a big leap in his senior season following last year's 39-catch, 420-yard campaign. Kemp's leadership and strong blocking make up for his somewhat sparse production as a receiver.
Senior Brandon Gerau showed no regard for his body last season and makes the most of his limited opportunities on offense. Sophomore Marcus Lucas saw time as a true freshman in 2010 and has the potential to be a big-time contributor in seasons to come.
Kemp's experience will keep him on the field for most of the game, but there's quality depth behind him. Marcus Lucas, especially, could push Wes Kemp to up his play in 2011.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
De'vion Moore: 5'9", 195 lbs., Senior
Kendial Lawrence: 5'9", 190 lbs., Junior
Henry Josey: 5'10, 185 lbs., Sophomore
Marcus Murphy: 5'10, 180 lbs., Sophomore
Running back is easily the most fluid position on the Missouri offensive depth chart. De'vion Moore and Kendial Lawrence were listed even at the end of spring practices, with sophomores Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy both nipping at their heels.
Missouri will use the four-man armada that rushed for a combined 1,551 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2010. Moore is the short yardage back, while Josey and Murphy provide big-play ability and pass catching. Lawrence is the most rounded of the backs, but isn't exceptional at any one thing.
Additionally, 245-pound redshirt junior Jared Culver looks to get goal line carries thanks to a strong spring.
Truthfully, I think Gary Pinkel would like to see one of these players separate himself from the pack. But even if that does happen, expect the Tigers to use all of these players effectively in 2011.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
James Franklin: 6'2", 225 lbs., Sophomore
Ashton Glaser: 6'0", 205 lbs., Sophomore (RS)
Corbin Berkstresser: 6'3", 225 lbs., Freshman
The departure of Tyler Gabbert took a lot of the intrigue out of the quarterback battle, but now Missouri can ring in the James Franklin era with their full attention.
Franklin is a very promising player for the Tigers. The former four-star recruit played in every game last season behind starter Blaine Gabbert. He recorded 23 rushes for 116 yards and tossed 11 of 14 passes for 181 yards for three total touchdowns.
Franklin is a strong runner and showed great touch on his passes this spring. He's a new starter on an experience-laden offense, so there will be a little uncertainty going in 2011. Nonetheless, he will have a great opportunity to succeed next season.
Ashton Glaser will enter fall camp as the backup. He didn't have the best spring, but he looked pretty good running the option and quarterback draw plays. However, true freshman Corbin Berkstresser joins the Tigers this fall as one of the best high school players coming out of Missouri.
James Franklin will be the starter with great potential, while Glaser fights the young Berkstresser for the backup position in 2011.