After a disappointing overall record of 4-8 in 2016, as well as a poor 2-6 record in SEC play, Missouri football has the pieces to vastly improve in the 2017 season.
Last year, Missouri ranked 13th nationally in total offense, a huge improvement from 2015 when the Tigers ranked 124th nationally in the same category. The two biggest factors to a great offense last season centered on the passing game (ranked 20th in the nation) and the running game (ranked 38th in the nation).
First-year offensive coordinator, Josh Heupel rejuvenated a struggling offense with second year quarterback Drew Lock. He developed Lock into a quarterback, who threw for over 3000+ yards and 20+ touchdowns last season, and helped establish freshman Damarea Crockett into a promising piece for the future.
Heupel will be in his second season and will have almost all of the team’s leading offensive players returning. This should bode well for Lock, especially, because he will have his top four leading receivers back, including J’Mon Moore, the team’s leading receiver and one of the SEC’s best in 2016.
Missouri returns a young offensive line poised for a strong year after only surrendering 14 sacks and 35 tackles for loss last season, the best in all of Division I.
If the offensive line can play as well as they did down the stretch of last season, then Missouri can expect another 3000+ yard season from Lock and a 1000+ season from Crockett, if not more.
As far as the defense goes, Missouri should have a solid defensive line that features senior, Marcell Frazier and 2015’s #2 recruit, Terry Beckner Jr. If eligibility concerns don’t effect his play, the Tigers can expect their top recruit from 2017, Akial Byers, to join the line sometime during the season as well.
Should an inexperienced secondary play well, Missouri should have not only an improved defense from 2016, but one of the better defenses in the SEC.
With an underwhelming schedule featuring five teams with losing records from this past season, Missouri will look to make the most of it.
If the Tigers can muster up some big wins against SEC opponents like Auburn, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, or Tennessee, then Missouri will make a return to a bowl game after coming up short last year.