MIZZOU Season Preview Mizzou Season Preview Not so long ago, Mizzou football was irrelevant. They were the laughingstock of the newly formed Big-12 conference. Over a four year span (1999-2002), the Tigers won just 16 games. But then coach Gary Pinkel took the reigns and has lead the program to uncharted territory, including 4 straight bowl berths, and 22 wins over the last 2 seasons, a period in which only Oklahoma and USC have more. However, due to the fact that Pinkel could not get the Tigers over the top in the Big-12 with what was clearly the most talented squads in school history, there is a new boss in Columbia, and change is in the air. Not only is change on the coaching staff, but also at just about every position on the field. 6 players were selected in the NFL Draft last year, but that doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t include the biggest subtraction from last yearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s bunch- Chase Daniel. Daniel is the schoolÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s all-time leading passer, and has left some huge shoes to fill. All-Americans Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman are also both gone on O, and Will Moore and 1st round pick Ziggy Hood headline the losses on D. It is time for the next batch of Tigers to step up and prove Mizzou belongs amongst the elite programs in the nation. OFFENSE - 5 Returning Starters - 8th in total offense last year - Led by RB Derrick Washington and WR Jared Perry - Former 5-star recruit QB Blaine Gabbert must step up and fill void left by Chase Daniel - O-Line must give Gabbert time in pocket DEFENSE - 4 Returning Starters - 98th in total defense last year - Key guys are LB Sean Witherspoon and CB Carl Gettis - Inexperience abound for this unit - Secondary MUST step up, ranked 117th against pass last year - LB core is strength of unit, led by AA LB Witherspoon SPECIAL TEAMS - P Jake Harry is only returning kicker - Someone must replace school scoring leader Jeff Wolfert at PK - The gamebreaking Jeremy Maclin is also gone, Munir Prince will be relied upon for the return duties RECRUITING CLASS - incoming class ranked 37th nationally - top newcomers are DT Sheldon Richardson and OL Chris Freeman While the non-conference schedule is yet to be determined, the Tigers will catch some breaks scheduling wise this year. First off, they play in the Big-12 North, which is the weaker of the Big-12 divisions. The Tigers also get their 2 toughest conference foes (Nebraska and Texas) at home this year. Going to Stillwater for a mid-season showdown with the Cowboys will be tough, as will the annual Border War game with Kansas to end the regular season. This will be an interesting year for the Tigers, having lost so many of the playmakers that carried them for the past 2 seasons. However, young talent such as QB Blaine Gabbert realize they are being counted on this year, and its their time to shine. With all that having been said, I see an 8-4 season in the works for Gabbert and the gang.