Monday, March 15, 2010
Weak & Strong: Missouri
By ESPN.com staff
Here, we’ll take a look at one area where each team in the Big 12 can expect to succeed, and another that needs improvement.
Weak: Pass defense
The Tigers return experience at all positions in senior corners Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland and senior safeties Jasper Simmons and Jarrell Harrison, but that experience must translate into on-field results for Missouri to eliminate its glaring weakness from last season.
Missouri ranked 11th in the Big 12 in pass defense, and opponents completed over 64 percent of their passes, nearly two full percentage points higher than any other team in the conference.
Everyone on the defense is to blame for that, from the pass rush up front, to the linebackers covering in space all the way back to the safeties protecting the back line.
At least the pass defense won’t have to see Todd Reesing anymore, who threw for 873 yards and eight touchdowns combined in the past two meetings with Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium.
Strong: Running back
The Tigers are deep and versatile next to quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the shotgun. Senior Derrick Washington is a 6-foot, 225-pound, experienced rumbler not lacking in speed. He topped 1,000 yards as a sophomore before seeing drops in yardage and touchdowns despite more touches as a junior.
Junior De'Vion Moore is a speedier 5-foot-9, 195-pounder not lacking in power. Moore carried the ball just 63 times in 2009, but is a suitable backup. Sophomore Kendial Lawrence also showed promise, rushing for 219 yards on 52 carries as a freshman and will try to find the end zone for the first time in his second season.
But no amount of talent in the backfield will matter if the offensive line can’t clear the way for a climb out of the middle of the pack in rushing offense in 2009. Missouri was No. 7 in the Big 12 in yards per carry and No. 8 in yards per game.
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