Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tech, Missouri share curious similarities
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
As I made my predictions last week, I was struck by the unique similarities that Texas Tech and Missouri share this season.
I think it's fair to categorize both of these teams as the Big 12's biggest unknown qualities heading into the season. Here are some qualities both teams share.
- Both schools are looking to rebuild and reload after earning a share of their division titles last season. It was Missouri's second-straight title game appearance -- an unprecedented feat for the school. Texas Tech earned a share of its first Big 12 South Division title last season, but was edged out of the title game by the Big 12's tiebreaker.
- Both will be attempting to replace arguably the most decorated quarterback in school history. Missouri will be looking for a change from Chase Daniel, who earned more Heisman acclaim and broke more school passing records in his career than any recent Tiger quarterback. And Tech will be looking for a new quarterback in place of Graham Harrell, who similarly earned more Heisman support and broke more passing records than any quarterback in his school's history.
- Missouri and Texas Tech will be replacing their old quarterbacks with mammoth new prototypes who look more like linebackers or tight ends than quarterbacks. Missouri's new quarterback is 6-foot-5, 240-pound sophomore Blaine Gabbert. Tech will counter with 6-foot-5, 218-pound junior Taylor Potts.
- Both teams will be attempting to replace the most prolific receiver in school history. Missouri's Jeremy Maclin and Tech's Michael Crabtree both went on to become first-round selections in the NFL draft.
- Receiving replacements for both schools have been in the doghouse because of focus-related issues. Missouri's Jared Perry has been demoted because of his problems catching footballs. Texas Tech's Edward Britton struggled this spring because he fell behind academically.
- Both teams could lean on their running games a little more this season with strong featured running backs -- Missouri with Derrick Washington and Texas Tech with Baron Batch (once he recovers from his arm injury).
- Both teams have been dogged by assumptions that their head coach is more concerned about offense than defense. And the recent successes of Gary Pinkel and Mike Leach can at least somewhat be attributed to the development of their defenses.
- Both teams will be on display early in the season in made-for-television matchups against bitter divisional rivals in their conference openers. The Tigers catch Nebraska on Oct. 8 and the Red Raiders will meet Texas on Sept. 19.
It would be a surprise if either Texas Tech or Missouri claim another share of their respective divisional titles. But I think both teams will be a challenge for any opponent and will be among the most entertaining teams in college football to watch. I expect both teams to make a bowl game in what is considered transitional seasons -- notice I didn't use that nasty "r" word that coaches hate to hear (rebuilding) -- after their recent success.
It wouldn't surprise me to see both Texas Tech and Missouri finish with the same record. How about 7-5 for both teams?