Big 12: Jayson Palmgren

Offseason to-do list: Missouri

February, 2, 2012
We're taking a look at what each program in the Big 12 needs to deal with during the offseason, whether it be in the spring, summer or fall preseason camp. Maybe all three! Who knows?

Next up: The Missouri Tigers.

1. Figure out what/if the offense has to change. The Tigers, like Texas A&M, are headed for the SEC, and there are plenty of questions about how well Mizzou's wide-open, fast-paced attack will work in their new league, which is known for having the biggest, strongest and fastest defenses in all of college football. This season especially, those defenses were responsible for the league winning its sixth consecutive national title.

2. Solidify the defensive line. Mizzou's defensive line was the most talented in the Big 12, but was somewhat underwhelming in 2011. It was good, far above average for the Big 12, but nowhere near dominant. Well, defensive lines in the SEC are like quarterbacks in the Big 12: The grade is much stricter. The Tigers lose Jacquies Smith and Terrell Resonno, as well as one of the Big 12's most productive tackles, Dominique Hamilton. Brad Madison is back after a 2011 that had him slowed by injury, but this unit will face much different offenses in 2012, and needs to be better.

3. Develop chemistry on the offensive line. Left tackle Elvis Fisher's status for an additional year from the NCAA after a preseason knee injury is still in flux, but if he's gone, Mizzou's big hole gets even bigger. Guards Jayson Palmgren and Austin Wuebbels are gone, as is right tackle Dan Hoch, one of the team's top talents. The line of scrimmage is where games are won, and though Mizzou's been really solid on the offensive line the past few years, that will have to continue against tougher defensive lines in the SEC.

On the spot: Insight Bowl

December, 17, 2010
Missouri's headed to the Insight Bowl, the program's sixth consecutive postseason trip under coach Gary Pinkel.

Iowa carries a three-game losing streak into its matchup with the Tigers, but the Hawkeyes will be a different kind of challenge than Missouri has seen all season. So, who needs to play well for the Tigers to get the win?

The offensive line. Suspensions and transfers have Iowa playing without its leading receiver and its two best running backs, but the Hawkeyes have a defense capable of shutting down Missouri's offense. Specifically, it can do it on the defensive line.

Although Iowa finished the season at 2-3, it was giving up just over 17 points a game during that stretch. Adrian Clayborn headlines the defensive line, but fellow linemen Karl Klug and Mike Daniels both had more tackles for loss. The trio combined for 29 TFLs and Iowa ranks sixth nationally in rush defense, giving up just over 100 yards a game.

Missouri's offense can look pretty smooth when it gets its running game rolling, but a one-dimensional Tigers offense with Blaine Gabbert throwing the ball 40-plus times isn't nearly as effective.

The Hawkeyes ranked just 55th nationally against the pass, but the Tigers cannot live on the pass alone. All-Big 12 center Tim Barnes leads a very experienced unit flanked with a pair of experienced tackles in Dan Hoch and Elvis Fisher and guards Jayson Palmgren and Austin Wuebbels. They'll need to pave the way or Missouri's undersized set of backs, De'Vion Moore, Kendial Lawrence, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy.

Iowa isn't likely to make many big plays offensively, but if Gabbert takes a free shot to his blind side for a costly fumble or is hasseled into mistakes, the Tigers could give up that big play to the defensive line.

Keep them at bay with a steady diet of screen passes and jet sweeps, and Missouri could win its third bowl game in four years.