Campus Insider

Experience main difference between Missouri circa 2002, 2003

Two years, two different teams.

This year's version of the Missouri Tigers is far different than last season. Consequently, the results have been far different. Whereas last season Missouri finished 5-7, and missed out on a bowl berth after a 38-0 white-washing in Columbia last season. The Tigers were riddled with youth and inexperience, leading to several late-game collapses — an overtime loss to Colorado, and seven-point losses to Iowa State and Oklahoma, both top-25 teams.

But inexperience is perhaps the one thing that can be cured in just one season. The Tigers are a year older, and Coach Bill Snyder said one year better.

"I think they're obviously an experienced football team," Coach Bill Snyder said. "They have twelve offensive guys that started five games or more a year ago. The experience shows for virtually everybody."

Most of the Missouri weapons return from last year, such as tailback Zack Abron, wide reciever Darius Outlaw and linemen A.J. Ricker and Rob Droege. But perhaps nobody needed the experience more than quarterback Brad Smith, an All-American candidate in just his second season in Columbia.

The sophomore from Youngstown, Ohio, has thrown for 1,550 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 1,089 yards and 15 more scores.

He's a dream for Coach Gary Pinkel, but a nightmare for Snyder.

"I don't like him, really," Snyder said. "If he were on my team, then I'd like him. He's the complete package — a very balanced young guy. He has poise, understanding of what he's doing, leadershipo, speed and ability to run the football. He's gained a great deal of experience. Twenty-some ballgames under his belt as a starter, that's ample experience."

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