The first of those fell off the table mid-season, when the Tigers were stunned at home by Oklahoma State, then blown out by Texas in Austin. But the conference championship is still within their grasp, and this year, they won’t need to win Saturday’s showdown against the rival Kansas Jayhawks to get it.
Chase Daniel (6-foot-0, 225 pounds) entered the season as a preseason
Heisman candidate, and spent a few weeks atop some Heisman lists. After
two consecutive losses where Daniel didn’t play all that
well, he fell a bit on the national scene, but he remains one of the
country’s top quarterbacks. He has a 29-9 record as
Missouri’s starting quarterback, and has completed 75 percent
of his passes this year. Those throws have gone for 30 touchdowns and
11 interceptions, while he’s passing for more than 300 yards
That’s not to say that Missouri is one-dimensional though.
Derrick Washington (5-11 225) a sophomore bowling ball out of Raymore,
Mo., is just one total touchdown shy of Missouri’s season
record, and is just two rushing touchdowns behind Missouri’s
season record. He’s on pace for 1,000 yards this season,
entering Saturday’s game with 909.
But Missouri’s bread and butter is through the air, where
they have two Biletnikoff finalists and several other options to get
the ball to. The most explosive of the bunch is Jeremy Maclin (6-1
200). One of the top all-purpose threats in the country, Maclin has
become the first Tiger in history to have two 1,000-yard seasons. Chase Coffman (6-6 255) is the most prolific pass-catching tight end in NCAA
history, while Jared Perry (6-1 180) and Tommy Saunders (6-0 210) give
the Tigers two other athletic receiving options.
The Tigers have been consistent on the offensive line, and
they’ve been healthy – all five starters have
failed to miss a start this year. Guards Kurtis Gregory (6-5 305) and
Ryan Madison (6-5 305), and tackle Colin Brown (6-8 330) are the
veterans of the line – Madison has started 33 games in his
Tigers career, while Gregory and Brown have started 25. Left tackle
Elvis Fisher (6-5 305) and center Tim Barnes (6-4 305) have been keys
to the line’s play.
Defensively, the Tigers have struggled at times to contain passing
attacks, thanks in part to their high-risk, high-reward philosophy.
Stryker Sulak (6-5 250) provides the most rush to the passer, while
Tommy Chavis (6-2 265) is another solid end. Ziggy Hood (6-4 300) and
Jaron Baston (6-1 305) have 14 tackles for loss between them.
Sean Weatherspoon (6-2 245) is the best of a playmaking linebacking
corps. He leads the Big 12 in tackles for loss per game, while
he’s second in tackles. Middle linebacker Brock Christopher
(6-2 240) clinched the Baylor game with a fourth quarter interception.
Luke Lambert (6-3 235) is an up-and-comer in the unit and will have to
play a major role next year.
William Moore (6-1 230) was a second-team All-American last year, and
this year, is a semi-finalist for the Thorpe Award. He’s been
slowed quite a bit this year by injuries and a gameplan that blitzes
him a high percentage, but he should be 100 percent now. Carl Gettis
(5-11 200) and Castine Bridges (6-2 205) are solid cornerbacks, while
strong safety Justin Garrett (6-2 210) is the team’s third
Special teams will be one of the areas where the Tigers have a huge
advantage over the Jayhawks. Kicker Jeff Wolfert is on pace to set the
NCAA career accuracy mark, while punter Jake Harry has been seldom
used. Maclin leads the NCAA in all-purpose yards per game and is a
threat as both a punt and a kick returner.
Unlike last year, the Tigers won’t have anything to play for
in the Border War game other than the rivalry, but as is often the
case, that should be enough to get them fired up for the game at
Jayhawks and Tigers Tangle Saturday
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