Spring football wrap-up: The Offense

Missouri has an emerging star at quarterback and one of the strongest offensive lines in the conference. If the receiving corps steps up to fill Justin Gage's shoes and if Damien Nash's knee continues to improve, Missouri should be very, very good on offense in 2003.

Offensive Line
What has changed?  Next to nothing, which is very good.  One positive change was finally seeing a fully healthy A.J. Ricker this spring.  Ricker has played through injury after injury for the past year and a half.  He looks to be back to his all-conference level of play.

What stayed the same?  Just about everything.  The starters are still Droege, Palmer, Ricker, Young and Paffrath. 

What can we expect?  Great line play.  This group is just plain good.  There are no two ways about it.  The one area I expect to see them improve in is run blocking.  I think they were an average run blocking line last year.  They looked very good at it this spring.  I hope that had more to do with their excellence then a reflection on the revamped defense.  The only possible battle for a starting spot I can possibly see is between Young and Mike Cook.  MU has good depth.  Steve Sanchez has looked good and gives us a very good player to back up at OT.
Cook is going to be a very good player for the Tigers down the road and gives us a solid player to plug in at OG or C if needed.  Gianino has also looked pretty solid to me this spring also.  This is the group that Tiger fans have the least to worry about.

Tight End
What changed.  DeQuincy Howard stepped up this spring and placed himself solidly in the race for playing time at TE.  Mau Uiagalelie was brought over from the defense to play TE.  He looks like he has a ways to go. 

What stayed the same.  McCoy and Mathews are still solid, but unspectacular options at TE.  They are good blockers but limited athletically.  

What can we expect?  I think we can expect to see Howard continue to establish himself.  He has looked good at times, but his hands have been inconsistent.  I wish Sesay would have been here this spring to see where he would measure up.  I think there is still a wonderful opportunity for Sesay to come in and become the "man" if he is as good as advertised.  The offense has seemed to focus on getting the TE's more involved this spring.  I think they would love to use the TE more in the passing game if a guy would just step up and make it possible.

Wide Receiver
What changed?  Arnold Britt really stepped up and put himself in position to get some serious playing time.  Thompson Omboga looks like he got himself back in good graces by playing great this spring.  Crosby got hurt and probably fell out of the race for playing time this fall.

What stayed the same?  Marcus James is still a solid option with great hands.  Outlaw is also getting healthy and will be ready to continue his good play from last fall. 

What can we expect?  Yes we lost Gage, but as a unit this group will be much better then lest season.  I was really impressed with Omboga this spring.  I think he will end up as the go-to guy.  He is so smooth and explosive out of his breaks, he really gets good separation form the D-backs.  Coffey I think will make the biggest improvement.  He is a huge target and he gets down field very well for a guy his size.  For my money Britt was the biggest surprise of the entire spring.  I had no idea what a good athlete this guy really was.  I'm sure the coaches knew how good this guy could be, but I'm not sure the average fan had any idea.  I will admit I sure didn't.  This kid is going to be a darn good receiver.  I'm not sure he will be able to beat out Outlaw, Coffey or Omboga, but he will make some plays this fall and in the falls to come for
the next three years.  I love Marcus James, but he might have a hard time getting on the field at WR this fall.

Running Back
What changed?  Really not that much.  This position is still all about Zack Abron.  Damien Nash was finally in an MU uniform this spring, but because of the rehabing knee we still have no idea what he will bring to the table this fall.

What stayed the same?  Zack!!!  This kid is a solid Big 12 back.  He still probably is not the most explosive back in the league, but he might be the most painful to tackle.  This guy is just a load.  He did look a little quicker this spring and maybe a little faster, but honestly power is always going to be his game.  There is nothing cute about Abron.

What can we expect?  I think we can expect a big year from Abron.  If he doesn't get 1000 yards I am going to be surprised.  I hope Nash can give some good minutes this fall, but to be honest he wasn't able to show enough this spring to give anyone a clue of what he might provide.  He is still limping noticeably.  If he is full strength he could be a great change of pace to Abron.  Even if Nash isn't ready, I think the Tigers will be just fine at RB.

What changed?  There are a lot less of them.  Both Overstreet and Hibbets are off to the  defensive side of the ball. 

What stayed the same?  Brad Smith is still the MAN.  I don't think I need to waste my time telling everyone how good this guy is.

What can we expect?  Great QB play.  As long as Smith stays healthy that is.  Sonny Riccio looks ok, but I really would not want to go to long with him at QB next fall.  Brandon Coleman is a darn good looking athlete with the best arm or the bunch, but he really needs to improve his
accuracy.  If he does he could start to push Riccio for that number two spot.  I'm just so excited to see an even better Smith this year.  I'm telling you he is a bigger treat every time I watch him.

Well I hope that gave you all an idea of what went on this spring.  I hope everyone enjoys the Black & Gold game on Saturday.  It sounds like the weather is going to be perfect here in Columbia.  If you can attend I think you will enjoy what you see.  This team is clearly getting better.

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