Spring Football kicks off today

The Missouri Tigers football squad hits the field today to start what should be an intriguing collection of spring practices. Here's a quick preview.

The Missouri Tigers get set to open their fourth spring practice under Head Coach Gary Pinkel. Storylines abound, but there can be no doubt that this spring is the most important one Pinkel has faced at MU. After last year's team skinned their knees with a 5-6 campaign, the pressure is on in Columbia to produce in a weakened Big 12 North.

Storylines? They are everywhere.

What is this "tweaking" of the offense, and how will it affect the teams' best offensive weapon, Brad Smith? Speaking of weapons, how is the development of Chase Patton and Tony Temple progressing?

In order for any of those three to be effective it will take a better offensive line. While I am interested to see how the two "juco maulers" (Brad Burgess' term, not mine) are fitting in, I am also ready to see if a year in the trenches have improved the youngsters. If so, it could make for a very solid two-deep. Oh and what about Mike Cook? Is this the year that the pancake man claims a starting spot at offensive guard? And with all the added depth in the line what does that mean for the impressive walk-on Colin Brown?

Speaking of impressive walk-ons, can Tommy Saunders crack the two-deep? What about Andrew Hoskins? Where exactly did he disappear to last season? Ek and Bracey are faster, but are they better? Where do last year's two talented freshman wide receivers, Jerrill Humphrey and Will Franklin, fit in?

Defensively, the hole created in the center of the line due to the departure of CJ Mosley to the NFL draft is at everybody's top of mind awareness. Can George Lane & Co fill it? Just as importantly, can the Tigers put together a solid LB corps that rivals KU's? The loss of Marcus King in the backfield is a concern, but should it be a BIG concern? How about William Moore, the talented defensive back from Hayti? Is he ready for the two deep? And, where, oh where, are all these safety types going to play?

Special teams can be cut and dissected, but it comes down to "Are we be better?" Kicking wise Adam Crosset turned into a one-man machine late in the season, and continued to show improvement in all areas. Help is on the way, but probably not until fall. Has Scott Russell, the Rock Bridge grad, improved? Will the Tigers continue to use Ekwerekwu as the holder? Are we waiting until the fall to find a long snapper now that Zack Strom has graduated? Will Pinkel use first-string players on special teams this year as he has claimed after last year?

Storylines? They are everywhere. The answers to these questions and more begin to be answered today, and you can count on front line coverage from Inside Mizzou!

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