Leading up to the start of the college football season, The Red & Black will preview each of the 13 teams Georgia plays alongside in the Southeastern Conference. Today, The Red & Black takes a look at the Missouri Tigers.
7-6 (4-4 SEC); Finished fourth in the SEC East. Missouri had a tied record with Kentucky, but when the two teams played, Missouri lost to Kentucky.
Summary of last season
Missouri opened its season with a dominant win over Missouri State, but then went on a five-game losing streak. In that streak, Missouri lost to four SEC teams—South Carolina, Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia. The Tigers turned their season around with six consecutive wins, including dominant SEC wins over Florida and Tennessee. Missouri earned a spot in the Texas Bowl in which it faced Texas. The Tigers lost to the Longhorns to close out their season.
The Tigers did not fair well in SEC play either as they finished with a 4-4 record. However, they did see improvement from the 2016 season, with two more wins in the SEC, but shows only slight improvement from the Tigers.
New offensive coordinator change
Missouri will have a new coach calling the plays this season. The Tigers hired Derek Dooley as the new offensive coordinator. Dooley will also work with the quarterbacks. Dooley worked as the wide receivers coach for the Dallas Cowboys for the past five seasons. Dooley also has previous experience in the SEC, serving as head coach for Tennessee from 2010-12 and as the head coach at Louisiana Tech University from 2007-09.
Dooley replaces Josh Heupel at offensive coordinator. Heupel left Missouri to become the head coach of Central Florida after spending two seasons at Missouri.
Key returning players
Drew Lock, quarterback— The senior returns for his last season with Missouri after he led the nation in touchdown passes. He finished the 2017 season with 44 passing touchdowns, with 3,964 yards on 242-of-419 passing. He also broke Missouri’s single season record for passing efficiency, finishing with a rating of 165.67. The previous record was 159.4, set by Chase Daniel in 2008. As the offense experiences a change in coaching and adjusting to Dooley’s coaching style, Lock will be a key force for the Tigers’ offense in the 2018 season.
Cale Garrett, linebacker— Garrett led the team with the 105 total stops during his sophomore year, and ranked seventh in the SEC. His 65 solo stops also ranked fourth in the SEC. He also recorded two interceptions during the season, one against Kentucky and another against Georgia. With a defense that struggled during the five consecutive losses, the defense was able to turn around. The tackling, pressure and secondary coverage all came out. Going into the 2018 season, Garrett will be a key component to the Tigers’ defense during his junior campaign.
Missouri will start the 2018 season with three consecutive non-conference games. The Tigers then face Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama consecutively, which may prove to be a tough test. A non-conference game against Memphis breaks up the stretch of SEC games as the season closes for the final conference matchups.
Missouri will host Georgia, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Arkansas at home for the 2018 season, with Georgia as the only preseason top-10 team on its schedule. Other non-conference games include UT Martin, Wyoming and Purdue.
The Tigers may have a chance at improving from the 2017 campaign with their new offensive coordinator. If they can do that, they might be in contention for another bowl game at the end of the 2018 season.