We reviewed five preseason magazines — Athlon, ESPN, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and The Sporting News — and broke down their team-by-team predictions.
Friday, we examine Missouri. Here is what’s being said about the Tigers:
Phil Steele (4th in SEC East — Belk Bowl): “Missouri will contend with Florida for the honors of best defense in the SEC East this year with almost everyone back in the front seven and with Barry Odom taking over as head coach … I don’t think Missouri will be winning the SEC East like they did in ’13 and ’14, but they look like a much stronger team.”
Sporting News (4th in SEC East — no bowl): “Two recent SEC East titles elevated the program to the point where anything less than seven or eight wins will be viewed as a disappointment. Odom should have the defense to make the Tigers a bowl team, but the offense has to at least stop being a liability for that to happen.”
Lindy’s (5th in SEC East): “The defense should continue to thrive, but Mizzou must revive a lifeless offense to get back to the postseason. If (offensive coordinator Josh) Heupel can develop Lock and generate a potent attack, it’s a quick fix in Columbia.”
ESPN (5th in SEC East — 5.5 projected wins): “(Odom) will benefit from a dependable defense but must hope the introduction of an up-tempo attack will spark an offense that was punchless in 2015. In the end, another middling SEC finish looks to be in store.”
Athlon (6th in SEC East — 5-7, no bowl): “The defense should be elite again for new head coach Barry Odom. Still, Mizzou won’t make much of a climb in the SEC East unless the offense finds a way to score more points.”
Preseason All-American selections: Charles Harris (2nd x1, 3rd x1)
Preseason All-SEC selections: Harris (1st x1, 2nd x2), Josh Augusta (3rd x1), Aarion Penton (3rd x1), Michael Scherer (4th x1), Anthony Sherrils (4th x1), Corey Fatony (4th x1)
- Phil Steele listed Missouri at No. 13 in his rankings of “2016’s Most Improved Teams,” the highest of any SEC school.
- Lindy’s named defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross the No. 4 hottest assistant in the country: “After coming from TCU (where he was Gary Patterson’s co-DC/linebackers coach), Cross is totally invested in his alma mater, where he was a hard-hitting safety in the 1990s.”
- Lindy’s listed Charles Harris No. 10 in its collection of “Top 10 NFL Talent” in the SEC, calling him a “terrific pass rusher” with an “all-around game.”
- ESPN spoke to an anonymous coach who explained how teams can beat quarterback Drew Lock: “Have corners who can play press and take away all the short throws. That will force Lock to make throws where he actually has to sit there and read coverages and throw in tight windows, which is where he struggles.”
- ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Tigers little chance to win at LSU (5 percent) or at Tennessee (8 percent).
- Sporting News named running back Ish Witter as the SEC’s “Biggest Overachiever,” saying the 5-foot-10 runner is “generously listed” and “all heart.”
- Athlon’s Steven Lassan named Missouri as his answer to “Which program will be in decline in the near future?” saying, “Tennessee is back among the Top 10 and recruiting at a high level once again. Georgia and Florida are trending up. The path to another East title is going to be tough for Missouri.”
- Athlon spoke to an anonymous coach who thinks the offense might improve in 2016: “I think offensively they struggled last year because they weren’t real sure whose team it was at quarterback and maybe both of them were afraid to take charge, so it’ll probably help them now that they can focus on one guy.”
- Athlon ranked the Missouri defense No. 3 in the country last year based on “explosiveness,” or fewest yards given up per play.