Mizzou 2009, Part Fifteen: 2009 vs 1999

Pretty sure our current #11 is better.  No offense, Jimmy D.  (Via The Trib's R.C. Adams)


Almost ten years ago to the day, Missouri was at a precipice.  Two years of unprecedented (in recent terms, anyway) winning broke Mizzou back into the land of respectability, but a lot of seniors had departed.  Corby Jones, Devin West, Harold Piersey, Caldrinoff Easter, Marquis Gibson, Craig Heimburger, etc.  Mizzou was going to be young in 1999, but they had exciting potential.  Recruiting had improved!  And speed!  Mizzou had turned the corner as a program, and most fans truly believed that there was no turning back.

Sound familiar?  Of course it does.

Missouri enters 2009 in a similar position--after two years of breaking through to a new level of wins and respectability, they have to now try to keep up momentum with a fresh bunch of young players.  There is, of course, the faith that recruiting has improved, and that the program is in good shape heading into the future, but until Missouri actually proves that they are here to stay, we don't know for sure that that is the case.

In 1999, a young team quickly faced reality.  After the offense carried the defense through two high-scoring wins (31-28 over UAB, 48-34 over Western Michigan), the infamous Ben Davidson game against Nebraska (Davidson snap back-to-back punts over the punter's head early in the game) was a nice slap in the face.  After beating Memphis and losing a back-and-forth OT game against Colorado (still one of the most amazing games I've ever seen in person), disaster struck.  Redshirt freshman QB Kirk Farmer broke his leg against Iowa State, and the offense fell apart.  They were up 14-0 in the second quarter at the time of Farmer's broken leg, and over the final 5.5 games of the season, Mizzou would score just 48 points...34 of which came against Texas Tech.  They would score a combined 14 points against Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Kansas State (all 14 coming in garbage time against ATM, with Justin Gage at QB), and in less than 12 months, Larry Smith went from "could run for Mayor of Columbia" to "could conceivably be fired."

Could the bottom fall out in 2009?  Probably not, but of course it's a possibility.  It's always a possibility if the right (well, wrong) things happen.  The best thing to do a week away from the start of the season is compare the 1999 roster and schedule to 2009's.  Remember, Mizzou went 4-7 in 1999...and they are predicted by multiple analysts (Phil Steele and Bruce Feldman to name two) to miss a bowl and have a similar record in 2009.

(For a further refresher on 1999, here's a pre-spring depth chart and the final 1999 statistics.)

After some early struggles, the Mizzou defense wasn't really that bad.  The worst part of the defense was an offense that was going three-and-out about 17 times a game down the stretch.

Let's take a look at the (rough) depth charts for each year and see which team had the advantage, and in which areas.

Offense

1999 2009
Pos. Player Pos Player Advantage
QB Jim Dougherty (6'3, 190, So.)
Kirk Farmer (6'4, 200, RSFr.)
QB Blaine Gabbert (6'5, 240, So.)
Jimmy Costello (6'3, 225, So.)

2009

TB DeVaughn Black (5'11, 203, Sr.)
Zain Gilmore (6'1, 205, So.)
RB Derrick Washington (6'0, 225, Jr.)
De'Vion Moore (5'9, 195, So.)

2009

WR Kent Layman (5'11, 187, Sr.)
Eric Spencer (6'1, 165, So.)
WR Danario Alexander (6'5, 215, Sr.)
L'Damian Washington (6'4, 180, Fr.)

2009

WR John Dausman (6'1, 184, Jr.)
Travis Garvin (6'1, 182, Fr.)
Kareem Wise (6'3, 216, Sr.)
WR Jared Perry (6'1, 180, Sr.)
Jerrell Jackson (6'1, 190, So.)
Rolandis Woodland (6'3, 200, RSFr.)

2009

FB Rob West (6'0, 240, Sr.)
Joe Chirumbolo (6'2, 246, Fr.)
WR Wes Kemp (6'4, 225, So.)
T.J. Moe (6'0, 190, So.)

2009

TE Dwayne Blakely (6'4, 256, So.)
Brandon Ford (6'3, 245, So.)
TE Andrew Jones (6'5, 245, So.)
Michael Egnew (6'6, 230, So.)

Draw

LT Aaron Crittendon (6'5, 280, So.)
Mike Ostendorf (6'5, 250, So.)
LT Elvis Fisher (6'5, 300, So.)
Mike Prince (6'3, 300, Jr.)

2009

LG Joe Glauberman (6'3, 300, So.)
Wes Wilson (6'4, 280, RSFr.)
LG Austin Wuebbels (6'4, 305, So.)
Jayson Palmgren (6'2, 305, So.)

Draw

C Rob Riti (6'3, 285, Sr.)
Mike Hayes (6'3, 298, So.)
C Tim Barnes (6'4, 310, Jr.)
Travis Ruth (6'3, 305, RSFr.)

1999

RG Adrian Cole (6'4, 306, So.)
J.P. Hall (6'4, 265, RSFr.)
RG Kurtis Gregory (6'5, 305, Sr.)
J.T. Beasley (6'4, 295, So.)

2009

RT Justin Bland (6'6, 316, So.)
Brad Smith (6'6, 289, Sr.)
RT Dan Hoch (6'7, 320, So.)
Jack Meiners (6'6, 305, Fr.)

2009

K Brad Hammerich (6'3, 176, So.)
Brian Long (5'11, 203, So.)
K Grant Ressel (6'2, 190, So.)
Tanner Mills (6'2, 200, Sr.)

1999

PR Arty Johnson (5'10, 168, Sr.)
John McPherson (5'11, 175, RSFr.)
PR Carl Gettis (5'11, 195, Jr.)
T.J. Moe (6'0, 190, Fr.)

Draw


Thoughts:

  • Of the 13 slots listed above, the 2009 team appears to have the advantage in eight, the 1999 team has the advantage in two, and there are three draws.
  • I love Tim Barnes, but Rob Riti was an All-American, so he gets the edge.
  • Joe Glauberman and Austin Wuebbels are actually in a similar situation--overshadowed by more high profile recruits, they quietly locked down a starting slot.
  • One pleasant surprise stemming from 1999 was the kicking of Brad Hammerich.  If Grant Ressel, Tanner Mills or Trey Barrow end up being a similar pleasant surprise in 2009, I don't think anybody would complain.
  • I loved Kent Layman to death, but...yeah, Danario's better.  Much, much better.  And a moment of silence, please, for John Dausman's knees.

Defense

1999 2009
Pos. Player Pos Player Advantage
DE Justin Smith (6'5, 267, So.)
Daryl Whittington (6'6, 227, Jr.)
DE Jacquies Smith (6'4, 250, So.)
Brad Madison (6'4, 260, RSFr.)

1999

DT Jeff Marriott (6'5, 288, Sr.)
Cedric Harden (6'3, 275, RSFr.)
DT Jaron Baston (6'1, 305, Sr.)
Jimmy Burge (6'2, 285, RSFr.)

2009

DT Steve Erickson (6'4, 280, Jr.)
Terrell Jurineack (6'4, 271, Sr.)
DT Terrell Resonno (6'6, 295, So.)
Dominique Hamilton (6'6, 300, So.)

1999

DE Pat Mingucci (6'2, 266, Sr.)
Danny McCamy (6'3, 250, Jr.)
DE Brian Coulter (6'4, 250, Sr.)
Aldon Smith (6'5, 255, RSFr.)

2009

OLB Pat "TV's Patrick" Duffy (6'3, 236, So.)
Josh O'Neal (6'1, 230, RSFr.)
OLB Sean Weatherspoon (6'2, 250, Sr.)
Donovan Bonner (6'2, 240, Fr.)

2009

Sam Barry Odom (6'0, 219, Sr.)
Michael Clay (6'3, 255, RSFr.)
MLB Luke Lambert (6'3, 235, Jr.)
Will Ebner (6'1, 230, So.)

1999

Will Jamonte Robinson (6'2, 210, So.)
Duke Revard (6'3, 232, So.)
OLB Andrew Gachkar (6'3, 230, Jr.)
Zaviar Gooden (6'2, 225, RSFr.)

Draw

CB Carlos Posey (6'0, 202, Sr.)
John McPherson (5'11, 175, RSFr.)
CB Carl Gettis (5'11, 195, Jr.)
Trey Hobson (5'11, 190, So.)

2009

CB Antoine Duncan (5'10, 190, RSFr.)
Andre Roberson (5'10, 172, Jr.)
CB Kevin Rutland (6'0, 195, Jr.)
Robert Steeples (6'1, 195, RSFr.)

2009

FS Julian Jones (5'11, 189, Jr.)
Rodger Winston (6'1, 220, Sr.)
FS Kenji Jackson (5'10, 195, So.)
Jarrell Harrison (6'2, 220, Jr.)

Draw

SS Clarence Jones (6'1, 180, So.)
Harold Hendricks (6'3, 207, Jr.)
SS Hardy Ricks (6'0, 200, Sr.)
Jasper Simmons (6'1, 205, Jr.)

2009

P Vince "00" Sebo (6'1, 228, Sr.)
Jared Gilpin (5'10, 168, So.)
P Jake Harry (6'1, 195, Sr.)
Matt Grabner (6'4, 200, So.)

2009

KR Ricardo Rhodes (5'6, 174, Jr.)
Travis Garvin (6'1, 182, Fr.)
KR Jasper SImmons (6'1, 205, Jr.)
Kip Edwards (6'1, 200, RSFr.)

Draw

  • That's right, this team had players named Brad Smith and Pat Duffy...plus, there was a Stephen Colbert to boot.  Hey, every team's gotta be good at something, and Mizzou 1999 was good at...having good names.
  • So that's seven in favor of 2009, three for 1999, and three draws.
  • Really, I'm giving Andrew Gachkar a decent amount of faith there because Jamonte Robinson was pretty damn good (94 tackles, 13 TFL/sacks, 5 passes broken up).  Gack won't put together those stats, but he can be just as useful for the defense at hand.  In the Larry Smith defense, all tackles were filtered to the Sam and Will (the OLB was as much of a DE as a linebacker), so Jamonte and his eight-foot arms were bound to rack up the tackles, though the 13 TFL/sacks is a really nice number.  If only Jamonte were 25 pounds heavier, he was good enough to play in the pros.  I'm challenging you, Gack--I'm saying that you're as right for this offense as Jamonte was for his...prove me right.
  • Carlos Posey had a really interesting career at Mizzou.  He scored more touchdowns than any defensive back I can remember, but he was virtually nonexistant in 1999, registering one INT and just 29 tackles.  I realize The Carl Gettis Treatment isn't a fan favorite at this point, but I think he still has the edge.
  • Not much of a Hardy Ricks fan, but I really wasn't a Clarence Jones fan.  And while I love Kenji Jackson, I loved Julian Jones, so that's a draw.
  • Sean Weatherspoon vs TV's Patrick Duffy is one of the most unfair comparisons in the history of the world.  Mizzou's 2009 team should really get about six advantages just from this matchup.

So as a whole, as one would expect, the 2009 team is much more proven, much more talented, and much faster.  What about the other teams on Mizzou's schedule?

The Opponents

Needless to say, the North Division was in much better shape in 1999.  Nebraska started the season ranked #6, Colorado #15, and Kansas State (facing similar rebuilding prospects in 1999 as Mizzou is in 2009, but getting a bit more respect) #20.  The South was represented by #7 Texas A&M (a Mizzou 1999 opponent) and #17 Texas (not).

Whereas the North this year is represented by the #24 and #25 teams in the AP preseason poll, the North in 1999 was the class of the conference, with three teams in the Top 20.  Their South opponents, meanwhile, were coming off of a conference title (ATM), a 7-5 record (Texas Tech), and one of the biggest upgrades in the history of coaching changes (OU, going from John Blake to Bob Stoops).

In 2009, Missouri faces, to say the least, a much less intimidating slate of opponents in the North division.  The two favorites--Nebraska and Kansas--have pretty well-defined question marks and barely slipped into the preseason polls, and the other three division opponents--ISU, KSU, Colorado--have been outscored by Mizzou a combined 297-114 the last two years.

While the North slate is easier, the South slate is potentially tougher.  Texas is the consensus #2 team in the country, OSU is in the Top 15, and Baylor...well, they're still Baylor to some degree, but this should be the best Baylor team of the last decade, for what that's worth.  Behold the power of the Hot Tub.

In all, Mizzou faces 4-5 likely bowl teams in the conference in 2009, with two more (Illinois, Nevada) in non-conference play.  They face 1-2 elite teams in Texas and possibly Oklahoma State  In 1999, they faced six bowl-eligible teams, two elite opponents in Nebraska and Kansas State.

So when all's said and done, I guess it's about a wash.

But if the strength of schedule is about the same, and the team is significantly better...that probably means much more than four wins, right?

Summary

Clearly Mizzou is in better shape heading into 2009 than 1999.  As mentioned before, you never know for sure where your program stands until you see the product on the field, but the depth chart has more proven quantities and is much, much better overall.

The key of course, will be the unforeseen developments of 2009.  If Kirk Farmer hadn't gotten hurt, Missouri would have at least beaten Iowa State and given Kansas a better run.  They may not have finished any better than 5-6, but they also probably wouldn't have so completely quit on the season, and there might have been a little more to build upon heading into 2000.

With the depth chart at hand, Missouri has at least a chance at making a run at another North title.  But if Blaine Gabbert gets hurt?  Or one of the tackles?  Or Danario Alexander (again)?  Injuries could pretty significantly alter this team's outlook, especially at quarterback.  You could say that any year, but it's more true on a team that is so thin at QB and so impressively young overall.

In the end, though, as we mentioned on Friday, 2009 is only one piece of this program's future.  Avoiding disaster in 2009 should mean very good things in 2010 and 2011, and to say the least, the foundation of the Missouri program is in much better shape, much less likely to teeter, in 2009 than it was a decade ago.

 

2009 Mizzou Football Preview Series


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