As college football season can not get here soon enough, we are trapped in the summer months (and man, is it it summer; somewhere in Dante's Inferno comes to mind) pondering the Tigers move to the SEC. Much has been written on this subject and much more will follow. I would like to add my observations.
The average reader can gather so far that "Missouri will be lucky to even be alive after they traverse the gauntlet of SEC teams" or "Missouri can step right in and be very successful, even winning the SEC East" and a whole of "somewhere in the middle". Nobody wants to come out and say what can be very obvious, IF (and I stress IF due to the last several seasons) the Tigers remain healthy (and recover from injuries already sustained), Missouri will fare very, very well.
Now, it should be stated that one, I am all things MIZZOU (AKA, Homer) and have been for a long time, and two, I tend to wear Rose Colored Glasses...I am an eternal Optimist. I supported my Missouri Tigers in years that many fans had deserted (the late 80's and most of the 90's come to mind), but fell in love with them in the late 60's when as a Missouri lad, The Golden Girls performed at our school (and one of those Blondies had fun talking to me). I have had to suffer the taunts, jests and insults from Big Red fans while living in Husker Nation. In more recent years, I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to give it back, so to speak. The Alden and Pinkel Era has been very good. So this post is my way of stating my unbridled joy in watching the switch to the SEC. The fact that we have a ton of sports ready to step in right away and make some serious noise excites me. Hence, my drooling, my giddiness, my anticipation of a great football season.
At one time, all we heard was how our Offense could not compete. A few are thinking now it ain't so bad.
For example: By all indications, James Franklin returns better than he started (according to TJ Moe and his story of Franklin tearing his Labrum back in 2010). Tanklin is one tough kid. He is humble. He is "nice". AND he has the brains, the feet, the arm, the experience, heck, the looks, of a Heisman. He finished 15th in the nation last year in total yards, returns 36 TD's and almost 4000 yards. And he was a sophomore playing injured! Think about that. Let it set in.
Our O-Line is being questioned? Really? Morse is doing so well at Center that we didn't need this "Guard who played Center" Ruth guy. Ruth will excel at Guard which is his natural position. Meiners? He isn't much either, is he? He just broke the all - time Mizzou bench record. Britt didn't do much except successfully protect Franklin's blind side. Britt moves to RT because we get a dude back at LT that looks like, talks like, and plays like, he is in the Pro's. Elvis Fisher had the all - time starts locked up before he got hurt last year. He is a stud. Remember Fisher toying with that future 1st-rounder, Adrian Clayborne?
Some say we should worry about our RB's. Lawrence was our starter last year until he went down. When he did come back, he just kept the same pace that Josey did, having something like three 100 yard games (in 3 games). Murphy seems poised to do a Josey this year and we have an ahem, Fullback, in McGriff-Culver!
WE ARE LOADED AT OUR RECEIVER'S POSITIONS. One could not find a better leader than Moe. He's backed up by a dude who will live forever in Tiger History. McGaffie will actually push Moe for more receptions. Lucas, Washington, Sasser, Hunt, Waters, Woodland and some frosh that may just be able to contribute a little here and there. LOADED.
Most people out there may understand a little about our "O" and it's ability to score. Yet many of these "most" then doubt our Defense. Okay, fair enough. Examine the "D". I have been curious as well. I watched the Texas game again. Lots of outstanding plays by the "D" in that game, and a whole lot of them being guys coming back this year. I have also watched the kU and NC games again and our guys on this side of the ball do not disappoint.
DE's Madison, Sam, Ealy, Ray, Burnett...Derrick Thomas' kid Derrion listed as 3 deep.
Interior Line? Hoch has come out of no where and beat out a guy who played real well in those last 3 games. Vincent is no slouch. And the Big Sheldon? I had my doubts about him but according to Moe, Richardson is a humble boy right now. His play-making last year really improved as he learned to be a team player and got used to the D-I Level. He is going to be one baaaaddd dude.
Our LB's may just be the very best group in the SEC, even the nation. Slobberknocker Ebner, tackling machine Wilson and the most talented and athletic specimen, Gooden. This front 7 will be tough.
Gaines and Edwards, Ponder...Walker and Webb have vastly improved (and they did pretty good last year when healthy).
We have a guy who can boot the stuffing of the ball as a Punter. Barrow, again, according to Moe, has been begging 24-7 for anyone who will help him by holding while he place kicks, and again, according to Moe, has taken it upon himself to work the Special Team's Units at a pace no one has before.
Add in a few freshmen here and there throughout who will contribute and viola, a pretty good looking team.
To top that off, the LEADERSHIP of this group sounds like it is exactly where it should be This factor is known as an Intangible. This team is hungry. They were just a few points and few plays here and there from being 11-2. They know they started slow, made mistakes, got lazy at times and probably overlooked a few teams along the way. They just did not seem to have that Killer Instinct a team has when they KNOW they are going to win. Not "I want to win", not "I sure hope we win", but "when I step on that field, I know my team is the best, my coaches have prepared us well and I will play to my dying breath to the best of my ability so I will not let my teammates, my brothers, down".
In conclusion, let me say thank you to those who read this. I know it is long but I have a lot of thoughts stored up and I might explode soon if I don't get it out. To the RMN gang, I am truly amazed at your analysis, your "level headedness", your humor, your truly sincere desire to have an honest and open forum without a bunch of name calling and senseless foul language and your banter of all things. For the record, I am a CAKE man. M-I-Z