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Missouri will return almost all of its offensive production in 2017. Defense? Not so much.

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Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

On Friday, The Trib’s Blake Toppmeyer took a look at some potential breakout stars for Missouri’s defense in 2017. My own picks, assuming we can’t really count Terry Beckner Jr. (even if he’s never completely broken out): Nate Howard, T.J. Warren, or Ronnell Perkins.

But we’ll have plenty of time to discuss that in the weeks and months ahead. I wanted to share a little tidbit from the Excel sheets.

This week I’ll be putting out my initial 2017 S&P+ projections. They are basically derived from three loose categories: recent history (I’ll be discussing trends in five-year history today at SB Nation ... and Mizzou’s trends aren’t that hot, as you would expect), returning production, and recruiting.

Obviously the recruiting piece will come on Thursday, after National Signing Day, but the most interesting part of the equation to me will come tomorrow.

Last year I tinkered with a way of measuring actual returning production instead of simply saying “They return X starters.” This method told us that returning production at quarterback, receiver, and defensive back was more valuable than other areas, and more weight is given to those areas as a result.

Missouri's experience totals were distinctly average in 2016 -- based on my weighted equations, the Tigers returned 64% of their offense (70th in FBS) and 63% of their defense (71st).

SPOILERS: This year Missouri returns 89% of its offense (a total that would have ranked 10th last year) and 54% of its defense (which would have ranked about 99th).

Those figures correspond with an improvement of about 3.2 points per game on offense and a regression of about 1.9 points on defense.

That sets the bar in an interesting place for 2017. A head coach’s second year is the best time for an overall team surge, and all indications are that the offense should continue to improve moving forward (and at a rate stronger than the defense’s regression). But last year’s defensive collapse isn’t guaranteed to turn around based on returning experience alone, and we’ll have to see if coaches and players are seeing more eye-to-eye about assignments and culture than they were this past fall. I’m an optimist, so I immediately lean toward yes, but ... that’s quite obviously far from a given.


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There should be at least a couple of football recruiting updates coming later this morning, but in the meantime...