2020 Preview: Missouri Tigers

The Missouri Tigers are the newbies of the SEC and after a somewhat strong start to their tenure with the best football conference in America, but for the past five seasons, it’s been tough sledding for Barry Odom’s squad. A postseason ban cost them a bowl game last year, giving them just two appearances since 2014 (both losses), compiling a perfectly average 30-30 record along the way. And if there’s one thing that’s clear, perfectly average will never be close to good enough in the SEC. Clemson transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant is good after putting up solid numbers under center for the Tigers, the Tigers will look to hand the reins to TCU transfer Shawn Robinson. That move alone brings a lot of question marks, and ultimately, Missouri just looks middle-of-the-road at best once again in 2020. 

Top Returners: Tyler Badie, Kobie Whiteside
Badie is a key attribute returning to the Missouri offense, as his contributions both in the running and passing game will be key for the Tigers. Robinson has averaged under 7 yards per attempt in his career, so an experienced and speedy back who can catch screens and slants will be a huge asset.
Defensively, Kobie Whiteside returns as a force on the defensive line, a year after racking up 7.5 sacks. Missouri’s defense looks exceptionally average, so they’ll need Whiteside to be at his disruptive best on virtually every snap to limit their opponents’ opportunities offensively. 

Biggest Concerns: The passing game

This concern has two edges to it, as there is the concern about how transfer Shawn Robinson will fit into the offense, and also the lack of experienced options he will be throwing it to. Badie’s 356 yards is the top returning mark on the team, leaving Missouri without a true #1 receiver. Robinson has averaged under seven yards per attempt and in his lone season as a full starter, he threw 8 interceptions to just 9 touchdowns. That’ll need to improve if he’s going to optimize Missouri’s offensive production. 

X-Factors: Jalen Knox

Knox is Missouri’s best chance at addressing some of the concerns listed above. He was fourth on the team with 307 receiving yards as a sophomore last season, and he seems like the best bet to emerge as a #1 receiver for Robinson. As good as Badie is, he’s still a backfield weapon and should not often be used as a passing threat outside of screens and slants. Knox could add an extra edge to Missouri’s offense, which would be predictable and dull without it. 

SEC Record Prediction: 2-6

If Knox steps up, Whiteside puts together an outrageous season on the defensive line, and Shawn Robinson gels immediately into the Tigers’ offense, Missouri could be far better than this. However, that’s a lot of ifs and question marks, and I’m not comfortable betting on a team like that. Home contests versus Vanderbilt and Kentucky look like great opportunities for victories, and I like their chances to maybe swing another win along the way, but there’s too many questions to predict a better record than this with any kind of confidence.