While there’s really no question that Kelly Bryant will be this year’s QB, there are some other things we need to know about Mizzou. We got in touch with Dave Matter, Mizzou expert and sports writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, to ask the good questions. Matter filled us in on Bryant’s likely favorite target, who we can expect to see as RB, and more. Find out how Matter’s predictions stack up against the rest in our rankings page, and get more from Matter on Twitter @Dave_Matter.
Overall, how do you believe the offense will compare to the 2018 version?
I think you’ll see a lot of the same formations and personnel packages. Two or three receivers, one or two tight ends, one tailback, shotgun or pistol formation. Missouri rarely strayed from those looks last year and showed similar looks through spring practices. The difference will be the quarterback’s role in the running game. Derek Dooley will call more designed runs for Kelly Bryant than he did Drew Lock. It’s safe to assume Bryant will leave the pocket and create yards with his legs while improvising more often than Lock. Otherwise, they’ll still try to stretch the defense vertically and push the ball downfield even though Bryant doesn’t have Lock’s arm strength. Bryant has been a more accurate passer during his career than Lock was in four years at Mizzou, so there’s no reason the Tigers can’t have a functional passing game post-Lock.
What do you expect from the QB position in 2019?
Kelly Bryant will be the guy. Missouri made that clear the day he signed his transfer paperwork in December. He might not be as polished a passer as Lock, but he gets the ball from Point A to Point B and was suitably accurate in his time at Clemson. He wants to prove he can be an effective passer who can play in the NFL, so I don’t think you’ll see him be impatient in the pocket and give up on plays when his first option is covered. He can use his feet to avoid trouble, but he wants to hang in the pocket and become a complete passer.
How do you see the workload at RB being distributed?
Ideally MU likes to split the carries among two, if not three capable starters, but Damarea Crockett’s decision to enter the draft—he went undrafted—leaves MU with just two backs with much experience. The good news is the best one is one of the best backs in the SEC, Larry Rountree III, who quietly had one of the best seasons for a Missouri running back in team history last year, as part of a timeshare in the backfield for the first two months. Tyler Badie, as long as he stays healthy, is the leading candidate to be the No. 2 option in the backfield. He’s coming off a strong freshman year. Otherwise, they return Simi Bakare, who played a little last year late in the season, and Dawson Downing, a former walk-on who plays more on special teams. They might need incoming freshman Anthony Watkins to play immediately as the fourth option.
How does the offensive line compare to the 2018 group?
Missouri returns three of four starters and arguably the three best starters from what was a pretty strong O-line. Yasir Durant is back at left tackle after putting together a quietly great year on the edge. Trystan Colon-Castillo is back for a third year as the starting center. Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, a first-team All-SEC pick by the media last year, is back at right guard. Larry Borom, a massive sophomore, is the leading candidate to move into the left guard job, while Hyrin White, also a sophomore with a taste of playing experience, will take over for Paul Adams at right tackle. This should be one of the best units on the team.
What do you think the distribution will be to the WR/TE's?
As long as he’s on the field, Albert Okwuegbunam should be Bryant’s favorite target. He’s got a chance to be the best tight end in the country and build on the early success he’s had in his career. Johnathon Johnson is back at slot receiver and could push Okwuegbunam for the team lead in targets. On the outside, Jalen Knox and Jonathan Nance were the first-teamers coming out of spring. It wouldn’t be surprising if Nance is one of the team’s top pass-catchers. He’s a graduate transfer from Arkansas and seemed to develop instant chemistry with Bryant in the spring.
For our dynasty owners, who are some young players that stand out as future breakout performers?
Jalen Knox at receiver, Messiah Swinson at tight end, Trajan Jeffcoat at defensive end, Jarvis Ware at cornerback.