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Mizzou Offense Boasts Balance, Big Numbers

By BJ Bennett
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Missouri was the league's most productive attack, with more yards per game than the likes of Oklahoma State and Oregon.

Only one offense in the SEC last season averaged over 500 yards per game and it wasn't Alabama, Ole Miss or Texas A&M. Missouri was the league's most productive attack, finishing, for point of reference, with more yards per game than the likes of Oklahoma State and Oregon and one spot behind national champion Clemson in the national rankings. In addition to quarterback Drew Lock, every skill position player who gained at least 300 yards for the Tigers is back for this fall. 

Lock, running back Damarea Crockett and wide receiver J'Mon Moore form an extremely impressive and rare combination; they are one of just two 3,000-1,000-1,000 trios returning in college football. 

With 3,399 passing yards, Lock's total was the highest at Missouri since Blaine Gabbert in 2009. Lock had two 400-yard performances, three 300-yard games, all in conference play, and threw at least one touchdown pass against every team he faced except Florida and LSU, two foes who slotted one-two in power five football in fewest scores allowed through the air. Now entering his third season as starter, Lock has considerable big game experience. His efficiency should only improve.

Crockett was one of merely six freshmen in the country to top the 1,000-yard mark on the ground. He burst onto the scene with 156 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Middle Tennessee, later setting a new career high with 225 yards at Tennessee. Perhaps most notably, Crockett averaged 6.9 yards per attempt and reached the endzone one out of every 15 times he ran the football.

It was Moore who paced the SEC with 84.3 receiving yards per game in 2016. He had some massive performances a year ago, including 196 yards at Georgia, four touchdowns versus Delaware State and three-straight 130-yard showings against Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas to finish the season. Moore had at least one reception in 17 consecutive games.

There is talent all throughout the depth chart, with running back Ish Witter also in the backfield and Dimetrios Mason and Johnathan Johnson out wide.

Up front, tackle Tyler Howell sets the tone for an accomplished, veteran group. The Tigers return all five starters, plus notable depth, and boast a front five where all first-teamers are upperclassmen. Missouri allowed the fewest tackles for loss in college football a year ago and gave up the fewest sacks in the conference.   

The Tigers will look to become more consistent this fall, a progression league defenses should be expecting. In addition to the returning experience, offensive cohesion will likely be more natural in season two with coordinator Josh Heupel, formerly the play-caller for Utah State and Oklahoma and a national title-winning, All-American signal caller for the Sooners. In the final two games of last year, Missouri compiled 740 total yards in Neyland Stadium and averaged 7.13 yards per play, its highest tally against conference competition, in a win over Arkansas.

Working towards a bounce-back season, the Tiger offense will be looking to both lead the league in production and lead a charge up the standings.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports