Well, it’s almost time to get the 2008 season underway. This year’s opener is huge because it will set the tone for the season. Win, and the Tigers are set up for a run at the national title (there’s something I never thought I’d be writing without sarcasm). Lose, and there will be talking heads all over the country lining up to say 2007 was a fluke. We can still have a great season with a loss on Saturday, but if we want a season for the record books, the Tigers need a win.
That being said, I have the utmost faith in Coach Pinkel’s ability to get his guys ready for this game. After all, as important as this game is, the Tigers have shown repeatedly over the last year that they can win big games. You can’t tell me this is any bigger than kU last year and we know how that ended up. You also have to like the senior leadership on this team. Do you really think Chase and
But what about
Tigers to Watch:
We know what to expect from guys like Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, Jeremy Maclin, William Moore, Jeff Wulfert, etc. So that’s not where I’ll be watching. Like so many other Mizzou fans, I’ll have my eyes trained on the left side of the offensive line to start the game. If Elvis Fisher can get the job done on the left side, it could be an easy win for the Tigers. But if the D-line can get pressure on Daniel’s blind side, causing turnovers, etc., it could get messy.
I’m also excited to see which of the freshman receivers leaves his mark on the game. Jerrell Jackson has been making dazzling plays in practice, and Andrew Jones should see some time at TE. But I’m sure Wes Kemp will want to get in there and do his best Jeremy Maclin impression by putting on a show in his hometown. Brad Smith also had his coming out party at the Dome. If one of these freshmen can make a similar first impression, it will be a long day for the
Illini to Watch
Everyone is going to talk about Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn. But I’m not really worried about either of them. Mizzou tends to handle mobile quarterbacks pretty well, and Benn can only do so much with Juice throwing him one-hoppers. I’ll be watching junior running back Daniel Dufrene to see if he can step into the big shoes left by Rashard Mendenhall. Dufrene had 58 yards in last year’s game on only six carries. The Tigers have to slow him down to win.
The marquis player on the other side of the ball is Vontae Davis at cornerback. Tiger fans might remember
Keys to the Game:
2. Mizzou getting on top early: I haven’t seen the Illini this year (obviously), but I have to assume that they are a similar team – which means they aren’t really built to come from behind. On the flipside, they have the ability to grind out the clock with Juice and Dufrene if they get a lead. While I don’t expect the Tigers to fold under the pressure, things could get interesting if
3. Killer instinct: For years, Pinkel’s teams didn’t have it at all (see: the entire 2004 season). Last year, they showed it in flashes, pummeling
Last season, the Tigers only scored fewer than 30 points once. I don’t see it happening on Saturday, and I think that’s the only way
Can you name the only two Tiger starters who are not from