Missouri still has one more football game to play this season, a New Year’s Eve matinee against Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl, but Kelly Bryant’s commitment to the Tigers on Tuesday has talk about the 2019 season buzzing.
The program will open its new south endzone complex at Memorial Stadium and will return a strong senior core led by linebacker Cale Garrett and tailback Damarea Crockett. While Missouri will lose the likes of Drew Lock and Emanuel Hall on offense, here’s an early look at the Tigers’ offense for next season:
Starter: Kelly Bryant
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Likely backup: Connor Bazelak
Analysis: Bryant is the program’s first true dual-threat quarterback since Brad Smith in 2005 and brings a ton of experience to his position as Lock’s heir. With Bryant only having one year at MU, it’s crucial that Bazelak, the No. 10 ranked pocket-passer in his class per ESPN, get snaps so he’s prepared to start in 2020.
Starters: Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree.
Backups: Tyler Badie and Simi Bakare.
Analysis: This position is loaded. A pair of 1,000-yard rushers as co-starters and two proven tailbacks as backups. Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley will likely change MU’s offense scheme to benefit the run game with Bryant being a proven runner. There’s a case to be made for MU having the best run game in the Southeastern Conference next season.
Starter: Albert Okwuegbunam?
Backups: Messiah Swinson, Daniel Parker?
Analysis: This is the position that has the most uncertainty right now. Missouri just lost tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley to Texas A&M and Okwuegbunam is draft eligible after the Liberty Bowl. Swinson was expected to play this season but tore his ACL in fall camp, which led to Parker’s conversion from defensive end to tight end. Parker has been a revelation as a tight end and said he will talk to head coach Barry Odom after the season about his future at the position. There’s a situation where Swinson is the starter next season, but with Bryant’s commitment, Okwuegbunam has reason to stay.
Starters: Jonathan Nance, Jalen Knox, Kam Scott, Johnathan Johnson, Dominic Gicinto
Backups: Alex Ofodile, Barrett Bannister, C.J. Boone, Maurice Massey
Analysis: Nance committed to Missouri minutes after Bryant and joins a loaded receiver group that gives the former Clemson quarterback plenty of throwing targets. Knox has a shot at the SEC all-freshman team after becoming MU’s primary receiver when Hall went down because of a groin injury. Scott averaged 26.8 yards per catch and has been compared to Hall by the coaching staff. Johnson and Gicinto, a Raytown graduate, are reliable slot receivers and Boone will be on campus in the spring, which could get him on the field early.
Starters: Yasir Durant, Hyrin White, Trystan Colon-Castillo, Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, Larry Borum
Analysis: Missouri loses tackle Paul Adams and guard Kevin Pendleton to graduation, so Borum and White are educated guesses. White came in during Missouri’s win over Purdue when Durant went down because of an ankle sprain and played well, which is why the staff will likely try to find a place for him in the starting lineup. Backup guard Case Cook could also push for a starting spot. Wallace-Simms was a first-team AP all-SEC selection and will be on NFL Draft boards alongside the 6-foot-7 Durant.