Uncomfortable

While I can be an attention-seeker on karaoke night or when I made the unfortunate decision to read a story about all of my near-death experiences during a work function, I tend to shy away from the spotlight. That’s why my job-free existence is difficult. Sending resumes and completing interviews are big time “me, me, me” moments. I must overcome.

Missouri isn’t just a favorite in tomorrow’s season opener against Illinois. They are a prohibitive favorite. I hate it when Missouri is a prohibitive favorite. I’m not used to it. Until last year, when Missouri was a favorite, they tended to blow every other opportunity. Gary Pinkel regularly won 8 games with 10-win talent. Now Missouri has 11-win talent.

Here are my concerns:

Most national title contenders have a veteran offensive line. Missouri is starting a redshirt freshman left tackle.

The top two returning running backs had 103 combined carries last year. I think Derrick Washington will be the bell cow this year. It’s doubtful that he will exceed 200 carries. It’s not that kind of offense.

The WR depth is not too solid. Jeremy Maclin’s the only starter without concerns. Chase Coffman broke a pinky finger a couple of weeks ago. Danario Alexander had knee surgery recently. Veterans Tommy Saunders and Jared Perry will have to step up. You may see a freshman like Jerrell Jackson, Andrew Jones, or Wes Kemp making some plays.

And for “fair and balanced” purposes, let’s talk about my non-concerns:

Chase Daniel is the best QB in Missouri history. I thought Brad Smith was the best QB Missouri would ever have, or deserve. All Daniel lacks is height, and that’s not an issue in college.

The defense will be more than good enough. Ten returning starters from the Cotton Bowl are plenty. Did you see how the Tigers bottled up Felix Jones and Darren McFadden, two backs who are going to be very good in the NFL? Illinois has a new starting RB and a running QB who makes every Illini fan nervous when he throws.

Illinois plays in the Big 10. While the conference isn’t full of big plodding RBs like it used to be, it’s still the conference that can’t count.

What is difficult about college football is that the first game is for real. Despite efforts to soak the game-attending fans, college still hasn’t sunk to charging fans full price for meaningless preseason games like the NFL. All fans get are local newspaper accounts of practice. Things can change when it’s for real. An early turnover would be huge for either team.

After last night’s college openers, I can see that Mike Price isn’t the miracle worker anymore at UTEP, North Carolina State has to wonder why they gave all that cash to Tom O’Brien, and the leading player in QB rating and rushing yards are from the University of Buffalo. Missouri plays the University of Buffalo this year.

I love it how the ESPN U athletic apparel page has the tag line “Never graduate.” Just like Missouri basketball players.

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