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May 3, 2010Over the next few weeks, PowerMizzou.com will take an in-depth look at the Tiger schedule for the 2010 football season. We will start our previews with a position-by-position look at the schedule. Over the next two weeks, we will focus on one position per day and rank the positions from best to worst for Mizzou's 12 opponents. At the end of those rankings, we will add up the results to rank the season's games in terms of degree of difficulty. Today, we start with a look at the quarterbacks the Tigers will face this season. We list the teams in order of best to worst. The rankings are nothing more than our opinions.
Texas A&M: Jerrod Johnson returns off a breakout season as the pick of some to be the all-Big 12 quarterback this season. Johnson had more than 4,000 yards combined passing and rushing, while accounting for 38 touchdowns and throwing just eight interceptions. His best effort was a nationally televised battle with Colt McCoy and Texas on Thanksgiving night. Johnson is probably the best quarterback the Tigers will face this season.
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 12
Oklahoma: Landry Jones took over for an injured Sam Bradford last season and struggled at times in an 8-and-5 season for the Sooners. But Jones gained valuable experience and ended the year with 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns. Jones did throw 14 interceptions and completed just 58% of his passes. The numbers weren't as good as Blaine Gabbert's in his first year as a starter, but Jones figures to make plenty of improvement entering year two. In Ryan Broyles (89 catches, 1,120 yards, 15 touchdowns), Jones may have the best returning receiver in the league.
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 11
Texas Tech: Like the Huskers, Tech brings back a starter, but he may not win the job in 2010. Here is what RedRaiderSports.com had to say:
"Assuming no further setbacks with his feet I think Steven Sheffield is the one. He was clearly Tech's best quarterback a year ago, and he certainly did nothing to lose that standing during the spring. It's hard to win a split decision against the champion; you practically have to knock him out to win. And Taylor Potts did not land the haymaker this spring."
Potts threw for 3,440 yards and 22 touchdowns last season, but also had 13 picks. Sheffield completed 74% of his passes and had 14 touchdowns against just four interceptions. He's also much more mobile. With new coach Tommy Tuberville running the show, it's anyone's guess who will win the job, but in watching Tech play last year, Sheffield makes more plays. After picking up some experience last season, he could be a big surprise in the Big 12.
A friend in Lubbock told me, "A lot depends on how healthy Sheffield is ... they can win ten or eleven with him healthy all year but if it's Potts then only about 8 in my opinion."
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 10
Iowa State: The Cyclones were the surprise of the Big 12 last season, making a bowl appearance in Paul Rhoads' first year. Austen Arnaud returns as a senior to run the show for a third consecutive season. Arnaud has played well against the Tigers in his career and has more than 5,000 career passing yards and will cross the 1,000-yard mark on the ground this year. Arnaud gives ISU what only Missouri has in the North: A clear-cut starter who has experience running the offense. Arnaud isn't a star, but he's an experienced vet who gives the Cyclones hope they can build on last season with another bowl game.
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 9
Nebraska: For all the hype and expectations in Lincoln for 2010, there seems to be no clear answer as to who will be under center for Bo Pelini. Zac Lee is back after starting 12 of the 14 games a season ago and throwing for 2,143 yards. But no one is handing the job to Lee. Both Cody Green and Taylor Martinez are in the mix and whispers around the program may have Martinez as the leader coming out of spring ball. Here is the take from HuskersIllustrated.com:
"There are still so many questions about the quarterback position heading into fall camp. To me, this is clearly the make or break position for the football team heading into 2010. If they can get the QB position figured out and get the consistency they want, the sky is the limit as to how far they can go. My take from talking to program insiders is both Cody Green and Taylor Martinez are locked in a dead heat right now and Zac Lee is going to have to beat them out in August if he wants to be the starter. With the questions heading out of spring and the inconsistency from 2009, it's hard to go much higher than a C at this point."
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 8
Kansas State: Carson Coffman won the job last spring, but couldn't hold off Grant Gregory during the season. Coffman looks to once again be the man in Manhattan after a seven-touchdown performance in the spring game.
"With sophomore Collin Klein, Coffman's main competition, missing in action because of what head coach Bill Snyder called a 'slight injury,' and third option Sammuel Lamur flirting with disaster almost constantly during his time on the field, the veteran stole the show," reported GoPowerCat.com.
Coffman threw for 860 yards, but had just two touchdowns and four picks in limited time a season ago. He has the advantage of having Daniel Thomas, probably the best running back Missouri will face all season, but has limited weapons in the passing game.
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 7
Illinois: Redshirt freshman and former Missouri target Nathan Scheelhaase took over the starting job on the second day of spring practice and is the odds-on starter for next season. Here was the post-spring assessment from OrangeandBlueNews.com: "struggled throwing the ball over the middle on intermediate to long passes this spring, forced the ball into double-triple coverages too many times.....has to continue to work on his mechanics, when he doesn't step into the throw, too many times the pass flutters or his release point is low leading to pass being batted down by the defensive line or receivers having to go down low to attempt to make a reception....did a real good job of throwing the ball away when he didn't have anything and was being forced out of the pocket.....dink and dunk type of passer who got into a good rhythm throwing the ball this spring to receiver A.J. Jenkins, tight end Zach Becker."
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 6
Colorado: It seems to be a battle between two familiar faces in Boulder. Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen have both been the starter at times, but neither has done anything to cement his spot atop the depth chart. Here's what Dan Hawkins had to say prior to spring ball:
"Both those guys have done some good things for us," Hawkins said. "Obviously Cody has a few more wins underneath his belt than Tyler does but I think Tyler has done some good things as well."
Hansen's gold team won the spring game, but it was due in part to an 83-yard touchdown pass from freshman Nick Hirschman. At this point, it is anyone's guess who the Buffs' starter is by the time they face the Tigers.
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 5
Kansas: From the music to your ears department for Missouri fans, Todd Reesing is gone. With him went receivers Dez Briscoe and Kerry Meier and running back Jake Sharp. Taking over the offense will be either Kale Pick or Jordan Webb. Pick threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game, but hasn't locked the job up. Pick has thrown five career passes. Webb hasn't thrown any.
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 4
San Diego State: Ryan Lindley threw for 3,054 yards and 23 touchdowns, but also had 16 picks last season. After redshirting in 2007, Lindley has started 23 of 24 games in his career and was the team's offensive MVP in 2008. He had little help on offense last season as the Aztecs ran for just 78 yards per game on the way to a 4-and-8 season. Lindley has experience, but doesn't have a ton of help.
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 3
Miami, OH: Zac Dysert started 11 games as a redshirt freshman a season ago. Dysert completed 61.6% of his passes for more than 2,600 yards, but threw 16 interceptions and just 12 touchdowns. Dysert is a dual threat, gaining 587 yards on the ground (though he lost 329 of those on sacks) and was the Redhawks' second-leading rusher. Still, Miami scored just 15 points per game and averaged 343 total yards.
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 2
McNeese State: Derrick Fourroux had a strong season in 2009, throwing for 2,307 yards and running for 607 more. Fourroux accounted for 25 touchdowns and threw just six interceptions. But with Fourroux gone, it is Zack O'Quinn or Cody Stroud's job in 2010. O'Quinn transferred from Florida after a redshirt season, and was the winning quarterback in McNeese's spring game, throwing for 130 yards on seven completions and leading two scoring drives. Stroud completed 16-of-23 passes for 163 yards and had a one-yard TD run in the spring game.
Degree of Difficulty (1-12): 1
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