PowerMizzou - What We Know: Week 1 Offense
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What We Know: Week 1 Offense

After each full week of Missouri's preseason camp, PowerMizzou.com will take a position-by-position look at how the Tigers stand. What do we know? What don't we know? We'll mix in key quotes and opinion, as well.

Let's start on the offensive side and see what we know after one full week (and a few days) of preseason camp. We'll break down the defense on Sunday.


-- No starter has been officially announced, but it still seems that Drew Lock will get the nod for the 2016 season. However, even if it is the sophomore from Lee's Summit, there seems to be little doubt that both quarterbacks will play.

Josh Heupel talked about his experience using a two-quarterback system in our Aug. 4 notebook.

Now, if Marvin Zanders does indeed get some reps, it remains to be seen what that split will look like. Zanders told me he "wouldn't be surprised" if they were splitting series against West Virginia. My guess here is that we will really have no idea until Sep. 3, as the staff probably wants to keep the specifics as quiet as possible


Running back

-- Like quarterback, no starter has been announced. However, it seems like the top three guys at this point are Alex Ross, Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter. Ross was brought in with the expectation that he would take over the backfield; Crockett may be even more ahead of schedule given that he's gone from 210 to 225 pounds since the start of summer. Witter may be getting overlooked by us at this point, but given that he's the most experienced player amongst the group (with the most career carries), he's going to be in the rotation this year.

-- What about JUCO transfer Natereace Strong? He's starting to make an impression, but Cornell Ford admitted that Strong -- like many guys who don't arrive at the start of their first summer -- needs to get in better shape. That will come in time. For now, though, it looks like he's still working to break into that rotation of Ross, Crockett and Witter.

(Of course, camp doesn't end today, so there's time left.)

-- The only injury of note is a hamstring injury to Ryan Williams. Williams has been held out since Monday's practice, but Barry Odom didn't seem to think it was anything major.

WILL A FRESHMAN PLAY?: Yes. Damarea Crockett already seems to have settled into the top rotation.


-- Not much has come into focus here. The top three guys appear to be J'Mon Moore, Eric Laurent and Chris Black. At certain times, I feel like just about every receiver has been mentioned in a positive light. It's really tough to get a read on if there is clear separation or if everyone is still jumbled together.

Cornerback T.J. Warren -- who was atop the depth chart before his hamstring injury that's kept him out since Monday -- did say that he thought J'Mon Moore is the toughest receiver to cover because of his blend of size and athleticism.

-- In a recent move, walk-on receiver Oke Akushe has moved to cornerback. He's switched numbers from 88 to 9. Akushe showed some flashes in Spring 2015 but was not eligible to play last year.

-- The group has been hit by a slight injury bug, however. Black (hamstring), Emanuel Hall (hamstring) and Justin Smith (knee) are all dealing with minor injuries. It sounded like Smith's was feared to be more serious, as Odom said he had an X-ray and MRI after it flared up, but it just needed to be drained.

WILL A FRESHMAN PLAY? Yes. The way the staff talks about Dimetrios Mason, that seems like a foregone conclusion.

Tight end

-- It still seems obvious after the first week that the top three at the position are Sean Culkin, Jason Reese and Kendall Blanton. Blanton may actually be nipping at the older players' heels more than previously though. This position will likely be a rotation this year regardless, and one that will change based on the situation. It's also a position that has remained healthy through the first week.

-- The two freshmen -- Brendan Scales and Albert Okwuegbunam (Oak-woo-EG-boo-nahm, by the way) -- are making strong early impression on their teammates. Culkin said Scales is a thicker, stronger athlete; Okwuegbunam is a little rangier and has more experience split wide as a receiver. That's where he played in college.

Anyway, Okwuegbunam told me on Friday that the team is utilizing the two freshmen in different ways, based on their skillset, but didn't expand on how specifically they are being used.

WILL A FRESHMAN PLAY? Most likely, though this isn't as close to a slam-dunk as receiver or running back. Based on numbers, and the fact that Culkin is gone after this season, it still seems likely that one of the two freshmen will play. That would also split them up, eligibility-wise.

Offensive line

-- Besides Nate Crawford's medical retirement, the line is relatively healthy. The only injury of note is to A.J. Harris, as he comes back to full contact after wrist surgery in July. He's been doing some drills, just not full contact.

-- Missouri got a reinforcement this week, as Memphis grad transfer Michael Stannard was cleared. Stannard is 6-2, 290-pounds and has nine career starts under his belt. It's still unclear where he fits into the depth chart, but having experience can't hurt. He's working at guard and center.

-- The current starting center is redshirt sophomore Samson Bailey. Bailey arrived at Missouri weighing 245 pounds; he now weighs 290. He really does look like he's taking the same physical trajectory as Justin Britt. In a year or two, Bailey could well be over 300 pounds. If he's the starting center this year, however, he's going to be on the lighter side.

-- Kyle Mitchell, a JUCO transfer, started camp at left tackle but now he's moved to right guard.

-- From talking to players and coaches, if the season were today, the starting line from right to left would be Paul Adams, Alec Abeln, Bailey, Kevin Pendleton and Tyler Howell.

WILL A FRESHMAN PLAY? Yes. Looks like both Trystan Castillo and Tre'Vour Simms will at the very least be on the two-deep to start the season.