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This may not be the most dominating Alabama team in the school’s long, multi-championship history. But it is one of the most likable.
Every time Nick Saban talks about the 2014 edition of the Crimson Tide, his genuine affection for the team comes flooding out. Unlike the 2013 team, which suffered from leadership-related short circuits on both sides of the ball, the 2014 Alabama team is a strange combination of lunchpail mentality with the quick-strike ability of a coiled rattlesnake. The offense is led by the country’s unlikeliest elite quarterback, who is built like a sawed-off fireplug, runs like a whippet and has an uncanny knack for rising to the occasion.
Missouri was by far the biggest overachiever in the SEC in 2013, when good quarterback play, a solid running game and the emergence of three receivers helped the Tigers win the SEC East and likely save Gary Pinkel’s job in the process. But 2014 will bring change – the quarterback, running back and all three of the team’s top wide receivers are gone, and Missouri is beginning to deal with talent deficiencies on defense.Continue reading …
Unlike fellow SEC newbie Texas A&M, Missouri wasn’t up to the challenge of conference competition in 2012. The Tigers battled injury issues all season long, but more so than injuries was the issue of softness. This was a team that wasn’t particularly athletic, dangerous or well organized. For 2013, Missouri returns plenty of experience, but that calls into question the age-old dilemma of whether experienced middle-of-the-road players are a good thing or not. This could be Gary Pinkel’s last year in charge of the program, and he didn’t help his long-term prospects much when he signed the most disappointing recruiting class in the SEC in February, at least relative to expectations.Continue reading …
For all the argument over the speed and excitement of a spread-style offense, American football in general and SEC football specifically is about controlling the trenches and hammering the other side until it quits. Because when a spread offense doesn’t work – as it didn’t for Missouri on Saturday, or for media darling West Virginia against Texas Tech earlier in the day – the results are as ugly as a body-painted Mizzou student after four hours of rain, smuggled-in adult beverages and grass end zone seating.Continue reading …