Published July 27, 2012 - 10:30am
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Only four Mizzou players cracked the coaches’ SEC Preseason All-Conference list. Fair assessment? Disrespect because of their rookie status? Those answers remain to be seen, but here’s a quick profile of each of the quartet of Tigers who earned preseason honors, and hope to keep Mizzou in the race as the team embarks on new territory.
WR T.J. Moe
Moe has already been named an all-conference performer twice in the Big 12, leading the Tigers in receptions each of the past two years. Working out of the slot, the St. Louis native has been a jack-of-all-trades type for Mizzou, putting up scores by throwing, running, and catching the ball since the beginning of the 2010 campaign.
Two years ago, with Blaine Gabbert at the helm, Moe caught 94 balls, perhaps none more important than a game winning 68-yard TD grab against San Diego State with just under a minute left, helping Mizzou to one of their 10 wins on the season. In 2011, Moe’s numbers dipped a bit due to a more run-oriented offense, but the six-foot, 200-pounder was still one of James Franklin’s most reliable targets, and should be so again this season, as the Tigers take their unique offense against some new competition.
OT Elvis Fisher
A sixth-year senior, Fisher has earned Emeritus status along Mizzou’s O-line. The 295-pound left tackle earned captain honors before the season last year, but tore his ACL in one the team’s first practices.
Before Fisher’s injury, he hadn’t missed a start over the course of three years, giving the Tigers a bedrock at left tackle who twice earned Big-12 Honorable Mention. Fisher is one of the few Mizzou players who hails from SEC country, coming to Columbia by way of St. Petersburg, Florida.
CB E.J. Gaines
Despite only being a sophomore, Gaines earned 1st team all-conference honors last season after getting 16 pass break-ups and a pair of interceptions. The five-foot-ten, 190-pound Gaines consistently covered up opponents’ best receivers in the pass happy Big 12. He returns this season, along with Mizzou’s two other top corners, to form a veteran trio that should help the Tigers in their maiden voyage into the SEC.
Gaines, who was a high school star in the Kansas City area, also made 69 tackles, including four behind the line, while also earning enough punt return duties to give the Tigers their lone special teams touchdown of the year. Look for the junior to be one-on-one at times with some of the SEC’s best receivers.
OLB Zaviar Gooden
Gooden, a fifth-year senior from a place called Pflugerville, Texas, has started every game over the past two seasons on the weak side for Mizzou. Last season, Gooden led the Tigers in solo tackles, while also cracking the stat line in a multitude of statistical categories, including: interceptions, sacks, pass break-ups, and a blocked kick.
Mizzou will showcase a trio of linebackers with starting experience this season, and Gooden will be the one most likely called on to stay on the field for passing downs. The six-foot-two, 230-pound Gooden intercepted passes in the Tigers’ last two games this past year, and has broken up nine passes during his time as a starter.
Check back to SDS every now and then for more Mizzou banter as the season gets closer. Here’s to hoping The Zou can hold their own, allowing me to retain what’s left of sanity.