Mizzou football: 5 things we have to see in Week 1
The Missouri Tigers are heading west this weekend, where they’ll take on the Wyoming Cowboys in Laramie.
Last year, the Cowboys visited Columbia and left town with a 40-13 loss. Will they be able to get revenge on their home turf Saturday night?
The line favors the Tigers by 17.5 points, but playing at Wyoming is not a normal task. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time and can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.
Here are 5 things I want to see from the Tigers as they get their 2019 campaign started:
1. Chemistry between OC Derek Dooley and QB Kelly Bryant
Dooley enters Year 2 as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator, but he’ll have to change his scheme a bit to fit the strengths of new QB Kelly Bryant. Bryant’s skills are different from Drew Lock’s, and the offense should reflect that.
Dooley will have a plan and Bryant will make some plays, but it’ll be interesting to see exactly how in sync the Tigers are offensively. Wyoming had the nation’s No. 25 run defense in 2018 and the No. 32 pass defense, so the Cowboys aren’t pushovers on that side of the ball.
2. Solid conditioning
Wyoming’s home stadium — War Memorial Stadium (no, not the one in Little Rock) — is located at 7,215 feet above sea level, making it the stadium at the highest altitude at the FBS level. What does that mean for the Tigers? They’d better be in tip-top physical shape.
The lack of oxygen will make things a bit more difficult, but it won’t serve as an excuse for struggling. Hopefully Mizzou players have been doing some extra conditioning work this summer.
3. Strong tackling
The Tigers are favored to win, as they should be. However, missed tackles can derail any season opener. We saw it in Week 0, when the Florida Gators’ struggles in the tackling department nearly cost them the win against Miami.
Mizzou’s defense has struggled in the first half of the past 2 seasons, so let’s see if they were paying attention to the Florida game. Wrapping up is critical. LB Cale Garrett will be a huge player in the middle of the defense all year, and he can really make a statement against the Cowboys.
4. A healthy Albert Okwuegbunam
Albert O has been dealing with a knee issue this summer and has been limited during camp. He’s expected to be ready for Week 1, but how much he plays remains to be seen.
It would be great for Mizzou fans if he came out looking healthy and ready to handle a full workload. Albert O is one of the best tight ends in the country at full strength, and with Bryant running the show, 2019 could be a huge season for him if he’s ready to go.
5. A convincing victory
Two years ago, the Mizzou defense looked pitiful in a 72-43 win over FCS foe Missouri State in the opener. That was a sign of things to come, as the Tigers lost their next 5 games before rebounding to win their final 6.
With major expectations on the program this fall, a convincing win in Laramie is a must. Wyoming is solid, but if Mizzou is going to challenge for 10 wins like many think it can, the Tigers need to dominate in every aspect of the game.
Whatever happens, it’ll be exciting to watch, as a new era of Mizzou football is about to begin.