July 20, 2006

Powered Up: The line is the key

As we resume our look at what the Tigers need from each position on the field, we reach, bar none, without a doubt, not debatable, the most critical spot on this year's Tiger team. This year, we find out how good this offensive line is.

Over the last four years, Brad Smith made missed blocks almost irrelevant. Sure you saw them, but Smith was as likely as not to turn a sack into a ten yard gain. Chase Daniel is somewhat mobile, but he's not Brad Smith. If both tackles miss blocks, Missouri is either going to give up a sack or turn the ball over, or maybe both. That happened some in the last four years, but it happened a lot less than it would have without No. 16 back there behind center.

It will be completely upon the offensive line how far this offense can go. Daniel is a good quarterback. The tight ends are phenomenal. The receivers have some serious potential. None of it will matter if there's no time to get rid of the ball.

The Tigers were decent on the line last year. Not dominating, but not dismal. But they lost not only their best blocker, but also their heart and soul in Tony Palmer. While Monte Wyrick will be asked to replace Palmer on the field, replacing him in the locker room will be tougher.

We'll judge Missouri's offensive line play on one number this year: The number under the letter 'W' at the end of the season. Because no unit will be more responsible for how many games the Tigers win. Or lose.

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