WR Sean Coffey

2004 Statistics

Coach: Gary Pinkel
22-25, 4 years
2004 Record: 5-6
at Troy LOST 14-24
at Baylor WON 30-10
at Texas LOST 20-28
at Nebraska LOST 3-24
at Iowa State WON 17-14 (OT)

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

After a 2003 season that saw the first winning record and bowl trip since '98, the Tigers appeared to crumble under the pressure of huge potential and raised expectations. The staff out-coached itself by limiting Smith's options, resulting in a disjunctive offensive effort that cost the team a division title in the mediocre Big 12 North and a second straight bowl trip.

Well, now the pressure is off. Despite the return of Smith, the Tigers are largely pegged to be an also-ran in the division. They enter this season with something to prove rather than something to live up to, a big mental advantage for most college teams. And Smith is free to improvise, which is when he's at his best.

The slightly reworked schedule is favorable. The athletic department got out of a rough opener against Iowa and replaced it with Arkansas State at Arrowhead. It will be the Tigers' first trip to Kansas City in 60 years, something they hoped to make last year by appearing in the Big 12 title game. Home dates against New Mexico and Troy follow, giving this team an excellent shot at 3-0 heading into the conference opener against Texas (if they can get payback on Troy). But neither of these is a pushover, so we will see just where Mizzu lands with these initial testing scrimmages. Any shot at the division will be determined by road dates at Colorado and Kansas State in the final three weeks of the season.

Developing the front-seven and adjusting to the new-look offense are keys. If both happen quickly, don't be surprised if the Tigers are a major surprise this fall. But, realistically, a winning record and another bowl trip are reasonable goals. Anything less could cost Pinkel his job. So while the pressure is off his players, not everyone in the program is feeling more relaxed – yet.

Projected 2005 record: 4-7
QB - 4.5 DL - 3
RB - 3 LB - 2.5
WR - 4 DB - 3.5
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Brad Smith, 369-191-11, 2185 yds., 17 TD

Rushing: Brad Smith, 165 att., 553 yds., 4 TD

Receiving: Sean Coffey, 39 rec., 648 yds., 10 TD

Scoring: Sean Coffey, 10 TD, 60 pts.

Punting: Matt Hoenes, 31 punts, 36.6 avg.

Kicking: Adam Crossett, 1-3 FG, 2-2 PAT, 5 pts.

Tackles: Jason Simpson, 98 tot., 58 solo

Sacks: Brian Smith, 7 sacks

Interceptions: A.J. Kincade, 2 for 0 yds.; Marcus King, 2 for 1 yd.

Kickoff Returns: Alex Woodley, 9 ret., 20.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: None


DB James Simpson
OFFENSE: Tony Clinker-OT, Scott Paffrath-OT, Joe Gianino-OG, Thomson Omboga-WR, Victor Sesay-TE, Joe Tantarelli-K, Damien Nash-TB (NFL)
DEFENSE: Atiyya Ellison-NT, James Kinney-LB, Shirdonya Mitchell-CB, Henry Sweat-LB, Zach Ville-DE, Nino Williams-SS, C.J. Mosley-DT (NFL)

Mizzu is down to its last chips with Brad Smith. As a result, coach Gary Pinkel, who could need a few good hands this fall to save his job, is finally revamping the offense to play to the strength of one of the nation's best athletes. While much of the new look is shrouded in secrecy, it appears as if the offense will be a no-huddle spread attack (resembling Meyer’s Utah or Bowling Green squads) that should give Smith more choices out of the option. Smith, who never got on track last fall as Pinkel tried to turn him into a pocket passer, can finally get back to using those quick legs. The new offense didn't look great during the spring game, when the re-tooled defense held Smith and the first team to one first down in three series. On the bright side, he didn't turn the ball over (last fall, the typically accurate Smith threw 11 picks). Apparently (as some are), he's better when he has to make decisions on the fly. This is his chance to take it to the next level, but, as talented as Smith is, he'll need his teammates to grasp the offense before he can truly live up to his potential.

Running Back
Tony Temple got the edge on fellow soph Marcus Woods for the starting tailback job during the spring, when Woods sat out with a strained knee ligament. Temple, a small speedster (4.4 in the 40) with nice vision, good pass-catching ability and decent power, had possibly the best spring out of anyone on the roster. He would be an exciting complement to Smith if everything clicks. One area of concern is fumbles -- Temple dropped the ball four times in the final three scrimmages. Woods, who got three starts last fall, is another tiny guy with similar speed. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry and showed decent hands, but he has a lot of catching up to do with Temple. Toss in the running ability of Smith, and the overall speed and variability of this rushing attack will be problematic for most front sevens. There is no fullback in this offense.

Though plagued by injuries this spring, this group is solid as Smith has several big, quick targets. The leader is all-conference candidate Sean Coffey, a 6-5, 220-pounder who is at his best on medium-range routes. Coffey, who had 10 TDs and averaged 16.6 yards per catch, is Missouri’s go-to receiver, but this unit needs someone to step up and be a deep threat. Returning starter Brad Ekwerekwu, who moves to the Z-spot, showed signs of emerging as such in the spring. He's 6-3 and runs a 4.3, though that only helped him averaged 8.9 yards per grab in '04. Redshirt freshman Tommy Saunders, a walk-on, capitalized on the absence of Coffey and starter Will Franklin and emerged as a possible possession receiver out of the H-spot this spring. Then there are fast guys like Greg Bracey and Chris Crosby, who fans are still waiting to see fulfill their potential(s). If someone can go long consistently, it will open up the running game and the underneath routes. That would make a player like Smith look like Mike Vick.

Tight End
When the underneath opens up, there are two players here who will prosper. Former big-time recruit DeQuincy Howard stood out with an excellent spring, but the starting gig will likely go to soph Martin Rucker. A freshman all-America, Rucker had 19 catches and four TDs last fall while proving to be a good blocker. Howard, who runs a 4.6, is a little faster. Smith hit his TEs 51 times last fall. Howard and Rucker have the potential to increase that number.

Offensive Line
The line, which returns three starters, was off-key throughout much of the spring. In addition to adjusting to a revamped offense, one of its starters, soph LT Tyler Luellen, sat out with a shoulder injury. Another, LG Tony Palmer, showed up overweight and opened the spring at No. 2 on the depth chart. The challenge to Palmer resulted in a solid spring. A probable fourth-year starter, he'll need to be the leader up front for a unit that spearheaded effective (but still left wanting) efforts in rushing (165.0 yards per game) and protection (21 sacks allowed). Luellen and Palmer should form a solid blindside, while soph C Adam Spieker is developing into an excellent anchor. There's plenty of competition on the right side, which will leave some nice depth in the wake of the named starters. How these guys handle the adjusted offense will determine how effective the entire team is.

By most accounts, ours included, Pinkel was nuts to keep Smith harnessed in a drop-back scheme. He'll have to hope it's not too late to make this change. If the offense had been anywhere near productive last fall, this team plays in the conference title game and goes bowling. With the defense having to replace seven starters, it will have to be a force. A talented line and backfield should blend with Smith for an efficient ground game. The key will be getting balance out of the passing attack. If Smith can go vertical more often, this could finally be a special offense. Balance will be established, and what should have been (Smith leading a juggernaut) will finally be.


QB Brad Smith


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Brad Smith-Sr (6-2, 210) Brandon Coleman-Jr (6-4, 215)
TB Tony Temple-So (5-10, 195) Marcus Woods-So (5-8, 185)
WR Will Franklin-So (6-2, 195) Chris Crosby-Sr (6-3, 205)
WR Brad Ekwerekwu-Jr (6-3, 215) Andrew Hoskins-Jr (6-2, 205)
WR Sean Coffey-Sr (6-5, 220) Jason Ray-So (6-2, 215)
TE Martin Rucker-So (6-5, 245) DeQuincy Howard-Jr (6-4, 255)
OT Tyler Luellen-So (6-7, 295) Colin Brown-Fr (6-7, 305)
OG Tony Palmer-Sr (6-2, 325) Ryan Madison-Fr (6-5, 295)
C Adam Spieker-So (6-3, 310) John Dirk-Fr (6-3, 280)
OG Mike Cook-Jr (6-2, 320) Monte Wyrick-So (6-4, 325)
OT Joel Clinger-Jr (6-6, 310) Kyle Riggs-Fr (6-6, 310)
K Adam Crossett-So (6-2, 215) Scott Russell-Fr (6-1, 180)


Defensive Line
Despite taking some hard graduation hits, there should be little drop-off among with the starting group. The problem is developing experienced reserves, but the relatively soft early schedule and some incoming Juco DEs should help in that effort. The DE duo of Xzavie Jackson and Brian Smith should be among the best in the Big 12, while DT Lorenzo Williams, a former DE, emerged this spring as possibly the team's best lineman. He'll team inside with NT Earl Stephens, a former TE and potentially solid run-stopper who was a second-stringer last fall. Smith, who had seven sacks as a backup, brings the kind of speed off the edge that forces offenses to change game plans, while Jackson is more of a run-stopping end who hold “stays home” to optimize his positioning. This is a good group, but an effective rotation must be developed before the run defense can improve on last year's No. 64 national ranking.

This is the potential weak link of the defense. The unit reloads after the losses of Henry Sweat and the program's all-time top-tackler in James Kinney. Sweat left a key gap to fill in the middle, where converted safety Dedrick Harrington takes over. It was hoped that former-Michigan State RB David Richard would blossom into a force at the spot this spring, but it didn't happen. The good news is senior Derrick Ming, a career special team contributor, looked strong in taking over at the weak-side spot this spring. He and returning strong-side backer Marcus Bacon were said to have had the best springs of any defensive players. Richard and redshirt freshman Van Alexander provide decent depth for a unit that should be quick and aggressive, though inexperienced.

Defensive Back
Two starters and plenty of experienced backups return to form what could once again be one of the nation's better pass defenses. The Tigers ranked No. 3 in the nation as opponents averaged just 149.3 yards per game through the air. Talkative FS Jason Simpson, a second-team All-Big 12 pick, has assumed the leadership role. The team's second-leading tackler, he's a force against the run as well as the pass. Simpson did away with his long hair and beard, showing up for spring ball with a shaved dome as a sign of maturity. He'll have to pick up the solid players around him, including new starters David Overstreet (SS) and A.J. Kincade (CB). The key could be the status of top-cover CB Marcus King (suspended in February for attacking his girlfriend’s car with a brick). Expect Calvin Washington, a starter in '03, to take over if/when King doesn't return.

After steadily improving since Pinkel took over, the defense peaked last fall, ranking second in the Big 12. The Tigers also put steady pressure on opposing passers while forcing a decent amount of turnovers (23). The soft underbelly was, and still is, the front seven. The new faces up front must get more penetration while freeing a quick group of LBs to make plays. Opponents will surely try to exploit the inexperience in the run defense, making rapid development in the front seven essential to the success of this defense, and probably the team. This tough conference won’t wait for developments to solidify, so expect the problem areas to be exploited early and often, until shored up.


DE Brian Smith


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Brian Smith-Jr (6-3, 225) Stryker Sulak-Fr (6-5, 245)
DT Lorenzo Williams-So (6-2, 275) Scott Wheatley-Sr (6-2, 290)
NT Earl Stephens-Sr (6-4, 300) DeMarcus Scott-Jr (6-2, 275)
DE Xzavie Jackson-Jr (6-4, 260) Elgin Childress-Sr (6-1, 245)
SLB Marcus Bacon-Jr (6-2, 220) Emmett Morris-Jr (5-11, 235)
MLB Dedrick Harrington-Jr (6-3, 240) David Richard-Jr (6-2, 235)
WLB Derrick Ming-Sr (5-11, 245) Van Alexander-Fr (6-1, 230)
CB Marcus King-Sr (5-10, 195) Alex Woodley-So (5-11, 175)
CB A.J. Kincade-Sr (5-10, 190) Calvin Washington-Sr (6-0, 195)
SS David Overstreet-Jr (6-0, 210) Justin Scott-Sr (6-0, 200)
FS Jason Simpson-Sr (6-0, 205) Brandon Massey-Jr (6-1, 195)
P Matt Hoenes-Jr (6-1, 195) ..




Adam Crossett, who was a part-timer on punts and FGs while handling kickoffs, will focus on kicking this fall. He has a strong leg, which resulted in 12 touchbacks and a couple 40-some yard field goal tries. Crossett, who was 1-of-3, just has to develop accuracy, which appeared better this spring. He might also want to get some more hang time on those kickoffs -- coverage here was inversely lousy, ranking 90th in the nation.

Matt Hoenes struggled last fall as a soph. He'll be pushed by incoming freshman Matt Casaday, a Texas native who originally committed to Utah. Hoenes looked better in the spring, but expect Casaday to take over and improve an area that cost this team valuable field position. Coverage was 46th in the nation, however, and the overall speed on board should lead to similar net numbers.

Return Game
Punt returns were outstanding (28th); kicks were dreadful (105th). Those stats don't mean too much, though, because the primary specialists in both areas are gone. Who will take over here will be decided this fall, and several players on both sides with great 40 times will get a look.