PowerMizzou.com was on hand at every open Missouri practice over the last three weeks. We have seen as much of this Tiger team as anybody who isn't actually a part of the team. After checking out all the action over the last few weeks, we are ready to hand out our 2005 fall camp awards.
Best Offensive CampThis doesn't necessarily go to the best player. If it did, we wouldn't really need to make this an award. Instead, we select the player who had the best three weeks of practice, day in and day out.
This year, we give the nod to Missouri sophomore tailback Tony Temple. Temple simply is the best back we've seen in Columbia in a long time, and maybe ever by the time he's done. He has the potential to go the distance every single time he gets his hands on the ball. In Mizzou's second scrimmage, Temple touched the ball just seven times, but accounted for 115 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.
Best Defensive Camp In this case, we do go with the best player. Jason Simpson may mean more to the defense than Brad Smith does to the offense. Now, that's a statement.
Simpson is not only the best Tiger defender on the field, but he is the heart and soul of this team. You can't help but notice Simpson jawing in every single workout. The other defenders feed off of it. William Moore said Simpson has really helped him out over the last year, so much so that Moore will probably play on more than half of the Tigers' defensive snaps. Gary Pinkel has repeatedly called him the best leader he's had in five years.
Offensive Surprise Coming into camp, we had no idea what to expect out of William Franklin. Yes, we'd heard all about his vertical jump and all about how he had the potential to be a great player. But we'd also never really seen any evidence it was going to happen. After three weeks of camp, we can now say, it's going to happen. Franklin was the best receiver on the team through the first three weeks of camp. Whoever flipped the Helicopter's switch, Missouri fans would like to thank you.
Defensive Surprise This was the easiest one to pick. Without a doubt, it's Harrington. Prior to fall camp, we selected him as the player under the most pressure to perform. He performed. Harrington looked like the four-star stud everyone thought they would see two years ago. Maybe it's taken a while, but better late than never.
Best Offensive Newcomer A week ago, we had this engraved for Chase Daniel. But the quarterback had a somewhat rough week since his opening scrimmage and now we go with another Chase. Chase Coffman is ready to play. Yes, he could use some more weight and yes, Missouri might have the luxury of redshirting him. But they don't have to. This kid could play and have a pretty good season behind Rucker.
Best Defensive Newcomer We said Harrington was the easiest award, but this one's right there. Evander Hood might start at defensive tackle. Coming in, nobody even knew if he would play defensive tackle. He has been everything Missouri possibly could have hoped for and more. An ankle injury will keep him out of today's final scrimmage, and possibly the starting lineup, but when the coach says less than two weeks into camp that a true freshman will play, you've got a future star on your hands.
The season will be a success if... This offense is as good as it has looked for three weeks. If the Tigers do what we think they can offensively, 30 points a game will be easy. In addition, Smith, Rucker, Franklin, Sean Coffey, Tony Palmer and Adam Spieker could all get some consideration for post-season all-conference awards. The Tigers are set at the skill positions. They've got more weapons than any Missouri team I have personally seen in my lifetime. Granted, I'm not that old, but this team is going to score.
The season will be a failure if... The Tigers lose a non-conference game. In all reality, when you look back on 2004, the season ended at Troy. Yes, Missouri recovered and won its next three, but that game took the wind out of the sails. The Tigers have almost always lost one game a season that you counted as a win before the year started. They can't do it in the non-conference schedule. New Mexico is a decent team, maybe even a pretty good one if Dontrelle Moore is healthy. That shouldn't matter. Missouri can't lose this game. If the Tigers go into the Big 12 season at any less than 3-and-0, fans should be concerned. If you do that, .500 in the league gets you seven wins. That should be the minimum goal for this year.
To access all of our coverage from fall camp, click here. PowerMizzou.com will continue to be your most complete source for Tiger football coverage throughout the 2005 season. We will be with the team at every turn beginning with media day next Monday. To talk about it with other Tiger fans, visit our premium forum, The Tigers' Lair.