Steve Savards Field Notes

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Mizzou-Illinois

by Steve Savard

KMOV.com

Posted on August 31, 2008 at 9:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 3:25 PM

Great show at the Edward Jones Dome again last night. Hope you had the over. Some random thoughts:

--Juice Williams has made strides throwing the ball. I'm not referencing the long passes to wide open receivers. Any Division 1-A q-b can make those throws. But three of his other touchdown tosses required great accuracy and he delivered. He still loses his fundamentals from time to time, especially when throwing on the run, but he's come a long way.

--Mizzou's offense reminds me of the Rams in the Greatest Show days. If the offense stays healthy, it may be close to unstoppable by October or November.

--Obviously Mizzou has some coverage issues to shore up but I really like the front seven. Ziggy Hood is a legit first day draft pick and Stryker Sulak has a chance to record a dozen or so sacks this season. Linebacker Will Witherspoon will be a first round pick and Brock Christopher is underrated. For a guy with a reputation as a step slow he makes a lot of plays---all over the field. He's a winner.

--Mizzou placekicker Jeff Wolfert has hit 17 straight field goals. He's the most overlooked major contributor on the team. Gary Pinkel doesn't hesitate to try a field goal of 50 or more. He has complete confidence in his kicker.

--Illinois' running game will be a work in progress in the early part of the season. Rashard Mendenhall will be very difficult to replace. He was an absolute stud last season. Had he played for USC or Ohio State, he would have been a top ten pick right behind Arkansas' Darren McFadden. It's a good sign for true freshman Jason Ford of Althoff that he is already a part of the backfield rotation.

--Sophomore Derrick Washington will take Mizzou's running game to a new level. No knock on Tony Temple--he had a good career. But Temple was somewhat limited athletically and Washington is not. He's already being used a lot in the slot like he's an extra wide receiver.

--I will be very surprised if this Mizzou offense doesn't break the school records for points scored and yards gained in a single season. Very surprised. I hope Mizzou fans are really enjoying what they're watching right now.

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