Is Mizzou football a contender in the SEC East?

FOOTBALL

By Evan Lachnit, 23 Sports

Monday, Sept. 22-

Heading into the season, many wondered if the Missouri Tigers would be able to repeat as SEC East champions following their improbable 2013 season. Four weeks into the season, those questions seem to be far from answered.

With a record of 3-1 and coming off a lack-luster loss to Indiana, Mizzouis facing a gauntlet over the next month with games at South Carolina, home against Georgia and on the road against Florida. All four teams have one loss, but Missouri has the sole advantage of their loss being out of conference.

Not any of the four “top tier” teams have been impressive thus far. Mizzou was upset by an Indiana team who lost to a Bowling Green the week before. Florida took three overtimes to beat Kentucky and followed that up with a loss to Alabama where the Gator defense gave up over 600 yards. South Carolina was demolished by Texas A&M in week one but defeated Georgia just two weeks later in a game in which the Bulldogs did not impress.

With one quarter of the season in the books, the question remains, is Mizzou a contender for the SEC East? The answer still remains there is no reason why they are not. With every team in the division having varying issues, the Tigers are in just as good of a spot as anyone to claim the division crown and travel to Atlanta for the second straight year.

Missouri will have to improve on the offensive end of the ball following a less than par performance against the Hoosiers this weekend. Quarterback Maty Mauk has impressive stats through four games with 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions, but his decision-making has been questionable at times, as he has struggled to generate offense.

The Tigers defense will have to continue to create turnovers this season. Missouri’s streak of 47 games with a turnover was snapped on Saturday’s loss. A big key to Missouri’s success will come from winning the turnover battle.

Georgia and South Carolina have the most favorable schedules with their toughest remaining game appearing to be against Auburn. Mizzou will have difficulties of their own next month when they have to travel to College Station to face an improved Aggies team.

Wideouts Jimmie Hunt and Bud Saser will be key to the Tigers moving the ball along with running backs Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbourgh. The offensive line will need to pick up their game after a poor performance against Indiana, especially playing a solid defense next week in South Carolina.

The SEC East may very well be won or lost for the Tigers in the next month. If they can fix their mental errors and be the aggressive hard-nose team of last year, they should have a very good chance to head back to the Georgia Dome.