As a coach, it is vital to have a good understanding of your team. No two seasons are exactly alike, so it becomes the coach's responsibility to make adjustments that benefit the team. A prime example of this philosophy is the 2009 Tigers.
It is no secret Missouri is coming off the most successful two-year stretch in team history, complete with 22 wins and consecutive Big 12 North titles. Missouri will attempt to add to those numbers this year, but on the shoulders of some new playmakers.
"I've never asked a player to go in and try to be somebody else," coach Gary Pinkel said. "You are who you are. [Freshman quarterback] Blaine Gabbert should be Blaine Gabbert, not Chase Daniel, not Brad Smith."
Pinkel acknowledged transition is a fact of life in college football.
"One area you look at is what you're asking a young quarterback to do," Pinkel said. "The things we did with Chase Daniel his junior and senior year, we did not do his sophomore year. I think the people around Blaine Gabbert make it more of a smooth transition."
That is where senior wide receiver Danario Alexander and sophomore wideout Wes Kemp come in. Those two are expected to start this season, and thus serve as part of Gabbert's supporting cast.
Throughout the spring and summer, the quarterback had plenty of chances to gain rapport with his receivers.
"We've developed a pretty good chemistry," Alexander said in reference to Gabbert. "That just comes from working out in the summer and playing catch every day. So everything is coming along real nice."
In order for that chemistry to translate to the field, the coaches have to carefully prepare for the season. The Tigers prepare for opponents throughout the spring and summer.
"For the first few games that we have, there's usually more game planning," Pinkel said of preparing through a season. "We have reports on all the teams, and certainly Illinois is one of them. For the most part, our philosophy is to get the double number of practice reps for our first game."
This offseason, practices were tailored differently than in the past. Due to the turnover, both on the field and on the sidelines, Missouri took a more conservative approach to practices.
With new offensive and defensive coordinators, the Tigers spent more time focusing on the fundamentals. As the practices stretched into the summer, the team built upon the foundation that had been laid earlier on.
"Things started out a little bit slower, but that's because we had to start from the basics," senior defensive lineman Jaron Baston said. "You have to start from scratch and build your way up. But I really don't see a difference from where we are now. We're moving fast, everybody is communicating, we're talking louder."