Last Thursday, the Missouri Tigers began the 2003 football season with the kickoff of spring practice. Head coach Gary Pinkel enters his third season as the Tigers head coach and expectations are running high. Last season, Mizzou made strides going 5-7, but were competitive in most of those games. Much of that competitveness was a direct result of quarterback Brad Smith. The Youngstown, Ohio native became only the second person in Division I history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 more. The only major loss on offense is wide reciever Justin Gage. Junior college running back Damien Nash is in uniform and is expected to vie for the starting running back job. But to say the defense struggled was an understatement. The Tigers ranked 107 out of 117 teams in total defense in Division I. But that’s expected to change. With the entire 2002 recruiting class red-shirted and help from junior college transfer Neno Williams, the Tigers secondary is expected to be much faster than last season. Position changes will also change the face of Missouri’s defense in 2003. Shirdonya Mitchell has been moved from wide receiver to corner back and Brandon Barnes will move from free safety to corner. The Tigers open up the 2003 season against Illinois in St. Louis on August 30.