August 23, 2008

Christensen has Missouri offense clicking

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There weren't many things you could count on during the unpredictable 2007 season, but Missouri's offense represented one of the few constants.

Missouri scored at least 31 points in all but one game it played during its 12-2 campaign. Missouri's 38-17 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game marked the only time all season the Tigers failed to reach the 31-point mark.

Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman are a few of the biggest reasons Missouri could match that accomplishment this season. Dave Christensen's name isn't nearly as recognizable, but he may have just as big an impact on the Tigers' success.

Christensen was named the national offensive coordinator of the year last season after helping Missouri score a school-record 558 points. Christensen also enters this year as the No. 1 offensive coordinator in the Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top players and coaches at each position.

We're introducing our preseason power rankings on a position-by-position basis. We'll continue Sunday with the introduction of our defensive coordinator rankings.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.

1. Dave Christensen, Missouri
THE BUZZ: Christensen was named the offensive coordinator of the year last season and was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant. Christensen earned the plaudits because Missouri scored a school-record 558 points 159 more than the old record while keeping opponents off balance with a no-huddle attack.
2. Gary Crowton, LSU
THE BUZZ: The former Louisiana Tech and BYU head coach fit in so well at LSU that the Tigers' offense didn't miss a beat last season without Jimbo Fisher, who left for Florida State. In fact, the Tigers did even better with Crowton at the helm. LSU set a school record by averaging 38.6 points per game on its way to winning the national championship.
3. Norm Chow, UCLA
THE BUZZ: Forget about his so-so stint as the Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator and remember what this guy has accomplished in the college ranks. Chow has coached three Heisman-winning quarterbacks (Ty Detmer, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart) and All-America quarterback Philip Rivers in his stops at BYU, USC and North Carolina State. He won the Broyles Award in 2002. His move to UCLA ought to add plenty of spice to the UCLA-USC rivalry.
4. Chip Kelly, Oregon
THE BUZZ: Kelly's spread offense worked wonders at the Division I-AA level during his tenure as New Hampshire's coordinator. After moving to Oregon last season, Kelly proved his scheme also could translate to big-time college football. Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon was the nation's most improved player and a Heisman candidate while running Kelly's offense. The Ducks led the Pac-10 in scoring and total offense.
5. Dan Mullen, Florida
THE BUZZ: Any offensive coordinator in the nation would love to have the weapons at Mullen's disposal, but few of them would match his results. Florida ranked third in the nation with 42.5 points per game and led the SEC with 457.2 yards per game. Mullen also serves as Florida's quarterbacks coach and should earn at least part of the credit for Heisman winner Tim Tebow's phenomenal success.
6. Rob Spence, Clemson
THE BUZZ: Spence continually finds ways to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. He lines up C.J. Spiller just about anywhere on the field to take advantage of the star performer's speed. Spence's creativity has paid off; Clemson has led the ACC in scoring each of the past two seasons.
7. Kevin Wilson, Oklahoma
THE BUZZ: Oklahoma ranked fifth in the nation with 42.3 points per game last year and broke the 40-point mark eight times. And they did it with a first-year starting quarterback. That continued a pattern for Wilson's offenses. The Sooners won the Big 12 and ranked 19th in scoring two years ago in Paul Thompson's lone season as their starting quarterback.
8. Gus Malzahn, Tulsa
THE BUZZ:'s choice as the 2006 national offensive coordinator of the year proved last year he was no one-year wonder. Malzahn made the move to Tulsa and produced an offense even more explosive than the one he left behind in Arkansas. Tulsa's offense set nine Conference USA records last year and led the nation with 543.9 yards per game.
9. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
THE BUZZ: Kentucky's coach-in-waiting isn't exactly staying idle while waiting for Rich Brooks to step aside. Phillips' high-powered offenses the past two seasons have played huge roles in orchestrating the Wildcats' renaissance. He faces perhaps his biggest challenge this season while rebuilding an offense that lost quarterback Andre Woodson, running back Rafael Little, tight end Jacob Tamme and receivers Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson.
10. Steve Logan, Boston College
THE BUZZ: The former East Carolina coach arrived at Boston College with a reputation as a quarterback guru. Nothing he accomplished last season should change that perception. Matt Ryan threw for more than 4,500 yards in his first season with Logan and progressed so much that he was the first quarterback and third overall player selected in the NFL Draft.
11. Mike Bobo, Georgia
THE BUZZ: Georgia coach Mark Richt had enough confidence in Bobo to hand him the play-calling responsibilities before the 2007 season. Bobo rewarded Richt's faith by leading an offense that got better and better as the year progressed. Bobo also serves as Georgia's quarterbacks coach and helped Matthew Stafford show dramatic improvement in his sophomore season.
12. Steve Sarkisian, USC
THE BUZZ: Sarkisian has mentored Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and John David Booty during his stint as USC's quarterbacks coach. Sarkisian added coordinator to his title last season and helped the Trojans overcome an assortment of injuries on offense to win the Pac-10 championship.
13. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
THE BUZZ: Chryst took over as Wisconsin's coordinator in 2005. The Badgers have averaged 31 points per game in his tenure, the highest three-year scoring average in the program's history. Chryst's quarterbacks aren't flashy, but they complete a good percentage of their passes and do a nice job of complementing Wisconsin's powerful rushing attack.
14. Jim Bollman, Ohio State
THE BUZZ: Ohio State had to replace star performers at just about every skill position last season, yet the offense still motored along well enough to get the Buckeyes back into the national championship game. With Todd Boeckman and Chris Wells returning, Bollman's job should be a whole lot easier this fall.
15. Robert Anae, BYU
THE BUZZ: This former Texas Tech offensive line coach now works with receivers and serves as offensive coordinator at BYU. The Cougars have led the Mountain West in scoring offense and total offense each of the past two seasons. They have never ranked below second in the league in either category during Anae's three seasons as coordinator.
16. Andy Ludwig, Utah
THE BUZZ: During previous stints at Fresno State and Oregon, Ludwig worked with top overall draft pick David Carr and second-round selection Kellen Clemens. Ludwig continues to gain a reputation for his work with quarterbacks in his current job. Utah has lost its starting quarterback to injuries in each of Ludwig's three years as coordinator, yet he has managed to help keep the Utes near the top of the Mountain West.
17. Ed Warinner, Kansas
THE BUZZ: Warinner led Kansas' offense to unprecedented heights last season. The Jayhawks ranked second in the nation with a school-record 42.8 points per game. Kansas also set school records in passing offense and total offense, and the Jayhawks ranked eighth in the nation in the latter category.
18. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
THE BUZZ: Fisher solidified his reputation as a quarterback guru two years ago at LSU when he helped JaMarcus Russell mature into a top overall draft pick. Florida State's improvement on offense wasn't necessarily evident on the field during Fisher's first year on the job, but the Seminoles' coach-in-waiting delivered changes that should bring better results down the road.
19. Shawn Watson, Nebraska
THE BUZZ: Watson was promoted to coordinator last season and performed well enough to attract interest from Alabama. Nebraska set a school record with 3,886 passing yards last season and continued throwing the ball effectively even after Joe Ganz stepped in for an injured Sam Keller.
20. Greg Davis, Texas
THE BUZZ: Davis won the Broyles Award while helping Texas set school records in total offense and points during the Longhorns' 2005 national championship season. That left him with quite a hard act to follow, yet Davis has proved that he can continue to build successful offenses even without Vince Young. Texas ranked 13th in the nation in total offense last season.
21. Mike Locksley, Illinois
THE BUZZ: Although he perhaps is best known for his recruiting prowess, Locksley has proved that he also is a darned good coach. Illinois ranked fifth in the nation in rushing offense last season on its way to earning a Rose Bowl bid. Locksley also works as quarterbacks coach and helped Juice Williams make tremendous strides in his sophomore season.
22. Rich Olson, Arizona State
THE BUZZ: This veteran assistant performed quite a magic act in his first season at Arizona State. The Sun Devils had a porous line and lost star running back Ryan Torain to a season-ending injury midway through the year, yet Arizona State still ranked third in the Pac-10 in scoring.
23. Steed Lobotzke, Wake Forest
THE BUZZ: Lobotzke's offenses at Wake Forest rely on keeping opponents off-balance and completing the vast majority of pass attempts. Riley Skinner led the nation last season with his .724 completion percentage. That helped Wake gain 4,425 yards in total offense, the second-highest total in school history.
24. Bryan Harsin, Boise State
THE BUZZ: Boise State ranked fourth in the nation in scoring at 42.4 points per game last season. Boise State will feature its third starting quarterback in Harsin's three-year tenure as coordinator this fall, yet his track record suggests the Broncos will continue scoring points in bunches.
25. Jim McElwain, Alabama
THE BUZZ: McElwain is beginning his first season at Alabama after holding the same position at Fresno State last season. In McElwain's one season at Fresno, the Bulldogs averaged 81 more yards and 9.9 more points per game than they had averaged a year earlier.

Player Power Rankings: RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
More: Head coach power rankings

Steve Megargee is a national writer for He can be reached at

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