Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Notes: Tigers' Defensive Line Still Finding Its Way

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Notes: Tigers' Defensive Line Still Finding Its Way

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, MO. * Over the years Missouri's football program developed a reputation for its ferocious defensive line, but through two games this season, there's a power outage along the front four. The Tigers (1-1) have just one sack and 3 tackles for loss from defensive linemen, with defensive tackle Josh Augusta accounting for all the damage but half a sack.

As Barry Odom's team prepares for Saturday's 6:30 p.m. Southeastern Conference opener against No. 16 Georgia (2-0) it's fair to wonder what happened to Mizzou's typical disruptive play in the trenches.

Much has been made about scheme changes under new coordinator DeMontie Cross and defensive line coach Jackie Shipp, especially for the front four. Missouri has switched to more of a "read scheme," Odom said, which requires linemen to diagnose formations and alignments and react accordingly.

"Terminology is a little bit different," said Odom, who coordinated MU's 2015 defense, which ranked No. 6 in fewest yards allowed per game. "But schematically it's not an overhaul change. There were times last year we played OK and times we weren't very good defensively. It's still pretty early in this year to say we're good or bad. I like the progress we're making. I know we're going be a really good defensive football team."

Last year, MU ranked second nationally in tackles for loss per game (8.8), but with everyone back from the two-deep rotation except defensive end Walter Brady, the Tigers rarely applied pressure in the backfield against West Virginia and Eastern Michigan. Defensive end Charles Harris, who ranked second in the SEC with 18 tackles behind the line last year, has just five stops, none behind the line. Defensive linemen were not among the select players made available for interviews Monday.

"Everyone in this building knows how talented they are and knows we need them to be successful on defense," middle linebacker Michael Scherer said. "I think we're going to cater to their needs. If they need it simpler, we'll make it simpler. …

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