October 10, 2013

Mizzou Def. Breakdown


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Defensive Line

Missouri has developed a reputation for producing big time defensive linemen in recent years, and it all starts up front for the Tigers with the defensive ends. Michael Sam and Kony Ealy are as good of a duo as you will find in the country. Sam currently has six sacks and 10 tackles for a loss, and he is best edge rusher of the two. Sam shows great flexibility and an explosive first step in getting to the quarterback. Ealy is a big, powerful defensive end with the ability to control his edge against the run and get after the quarterback. Ealy has a couple of sacks of his own, and can be very tough to block one-on-one. The defensive tackles, Matt Hoch and Lucas Vincent have been less productive in terms of tackles for a loss and pressure on the quarterback. The interior duo has done a great job of tying up blocks and keeping opposing offensive linemen from being able to work up to the second level. Keep an eye on freshman Harold Brantley on the interior as he had a solid showing against Indiana earlier in the season and appears to be one of the Tigers' most athletic defensive tackles.

Linebackers

This is an athletic bunch that does a great job of flying to the football. The best of the bunch appears to be senior Andrew Wilson. Wilson is a very active piece of the Tiger defense and is a sure tackler in the box. He has solid range for 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker, but isn't necessarily the sideline-to-sideline type. Donovan Bonner and Kentrell Brothers man the other two linebacker positions when Mizzou is in its base, and both are similar players. Both Bonner and Brothers possess very good range, and both are physical at the point of attack. Bonner has shown some issues with taking on and getting off of blocks while Brothers has had some struggles in coverage thus far in 2013.

Defensive Backs

The Missouri secondary has one of the most talented cornerbacks in the SEC in senior E.J. Gaines, but the unit has struggled as a whole. Gaines is an excellent cover corner with the ability to play man or zone coverage. He has great instincts and really understands how to play the position. Randy Ponder mans the other cornerback position, and he has had mixed results this season. Ponder is a great athlete, but he struggles to find the ball in the air. He is a better cornerback in zone than he is in man coverage, but he isn't afraid to come up and get involved in run support. The safeties have also had an up and down season thus far. Both Matt White and Braylon Webb are long, athletic defenders with solid range, but like Ponder, they have struggled to find the ball in the air at times. White is best when driving on the ball in front of him and is a solid tackler. Webb is the more physical of the two on film, but he does have a tendency to get his eyes in the backfield at times.

• 1st Down - Mizzou likes to bring pressure but not much on first down as they only bring five or more 11 percent of the time.

• 2nd down and long (7 or more yards) - This is a down and distance where the Tigers like to bring pressure and they like to do so from the interior (47 percent).

• 2nd down and medium (4 to 6 yards) - The Tigers will also bring pressure in this situation, but they do so less than second and long (37 percent).

• 2nd down and short (less than 4 yards) - This is a heavy base down where the Tigers like to play a lot of man coverage and allow their linebackers to fly downhill against the run.

• 3rd down and long - This is a definite blitz scenario for the Tiger defense as they have brought five or more 65 percent of the time on third and long.

• 3rd down and medium - This, too, is a down and distance where the Tigers like to bring pressure as they do so 53 percent of the time.

3rd down and short - The Tigers play third and short much like they play second and short. They tend to play man coverage and free up their linebackers to attack the run game.

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