April 21, 2009

Defensive Spring Review

The Missouri Tigers completed spring football with the Black and Gold game on Saturday afternoon. The Tiger offense struggled in the spring game, but spring ball consisted of 15 practices overall and PowerMizzou.com was at every one. Today, we look at the spring on the defensive side of the ball.

Overview: Jacquies Smith and came in as the starters and emerged as the starters. You probably would have heard more about their performances had Aldon Smith not been so good. But in the end, all three will play. Which two start is not a big deal.

What we found out: That defensive end is the strongest position on this team. Between Coulter and the Smiths, Missouri has three very good Big 12 players right now. And the emergence of Brad Madison could make it four. Madison switched to defense prior to spring ball and had a very good camp.

What we still don't know: Not much. The only real question is which of the three between Coulter, Smith and Smith has to come off the bench. But again, it really doesn't matter.

Cornerback

Overview: Kevin Rutland probably helped himself more than any player on the roster. He came into spring in a battle to hold on to his starting job. He emerged from camp as probably the Tigers' number one cornerback. Carl Gettis is still the starter on the other side, but he'll have to prove he's more like the guy that played as a true freshman than the one we saw last season. The backup spots are still a strong competition between four players.

What we found out: That Rutland might be on the William Moore track. For three years, Gary Pinkel called Moore the best athlete on the team, but we never saw it on the field. As a junior, he turned into an all-American. I'm not saying Rutland is going to be that good, but it appears his ability to make plays is finally catching up with his ability to run fast and jump high.

What we still don't know: Who emerges from the pack of Trey Hobson, Munir Prince, Robert Steeples and Kip Edwards for playing time? All had their moments. Going with nothing more than my personal opinion, I really liked what I saw from Edwards. He was probably the sixth corner coming into the spring, but he made some big plays. And that's not to say the other guys weren't good. On any given day, all of them made plays. August will be a key to give two of these guys meaningful snaps.

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