Missouri LB Luke Lambert was granted a medical red-shirt, after he missed most of last season with injuries. That has given the 2007 recruit another season in which to play college football, and he is savoring every minute of it. Earlier this week, ShowMeMizzou.com spoke with the fifth-year senior, and he talked about his role on the team.
Lambert started in the Cotton Bowl as a freshman, and has played both the SLB and the MLB during his Missouri career. Lambert's kind of the coach on the field, an extension of Coach Steckel. This week, he's listed as the starter at the SLB, after recommending to the staff that Andrew Wilson take over in the middle.
"Coach Stec(kel) said that since we both know both positions, it doesn't really matter," said Lambert. "We're cross-trained. He just said take whoever's out there. Whoever's out there, just jump into a spot. So, I jump into the Sam, (Wilson) jumps into the Mike. Play to play, it just depends on where we are on the field. If he's outside, and I'm inside, we can just switch for that play. He's really comfortable with that. I think (Wilson) feels more comfortable in the middle than he does on the outside. He looks really good in the middle. I like him in there. He's a player up in there, isn't he! He's going to come on the field, and he's going to hit you. He's going to get to where he needs to be, and he's going to lay a lick on you. And then, he's going to get up, and he's going to run back to the huddle, not say a word to you. And, he'll come back the next play, and come hit you again. He's just going to come after you, and come after you, and come after you. I love Wilson's attitude on the field!"
Against Miami (OH), Wilson led the team, with 10 tackles, while Lambert garnered 6 tackles. Lambert will continue to stay in, along with Zaviar Gooden, when Missouri goes to their nickel package. That's the coaches' decision. Lambert ran a 4.6 forty when he came in out of high school. But, injuries have taken their toll, as he said that now, he "might be a 4.7 guy". Lambert played mostly SLB when he was a freshman and a sophomore. I asked Lambert if he can run and cover like he did when he was younger?
"I can get there," said Lambert. "I'm a lot smarter and wiser with my steps, now. Then, I was kind of crazy feet. I was here and there. Now, I'm smarter. I know where to go, where to be, and when to be there. So, it's a little easier. I may not be faster and quicker, but I'm quicker getting to where I need to be."
"They're really athletic," said Lambert, talking about Arizona State. "They're really good at quarterback. They have some really good athletes at receiver. They've got big guys. They've got fast guys. They've got a running back who can run the ball. So, it's going to be a great challenge this week."
"They do a lot of things on offense similar to what we do," continued Lambert, talking about the Sun Devils. "Actually, they're really a lot like our offense. They run a lot of crossings, a lot of bubbles, a lot of screens. It's going to be kind of like playing our own offense out there."
In addition, Lambert said that he thinks that Arizona State's skill position people are comparable to Missouri's.
Lambert said that although the Missouri secondary is a little inexperienced, that they're an "upgrade" over last year. And, he talked about the team chemistry.
"If we do everything that we need to do on every play, at the end of the game, we'll be happy with the result," explained Lambert. "We trust each other on the field. It's the same as last year, and it's carried over to this year. Everybody knows where to go, and everybody trusts their teammates to get their job done."
Lambert winced when I asked what he thinks of the "bend, but don't break" label that some are assigning to the Missouri defense.
"If you want to say to Coach Stec that we're bend but don't break, you go right ahead," laughed Lambert. "We don't want that! We want to stop them where they're at. That's something that we're working on."