Heading into the season opener, ShowMeMizzou.com spoke with Missouri Assistant Coach Alex Grinch, who gave us the report on the safety position.
Junior Braylon Webb has moved from free safety to strong safety, so he’s the one covering the more spacious side of the field. At this point, Webb is Missouri’s best safety, and Coach Grinch wants him covering the side of the field that has more territory.
Coach Grinch said that senior starting free safety Matt White “absolutely” got better throughout fall camp.
“I’ve been pleased with Matt’s progression from last fall,” said Coach Grinch. “He has been more physical. And, I think some of that just comes with confidence. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be a confident football player right now, based on what he’s done in the last year. And obviously from a mental aptitude standpoint, he’s an asset for us back there. I’ve been very pleased. And obviously, he’s got to show up on Saturdays.”
Sophomore Ian Simon is the starting nickel back, in addition to being listed as Webb’s back-up. At least in week one against Murray State, the Tigers are going to begin with a nickel package rather than a dime package. Coach Grinch said that he wasn’t sure if Missouri would begin the game in the nickel, but he said that “if it’s not the first play, it’ll be early” in the game when the Tigers go to the nickel against Murray State’s spread offense.
“We see Simon as a starter,” said Coach Grinch. “He’s established himself as the nickel…………………………………….. I think right now, (we like the nickel better than the dime) because he’s doing so well. A lot of credit (goes) to him. He has really good coverage skills, so he gives you a little bit of the best of both worlds. He’s more physical than the corners. So, it’s in a lot of ways, a natural fit.”
Sophomore Cortland Browning is listed behind White at free safety, and he’ll see action “in a reserve role”.
He’s not listed on the two-deep this week, but the late-arriving junior college transfer Duron Singleton looms in the background at the safety position for this season. He’s quickly moving up. I asked Coach Grinch where Singleton is on this week’s Depth Chart?
“Duron Singleton is really a two/three guy,” replied Coach Grinch. “He’ll continue to work at the nickel.”
I interpret this to mean that Singleton is currently a third-team safety, but he’s currently working as the second-team nickel back.
“He’s a guy that we’re bringing along,” continued Coach Grinch, talking about Singleton. “We made the decision right now to focus on the nickel spot. Part of that is just the time missed at the front end of camp. It’s what’s the fastest way, what’s the best approach, to getting on the field. He’s primarily in the nickel right now.”
Coach Grinch said that it’s “hard to tell” when we might see Singleton as a regular part of the safety rotation.
“We’re pushing for him,” explained Coach Grinch, referring to the crash course that Singleton is receiving. “If you’re thinking (out there on the field), it’s tough to play at the tempo necessary. There’s a little too much thinking going on. But, we’re pushing for him.”