The University of Missouri football team figures to have a different look on offense next season. But that’s not the case with new head coach Barry Odom’s defense.
Odom, who served as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator last season under Gary Pinkel, is well aware of what he’s got to work with on the defensive side of the ball — especially a deep and talented group of defensive linemen.
“Anytime that you want, for me, to build a program and build a specific side of the ball you want to start on the line of scrimmage,” Odom told Mizzou Network. “And defensively, if you’re good up front, that allows you to do a number of things on the second level and the third level being in the secondary. There’s a number of guys with experience coming back. I expect them to play at a higher level than they did last year, continue to develop their skill set and lead that side of the football for us.”
The Tigers return all nine defensive linemen who were on the two-deep depth chart at the conclusion of last season and get back redshirt senior defensive tackle Harold Brantley, who missed last season because of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident.
Harris was credited with 56 tackles, including 18.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, 10 quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles last season. He earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors in his first year as a starter. Brady had 40 tackles, including 12.5 for loss, tied Harris for the team lead with seven sacks and added seven quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one interception. Frazier had two sacks and one forced fumble.
Hatley had 27 tackles and one sack last season. Beckner, who is still recovering from a knee injury, had 27 tackles and three sacks in 10 games. Augusta added 27 tackles, including 8.5 for loss. Back in 2014, Brantley recorded 54 tackles, including seven for loss, five sacks, seven quarterback hurries and also blocked two kicks.
The competition for playing time along the defensive line should be fierce this offseason with so many talented players with experience returning. The defensive line group has been a strength of the Tigers for years and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.