With a restructured 4-3 defense this season, many players had a greater opportunity to contribute. With three linebackers instead of two, the coaching staff moved two players, each of whom had made an impact elsewhere, to the position. Dedrick Harrington was coming off a strong freshman season at rover before he was shifted to middle linebacker, while David Richard had been a standout tailback at Michigan State in his freshman season in 2002.
Neither player has had an overwhelming start, opening doors for players with more experience at the position. One of those is sophomore Marcus Bacon, who received his first career start at strong-side linebacker against Colorado. He only recorded one tackle, but coach Gary Pinkel said Bacon did "a good job" against the Buffaloes.
With Richard back in the lineup after serving a one-game suspension, who will start at the strong side is yet to be determined. InsideMizzou spoke with Bacon on Monday afternoon…
On the unique situation of his first start: "I just got an opportunity and I'm gonna take it. It's a bad situation what had happened, but I just gotta take what I can and do what I can do to help the team."
On if he was nervous before the game: "Of course you're gonna be nervous going in. But after the game starts, it's all gone and you just play a football game."
On the progress of the linebackers as a unit: "I think we're coming along pretty good. Of course, there's always room for improvement. As long as we keep improving, we're gonna be fine. It's just gonna take time."
On how much the presence of senior LB James Kinney helps: "The guy's great, one of the best in the business, I guess you can say. He can help you out whenever you make a mistake, and he can help you out at that time at that position, even though he plays a different position."
On the possibility of starting against Baylor this week: "It's in (the coaches') hands. I don't have any idea. It doesn't really concern me. I'll practice as hard as I can and let the coaches decide."
On Baylor: "They're a good team. We play away, so we have to play our ‘A' game."
On the 9 p.m. start and his preference on kickoff time: "I don't really have a preference. I guess it is a late game, but you have to come prepared anywhere, anytime. It doesn't matter the time or the place if you come to play."