Switching from rover to safety was a change in name only, junior Jason Simpson said before the season. The position change did not force Simpson to play much of a different style; he still plays aggressively and often attacks the quarterback. Many of Simpson's pass coverage responsibilities come in medium-range defense, where he made the game's biggest play against Baylor, making an interception and returning it 46 yards inside the Bears' 10. Missouri scored shortly thereafter, and the game began to slip out of reach for Baylor.
Along with more than 20 other Tigers, Simpson picked up a win in his home state of Texas. They have another opportunity to do the same, when the Tigers visit No. 9 Texas. The competition will be ratcheted up significantly, and a Missouri win would be a historic achievement. Simpson and the rest of the secondary will have plenty of chances to make plays, as the Texas passing attack has struggled of late. InsideMizzou spoke with Simpson on Monday afternoon…
On the most important development defensively coming out of the Baylor game: "I think we were like 87 percent on third-down efficiency, something like that. Three and outs also, I think we were about 70 percent. which is great, giving short fields to our offense. If we can stop them right there and keep them out of field goal range, that'll help us."
On what the defense needs to do to stay atop the league: "We gotta just keep our intensity up. We have a lot of enthusiasm, we have a lot of energy channeling through our defense and the rest of the team. We just gotta keep helping each other, lifting us up and being positive."
On the importance of winning in his home state: "It was nice to show it in front of a bunch of friends. They never get to watch any of my games; they're college students and they're not gonna go buy a ticket and fly up here or anything. It was important to me."
On the Missouri fan presence in Waco: "I don't know how many Missouri people were actually there, but there was quite a few. That was nice. It's always good when you get some of your home crowd to come with you."
On what the defense needs to do against Texas: "We gotta stop the quarterback and the running back. We have to shut down the running game first and get them into third-and-long and passing situations that they're not as comfortable in. Then, just go from there and try to get some interceptions and takeaways."
On what Oklahoma did last week to shut out the Longhorns: "They're just a really physical defense. They're really good. Our defense is pretty much the exact same. All this week, we're watching Oklahoma film, trying to see some weaknesses and trying to duplicate what they were doing, since it worked so well."
On if the team has the talent to stay atop the league in defense: "We definitely think so. We've talked the whole time about three things you need for the defense to be great: You need great rush defense, you gotta be efficient on the pass and you have to get a bunch of takeaways. I think our goal is about 35, so we're on our way right now."