Weatherspoon the leader of Mizzou's defense

InsideMizzou.com's Jason Iezzi takes an in-depth look at the Mizzou Tiger Defense today in the second spring practice held here Thursday. Go inside to see our thoughts on the defensive side of the ball and who stood out. Some surprises, some that aren't.

The Missouri defense took the field for the second time under new defensive coordinator Dave Steckel on Thursday.

It's obvious the defense will have to heavily rely on the talent and leadership of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

For the second consecutive spring practice, he was the clear leader of the defense. This should be theme throughout the season.

Overall, the defense seemed to play with even more intensity than they did on Tuesday. Coach Steckel seconded the notion.

"We played a little better today."

Coach Steckel didn't have much to say but he did add that he was excited to see the team play in pads on Saturday.

"I want to see the guys in pads. Then we'll see how it goes."

Once the Tigers wear full gear, we will get a clearer picture of how the defense will play in 2009. For now they are playing indoors, without pads. But the intensity level couldn't get any higher. The defense seems excited for the upcoming season.

Notes on the Defense

So far the Tigers seem to have the same guys running with the first team.

-defensive end, Jacquies Smith and Aldon Smith

-defensive tackle, Jaron Baston and Terrell Resonno

-linebacker, Sean Weatherspoon, Luke Lambert and Andrew Gachkar

-safety, Hardy Ricks and Kenji Jackson

-cornerback, Kevin Rutland and Carl Gettis

-Sophomore Trey Hobson has really caught my attention. He has tremendous speed and he also seems to have a nose for the ball. In one on one drills with the wide receivers he picked off a pass. Out of all the defensive backs he really blanketed the receivers in coverage.

-The Tigers appear to be stacked at defensive end. Jacquies Smith and Brian Coulter should find themselves in opponents' backfields all the time. Redshirt Freshman Aldon Smith could develop into quite a player. He has a Justin Tuck type of frame but he is stronger than he looks. If he adds a little weight watch out.

-in 7 on 7 drills Weatherspoon picked off Gabbert. In the same drill Kevin Rutland dropped a sure interception from Gabbert.

-For being so big, the defensive tackles have pretty good speed. They were getting off the ball pretty quickly (they being Baston and Resonno).

-Robert Steeples, a redshirt freshman playing cornerback, is also a player to watch. Some of the other guys on the staff are excited about his potential. He is a bigger, more physical corner. He could help out in running situations.


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