Some topics for conversation while you're avoiding going outdoors...
1. Mizzou's Defense: Good
Jacquies Smith is one of three projected starters on defense who landed on a preseason awards watch list, joining defensive end Brad Madison as an early candidate for the Lombardi Award given to the best lineman. Madison, MU’s sack leader last year despite starting just three games, made the preseason All-Big 12 team and joins linebacker Zaviar Gooden on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy list for the top defensive player. Gooden, who led MU in tackles last fall, also cracked the Bednarik Award list, another top defensive player award.
While those three stayed healthy last season, they’ll be joined in camp by three veterans who spent parts of last season sidelined with injuries. Linebackers Luke Lambert (knee) and Will Ebner (foot) missed a combined 12 games and sat out spring drills after undergoing offseason surgeries. Defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton returns after missing the final six games with a broken ankle. All three were cruising through drills Tuesday on the Kadlec Athletic Fields.
They couldn't survive the loss of Dominique Hamilton without a decent-sized dropoff versus the run, but in all, it's amazing to think back on just how many injuries this defense had to deal with last year. Getting Hamilton, Lambert and Ebner back (and, in theory, adding Sheldon Richardson) could make this front seven simply ridiculous. I'm still a bit concerned about the secondary, but the front seven is all sorts of exciting. And, of course, they're adding pieces for future strong defenses as well.
2. Commitment No. 15 in the Books
Missouri sees Winston as a defensive tackle, although he's listed as a defensive end right now.
"I'm already up to 255 or 260, so adding weight won't be a problem," Winston said. "They see me as an athletic and lanky three-technique. My biggest goal is to get stronger and faster right now."
The addition of Winston and Donald Hopkins to the commitment list suggests that Mizzou is set at the position even if Ondre Pipkins commits elsewhere; depending on the week and the source, you hear that Pipkins is absolutely going to Mizzou (he's tight with Evan Boehm), he's absolutely going to Alabama and he's absolutely going to Michigan. My guess is Michigan, but we'll see. Regardless, Hopkins' film is exciting, and Winston has interesting athletic potential
3. USA Softball Splits
I can only come up with one reason why Chelsea struggled against Canada in yesterday's World Cup matchup: she was blinded by her love for Barenaked Ladies. It's okay, Chelsea. They're pretty awesome. Maroon was a really, really underrated album.