1. Three days to Kentucky
Lexington Herald-Leader: Don’t be misled by Missouri’s pass defense numbers
Lexington Herald-Leader: Video: D.J. Eliot on preparations for Missouri
Lexington Herald-Leader: Bad news for Kentucky wide receivers
A ritual was born. Every Thursday night since then, the five linemen — Britt, Morse, guards Max Copeland and Connor McGovern and center Evan Boehm, all of them grizzly since making a pact to keep facial hair flowing since August — have gathered in the parking lot after watching film.
And they dance.
"Then we started playing good," Britt said. "So, it became a tradition."
Two weeks ago, Boehm decided the drivers passing by on Stadium Boulevard shouldn’t be alone in witnessing the weekly tradition. The world needed to see Christmas Thursdays. Two nights before Mizzou hosted South Carolina, he posted a clip on Vine, the mobile app for Twitter users to share short videos. The linemen boogied to Andy Williams’ version of "It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."
"Christmas can’t go wrong," Britt said. "You’re happy when you listen to it no matter what time of the year it is."
"Those guys have been playing pretty well, and we rotate a lot of guys in there," defensive-line coach Craig Kuligowski said. "On average, we’re probably giving up 30 pounds against the guys we’re playing against, but those guys have done a great job as far as rush defense of not losing any ground, being physical and playing low."
Because the Tigers clog the middle, opposing teams haven’t had much luck running between the tackles. Teams also have struggled to get outside against Missouri’s defensive ends.
As a result, the Tigers have forced most opponents to become one-dimensional, which, in turn, has made the pass rush even more punishing.
"When you have two guys in the middle taking up a lot of double teams, it allows us to do our job," junior defensive end Kony Ealy said. "Without the job those guys are doing, we wouldn’t be getting all the sacks we’re getting."
2. Last week: still awesome
* Missouri subbed Singleton in at the nickel the most, by far, than they have all season. He played 36.4 percent of possible snaps when Missouri was in the Nickel. His season mark before the Tennessee game was 10.3 percent.
* Tennessee happened to run more frequently when Singleton was in, but the Tigers still got two picks in 12 passes with him on the field. One little thing, though: Missouri still likes Simon more on third downs. Six times, it was a Singleton series, but the Tigers subbed him out to bring Simon in on third down. Tennessee was 1-for-5 on said third downs.
* That new passing-down look was kind of kooky. It basically had Ealy with his hand on the turf and a bunch of dudes milling around the line. Dave Steckel, in true Dave Steckel fashion, was unpredictable as to when he actually brought blitz when he showed it. Whether he brought the blitz or not, the formation worked pretty well. But he only showed it six times. Maybe more in the future?
So you know how I said Andy Bauer needed to commit when he did because there might be a spot for him much longer? Looks like Markel Smith's spot might have disappeared. Rumors were flying that he was going to commit yesterday, but ... he ended up committing to Iowa, allegedly after indeed trying to commit to Missouri. We always want to say "Pssh, we stopped recruiting him anyway" when a kid goes elsewhere, but in this case it appears it might be true.