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2013 Mizzou Walkthrough: Matt White, Ian Simon battle for time at strong safety

Bill Carter

Matt White

#17 | 6'0, 195, Sr. | Keller, TX

2010: 13 games, 14.0 tackles, 2 PBU
2011: 13 games, 37.5 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 4 PBU
2012: 12 games, 19.0 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 2 PBU

Bill C.: Mizzou fans' first impression of Matt White came when he broke up a pass to preserve the shutout late in the 2010 Colorado game. He showed perfect form in sticking to his man and, running to his right, turning his left shoulder around the receiver to bat the ball away.

Mizzou fans' second impression of Matt White came when he got burned by faster Big 12 athletes for much of the 2011 season. It was impossible not to come away with the idea that, while White was heady and knew his role, he just wasn't quite athletic enough to do what he needed to do successfully.

As Kenronte Walker and Braylon Webb emerged as steadier, more physically blessed safeties in 2012, White continued to play a role. He got quite a bit of playing time and acquitted himself pretty well. But it's difficult to shake the memories of 2011. With Walker gone, White once again has a chance to start, but it's easy to hope that, as with Randy Ponder, this heady senior can play the role of seasoned backup, ready to spell more athletic youngsters at times. In the battle of upside vs. downside, we end up hoping that someone -- in this case, Ian Simon -- with higher upside can prove his downside is safe enough to overtake White in the starting lineup.

Matt White's a good football player, and lord knows he's battle tested. It's good to have him around, and if he ends up starting, he might just be ready for the challenge this time around. But yeah, if Ian Simon overtakes him, I think a lot of us would feel a little bit better about the ceiling of the defense overall.

The Beef: Poor Matt White. All he has ever done is been around the program, work hard, and has seen a decent amount of time on the field. However, it always feels like Mizzou fans are hoping and wanting to see someone else. He will probably enter the season as the #1 strong safety. How long he stays there is anyone’s guess, and it may be the hope of some he doesn’t.

countrycal: I guess I am one of those people The Beef is talking about. I have admired Matt’s commitment to the program and his hard work and consistent play. It just seems to me that at times he has limitations that somehow keep him from making certain plays. He sometimes seems to just get there a step short. That being said, I would still prefer Matt over some other safeties I have seen in our program and other programs over the year. Matt is a good safe safety – we may need more than that this year. [I hope the young man proves me dead wrong.]

Ian Simon

#21 | 6'0, 195, So. | Mansfield, TX

2012: 10 games, 9.5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 QB hurry

Bill C.: It was hard to make a better first impression than Matt White made in 2010, but Ian Simon did it last year. His playing time increased as the season progressed, but he basically made himself known just once ... when he broke up a fourth-down pass intended for Tennessee's Zach Rogers in the fourth overtime in Knoxville. Three plays later, Mizzou had beaten the Vols and, for a moment, gotten back on track for a bowl bid. Like White, Simon showed solid ball skills and did exactly what he was supposed to do on the play. He then went back to playing invisible football like White and Braylon Webb.

We don't really know what Simon's capable of long-term, but he seems to have quality athleticism, and if he continues to mature, he could become a solid force for the Tigers over the next three years. But how quickly can he raise his floor, so to speak?

The Beef: It appears to be the expectation of many that Ian Simon will overtake Matt White in the coming weeks to move to the starter at SS. I don't have strong feelings whether this happens or not, but it would potentially be nice to see as it would mean we would not likely to replace a starter at these two positions come next fall.

countrycal: Ian is going to get some playing time, in my opinion, and he may get a lot of it. If Matt White holds him off for the starting position, then that means Matt is playing good ball and everything is okay. If not, then I think we will see Ian come in quickly and get better game by game.