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Mizzou Links: Brantley breaks out, Tiger defense improves, and ... come home, alumni!

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Harold Brantley has been pretty awesome this year, and so has Missouri's defense. Plus: The Missourian checks in on former Tigers, Montaque Gill-Caesar prepares to make a name for himself, and J'Den Cox prepares to make a BIGGER name for himself.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

COME HOME, ALUMNI

The Missourian: HOMECOMING: Oh, the places MU alumni go
The Missourian: TIGER KICKOFF: The past never far for 1960 Missouri football All-American Danny LaRose
The Missourian: TIGER KICKOFF: Tommy Saunders reinventing the ab wheel
The Missourian: TIGER KICKOFF: Lorenzo Williams finds footing as football coach
The Missourian: TIGER KICKOFF: Ref from "5th Down Game" has moved on

And speaking of alums...
Arrowhead Pride: NFL trade deadline is coming, so let's talk about Chiefs QB Chase Daniel
Grantland: The Cornerback-Destroying Sammy Watkins and the NFL’s All-Rookie Team (So Far)

E.J. Gaines was the other Missouri Tiger the Rams picked at the back end of this year’s draft, and he’s turned into one of the more unexpected contributors of the entire class. Gaines was the 188th pick in May, three spots before Bears punter Pat O’Donnell in the sixth round, and he’s quietly been a solid starter since the first week of the season. So far, he’s been the best player in their secondary.

Gaines had an excellent senior season for a top-10 Missouri team, including a game against Texas A&M in which he nearly blanked Mike Evans. His height, the length of his arms, and the amount of off-man coverage into the sideline played at Missouri were his pre-draft knocks, but he was a three-year starter who simply knows how to play. With him and Donald, the Rams could have done worse.

1 day to Vandy

A fair matchup
The Trib (Behind the Stripes): Stat Spotlight: Missouri's Defense vs. Missouri's Defense

Despite facing more plays in bulk this season, Missouri is still allowing 4 percent fewer yards, nearly 8 percent fewer yards per play and three percent fewer points. [...]

Missouri has 13 percent more sacks than it did at this point last year and is sacking opponents 25 percent more frequently on a per-pass basis. The tackles for loss, though, are down one, and the Tigers are getting a tackle for loss 6 percent less frequently than they were last year. Last year's Tigers were 9 percent more successful in forcing plays for no yardage or less than this year's Tigers.

Mizzou's next DL star
Post-Dispatch: Brantley emerges as MU's next D-line star
PowerMizzou: Brantley blossoming for Mizzou

Brantley's teammates could see the breakout coming. Some for a few weeks, some for longer than that.

"I've called it since day one with Harold," Boehm said. "We were roommates our freshman year in the dorms and we'd go against each other on scout team when I started and he redshirted. I could tell from day one, this kid's gonna be a player." [...]

Brantley is just beginning to emerge. Those who see him every day believe the last few weeks are a foreshadowing of things to come. Even his coach, forever hesitant to compare current players to past ones, threw out a flattering resemblance this week.

"He has a lot of movement abilities similar to Sheldon Richardson. They're similar size also. They move like linebackers, but they weigh close to 300 pounds," Pinkel said. "I think it's a glimpse of what he is. He's still a young guy. He's got so much potential...It's really neat to see him taking his game to a different level."

The other side
PowerMizzou: Opposing View: Vanderbilt

Soon-to-be alumni
The Missourian: Missouri football's Marcus Murphy a 'smooth' superstar - Columbia Missourian
MUTIGERS.COM: Senior Gameday Program Feature - Marcus Murphy
MUTIGERS.COM: Senior Gameday Program Feature - Jimmie Hunt
MUTIGERS.COM: Senior Gameday Program Feature - Kyle Starke

SEC! SEC! SEC!

Vox Magazine: How has the SEC changed Missouri?
Vox Magazine: Vox Q&A with Rex Sharp

Teki! Teki! Teki!

NCAA.com: Montaque Gill-Caesar makes Missouri a force to be reckoned with in the SEC

WHATNOT

Wrestling
The Missourian: Missouri wrestler J'den Cox has big goals for upcoming season

Soccer
MUTIGERS.COM: No. 21 Mizzou Closes Road Schedule at Ole Miss, Tennessee
The Missourian: No. 21 Missouri soccer team follows lead of senior Taylor Grant

Baseball
MUTIGERS.COM: Incoming Mizzou Baseball Class Garners High Praise

Volleyball
The Missourian: Megan Peltier's discipline helps Missouri volleyball break conference slump

Women's Basketball
KBIA Sports: Young Mizzou women’s basketball team hopeful for better season

Swimming & Diving
MUTIGERS.COM: Mizzou Women's Swimming and Diving to Start SEC Season Friday

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