Josh Augusta (6'4, 335, Jr.)
2014: 16.5 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 FF, 3 QB hurries
2013: 7.0 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 blocked kick
The Beef: I will be honest in that I don’t always understand the difference between the DT and the NG in our defense. But I was somewhat surprised to see Ricky Hatley (who has bounced between edge and inside) slotted ahead of The Big Bear at the NG spot. As I referenced earlier with the review of the defensive ends, someone like Augusta needs to command double teams so our edge guys have chances to get one-on-one more often (and to also funnel things through to the linebackers in the run game). The sack and QB hurry numbers are exciting to see from someone which such considerable size, but it will be interesting to see how the depth chart shakes out, without Harold Brantley, once fall camp is completed.
switzy227: Augusta might not generate the stats due to double-teams, but he’s going to be perhaps the most important individual player on the defensive side for the Tigers. If he manages to continue an upward trend in numbers … well, 2016 could be something incredible with the return of Harold Brantley.
Augusta is one of the players I consider most reliable for this season, and I think he’ll be a Mizzou fan favorite before long.
AlaTiger: The big question for Augusta is fitness. Can he get in good enough shape to stay on the field? He’s shone at times. If he can consistently bring the pain to opposing linemen, it will go a long way to making this defense stout again.
jaeger: Augusta sure looks the part of a nose tackle (or nose guard or ... whatever we call these guys in our defense), and he’s looked like a force to be reckoned with at times. Needs to develop some consistency, which is probably a question of fitness -- that’s a lot of man to move around. If he can stay on the field and command double teams, that makes this defense so very much better.
Fullback U: I heard a cool story about how Barry Odom had Josh Augusta on his radar back when Odom was at Memphis. When Odom came to Missouri he apparently told him that he had plans for the massive nose tackle back at Memphis and went right to work implementing them.
There’s been a lot of concern about Augusta getting in shape, and that’s understandable for a defensive line that was thin even before the loss of Harold Brantley. Augusta played last year around 355, and it seemed like he struggled to stay on the field, but when he was on the field he was a definite play-maker.
Last week, Augusta announced he was down to 346 pounds, four below what the coaches wanted him at, and he’s looking to slim down to 335 because he’s already noticed an improvement in his conditioning and ability to stay on the field.
Josh Augusta also announced he was retiring the nickname "Big Bear" and going back to "The Juggernaut" in part because he’s never lost a 1-on-1 battle in practice, which ties me back to my opening point about Barry Odom. Augusta is a massive, incredibly strong and remarkably nimble athlete that I believe can effectively be a 1- or 2-gap nose tackle. I believe the aforementioned "plans" Odom referred to revolve more around having a nose tackle who can shift between 1 or 2 gapping than any adherence to a 3-4 or 4-3 formation.
Bill C.: It seemed like every time someone mentioned Augusta's "real' weight last year during the season, he was five pounds heavier than he was before. He was listed at 300, but then someone said he was playing at 330 ... and 335 ... and 340 ... and 345.
Regardless of what you expect from Terry Beckner Jr., and regardless of what we call the positions, you could see how Augusta and the lighter, faster Rickey Hatley could make for a fun combination in the middle. Hatley didn't play as much as Augusta but showed up in the backfield a few times. And whatever label we want to apply to Odom's defense -- 3-4, 4-3, etc. -- he will thrive if he has flexibility, guys who can threaten in multiple ways.
Augusta is the key to that. Between Augusta, Hatley, and Beckner, Mizzou seems to have an exciting trio of tackles, and while the rotation could get larger if the staff decides A.J. Logan (or a true freshman) is ready for playing time, Augusta needs to be a hit for Mizzou to reach its potential.