Anytime a Power-5 school faces a service academy, they know they’ll be in for a unique challenge. Army (8-4) has run the option on opponent’s for years, and the Tigers know they’ll be seeing that patented rushing attack.
“When you really start talking about disciplined football that’s what you have to play when you play the academy schools,” said Missouri DC Steve Wilks of the challenge that Army will present to his defense.
When defending the triple option making sure you complete your assignment is essential to defensive success, and according to star DE Trajan Jeffocat, Wilks has been hammering that into his defense’s mind this week, “Everyone on this defense has a job and everyone has a role. We just have to stick to it and capitalize.”
In an effort to find success defending the option, Wilks has turned to an interesting tactic to prepare his team, not using a ball. “We haven’t been working with a ball at all,” he explained. “No ball. Tackle the dive, tackle the quarterback, pursue the pitch. So that’s been our focal point right there.”
While defending the option will be a tall order, some of the veterans for Missouri have another challenge they want to overcome. Winning a bowl game. “We want to go get a win,” Barrett Banister said. “None of us have had a bowl win since we have been here. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
For many Tigers, like Banister, this game means a lot. Some might be playing in their first collegiate bowl game or trying to win their first. But for one man in particular, it has a whole another meaning.
Runningbacks Coach Curtis Luper is an Army Veteran and coached in Ft. Worth for TCU for 7 years before coming to Missouri to join Eli Drinkwitz’s staff. For him it’s a double homecoming.
“It’s going to feel really weird to be on the visiting side of Amon Carter stadium,” Luper said with a smile. “I’ll probably run out and run to the wrong side when I come out.”