There’s been a lot of turnover on the defensive side of the ball for Mizzou this spring. From the coaching staff to the players on the field, it will be a very different look for the 2021 Tigers.
The biggest and most obvious change was the hiring of new DC Steve Wilks. So far this spring there’s been just six practices, but Wilks likes what he’s seen so far.
“I do like that we are making plays on the football,” said Wilks, “We are making mistakes but we are playing fast, and we’ve talked about takeaways being our mantra so guys are making plays on the ball creating takeaways every day.”
Apart from turning the ball over, Eli Drinkwitz has emphasized the importance of stopping the run, and Wilks’ philosophy fits right into that idea.
“Everything we do starts up front, it’s always been that way with me,” the new DC explained, “Controlling the line of scrimmage, stopping the run game, and trying to create pressure on the QB.” Wilks later added, “At every level, guys are going to get their passing yards. The one thing you can do is try to stop those guys from running and passing, so our number one deal is to stop the run first.
Wilks has also taken up the job as cornerbacks coach, and his number one option, Ennis Rakestraw, is already loving the Tigers' new defense.
“What excites me the most is the opportunities to try and get takeaways this year,” said Rakestraw, “Last year we played with our backs turned the majority of the game so we really couldn’t see the ball. Now we get vision on the QB and can read his eyes and can steal some this year.”
Rakestraw also informed the media of Wilks’ lofty goals for the Tiger defense next year, “Coach Wilks’ philosophy is to score on D… he came in with a goal, he wants to lead the league in takeaways.”
One person who will need to be a big part of those takeaways is JC Carlies. The freshman played CB last year with the late-season flurry of injuries the Tigers suffered, but this year the former high school receiver will be switching to safety.
For Carlies, he’s excited about the transition, “Switching from corner to safety isn’t really a big issue for me… in HS I played safety so it’s kind of like going back to my roots in a way,” explained the young DB.
While Carlies will aim to fill the hole left by Tyree Gillespie and Joshuah Bledsoe, the biggest hole left on defense is the absence of Nick Bolton. However, Chad Bailey, Bolton’s roommate for the last three years, believes he is just the man to replace the All-American LB.
“They haven’t really told me that I don’t have to be Nick Bolton, but I know I still have to step up and fill those shoes,” stated Bailey, and he continued, “I want all the defensive players to know they can trust in me like they trusted Nick Bolton last year.”
Stay up to date with MIZ-ZOOM for more spring football updates!