clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

RockMNation Reacts: Ty’Ron Hopper is the face of Missouri’s defensive makeover

The former Florida linebacker was the best player on the field in his Mizzou debut.

Louisiana Tech v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

We asked your opinion on who the biggest impact was as a transfer. We had a lot of answers, but one choice was overwhelming.

I’ll never forget it. It was midway through the first quarter of the Missouri game last season against Florida. This linebacker just jumped off the screen. He bullied a pulling tackle out of the way, destroyed Missouri’s play and tackled the running back two yards behind the line of scrimmage. It’s a play that was etched in the back of my mind until the day Ty’Ron Hopper committed to play for Mizzou.

That play was made by Hopper. And it was a sign of things to come.

When we asked which transfer had the biggest impact, 88% of you chose Ty’Ron Hopper, the transfer from Florida.

Hopper is one of eight transfers the Tigers added in the offseason to boost their talent on the defensive side of the ball. The transfers joined Mizzou from Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Oregon, Baylor, North Carolina and one from Jacksonville State.

This was by design. Mizzou simply could not afford a repeat of its 2021 defensive performance. they finished the season 13th in the SEC in scoring defense (33.8 points per game), last in rushing defense (228 yards per game), last in yards allowed per pass attempt (8.2 yards per attempt), 13th in yards allowed per play (6.4), last in third down defense (43% conversion rate), last in chunk plays allowed (35 plays of 30+ yards allowed), and last in red zone defense (76% TD rate).

Moral of the story, it was bad. In fact, it was historically bad. You knew it, I knew it, and Mizzou knew it. The transfer portal opened up a window for the Tigers to fix their defense, and quick. It might not work, but at least it gave them a chance.

We’re one game in. The opponent was Louisiana Tech. There are a million disclaimers one could add to this story. All of them are fair. But... so far, so good?

Missouri’s defense looked, umm, good (!!!) against Louisiana Tech. Sure, there were a couple blown coverages. But, on the whole, that’s the kind of defensive performance we didn’t see a year ago. Guys were flying around. I can’t remember many (any?) missed tackles. The defensive line got some pressure with four, and when they didn’t, new defensive coordinator Blake Baker found ways to create havoc with his aggressive defensive scheme.

But, most importantly, the transfers looked the part. Joseph Charleson is a ball hawk on the back end. Dreyden Norwood provides some stability and depth at corner. Kristian Williams, Jayden Jernigan and Josh Landry all had some moments along the interior and add some much-needed depth at defensive tackle. DJ Coleman is strong as an ox, and holds a strong edge.

But the most impressive transfer on the field was Ty’Ron Hopper. I don’t want to get too far out in front of my skis, but he might be Missouri’s most well-rounded linebacker since Sean Weatherspoon.

Alright, deep breaths. Whooosah.

So, about Hopper. He’s fast. He’s physical. Oh, and he can cover, too! I went back and re-watched every play from his debut in a Missouri Tigers’ uniform. His debut lived up to the hype. He’s every bit the NFL prospect he’s been billed to be. Enjoy him while we have him, because if he continues playing this way, it might be a short stint in CoMo for Hopper.

The first thing that stands out about Hopper is his ability to read and react quick. He seems to diagnose plays the way Kentrell Brothers did in his final season at Missouri, but he pairs that high football IQ with the speed and physicality of Terez Hall. He has that ability to create havoc behind the line of scrimmage like we saw last season from Blaze Alldredge. Oh, and he also has an ability in coverage unlike anything we’ve seen from a Mizzou linebacker in... man, I honestly don’t even know how long. You might have to go back to Sean Weatherspoon.

Projecting stats for linebackers can be difficult, but Hopper is already off to quite a start. His debut included six solo tackles, two tackles-for-loss, a sack and an interception. It’s the first time a Missouri defender has put up that kind of stat line in a single game since Spoon did it against Texas in 2009. In fast, they’re the only two players to do so in a Missouri uniform since at least 2000, according to Sports Reference.

I’m not here to tell you Hopper is the next Spoon. Nobody is the next Spoon. But I’m here to tell you he’s the most well-rounded Missouri linebacker since Spoon.

Having that kind of player in the middle of Baker’s defense opens up so many possibilities for his unit. The Tigers needed a defensive facelift, and the transfers appear poised to provide exactly that.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.