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Perfect Combinations: Charles Harris and Kentrell Brothers

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Defensive end Charles Harris and linebacker Kentrell Brothers are providing the leadership and production necessary for Mizzou to remain a top tier defense

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The past few years Mizzou has seen incredible production from its defense, specifically the defensive line. Missouri fans have come to expect double digit sacks and constant pressure forcing opposing offenses to turn the ball over. The departure of Dave Steckel was met with natural trepidation when new defensive coordinator Barry Odom was hired from Memphis. You don't mess with a good thing, right?

Lost in the discussion about whether Barry Odom would install a 3-4 defense was the talk about how Mizzou could replace the production of last year's Golden Ray combo.

On the road in Jonesboro, Arkansas, against a feisty Red Wolves squad, Charles Harris and Kentrell Brothers combined for 22 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, and 2 interceptions while holding the opposition to a measly field goal in the second half. Mizzou had 15 tackles for a loss vs ASU, the most since a 2002 double overtime win over Texas A&M at Faurot South. Over two games, Harris and Brothers have combined for 42 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble.

Harris and Brothers have proven more than capable of setting the edge against the run. When they are on the same side of the formation you see things like this combo tackle for a loss of ASU QB Fredi Knighten from early in the first quarter:

Barry Odom's influences on the defense have been somewhat nuanced as he's sought to integrate his aggressive, attacking philosophies with the personnel and schemes inherited from a team that relied primarily on the defensive line to force mistakes. Back during the Mizzou position walk throughs I said this about Kentrell Brothers:

It’s my opinion Barry Odom is chomping at the bit to turn Brothers into more than just a tackler. He wants Brothers to become a dynamic play maker, be it rushing the passer or in coverage, and his athleticism will allow Odom to disguise schemes.

We’ve seen and heard hints about the manner in which Brothers will be used -- maybe some exotic fire zone blitzes? We know Barry Odom wants to force teams to make mistakes, and we know they’ll have to come from more than just the defensive line pressure, so it stands to reason Brothers will be the primary benefactor of this new emphasis.

With Brothers often lining up opposite Harris, opposing quarterbacks can't be sure which one is attacking their blindside and which one is dropping into coverage. When Mizzou wants to apply pressure Harris can rush the backside while Brothers gets into his face as we see on this incompletion on third down:

Through two games this year, which pair of Missouri players do you think have made the perfect combination?