Missouri has released its depth chart and game notes for the South Carolina game. In that link, you’ll find a relatively tacit acknowledgement that this is a full-fledged Year Zero situation: The link includes a list of teams with the most first-time starters.
24: Missouri, Bowling Green
21: Colorado State, UTSA
19: South Carolina, Baylor, UMass, Mississippi State, Texas
The three teams with more than 21 first-time starters are a combined 5-19, and of the 10 teams above, only one (Baylor) is above .500. Probably a correlation there.
Anyway, here’s the two-deep:
There are a few changes! No, really! At least one one side of the ball!
- Marcell Frazier is back ahead of Jordan Harold after serving a half-game suspension against UK for targeting.
- Freshman Markell Utsey is listed in place of Terry Beckner Jr. and listed as a co-starter with Rickey Hatley.
- Donavin Newsom and Terez Hall are now listed as co-starters at SLB, Joey Burkett and Brandon Lee are listed as co-starters at WLB, and Cale Garrett and Eric Beisel are listed as co-starters at MLB. SIX STARTING LINEBACKERS!
- John Gibson has dropped his *OR* status and is full-time first-stringer over DeMarkus Acy again.
- Cam Hilton has also dropped his *OR* status and is full-time FS over Thomas Wilson.
The big change, of course, is that Michael Scherer and Beckner have been removed from the depth chart. (Really, these two-deeps are quite useful ... only on a one-week delay. It’s a confirmation of what we’ve already seen, not what we will see.)
Beisel, by the way, started on Saturday and had one hell of a game. You’d be forgiven for not noticing because he was just about the only one.
Missouri had only six tackles for loss against Kentucky, but Beisel had three of them. A fourth solo tackle stopped Benny Snell Jr. for a one-yard gain on first down. Big plays killed Mizzou’s defense once again, and for all I know, Beisel had a role to play in those, as well. But if you’re going to suffer some breakdowns, you might as well be making plays, too. Almost all Missouri defenders suffered the former; Beisel was one of the few doing the latter.
If Beisel can retain his seat at the table, it will be one hell of a perseverance story. There has been no questioning Beisel’s passion for both football and Missouri, as evidenced by this interview with our own Oscar Gamble last year:
For one reason or another, though, two different sets of defensive coaches kept him grounded on the second or third string. Beisel could have transferred but elected to stick it out, and given an opportunity with the first string on Saturday, he took full advantage.
Through the breakdowns, the game actually gave us a potential glimpse of Missouri’s linebacker future. Cale Garrett and Brandon Lee each had a TFL, as well, and Lee recorded the team’s only sack. Donavin Newsom forced a fumble Cam Hilton, meanwhile, recorded a TFL and two pass breakups, and Aarion Penton and Logan Cheadle combined for a pick and two breakups.
Havoc plays: Linebackers 6, defensive backs 5, linemen a big fat 0.
As I’ve written before, Missouri seems stuck between a 4-3 and 3-4 stat profile at the moment. The linemen are charged with filling gaps and are making almost no disruptive plays whatsoever, which is common for a lot of 3-4 looks. Meanwhile, there are four linemen on the field, meaning Mizzou isn’t actually benefiting from the extra speed and play-making that you might get from a 3-4. And to top it off, Mizzou is getting gashed by run games like it’s playing an undersized 3-4.
If you’re getting none of the benefits of a 3-4 and all of the drawbacks ... well ... you might as well play that fourth linebacker and get a little more speed on the field. And assuming Newsom and Terez Hall are actually healthy enough to play on Saturday, you’ll apparently see six of them starting (sort of)!
If Missouri were to employ more of a four-linebacker look either in November or in 2017, Beisel’s emergence could be key to its success.
That, and drastically improved tackling, anyway.