He leads the nation in tackles after four weeks, already has a SEC Defensive Player of the Week honor under his belt, and he's receiving comparisons to a former All-American linebacker. Fans couldn't help but wonder "What's Kentrell Brothers going to do this week?".
Now, Missouri fans are hoping they'll actually see Brothers suited up this Saturday against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Senior LB went down to the turf on the last play of the third quarter in Lexington, missing the rest of the game as the Tigers fell to the Wildcats, 21-13. His status on the Missouri depth chart for this week is listed as Questionable, and while Kentrell has told others he will play...
Scherer says Kentrell Brothers told him he's playing this weekend. Said he cleaned up the language a little bit.— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) September 29, 2015
That decision is ultimately up to Gary Pinkel, who said Brothers is a "game-time" decision.
Until then, let's take a look at Brothers impact before he went down, and the impact on the defense after the fact.
Play 1 --- 2:35 in 1Q
First play here doesn't show Kentrell bursting through the line to make a big play, but rather, making a tackle 20-yards down the field to save a touchdown.
Missouri is lined up in the 4-3 Cover 2, Brothers is lined up at the Will position. Kentucky is lined up in the pistol, with WR Garrett Johnson at the bottom of the screen. He'll run a slant toward the middle of the field. Here, Michael Scherer should've dropped back further over the middle to prevent any quick throw over the middle. He's playing too close to the line after the snap, and Towles goes over him and hits Johnson for a first down and more. Brothers reads Towles eyes and quickly adjusts and brings down Johnson after a big gain.
Play 2 --- :52 in 2Q
Now we have Kentrell making some good plays in stopping the run near the end of the first half. As I said, he finished with double-digit tackles, so his presence was still known early in the game.
Missouri is in the 4-3, with Kentucky in the shotgun and a receiver on each side. Kentrell originally drops back into coverage, but recognizes that Mikel Horton has the ball and comes up and makes the play at the line with A.J. Logan for a short gain.
Play 3 --- :33 in 2Q
Next play, Kentrell makes another run-stop for no gain to end the half.
Mizzou is in the 4-3, Kentrell at the Will position. UK is in the shotgun with two receivers to the right. Simple play, the Wildcats try to run the ball off-tackle, but Kentrell makes a great read and comes up through the "C" gap to bring down Mikel Horton for no-gain with Logan Cheadle with him.
Play 4 --- 6:51 in 4Q
Now we're going to shift the focus to the rest of the linebackers after Kentrell's injury on the last play of the third quarter.
Mizzou is in the dime, with three defensive lineman, two linebackers, and six DBs. Scherer and Green blitz up the middle, along with Anthony Sherrils out of the secondary. UK has trips to the left with Towles in the Shotgun. Focus here on Johnson again. He only has Thomas Wilson on him, about five yards off the ball. When the ball is snapped, he'll be inside of Wilson the whole time, running to the first down marker with room to run. Wilson expected him to cut upfield, which is why he was playing off him. Instead of blitzing both LBs here, MU should've dropped one (probably Scherer) back over the middle to prevent the easy catch and run.
Play 5 --- 2:12 in 4Q
Finally, on the last drive of the game, what would pretty much seal the win for the Wildcats.
Mizzou is in the 4-3. UK lines up with JoJo Kemp as the running back. Scherer and Green originally play the edges to prevent a run off the tackle, the line blocks perfectly for Kemp who hits the hole with no one at home in the middle of the field. And that would be the ballgame.
So what did we learn from the Tigers SEC opener? Well for one, there needs to be offensive improvement sooner rather than later. Outside of that, the Linebackers as a group had a really poor showing. Yes, even Kentrell. He made some plays, and did end with another double-digit tackle performance. However, at the end of the day, it'll be the plays that he, and the other MU linebackers weren't able to make against the Wildcats on Saturday.
If Kentrell doesn't play on Saturday against South Carolina, there will need to be someone to step up to fill his shoes and make big plays. Otherwise, we could be in line for a repeat of the Tigers performance in Lexington.