Missouri Football: Previewing the Tigers’ defensive secondary

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 24: Defensive back John Gibson
COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 24: Defensive back John Gibson /

There are many question marks surrounding Missouri’s defensive secondary, which lost leaders John Gibson and Aarion Penton to graduation last year.

Coming off an awful defensive performance last year, the Tigers hope to rebound this year with some fresh talent in the secondary. With new talent comes inexperience, which means there will be growing pains, as the Tigers work to replace seniors Penton and Gibson.

The Tigers just released the depth chart for the Missouri State game, and it seems the cornerbacks will be mostly untested underclassmen, with Logan Cheadle being the only senior.

Sophmore Demarkus Acy is definitely talented and should acclimate quickly, however, behind him the position is thin. With talented freshmen Christian Holmes separating his shoulder last week, the Tigers cannot afford any more injuries among their corners.

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In an interview with The Kansas City Star, Odom spoke with concern due to the secondary’s lack of experience, but will continue to get his players ready to step up and be ready to give their best effort.

"“(Holmes’ injury) didn’t look like much, but obviously it was. We’ve got a number of guys who are going to have to step up to fill that role in all aspects, from the kicking game to how we are playing in the secondary. There’s a lot of pressure on a lot of guys, including the coaching staff, to get those guys ready to go play."

The safeties are a little stronger with senior Anthony Sherrils and junior Cam Hilton. Sherrils had 53 tackles and 1 interception last year, while Hilton had 35 tackles and 1 interception. While those aren’t mind-boggling numbers, with more playing time, both Hilton and Sherrills should see improvement.

How the Tigers perform this season will depend entirely upon how well the defense holds up. While there is uncertainty in the secondary, I think with uncertainty comes surprises and many of these underclassmen have talent. It is yet to be seen whether the talent will translate onto the field.

Next: Mizzou's special teams preview

The secondary’s first test will be against Missouri State on Saturday, September 2. While outsiders don’t believe that Missouri is challenging itself with its slate of non-conference opponents, this game holds an interesting plot, in that former defensive coordinator Dave Steckel will be coaching against his protégé, Barry Odom.