Mizzou Football 2020 positional breakdowns: Interior defensive line

This year’s defensive line is seasoned and has the potential to be a good unit going into this year. However, the defensive line is one of the weaker spots on the defense

The defensive line group was one of weaker position groups on a really good defense last year. However, the interior defensive linemen were a positive for the Tigers.

The interior was lead by third round draft pick, Jordan Elliot, and breakout player, Kobie Whiteside. Whiteside is expected to lead a thin, but talented assembly of guys.

Earlier this week I broke down and highlighted the defensive end position, and today I will be informing Tiger fans what to expect out of our interior defensive linemen.

NT1: Kobie Whiteside- 6’1, 300 lbs (Sr.)

2019 Stats:

Games Played: 12

Total Tackles: 28

Sacks: 7.5

Whiteside is clearly the leader and anchor of this talented and experienced defensive line group. In 2019, his first full year as a starter, he had a breakout year and became a serious threat next to Elliot.

Whiteside uses his brute strength and freaky athleticism to terrorize the opposing interior offensive lineman. Whiteside had a pair of multiple-sack performances in conference play against South Carolina and later on in the year against Florida.

I expect Whiteside to build on his stellar year last year, and possibly reach double-digit sacks in 2020. If Whiteside improves from last year, I would expect to hear his name called in April.

DT1: Akial Byers- 6’4, 305 lbs (Sr.)

2019 Stats:

Games Played: 12

Total Tackles: 18

Sacks: 0.5

Byers, a former Under Armour All-American, came into Mizzou with a lot of hype. The versatile defensive lineman has done a good job of living up to the expectations. Each year there has been consistent growth from Byers.

I believe that defensive coordinator Ryan Walters will play Byers primarily at defensive tackle this year, but Byers has the technique and skill to play at defensive end as well. Byers is another talented-veteran piece for this group.

NT2: Isaiah McGuire- 6’5, 280 lbs (So.)

2019 Stats:

Games Played: 6

Total Tackles: 4

McGuire is a promising young player for Mizzou. As a true freshman last year, McGuire was able to crack the rotation and make appearances in half the games that Mizzou played. McGuire is able to use his long-lean frame to play either in the interior or either defensive end positions. However, I expect to see him back up Whiteside this year.

DT2: Markell Utsey- 6’4, 295 lbs (Sr.)

2019 Stats:

Games Played: 12

Total Tackles: 9

Utsey has the ability to play either defensive tackle or the nose tackle position. Expect to see him play at both positions depending on the scheme. As a redshirt senior, Utsey is entering his fifth year as apart of the program and has a set role on the defense. Going against teams that run the ball more I will expect to see Utsey more because of how well he is against the run.