Missouri will begin its approach to the 2023 campaign with the first day of spring training in early March. Until then, we’ll preview the 2023 roster doing post-by-post previews. Then come the defensive tackles.
The entrees : One of the biggest questions leading into the offseason was whether Darius Robinson would return to the Tigers in 2023 or declare himself for the NFL Draft. He picked the former, so the Tigers will retain him and fellow starter Kristian Williams next season.
Robinson recorded 35 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season while Williams recorded 27 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, a pair of sacks and a pass deflection.
Thus, the starting interior is square until spring.
Backups: It wasn’t just the starters who returned, but it was Realus George, Jayden Jernigan and Josh Landry who all decided to return next season.
George, the converted fullback turned defensive tackle, had the best season of the three and would likely be a starter for many other Power 5 teams. He had 25 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack.
Jernigan recorded 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one pass deflection in his first season in Colombia.
Landry, who is listed as a defensive tackle, saw a lot of his snaps happen on defense last season. So it could be deployed indoors or outdoors. He recorded 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks.
The coaching staff is high on Marquis Gracial and Jalen Marshall, who will both be redshirt freshmen next season. The way the staff talked about his improvement in the scouting squad in 2022 suggests he will have a chance to break into the rotation.
Gracial, a four-star prospect in the Class of 2022, weighs 6-foot-4 and 323 pounds while Marshall, a three-star prospect in the same class weighs 6-foot-5 and 312 pounds. The head coach Eli Drinkwitz said the team wanted to strengthen internally so they could play in the Southeastern Conference.
Scenarios to watch out for: Last season defensive ends were the strength of the defensive line, not by much but they were. Will the inside defensive line be mostly the strength of the defensive line with the defensive end position now in flux with the departure of draft-related hopes DJ Colman and Isaiah McGuire? What is Montgomery’s status? How do Gracial and Marshall feature in the rotation?
PowerMizzou prediction: There won’t be much change from last season except injury. Robinson and Williams will be the starters with George, Jernigan and Landry getting a good amount of shots from the bench.
However, Gracial and Marshall have grown at a pace the staff loves. So, will one or both not only end up in the rotation but can they usurp one of the saves?
defensive coordinator Blake Baker and defensive line coach Al Davis are good at constantly having new bodies up front on the pitch. So it’s not going to be about having enough bodies that can play well enough to make an impact. It will be about which bodies will play and who will get those shots.
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