Media Day Notes: Missouri prepares to play without two starters

By Brandon Kiley, KBIA Sports 

The big news out of Missouri football media day on Monday was the indefinite suspension of starting cornerback Aarion Penton. The suspension comes after Penton was arrested early Friday morning for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana, a misdemeanor in Columbia.

“These are young guys,” Missouri cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford said. “They all make mistakes, just like my kids. I try to treat them just like (my kids). We move on, we learn from it, and hopefully they don’t make the same mistakes again. We try to use this as a teaching moment.”

Penton’s suspension comes at an inopportune time for the Tigers. Missouri was already expected to be without starting safety Braylon Webb for the first half against Texas A&M. Webb was penalized and ejected for a targeting call in the second half against Kentucky.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel announced on Monday that junior safety Cortland Browning will start in place of Webb for the first half and sophomore cornerback John Gibson will start in place of Aarion Pention.

“You have to make adjustments,” Pinkel said. “Bottom line is that there is no excuses. We have to go out and perform at a high level. Both of those guys have played a lot, so I think they will do a good job.”

Webb has been a stalwart for Missouri defense, starting 35 consecutive games dating back to 2011. According to David Morrison’s “snap decisions” breakdown in the Columbia Daily Tribune, Browning has played 11 percent of Missouri’s defensive snaps this year. Gibson has more experience, starting three of Missouri’s first four games, and playing 41 percent of Missouri’s total defensive snaps.

Overcoming a lack of starting experience in the secondary will be the key to the Tigers finding a way to slow down Texas A&M’s high-powered offense.

Missouri (7-2) travels to College Station to play Texas A&M (7-3) on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

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