Tag Archives: Dave Steckel

Player Development Fuels Tigers’ SEC Success

Defensive lineman Markus Golden (33) runs back his interception against Toledo in September, one of 10 interceptions Missouri has this season.

Defensive lineman Markus Golden (33) runs back his interception against Toledo in September, one of 10 interceptions Missouri has this season.

By Christian Clark, KBIA Sports

COLUMBIA — Missouri defensive end Markus Golden is one of the most disruptive forces in all of college football. In 12 games, the senior from St. Louis has registered 16 tackles for loss and 8 ½ sacks.

It’s easy to understand why Golden reaps success if you’ve seen him play. Golden is a rare breed of defensive end with the speed to go around opposing lineman and the strength to bulldoze them. What’s more difficult to understand is how Golden turned into the quarterback-crushing, run-stuffing defensive end we see today. Read more of this post

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Georgia preview update: On paper, Mizzou could win this one

By Darren Hellwege

darren hellwege logo

Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

Prior to the 2014 season, I went through each of the Tigers scheduled opponents to preview each. With Saturday’s game against Georgia being a key game and many changes since we last looked into Georgia, let’s update a few things, and see what I got right, and what I got wrong…sometimes very wrong.

Offense

I get plus grades for quarterback discussion, sort of. I said Hutson Mason looked good, but to watch for young guys. The good news from a Georgia fan’s perspective is I was right, the young guys have looked good. The bad news? Rather than pick one, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt is splitting time between not two but three QBs: Mason, redshirt freshman Brice Read more of this post

Missouri ready to take on experienced Toledo team

By Christian Clark, KBIA Sports

Toledo quarterback Phillip Ely dazzled during his first start in more than 3 ½ years last week against New Hampshire.

The Rockets trailed 7-3 after one quarter, but Ely engineered eight consecutive scoring drives to help them earn a 54-20 season opening win. Ely finished the day with 337 passing yards and four touchdowns through the air.

“I’m very impressed with his moxie,” Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel said. “They put some stuff on his Read more of this post

Time to recognize the greatness of Mizzou’s Pinkel

MU football coach Gary Pinkel holds 8-month-old Bristol Kennedy at the annual Fan Day event on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. Bristol is the daughter of Robert and Secley Kennedy of Columbia. Photo by Karen Mitchell

MU football coach Gary Pinkel holds 8-month-old Bristol Kennedy at the annual Fan Day event on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. Bristol is the daughter of Robert and Secley Kennedy of Columbia. Photo by Karen Mitchell

As Mizzou football prepares to start a new season, once again Tiger fans will expect big things of their team — and the rest of the football world will not. In spite of winning 12 games and the SEC East last year, nobody seems to respect the Tigers. The league’s Sports Information Directors pegged MU ninth best in the league in their preseason ratings, Read more of this post

Mizzou defensive line hoping to out-quick No. 7 Georgia 


Story by The 
Associated Press

Defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) works against Murray State's Kamalie Matthews Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 at Faurot Field.

Defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) works against Murray State’s Kamalie Matthews Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 at Faurot Field. Sam leads the league in tackles for loss. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)

COLUMBIA, Mo.—Michael Sam has reason to sing right now.

Missouri’s fifth-year defensive end, who tends to stretch his vocal chords during practices to the amusement of teammates, has recorded all six of his sacks this season in the last two games, twice earning Southeastern Conference honors as defensive lineman of the week. He’s tied for the most sacks in the SEC and leads the league with 10 tackles for loss.

An undersized lineman at 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, Sam witnessed several peers enjoy the limelight before they headed to the NFL. Now, Sam’s starting to pull back the curtain on himself.

“Sean Weatherspoon was here; he was a loud kid himself,” defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said. “When he was a freshman, it was kind of annoying. Like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ And then by the time he was a senior, ‘Well, that’s Sean.’ And Mike’s just the same way. He does bring the energy up. You can kind of know where he is in the building just by opening your ears.”

Sam’s sacks represented half of the defensive line’s total in wins against Arkansas State and Vanderbilt, opponents whom No. 25 Missouri (5-0, 1-0) defeated by an average of 22.5 points. The Tigers already have equaled their win total from 2012, and the line is a primary reason despite the loss of second-team all-SEC tackle Sheldon Richardson to the New York Jets.

The team now enters its game at No. 7 Georgia (4-1, 3-0) on a high note, while opposing quarterback Aaron Murray will have to figure out a way to nurse his injury-depleted Bulldogs to a win.

“We know how it is,” nose guard Lucas Vincent said. “That’s not a good place to be.”

Through three games, however, Missouri’s picture wasn’t as rosy. Coach Gary Pinkel and players deflected questions about the pass rush after only garnering three sacks, all against FCS foe Murray State.

There were bright spots, including interception returns by ends Kony Ealy and Markus Golden, both of whom earned defensive lineman of the week honors, too. And part of the issue could have been attributed to quarterbacks willing to quickly throw the football away. But that was an obvious consolation to players compared to the lack of the sacks.

“All season they’ve been doing a very good job of pressuring the quarterback,” defensive coordinator Dave Steckel said. “And I think in the last two weeks, that pressure is now translating into sacks.”

Despite their record, the Tigers rank only 11th in the conference in yards allowed, yielding 412.4 per game or 21.7 more than a year ago. They’re also allowing 22.4 points, good for fourth in the SEC, but in a year when offense is up across the league.
The team is relying on a rotation of 10 players on the line. Steckel said the depth allows coaches to become more imaginative in their play calling and their alignments.

“I’m sitting on the sideline and watching Vandy playing, and they’re looking a little tired out there,” said Vincent, the nose guard. “I’m like, ‘I’m not that tired at all. Either I’m in really good shape, or this rotation’s really coming in clutch.'”

Georgia coach Mark Richt says his team will be prepared for the dual threat of strength and speed that makes the Tigers’ defensive line difficult to contain.

“They don’t have a bunch of big, old, fat bodies,” he said. “They’re broad and all that, but they’re pretty lean, muscle-mass looking guys. Defensively, they don’t do a lot of stuff, but what they do there, they do well.”

Mizzou football squad well served by its youth

By the Associated Press

Missouri safety Ian Simon knew he had made a mistake.

For three consecutive plays in overtime, he either failed to line up correctly or properly cover a Tennessee receiver. Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel said he “verbally assaulted” Simon after the redshirt freshman returned to the sideline.

“I knew I’d messed up on the previous plays and I was letting the moment get to me a little bit,” Simon said. “He came to the sideline, he chewed me out a little bit, but it also calmed me back down at the same time and brought me back to earth a little bit.”

Steckel tried apologizing after the exchange but Simon wouldn’t let him and said he needed it. The safety returned to the field and broke up quarterback Tyler Bray’s fourth-down pass attempt in the fourth overtime, preventing the Volunteers from scoring and giving Missouri the opportunity to win the game with a field goal.

Redshirt freshman kicker Andrew Baggett converted from 35 yards and the Tigers won their first Southeastern Conference road game, 51-48, thanks in no small part to several young and inexperienced players.

“There’s nothing like experience,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “And you’ve got to get out there and you’re going to make mistakes. That’s how you grow.”

Sophomore receiver Bud Sasser, who entered the game with only 10 career receptions, caught two passes for 61 yards, including a leaping grab over a defender for 40 yards that set up a Kendial Lawrence’s 1-yard touchdown run three plays later.

Starting his fourth career game, Sasser said he had never been in a situation that rivaled Saturday’s four overtimes. He and junior receiver Marcus Lucas were walking along the sideline telling different groups of players to just enjoy the moment and have fun.

“This is what we come to school for, this is what we play the game for,” Sasser said. “And we want to play in big games, and here it is.”

Winning at Tennessee moved Missouri (5-5, 2-5 SEC) to within one win of extending its bowl streak to eight seasons. With a visit to No. 9 Texas A&M to finish the season, the Tigers want to secure their trip to the postseason this week at home against Syracuse (5-5, 4-2 Big East).

“Oh, it’s on our mind,” Sasser said.

Against the Orange, junior quarterback James Franklin will also likely be targeting sophomore Jimmie Hunt and freshman Dorial Green-Beckham, who combined for four touchdowns against the Volunteers.

Hunt scored the team’s fifth touchdown on special teams this season on an 87-yard kickoff return and caught his seventh career pass for a 24-yard score in the first overtime.

Green-Beckham, who arrived in the summer as one of the school’s highest-ever touted recruits, only caught seven passes in the team’s first seven games. Since then, his 14 receptions lead the Tigers. Two of those – both for touchdowns – came last Saturday.

The first occurred on Missouri’s final play in regulation, a fourth-down, 25-yard catch in the end zone. The ball was headed slightly out of bounds, but Green-Beckham utilized his 6-6, 220-pound frame to keep both feet in play.

“He’s a lot different football player right now than he was five weeks ago,” Pinkel said. “Because he’s working so hard at fundamentals and his work ethic, so on and so forth. That’s a glimpse of what he can be.”

Franklin says his young receivers are starting to lead by example, so it shouldn’t be considered all that surprising he targeted Green-Beckham for a 10-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown pass in the third overtime after the receiver dropped an identical pass the previous play.

If anyone on Missouri could spot resiliency, it would be Franklin, who completed only 2 of 8 passes for 18 yards and an interception in the first half but finished 19-for-32 for 226 yards and four touchdowns.

“Here’s the bottom line,” receivers coach Andy Hill said. “If you go do it in practice, and it’s consistent that you catch balls and run the right routes and the ball comes to you and you make the play, then the quarterback’s looking for you on Saturdays.”

Mizzou pulls out emotional win against Texas Tech

Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam intercepts a pass in the final minute to clinch the victory for Missouri over Texas Tech.

Photos by Andrew Wamboldt

Needing to win one of its last two games in order to become bowl eligible, it didn’t look like the Missouri Tigers was going to be able to do it. Then with 32 seconds left in the game, Dominique Hamilton tipped a Texas Tech pass that Micheal Sam caught at the Tigers 10 yard-line to ensure a victory.

On Senior Day, and without Coach Gary Pinkel, the Tigers managed a 31-27 win over Texas Tech to increase their record to 6-5, officially bowl eligible.

Pinkel was suspended from the game as part of disciplinary action taken after he was arrested on Wednesday for DWI. Pinkel pleaded guilty to the charges. Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel was named interim coach.

Quarterback James Franklin had 172 passing yards, including two touchdowns and no interceptions. He accumulated 152 rushing yards with two more touchdowns.

In the absence of tailback Henry Josey the running game was picked up by Kendial Lawrence, with 95 yards, and De’Vion Moore, with 83 yards.

Senior Luke Lambert led the defense with 13 tackles.

Mizzou 35, Kansas 7: Second half highlights

VIDEO: Pinkel, Smith discuss Mizzou’s defensive improvements

Mizzou's defensive improvements from 2009 to 2010 have been a significant reason behind the team's top 15 ranking. (Photo by Ross Taylor)

Mizzou’s 14-0 win over Iowa State Saturday served as a reminder that the strength of the No. 14 team in the nation is its defense.

If you’re having a tough time embracing that, you’re likely not alone. Mizzou’s strength in recent string of success has generally been its offense, whether it was led by Brad Smith, Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Martin Rucker, Chase Coffman, Danario Alexander, etc.

That’s not to say Blaine Gabbert, Michael Egnew, and T.J. Moe aren’t strengths. They obviously are. But this year, it’s been the defensive line, the linebackers, and the secondary that have led Mizzou to a top-15 ranking.

In 2009, Mizzou ranked No. 59 in the nation with a defense that allowed 25.9 points per game. Their pass defense ranked No. 104 out of 120 FBS teams in terms of average yards allowed per game, measuring up as the team’s biggest Achilles’ heel last season.

But 2010 has seen Mizzou vault into the top 10 leaderboard for team scoring defense. The Tigers have allowed just 15.9 points per game, the seventh-best total for any team in the nation. That’s a scoring defense better than LSU, Nebraska, Oregon, and Stanford, just to name a few top teams.

Read more of this post

VIDEO: Experience and trust key for Dave Steckel’s defense

Kip Edwards

Cornerback Kip Edwards, seen here intercepting a pass against Colorado, is one of the cornerbacks rewarding defensive coordinator Dave Steckel's trust. (Photo by JJ Stankevitz)

Maybe it’s a statement about how people are unwilling to believe in a Missouri defense, but with the Tigers sitting second in the nation in scoring defense and first in the nation in red zone defense, observers are looking for that magic bullet that has made the unit turn the corner.

One such theory centers around the Missouri defensive backs. In previous seasons, primarily under former defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Missouri preferred zone coverage that minimized big plays and emphasized Missouri swarming to the ball to prevent yards after catches. This season, defensive coordinator Dave Steckel has shown a willingness to leave his cornerbacks isolated in man coverage.

So far, the high risk of Steckel’s willingness to leave his players in man coverage has come with high reward. Nickel back Kip Edwards — Missouri’s third cornerback — found himself isolated with Texas A&M’s Jeff Fuller, regarded as one of the conference’s best receivers, and acquitted himself extremely well.

On Monday, I spoke with Steckel about the confidence the Missouri secondary is playing with at the moment:

The renewed commitment to man coverage has led many to speculate that Steckel finally trusts his players enough to handle themselves well in one-on-one situations. For Steckel, his trust was never in doubt.