Over the coming weeks, BK will preview each and every position on the Mizzou football roster in anticipation for the 2015 season. Our positional previews began in the first week of July, and we will continue until August 1st – which just so happens to be the first week of Mizzou football camp. See what we did there?
BK’s Projected Depth Chart:
- Charles Harris, RS Soph.
- Spencer Williams, RS FR.
- Rocell McWilliams, RS FR.
- Rickey Hatley, RS Jr.
- Terry Beckner, Jr., FR.
- Tyler Hanneke, RS Jr.
- Josh Augusta, JR.
- A.J. Logan, RS Soph.
- Evan Winston, RS Jr.
- Marcell Frazier, JR.
- Walter Brady, RS FR.
- Justin Grava, RS Jr.
Mizzou returns one start (total) along the defensive line; Charles Harris started against Indiana in place of an injured Markus Golden. With that said, it would be unfair to classify Charles Harris, Rickey Hatley and Josh Augusta as newcomers. All three had important roles in 2014, with Hatley and Augusta involved in the rotation at defensive tackle, and Harris serving as the primary backup to Golden.
There is a ton of potential along Missouri’s defensive line. Charles Harris is a hugely athletic defensive end that showed flashes of greatness in 2014. Josh Augusta is a crazy talented defensive tackle (did I mention that he was a 330 pound wide receiver in high school?). Rickey Hatley was quietly productive in his limited playing time last year. After that, there are a plethora of newcomers that could step up including JuCo transfer Marcell Frazier, and a trio of redshirt freshmen defensive ends.
The other thing that Mizzou has going for it is that the Tigers have one of the best defensive line coaches in the country in Craig Kuligowski. Coach Kool groomed Ziggy Hood, Sheldon Richardson, Aldon Smith, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam, Markus Golden and Shane Ray into elite level college players. If there is elite potential in any of Mizzou’s current players, Kool will get it out of them.
It’s pretty simple. Mizzou lost a lot. Shane Ray, Markus Golden, Lucas Vincent, Matt Hoch, Marcus Loud and Harold Brantley combined for 291 tackles, 67.5 tackles-for-loss and 34.5 sacks. Those five, alone, had more tackles for loss than Kentucky or South Carolina, and they would have ranked 5th in the SEC in total sacks in 2014.
The Tigers return none of their regular starters from 2014. Charles Harris, Ricky Hatley and Josh Augusta are the only returning players that were part of Missouri’s defensive line rotation in 2014.
Fans will point to the resolve of Missouri’s defensive line under Coach Kool, rightly so, but he’s never had to thrust first-year players into the starting lineup the way he will in 2015.
Here’s some perspective from the past:
2014, Markus Golden & Shane Ray: Golden backed up Michael Sam the year prior, racking up 6.5 sacks. Ray backed up Kony Ealy in the previous year, adding 4.5 sacks to his resume.
2013, Michael Sam & Kony Ealy: Sam & Ealy split time with one another the year prior, seeing time in 12 games. Sam was the team’s sack leader (4.5), Ealy added 3.5 of his own.
2012, Brad Madison & Michael Sam: Madison was a junior and started for the Tigers in the year prior. Sam was a rotational player in 2011, and was splitting time with Ealy in 2012.
2011, Jacquies Smith & Brad Madison: Madison entered his junior season after spending a year splitting time with Aldon Smith. Jacquies Smith was entering his 2nd year as a starter.
2010, Jacquies Smith & Aldon Smith: The Smiths entered the season as the starters, but Madison also played a lot due to Aldon’s injuries. Jacquies’ experience heading into the season was as Aldon’s primary backup in 2009.
2009, Brian Coulter & Aldon Smith: Coulter was a senior, and backed up Tommy Chavis the year prior. Smith was a sophomore, after having played extensively in his redshirt freshman season.
2008, Tommy Chavis & Stryker Sulak: Chavis and Sulak were both starters the year before.
2007, Tommy Chavis & Stryker Sulak: 2007 was Sulak’s 2nd year as a starter, and Chavis came into the year as the starter after splitting time inside & outside in 2006.
2006, Brian Smith & Stryker Sulak: Smith started the year prior, Sulak split time with Xzavie Jackson in 2005.
Add it all up, and the Tigers have not had a defensive end start in the past decade without at least being involved in the D-Line rotation the year prior. That’s exactly what will take place this season, regardless of the name on the back of the jersey. I’m not saying they can’t be good, it’s just difficult to project exactly what “good” will look like. Would that be six sacks for Missouri’s starting left end? Or 12? Because that’s obviously a massive difference.
It’s hugely difficult to project this Missouri defensive line. It was going to be difficult even before Marcus Loud was dismissed, or before Harold Brantley’s car accident that resulted in injuries that will keep him out for the entirety of the 2015 season. Without Loud or Brantley, it becomes damn near impossible.
Charles Harris should be good. I wouldn’t even be all that shocked if he finished the year with double-digit sacks. A Mizzou defensive tackle has not finished the year with more than five sacks in the past decade – not even Sheldon Richardson or Ziggy Hood. So I think it’s fair to assume that will remain true for Josh Augusta, Rickey Hatley or Terry Beckner, Jr.
With all of that said, I think it’s fair to say the Tigers will not match their sack total (44) from 2014. To be fair, no SEC team has out-performed Missouri’s 44 sacks since Tennessee back in 2000. Instead, I could see the Tigers finishing with somewhere around 30 sacks in 2015.
I could see Charles Harris finishing the season with 10-11 sacks, the starter at left end could finish with 5-7 sacks and another 10-15 sacks could come from some combination of the Tigers’ defensive tackles (Augusta, Beckner, Hatley) and linebackers (Brothers, Scherer & Newsom).