August 29, 2014

From opposite ends of the state, to opposite ends of the D-line, Ray and Golden will anchor Mizzou’s defense (VIDEO)

Shane Ray grew up in Kansas City…Markus Golden in St. Louis.  These bookends for the Missouri Tigers defensive line go from reserves to starters and much of Mizzou’s success on defense will come from these two players.

Last year they combined for:

–96 tackles
–22 tackles for loss
–11 sacks
–4 forced fumbles
–21 quarterback hits
–2 defensive touchdowns

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Former Mizzou stars Sam, Gaines and Josey all have legitimate shots at making NFL rosters (VIDEO)

Michael Sam may have a lot more to smile about come Saturday if he makes the Rams' final 53.

Michael Sam may have a lot more to smile about come Saturday if he makes the Rams’ final 53.

Michael Sam was in on six tackles for the Rams, and Ethan Westbrooks had a sack for St. Louis. They’re among the candidates for one of the final spots on the Rams defensive line, but what Sam showed in the 14-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins was that he could play against the run and he’s confident, if not with the Rams, he’ll have a job in the NFL.

Watch the video of his postgame press conference (credit/ESPN)

E.J. Gaines had an interception, his first in the NFL. He said he was so excited he dropped the ball instead of holding onto it for a souvenir.  After the Rams took a 3-0 lead on a Greg Zuerlein field goal, Gaines picked off a pass intended for Marcus Thigpen at the 50 and returned it 38 yards.  That led to a Rams touchdown on the next possession, putting the Rams on top 10-0.

“It felt good to get my first pick. I should have kept the game ball, but I was too hyped, so I dropped it.  We played well (in the first half). We just have a lot of stuff to clean up. We have a lot of young guys out there.”

Gaines thought the first half was the pinnacle of his preseason.

“Definitely, but I have a long way to go,” said Gaines at halftime.

Henry Josey has been compared to Darren Sproles.  They could become teammates on Saturday.

Henry Josey has been compared to Darren Sproles. They could become teammates on Saturday.

Henry Josey is trying to grab one of the running back spots in Philadelphia.  Josey had 121 yards rushing on 22 carries and was taking a bulk of the snaps. Matthew Tucker started as Chris Polk did not dress, but Tucker left the game with a shoulder injury. Kenjon Barner also exited the game with an ankle injury. With LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles resting, Damaris Johnson was called into action and scored on a 46-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Due to his size and running style, Josey has drawn
comparisons to teammate Darren Sproles. “I’ve been
compared to Darren Sproles with the way I run, and I’m able to
catch out of the backfield. It’s just exciting to be mentioned in the
same boat as guys like him.”

South Dakota State “Not going to collect a check.  They’re not going to just play a game…they’re going to try to win” (Google Hangout)

Tyler Merriam, the voice of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, said this preseason top 10 FCS football team is coming to Columbia on Saturday with the goal of trying to win a football game.  For head coach John Stiegelemeier, it’s not just a game to collect a payout from and move on.

South Dakota State is coming off a 2013 season in which it made its second straight appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs and third in five years. Missouri State fans are familiar with SDSU, sharing the same Missouri Valley Football Conference.  The Jackrabbits tied a school record for wins in a season en route to a 9-5 overall record and tied for a second-place finish in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 5-3 mark.

They’ll present some interesting challenges on both sides of the ball.  The strength of Missouri’s defense in on the line and they thrive on shutting down opposing running backs.  The Tigers get a tough test from senior running back Zach Zenner, who already holds the league record for career all-purpose yards and needs less than 300 yards to set the conference’s all-time rushing mark. Zenner has rushed for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

With questions about Missouri’s receivers, Merriam says the strong suit of SDSU’s defense is their secondary.  Jimmie Hunt, Bud Sasser and Darius White may be tested.

Watch my Google Hangout with Tyler Merriam

The South Dakota State football roster features six players from the state of Missouri. Two of those players, backup defensive backs Mark Pickerel and Freeman Simmons, will be making a true homecoming Saturday as they are both graduates of Columbia’s Rock Bridge High School.Pickerel is a junior, while Simmons is expected to make his collegiate debut after redshirting during the 2013 season.

Other Missouri natives on the Jackrabbit roster include:
• Jay Carlson, Jr., kicker (kickoffs), Parkville;
• Auston LaBlance, Sr., defensive lineman, Kansas City;
• Andrew Mueller, Sr., offensive lineman, Peculiar;
• Dom Wright, Sr., wide receiver/kick returner, Lee’s Summit

Scherer worked on learning the playbook and increasing his speed as he moves into a starting role (VIDEO)

Michael Scherer, a redshirt sophomore from St. Louis, is a 2013 SEC Academic Honor Roll selection and a business major.  No doubt Scherer has the smarts.  He used his book smarts to gain an advantage on the football field by learning the Mizzou defensive playbook front and back.  It was done to help him get a leg up on the offense.  Scherer also spent the summer working on his speed, rather than his strength.

Scroll over the picture and watch as Scherer describes his summer and his preparations as the Tigers starting linebacker.

The SEC East is there for the taking, but South Carolina “a good pick right now,” with three straight 11 win seasons (Google Hangout)

Jon Cooper of SaturdayDownSouth.com agrees with me as do most that the SEC East is going to be four-school race. Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt will all be fighting for their lives just to become bowl eligible.  Depending on which part of the SEC footprint you live in, will most likely dictate which team you think will win the division.

It will come down to Mizzou, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  Each team has their big question marks coming into the season, but Cooper believes the team that has the best chance of coming out on top is the Gamecocks.

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