COLUMBIA — Sheldon Richardson didnt think he played particularly well on Saturday.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
The Southeastern Conference disagreed.
Richardson, Missouris star defensive tackle, was chosen as the conferences defensive lineman of the week Monday after he racked up five tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the Tigers 33-10 win over Kentucky.
(Its) pretty good to get noticed, Richardson said. I thought I had a bad game though, to be honest. Just didnt make a lot of plays, I mean, I couldnt make a lot of plays. They kind of isolated me from the gameplan (they) ran away from me a lot.
Perhaps, but Richardson did have at least one highlight-reel play. With Kentucky marching down the field on its first drive, Richardson stripped tailback Jonathan George, recovered the ball and raced 60 yards, setting up MUs first score.
He runs pretty good, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. You saw, he scooped and almost scored. He runs like a linebacker, hes 295 pounds.
Which explains why Richardson has recorded a team-leading 57 tackles, a rarity for an interior defensive lineman. Richardson has the most solo tackles of any MU defensive lineman since 2004, when C.J. Mosley racked up 38. Richardson is well on track to pass Mosley with four regular-season games left.
Its a gap-control defense, and everybody has a gap, but what he does, he gets through the gap pretty quick, and thats the difference, Pinkel said of Richardson. It makes it very, very difficult (to block him). His quickness and ability to get in those gaps and creates problems youve got guards pulling or guards blocking back and all of a sudden he gets in there and disrupts everything.
Thats what he does, and hes very good at it.
Richardson has been one of the chief playmakers on a Missouri defense that has forced a turnover in 26 straight games.
Our defense, statistically in a league with really good defensive stats, we match up pretty good against them, Pinkel said. We all know what turnovers do to winning and losing games, the impact it has. But we always tell our players that turnovers dont just happen, you create them, and you create them through fundamentals and techniques we teach, like ripping the ball out.
Pinkel used Richardsons forced fumble on Saturday as an example of that.
Theyre working hard at it, they believe in fundamentals and youre seeing the result of it, Pinkel said. Certain years those things snowball your way, and thats what has happened.
Richardson said hes noticed a difference in the way teams block him now; he says he sees double-teams with regularity.
I noticed the linemen have an eye out for me now, Richardson said. I feel the respect they are giving me and I appreciate that I worked hard to get that kind of respect in the SEC.
Scary thing is, Pinkel said Richardson hasnt even scratched the surface of his potential.
Hes worked so hard to get as good as he is now, Pinkel said, and the incredible thing is he can probably get a lot better.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.