Missouri debuted a revamped defense Saturday, with freshman Cale Garrett, a Kearney graduate, starting at middle linebacker among three changes to the starting lineup.
But the crux of the decision, first-year Tigers coach Barry Odom said after a 40-14 loss at Florida, was the desire to shift senior Michael Scherer to weak-side linebacker.
Scherer had started 31 consecutive games at middle linebacker for Mizzou, and the switch opened the door for Garrett.
Garrett, who enrolled at Mizzou for the spring semester, said he found out Tuesday of the bye week he’d probably move into a starting role.
“We mixed up the lineups a little bit, because we were just focused on seeing which combinations worked the best at linebacker,” he said. “Nothing was set in stone at the point, but I had an opportunity to take the one reps.”
Junior Joey Burkett started the first five games at weak-side linebacker, but had only 22 tackles and no more than six in any game.
Scherer finished with a game-high 10 tackles against the Gators, including one for a loss, while Garrett added a career-high eight tackles.
Additionally, redshirt freshman Ronnell Perkins, who was listed as the backup at free safety on the depth chart, got the nod at strong safety.
“I made some plays and good tackles against LSU, so the coaches told me they were going to throw me in the fire and to be ready,” Perkins said. “I practiced hard for those two weeks we had and watched film, but I really tried to keep everything as regular as possible.”
Junior Anthony Sherrils had started four of five games at that spot, with sophomore Cam Hilton getting the nod there against Delaware State.
Junior defensive end Marcell Frazier, who started three games last season, returned to the starting lineup for the first time this season.
“They’re trying to mix it up and they want wins, so they’re doing whatever they can to get wins,” Frazier said.
Offensively, freshman Damarea Crockett started for the first time and went on to post career-highs with 14 carries for 145 yards.
“It’s always exciting, especially for it to be in The Swamp, which is a nice environment,” Crockett said.
It’s a bummer that it came in defeat, but easily the best moment for the Mizzou offense was senior defensive tackle Josh Augusta’s first career touchdown.
Three straight runs by Crockett to start the second half moved the ball to the goal line, where Augusta entered as part of the “Bone” package and plunged over the line for a 1-yard score.
“That was awesome,” said Augusta, who now has five carries for 7 yards and a TD this season as the feature back in the “Bone” package. “I’ve been waiting for that for a long time.”
Then there was one
Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock was selected as a captain for the sixth straight game. He is the only player who’s been a captain for each Mizzou game.
Junior running back Ish Witter, junior defensive end Charles Harris, sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. and Scherer also were captains at Florida.