Missouri senior linebacker Michael Scherer’s college career is over after he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee during the first series Saturday against Middle Tennessee.
First-year coach Barry Odom confirmed the season-ending diagnosis Tuesday after wrapping up practice on the Kadlec Athletic Fields, but that wasn’t the only devastating news.
Odom also said sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. was out with a torn ACL in his left knee. He suffered a torn ACL and other damage in his right knee last season against BYU.
“Terry’s going to be back, and he’s got a lot of football left to play here,” Odom said. “Mike, it kind of rips my heart out that he has done everything that he’s done and it ends for him with that injury. They’re both great ambassadors for the University of Missouri and our football program. I love them dearly.”
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Odom didn’t rule out Beckner for the season, an indication surgery might be delayed, but he remains doubtful against Kentucky at 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“He’s walking around OK today, but it would probably be wise to say that you wouldn’t expect him back anytime soon,” Odom said of Beckner. “I don’t want to completely rule it out, but, at this point, they’re both a pretty similar injury.”
Scherer’s surgery hasn’t been scheduled. He’ll work with the Mizzou training staff to strengthen the muscles around the injured knee before the procedure, according to Odom.
“Michael’s just crushed,” defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross said. “We’re all crushed for him. The kid was in tears the rest of the game, trying to pull us on and egg us on (as well as) in the locker room and on Sunday. He was the guy, and he wanted nothing more than to have a great senior year and lead this team back to a bowl game.”
The news wasn’t all bad.
Senior cornerback John Gibson, who left the Middle Tennessee game after the first defensive snap with a sprained left knee, returned to practice Tuesday and “looked pretty good,” Odom said.
Cross said junior free safety Thomas Wilson, who was evaluated for a concussion after a blow to the head on the second series of the game, also was expected back.
Scherer was flowing to his right on the fourth defensive snap against the Blue Raiders, a 2-yard run by senior running back and Mississippi transfer I’Tavius Mathers.
With a diving cut block from behind, Middle Tennessee senior lineman Maurquice Shakir clipped Scherer’s left leg and drove it into his right leg, which was planted.
Scherer — who rolled forward and made the tackle, but was writhing in pain after the play — walked off on his own power, flexing his knee as he was flanked by trainers.
He was evaluated briefly on the sideline before going to the locker room and returning on crutches.
Scherer leads the Tigers with 53 tackles this season, which is tied for 10th in the Southeastern Conference. He ranked fourth entering the Middle Tennessee game.
Scherer, a St. Louis native from Country Day High, had at least 10 tackles in three games this season and also ranks second for Mizzou with 3 1/2 tackles for a loss.
Scherer — who matched a career-high with a half-sack this season and added two quarterback hurries and two pass breakups — recorded his first career interception in a 79-0 win against Delaware State.
For his career, Scherer ranks just outside the Tigers’ all-time top 25 with 266 tackles in 47 games, including 33 consecutive starts — a streak that will end at 11 a.m. Saturday against Kentucky in Columbia.
Beckner ranked eighth on Mizzou — and second among defensive linemen — with 24 tackles, including two for a loss, this season.
Losing both players is a substantial blow to an already struggling Mizzou defense, which allows the most total yards per game in the SEC (458.9).
“You lose a lot of emotion and experience … ,” Cross said. “It’s going to be hard with those guys down, but I think if we rally together (and) try to simplify things even more, we’ll have a chance (to play better).”
Junior linebacker Joey Burkett will return to the rotation with Scherer out, and freshman linebacker Trey Baldwin, who’s been used on special teams the last few games, also could see defensive reps.
Junior Eric Beisel and sophomore Brandon Lee also will be in the mix.
Cross said freshman Cale Garrett went from being a “backup guy to our leader in the middle of the pack ... and he’s doing a good job of it so far.”
Along the defensive line, more will be asked from senior defensive tackle Josh Augusta and freshman Markell Utsey.