One of the strangest aspects of the first three years of the Barry Odom era at Missouri was that the former defensive coordinator had a team that could score points, but bled them at the other end. It was roughly the opposite of what you’d expect.
That is no longer the case. Missouri has allowed 95 points through six games this season. And 37 of those came in the season opener at Wyoming; that was a strange game, with Missouri’s offense committing three turnovers, including one that was returned for a touchdown and probably creating opportunities on the other two. Last week, the defense did allow 440 yards (5.6 per play) and 27 points against Ole Miss.
Of course, offensively, Vanderbilt is probably closer to West Virginia, South Carolina, and Troy, teams that combined for 31 points in losses to Missouri. On the season, Missouri’s defense is allowing 3.1 yards per rushing attempt and 4.0 yards per play. This is a good defense.
Like a lot of great defenses, the strength begins up front. In 315-pound Jordan Elliott and 310-pound Kobie Whiteside, Missouri has two good defensive tackles who are great at creating havoc in the offensive backfield: Elliott has six tackles for loss this season, and Whiteside has five sacks. In the second level, Missouri is currently missing its star (Cale Garrett), but Nick Bolton — the team’s leading tackler — is an acceptable substitute. The defensive backfield only has two interceptions among them this season, but they’re quite good at breaking up passes — free safety Joshuah Bledsoe has seven by himself — and opponents have completed just 48.9 percent of their passes. Of course, it certainly helps when they’re getting a lot of pressure up front.
The scariest part about this defense is that Garrett and cornerback Demarkus Acy are the only senior starters. Barry Odom finally has the defense he wants here.