Part 4 of our position preview is here! This is a group that attracts plenty of attention around Mizzou Football and for good reason. Normally, it is a known commodity, this year, there are some questions. Yes, it’s time to talk #DLineZou.
D-Line Zou has been a point of strength for Mizzou for a long time, particularly since the Tigers have joined the SEC. Every year, they have produced plenty of NFL talent, I don’t need to remind you of that. This year, however, Mizzou does not have the depth or the “known commodities” as they have in previous years. And it took another hit recently with DE Nate Howard arrested for a second time. It is safe to say he will probably not be playing for Mizzou this year. Nate Howard has been a player with a lot of potential, but it’s time to prepare for a team without Howard.
Enter Marcell Frazier. Frazier is the player that many expect to be the next DE to carry that NFL torch for Mizzou. Frazier had 8.5 sacks last year (second on the team, only behind Charles Harris). If you remember the Arkansas game, he was everywhere and constantly making it an uncomfortable day for Arkansas’ O-Line and QB. I think he will be the edge rusher that Mizzou fans are accustomed to seeing. Double digit sacks, constant disrupter in both the pass game and running game, and he will make plenty of noise when it comes to who the best End is in the SEC.
Another player that will be a monster (as long as health is not a concern) is Terry Beckner Jr. Beckner has been nothing but dominate whenever he has been healthy and on the field. As an interior lineman, his stats don’t always reflect everything he does. If you watch his tape, you will see him beating his man almost every snap and causing some sort of havoc in the backfield. He provides a surge that allows edge rushers to do what they do best, get to the QB. When healthy, Beckner is as dominate as you will see in college football. As long as he is healthy, Mizzou has two very capable D-Linemen, but then there is a drop off.
I am not sitting here saying no one else is capable of being on the same level as Frazier and Beckner, but it’s just the uncertainty that creates a little panic. A.J. Logan and Jordan Harold are two players that saw time last year, but with Nate Howard (probably) not playing for Mizzou this year, there will be attention on the younger players.
Outside of Harold and Logan, here are a few names to look for: Walter Palmore, Akial Byers, and Franklin Agbasimere.
These are names that are surfacing out of camp with high praise. Palmore is an interior lineman that can eat plenty of space up the middle, that is never a bad thing to have. Akial Byers is a true freshman, but has apparently impressed at camp a lot. He is a 290 pound DE. Yes, you read that correctly. They don’t make many of those, especially that young. Franklin A has been someone D-Line Coach Brick Haley has been high on and could he be that consistent threat on the outside that will take some pressure off of Frazier? Only time will tell.
My concern for this group would be that teams are going to game plan to stop Frazier. If he is seeing constant double teams, then it will be hard for him to have the impact Mizzou fans expect him to have on every game. He needs some help on the other side, but who will it come from? My guess is that the season will start with Jordan Harold being the one who gets the first crack at it. If Beckner is 100%, which it sounds like he is very close to that mark, he will help because he demands attention from a game-planning stand point. There’s plenty of room for others to step up and, as Barry Odom likes to say, #ShowMe what they can do. Opportunities will be plenty for players not named Marcell Frazier and Terry Beckner Jr., it’s just a matter of who will seize said opportunities.
What are your thoughts on #DLineZou this year? Who do you think will be next up in DLineZou? You can find me on Twitter @Mhill_ and be sure to listen to Matt and Jeff everyday on The Big Show from 4-6. Next Up: Linebackers. See you then.