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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tigers use week off to prepare for high-powered Indiana attack

Missouri’s defense has six interceptions in two games.

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Senior linebacker Andrew Wilson walks off Faurot Field after being ejected from the Toledo-Missouri game Sept. 7. Wilson was ejected after officials gave him a targeting penalty during the second half. Wilson must sit out for the first half of the Missouri-Indiana game Sept. 21.

Brent Pearson/Senior Staff Photographer

Sept. 18, 2013

Oregon perfected it, Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M refined it, and now the Indiana Hoosiers are bringing it to the Missouri Tigers.

The Tigers will have to face the Hoosiers’ spread offense led by freshman quarterback Nate Sudfeld when they head to Bloomington, Ind., for their first road contest of the 2013 season.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and his staff had a week off to prepare for the sixth-ranked offense in the nation in points scored. The defense used the time to learn the game plan and gain mental focus.

“They are going to make plays,” Pinkel said. “We have to reduce the big plays. Good players are going to make plays. We have to make more.”

Sudfield is one of those players who can make big plays. He already has 917 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

"I love it as a cornerback,” senior E.J. Gaines said of Sudfield. “It really takes me back to playing in the Big 12 and the way they like to throw the ball."

The last time the Tiger defense took the field, the Toledo Rockets put up 387 yards. After a bye week, the defense is ready to take on Hoosiers’ “Air Raid” attack.

“We ready for whatever they bring,” junior defensive end Markus Golden said.

Golden had a key interception in the Toledo contest, which earned him Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week.

“We have been going against our offense since spring ball, and they are pretty fast, so I don’t really see a problem,” said junior nose guard Lucas Vincent.

Regardless of confidence, the defense will take the field minus one of its captains, senior linebacker Andrew Wilson.

Wilson will serve a half game suspension after being called for targeting against Toledo. In the meantime, Golden said the defense will play hard for him.

“We are going to play hard without him for the first two quarters and then play harder with him because he is a great player, and he is going to be able to help us a lot,” Golden said.

Redshirt freshman Michael Scherer will take Wilson’s place, getting his first start.

In defending a fast-paced offense like the Hoosiers’, Pinkel said the coaches will have to play more players to keep fresh bodies on the field.

“Fatigue makes a coward of us all,” Pinkel said.

The best way to stop a fast offense is to get them off the field. The Tigers have snagged six takeaways this season compared to the seven from the entirety of the 2012 campaign. Turnovers will not come easy in Saturday’s game. Sudfield’s only has two interceptions in 85 pass attempts.

“It’s the best feeling when you hear it’s a pick or a fumble,” senior left guard Max Copeland said. “It’s this helter-skelter moment on the field when you want to catch them on their heels. When our D gets the ball, which is what they are good at doing, I’m a happy person.”

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