Missouri loses Scherer in Homecoming loss to Middle Tennessee

Linebacker Michael Scherer left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury, and the Tigers proceeded to struggle on defense.
Redshirt senior Michael Scherer watches the game on Oct. 22 after leaving the game with a knee injury.

Nothing illustrates what linebacker Michael Scherer means to the Missouri football team more clearly than what occurred when he exited the Homecoming game on Saturday.

After he suffered a right knee injury and went to the locker room, Scherer came back to the field donning street clothes. With a crutch under each armpit, Scherer stood distraught as teammate after teammate came to console the redshirt senior.

“Whenever you see someone go down like him, especially someone like him, you have to say something to him,” defensive end Charles Harris said. “He’s the motor behind our defense.”

The defense sputtered without its motor. The Tigers surrendered 584 yards and gave up 51 points in a 51-45 loss to Middle Tennessee State on Saturday at Faurot Field. The 51 points are the most Missouri has given up in a nonconference home game since 1932 and the most the Tigers have ever given up to a Homecoming opponent.

The injury created a somber mood on the sidelines and in the stands as players and fans speculated whether they had just seen Scherer’s last snap as a Tiger.

Coach Barry Odom said he doesn’t know the extent of Scherer’s injury just yet. He said Scherer will have a full evaluation tomorrow, which will include an MRI.

Although Missouri missed Scherer’s production, the team needed the leadership and presence he brings even more.

“It was tough on us,” linebacker Cale Garrett said. “He is a vocal leader and is the quarterback on our defense.”

Others had to fill that role when Missouri trailed at halftime. Harris knew he needed to speak up, despite the task’s difficulty.

“In that moment, you can’t create enthusiasm,” Harris said. “It has to come from out of you.”

Odom also preached a next-man-up mentality.

“Now it’s your turn,” Odom said he told his players at halftime. “At some point, Mike Scherer had his first time playing.”

The halftime speeches didn’t appear to work, though. Missouri continued to give up big plays and surrendered 215 yards to I’Tavius Mathers, who ran with ease Saturday.

Scherer’s play alone would not have largely changed the way the defense performed. His presence on the field might have, though.

“Usually he was that calming person we could all rely on,” Garrett said.

If Scherer misses any significant time, it will further hurt a defense already reeling after getting trampled by the Blue Raiders.

“He has been a hell of a player and a tremendous leader,” Odom said. “He is an unbelievable kid.”

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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