Scherer quietly excelling

The linebacker doesn’t see his starting role as a “big deal.”

After last Saturday’s game against Central Florida, Michael Scherer’s jaw was sore.

The sophomore linebacker was hurting.

Scherer told a member of the Missouri football equipment staff that the chinstrap on his helmet was too tight. The constraint made it difficult to yell, something he’s been doing a lot of as Mizzou’s new starting middle linebacker, the position that is often considered the quarterback of a defense.

Scherer loses his voice after every football game.

“People look at me like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’” he said.

Senior defensive tackle Lucas Vincent said games are only times he hears much from Scherer. Off the field, Scherer doesn’t talk much, but when he does, it’s funny. Vincent said Scherer makes “offbeat comments” on occasion, comments that make Vincent look back and ask, “What you just say?”

“I’m young, so I go about my business and try to keep to my own sometime,” Scherer said. “The right time to talk is when I talk.”

Mostly, he lets his play do the talking. After recording six tackles in five games last season as a redshirt freshman, Scherer has 28 tackles this season — over nine per game.

“He’s an animal,” Vincent said of Scherer. “Oh, he’s an animal.”

Scherer is succeeding one of Missouri’s best defensive players in recent history. Andrew Wilson led the Tigers in tackles in each of the last three seasons and finished with 332 career tackles, good for 10th in program history.

Vincent said there has been “no drop off” going from Wilson to Scherer, though. Scherer doesn’t view his increased role as a big deal. But he did say it’s been fun getting to play more.

And oh, being third in the Southeastern Conference in tackles has been nice, too.

“Yeah,” Scherer said with a smile. “It’s going good so far.”

During spring practices, Scherer saw most of his action at strong side linebacker. Mizzou defensive coordinator Dave Steckel said the least experienced linebacker typically plays as the strong side, or sam, linebacker because that position is subbed out the most frequently of the trio when the defense plays in nickel or dime packages.

When Kentrell Brothers injured himself in the spring, Scherer moved to middle linebacker. His position hasn’t changed since.

“He’s really become a great student of the game,” Steckel said.

Scherer said a good deal of his success can be attributed to his defense. He said if he makes a tackle, “there’s a lot of things that people don’t see going on around it.” Having star defensive ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden pulling guards and tackles away from the linebackers likely doesn’t hurt.

“If you’re a linebacker, and (the defense you’re a part of) is good up front, that really helps you be a better linebacker,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “There’s no question about it.”

Still, Scherer is learning. The game is becoming more reactive and instinctual.

“The first time you got there you just want to do your job and do things right,” Scherer said. “Now, as I’ve been out there, I can kind of look around more. And when you look around more, you can find more cues to where the ball is going.”

Scherer is also figuring out what it’s like off the field as a starter.

“I get a lot of messages about, ‘Oh, hey I saw you on the TV,’” he said. “It’s cool.”

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