For the first time since 2014, Texas is in a bowl game. The Longhorns will travel to Houston to take on Missouri in the Texas Bowl. After starting the season 1-5, the Tigers reeled off 6 straight wins. The defense was downright awful the first 2 games of the season, costing defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross his job. The Tigers turned it around though, and have been solid the second half of the season. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Missouri defense and special teams:
Similar to Texas, Missouri has been blessed with good defensive line play for most of the season. Junior Terry Buckner had a breakout season in 2017 after battling injuries in 2016. Buckner has collected 10 tackles for loss and 7 sacks on the season. Fellow defensive lineman Marcell Frazier will occupy one of the defensive end spots. Frazier is an extremely polished pass rusher who has totaled 7 sacks on the season and figures to welcome Elijah Rodriguez and Derek Kerstetter to their first bowl game. Senior Jordan Harold will occupy the other end position and has totaled 4 sacks on the year. The starting defensive line will be rounded out by AJ Logan. Logan missed the first 6 games of the season due to a suspension, but returned and recorded 2.5 tackles for loss while serving as a run stuffer in the middle of the line.
MLB Cale Garrett is the team leader in tackles (92) and tied for the team lead in interceptions (2). Standing at 6’3, 235 pounds, Garrett has a good nose for the football is athletic enough to make plays all over the field. Fellow linebacker Terez Hall has collected 11.5 tackles for loss and is the Tiger’s second leading tackler (76). Brandon Lee rounds out the linebacker unit at the strong side linebacker spot. Lee has totaled 37 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.
The Tigers are young at cornerback. Sophomore DeMarkus Acy and freshman Adam Sparks are the two starters, and the duo has combined for only 2 interceptions. Acy has 5 tackles for loss on the season and is strong against the run. Safeties Kaleb Prewett and Anthony Sherrils are both upperclassman who have the ability to come up into the box in run support.
Texas has the talent at receiver to give the Tigers secondary some problems. Collin Johnson has been quiet for the second half of the season, but has 6 inches of height on Sparks and 4 inches of height on Acy. Reggie Hemphill Mapps was plagued by injuries for the second half of the season, but showed the ability to be a dangerous slot receiver when healthy.
Tucker McCann will handle the kicking duties. McCann is a solid 14 for 16 on field goals for the season, with a long of 43 yards.
Corey Fatony handles the punting duties. Fatony is averaging 44.52 yards per punt and has had 20 punts land inside the 20 yard line.
Receiver Richaud Floyd is the primary punt returner for the Tigers. Floyd has 2 punt returns for touchdowns on the season, including a 85 yarder. Larry Roundtree II is the return man for kickoffs, averaging 21.76 yards per return.