Tigers defensive line has been award worthy this season

BY foxsports • September 30, 2013


COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Michael Sam is the newest member of a quickly growing club.

The
Mizzou senior defensive end earned the Southeastern Conference
Defensive Lineman of the Week award Monday morning, becoming the third
Tiger to claim the prize this year. That's impressive, considering the
Tigers have played only four games in the past five weeks.

Sam
was worthy. He sacked Arkansas State quarterback Adam Kennedy three
times in a 41-19 win Saturday, the single-game high for any player in
the country so far this year.

Other Mizzou recipients include
defensive end Markus Golden, who returned an interception 70 yards for a
touchdown against Toledo, and defensive end Kony Ealy, who returned a
pick 49 yards for a score against Indiana.

Before this season
started, I asked Sam if he was concerned about his current line making
up for the loss of Sheldon Richardson, the defensive tackle who was the
spark plug of the Tigers D before he was drafted by the New York Jets.

"Every
year since I've been here, the D-line has been the best group of the
defense," Sam answered. "I don't think that's going to even change a
little bit. Yeah, we lost Sheldon. But I don't think that's going to
change anything. We've got guys who can take his spot. We are going to
be good."

His prediction has been spot-on so far.

INTERCEPTION TRACKER

It's
worth noting the Tigers are now tied for second place in the nationwide
race for interceptions. Senior corner E.J. Gaines picked off one more
Saturday, moving his team's total to 10. That's an average of 2.5 per
game. Northwestern also has 10 in four games. Tennessee and Virginia
Tech, each with 11, have played five times.

PRIME TIME

The
SEC announced Monday that the Tigers' game against Georgia in Athens on
Oct. 12 has landed a national ESPN broadcast. That game kicks off at 11
a.m. CT. It's the first time the Tigers will appear on the network this
season.

HOOPS IS IN THE AIR

Just when football
season is hitting its stride, it's time to start keeping an eye on
basketball. Frank Haith's Mizzou men's basketball squad officially
started practice Monday.

As is becoming the norm with Haith's
teams, there are plenty of new faces on the roster. Recruiting experts
rave about freshman point guard Wes Clark (6 feet, 171 pounds), a Top
100 recruit who will be asked to fill Phil Pressey's absence. Keanau
Post is also an intriguing option. The 6-11, 268-pound junior college
transfer earned second-team junior college All-American honors at
Southwestern Illinois Community College. And don't forget about Jordan
Clarkson, the guard from Tulsa who is finally eligible to play after
sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

The Lindy's
college hoops preview I picked up recently predicts Mizzou will finish
fifth in the SEC, behind Kentucky, Florida, LSU and Tennessee.

Haith, now entering his third season in Columbia, should be expected to deliver a higher finish.

TWEET OF THE WEEK



Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com.


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