COLUMBIA, Mo. — Andrew Wilson isn’t looking back. Not yet.
The Missouri football team’s redshirt senior middle linebacker doesn’t have time for that just yet. There will be time for that eventually. Ain’t nobody got time for that now.
“Career’s not done, man,” Wilson says. “So not yet. People keep telling me to take the time and reflect and stuff, but I haven’t done that yet.”
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound middle ‘backer has been a key part of Mizzou’s 11-1 Southeastern Conference East Division champion squad and his focus right now is on Auburn and what he needs to do to help his team win the SEC Championship Game on Saturday in Atlanta.
Wilson said he watched 90 minutes of Auburn film on Sunday night and two more hours on Monday before meeting with reporters at the team’s weekly media session, something he does so rarely that even the media relations department folks were giving him some grief.
Then, naturally, he was asked a question about his lack of talking.
“I’m not an overly talkative leader but I feel like I say what needs to be said when it needs to be said,” he says, “and I don’t yell a lot but I do what needs to be done.”
Figuring out a way to slow down the running attack of No. 3 Auburn (11-1, 7-1 SEC) is what needs to be done. War Eagle has scored at least 30 points in eight consecutive games and is averaging 318.3 yards on the ground per contest, which ranks first in the 14-team SEC and fifth overall among FBS schools.
“It’s giving us headaches right now,” Mizzou defensive coordinator Dave Steckel said of Auburn’s rushing attack. “It’s a great offense. The scheme’s great. It’s very imaginative and confusing. … We have a lot of work cut out for us.”
Wilson will be put on the spot Saturday in Atlanta, similar to how he was last week against Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel.
The three-year starter recorded eight tackles, including two for losses, and had one pass break-up against the Aggies. His two tackles for losses came in the two series immediately after A&M had tied the score at 21-21 early in the fourth quarter.
Those plays helped set the tone as the defense stepped up late.
“Andrew Wilson is a really good physical player who has done a really good job,” Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel says. “He’s had a great year. He’s a captain and a leader also.”
Steckel says: “I think Andrew’s the ultimate student of the game and because he studies football so much he’s progressed and gotten really good fundamentally and knows his schemes really well.”
Wilson has certainly made his mark at Mizzou.
He led the team in tackles as a sophomore and a junior and leads the Tigers again this fall with 87 — 14 ahead of the next closest player, safety Braylon Webb. Wilson also has six tackles for losses, three pass break-ups, two quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery.
And countless big hits.
Wilson was honored with the Tigers’ Team Hammer Award for the most big hits in 2010, 2011, 2012 and again in 2013.
“We might get a play where Andrew flies down and knocks a guy out,” linebacker Donovan Bonner says. “It fuels us. It fuels the sideline. Everyone. Coaches. Everyone involved. He’s been doing that for years. It seems like 10 years. He’s been doing that for four or five years now. He’s a great player.”
Wilson’s father, Jay, was also a great player at Mizzou from 1980-83. He was an All-Big Eight linebacker in 1983 and left the school as Mizzou’s career tackle record holder with 323, which now ranks 12th.
The younger Wilson was informed on Monday that he’s closing in on his dad’s mark. Andrew, with 306 tackles in his Mizzou career, needs 17 more to move past his father and has two games to do it.
“I’m not really thinking about that,” Wilson says.
While the middle linebacker isn’t ready to reflect on his career just yet, he knows he’s fortunate that he’s been a part of this incredible run this season.
He bleeds black and gold and has been one of the driving forces this fall in the Tigers’ SEC East title and berth in the SEC championship game.
“It’s huge, man,” Wilson says. “I’ve been a Mizzou fan my whole life so it’s awesome to get to do this while I’m here.”
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at email@example.com.