Tigers secondary shows depth

Despite changes, the Tigers are confident in their defense.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:26 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Tommy Chavis (48) and Pig Brown (13) go for a ball during practice Tuesday. Brown is expected to start at safety for MU.

During scrimmage on Tuesday, quarterback Chase Daniel found receiver Will Franklin between the safety and the cornerback in the flat for a big completion.

But the pass was just a little too high. Franklin had to make a leaping catch, and on the way down, was leveled by safety Travis Cardoza.

Don’t worry, Franklin got up clapping, but if the hit by Cardoza, second on the depth chart, is any indication, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel won’t have to worry about depth in the secondary.

All spring, Pinkel has talked about what could be best decribed as a muddled depth chart in the secondary, trying players at both safety and cornerback to try to find the best fit. On Tuesday, Cardoza rotated with Justin Garrett and Mack Breed at safety with the second team, while Paul Simpson and Castine Bridges played cornerback.

“All of those guys (on the second team) are capable of being high-level Big 12 players, we just have to coach them up,” Pinkel said.

And while Pinkel said that the positions in the secondary have been defined for the spring, the depth chart for the fall is far from set in stone.

“I wouldn’t bet the farm on it going into August. It’s very likely we could be the same, but we also could adjust,” said Pinkel.

But those adjustments will be unlikely to affect the Tigers’ starting secondary.

Darnell Terrell, who explored his NFL options before deciding to return to Missouri for his senior season, and Hardy Ricks, return to the starting cornerback positions while Pig Brown and William Moore are expected to step in at safety, replacing Brandon Massey and David Overstreet.

Brown, who transferred to Missouri from Reedley Community College before last season, said that the experience of Terrell and Ricks should help for a smooth transition to the starting lineup.

“When you step in there with guys like we have with a lot of experience, I feel comfortable,” said Brown, who played in 12 games last season.

Missouri’s pass defense was second in the Big 12 in 2006, allowing just over 185 yards a game.

Moore, a junior who started as a freshman in the Independence Bowl in 2005, also said the transition wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

“I’ve been working real hard to come to this point and I’ve been playing a lot so it really isn’t that big of a deal,” said Moore, who switched to his jersey number this spring from 21 to 1.

And both said that playing against an offense like Missouri’s with numerous weapons in practice every day is exteremely beneficial.

“We’ve got some great athletes on the other side of the ball, and to be honest, I don’t think we’re going to see any better competition all year.

NOTES: The Tigers used Tuesday’s practice to finish up the second half of Saturday’s scrimmage that was shortened and moved inside to Devine Pavilion because of the rain, despite being forced indoors again because of the wet weather. Wide receiver Danario Alexander was the star of the scrimmage, turning a screen into a 39-yard gain on the first play, and later turning around to grab a pass from Chase Patton one-handed.

  • Patton, who split time with Chase Daniel again with the first team, had a couple of nifty plays of his own, including hitting Alexander right in the numbers while rolling out to his right. Near the end of the scrimmage, where the offense simulates a possession with just 1:30 on the clock, the limited time made no difference to Chase Daniel, who led the first team to a touchdown in just four plays, finding Will Franklin open in the middle of the end zone to cap off the drive.

  • Brock Christopher was not at practice because of the death of his grandfather.
  • Franklin joined the long list of Tigers who have changed their number. Franklin changed from his familiar 3 to 2, the number he wore in high school.
  • Chase Coffman wore a red jersey Tuesday during practice because of a hip injury he suffered on Saturday.

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