Tommy Chavis set for bigger role on MU defense

Junior says he learned much from players he is replacing
Thursday, August 23, 2007 | 12:15 a.m. CDT; updated 10:22 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008
MU junior Tommy Chavis takes a break during drills at the Tigers' practice Tuesday.

COLUMBIA - Defensive end Tommy Chavis is in full swing, running a defensive line drill on the west side of Faurot Field. He weaves through five pads situated in a 2-1-2 formation using a strong swim technique in which he slaps each pad to the ground. Chavis moves through the drill with ease.Each practice dummy topples after a quick strike from his hand.

With the departure of veteran ends Xzavie Jackson and Brian Smith, the production at that defensive end spot is one of many question marks about the Missouri football team’s defense.

Jackson’s strength and compact body shape is similar to that of Chavis, who is listed at 6 feet 2, 280 pounds. But in the words of defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, the comparisons do not stop there.

“If you look at the body type, it’s an obvious comparison,” Eberflus said. “I also think Tommy is real good with his hands, which I think Xzavie was too.”

Chavis said he also sees the similarity in styles between himself and Jackson. One look at his picked out Afro and the growing amount of hair protruding from his chin, could conjure visions of Jackson’s unconventional appearance. Chavis sheepishly says the similarity in looks is purely coincidental, but thinks that their means of getting it done on the field are alike.

“Xzavie was more of the heavy set defensive end and stronger, while Smitty is smaller and quicker,” Chavis said. “I try to fill in those shoes, and they are big, but I am going to try my best”

A junior college transfer last year, Chavis had a chance to pick up techniques from the former players.

“They taught me a lot of techniques such as moves and hand placements,” Chavis said. “They were real good to me.”

He keeps in contact with Smith and Jackson but has not gotten any advice on how to improve his play on the field. But Chavis himself can tell you what he shines in and what he can work on. He says that he needs to get better on his pass rushing techniques, a fact that has been emphasized to him by his coaches.

Currently listed as the other starting defensive end along with returning starter Stryker Sulak, Chavis knew that more would be asked of him. His weight room time increased and his attendance in the film room increased from before.

Despite believing he can “do it all,” Chavis thinks that pass rushing, the part of his game that needs the most work, will also be the one that surprises people the most. And it might not result in the production that those before him had, but that won’t matter to Chavis.

As long as the end result is Tiger opponents toppling to the ground just as the aforementioned practice dummies did.

“Winning is No. 1 and if we are winning the sacks will come eventually,” Chavis said.

n Head coach Gary Pinkel announced that freshmen Gilbert Moye and Andrew Gachkar will play this season and not redshirt. Moye, primarily a quarterback in high school, will be listed as a safety, and Gachkar will be listed as a linebacker. Pinkel said they will see most of their playing time this season on special teams.

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