By: Nate Smith
Missouri cornerback Adam Sparks had a great game for the Tigers last week, stepping in for Jarvis Ware who was ruled out with an ankle sprain. Asked about what facing Wilkerson means for the Tigers secondary, Sparks was very candid, embracing the challenge. “We love it. We love all the challenges, we want (to play against) the best receivers.” Sparks went on to say that forcing turnovers would continue to be key every week, but that the Tigers also had something to improve upon. “One of the best things we (can work on) right now is less penalties, be a little more disciplined.”
Tigers News & Notes
Tigers linebacker Nick Bolton was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week following his two-interception performance against West Virginia last week. On Bolton’s second interception, he ran it back to the house for a 20-yard touchdown. Barry Odom spoke highly of Bolton, saying “he’s just starting to scratch the surface on the player he’s going to be for us.” Bolton’s interception was the first by a Missouri linebacker since 2017.
Odom also gave injury updates on several players after Tuesday’s practice. Defensive lineman Trajan Jeffcoat “did more today at practice, but I don’t know that he’s ready to play.” It was also announced that starting cornerback Jarvus Ware (ankle) will return after a one-game absence while Chris Mills will be out indefinitely.
Wide receiver Johnathan Johnson is now only eleven yards shy of passing 2,000 for his career. Running back Larry Roundtree passed that milestone last week, and he can now leapfrog from 16th to 14th on Mizzou’s all-time rushing list, with 27 or more rushing yards on Saturday.
Last Saturday, the Tigers only yielded 171 total yards to West Virginia. The last time the Missouri defense was that dominant against an FBS team was in 2013 against Florida, when the Gators were held to 151 total yards.
This Saturday, the Tigers will look to be dominant once again, in their final tune-up before SEC play begins next week. The start of SEC play will have to wait another week for the Missouri Tigers, who instead welcome the Southeast Missouri Redhawks to Faurot Field. While this game won’t have quite the appeal of the Mizzou’s upcoming tilt with South Carolina, it will offer several interesting storylines nonetheless.
Meet Kristian Wilkerson
The Redhawks may be an FCS team, but they boast one of the nation’s most impressive receivers in Kristian Wilkerson. The senior from Memphis has found the endzone 25 times in his career, including 14 touchdowns last season. Coaches and players alike seemed to be extremely complimentary of SEMO’s leading receiver.
Mizzou Defensive Coordinator Ryan Walters highlighted some of the things that make Wilkerson great. “He plays hard every snap and he’s got great ball skills. If the ball is in the general vicinity, he’s coming up with it. He’s put a couple of one-handed catches on film. You can tell he and (quarterback Daniel Santacaterina) have great chemistry, (and he does) a great job locating the ball.”
Head Coach Barry Odom was also impressed by watching film on Wilkerson. “They find ways to get him the ball, he’s a long target. (When they throw it up to him) he comes down with it, he does a great job running after the catch.” Odom also described one of Wilkerson’s catches against Montana State where the 6’1” receiver went up and snagged a pass in between two defenders.