As we travel down the memory lane, we can’t help but remember the glorious era of 2013 and 2014. The University of Missouri’s football team, popularly referred to as Mizzou, astonished the nation by securing back-to-back SEC East titles in their second and third years of joining the conference.
This remarkable feat was made possible by the power-packed performance of Mizzou’s defense, which has arguably been one of the best the university has ever witnessed. Packed with stalwarts from the defensive line to the secondary across both seasons, this defensive squad played pivotal roles in some of the monumental games in Missouri football history.
But how does the Mizzou defense of the past compare with today’s unit? And how do some of the current players measure up to the stars of the past? Let’s take a closer look.
2013 and 2014 Depth Chart: Matt Hoch, Harold Brantley, Lucas Vincent, Josh Augusta
2023 Depth Chart: Kristian Williams, Realus George Jr., Jayden Jernigan, Marquis Gracial
The defensive tackle room of 2013 and 2014 was action-packed. Hoch, Brantley, and Vincent perfectly supplemented the outstanding edge rushers, making significant contributions in run-defense. On the other hand, the defensive tackle room of 2023 has shown potential, but the loss of Darius Robinson to the DE room is a significant blow.
Though the 2023 unit has talent, they have not yet matched the consistent performance of the 2013-2014 unit. Therefore, the 2014 unit takes the lead here.
Advantage: 2014 Defensive Tackles
2013 and 2014 Depth Chart: Michael Sam, Kony Ealy, Shane Ray, Markus Golden
2023 Depth Chart: Darius Robinson, Johnny Walker Jr., Joe Moore, Josh Landry
The 2023 defense has a long way to go when it comes to defensive ends. With Isaiah McGuire moving to the NFL and Arden Walker’s departure, the depth chart has taken a hit. Whereas, the 2013 and 2014 units were packed with proven talent, with Sam, Ealy, Golden, and Ray combining for an impressive number of TFLs and sacks.
Advantage: 2013 Defensive Ends
2013 and 2014 Depth Chart: Kentrell Brothers, Andrew Wilson, Donovan Bonner
2023 Depth Chart: Ty’Ron Hopper, Chad Bailey, Triston Newson, Dameon Wilson
This position is a little more evenly matched. While the 2013 and 2014 units had Brothers, Wilson, and Bonner, who were solid contributors, the 2023 unit has Hopper and Bailey, who bring experience and talent. However, the consistent performance of the past units gives them an edge.
Advantage: 2014 Linebackers
2013 and 2014 Depth Chart: E.J. Gaines, Randy Ponder, John Gibson
2023 Depth Chart: Kris Abrams-Draine, Ennis Rakestraw, Dresden Norwood
The 2023 unit shines here. With Abrams-Draine and Rakestraw returning to form one of the most intimidating cornerback duos and Dreyden Norwood poised for a breakout campaign, this unit is a powerhouse.
Advantage: 2023 Cornerbacks
2013 and 2014 Depth Chart: Donovan Bonner, Braylon Webb, Matt White
2023 Depth Chart: Joseph Charleston, Jaylon Carlies, Daylan Carnell
This is the most evenly matched unit. The top three players for each of these groups were effective in their roles, and all of them were versatile enough to make plays in pass or rush defense. However, the experience of the 2013 unit gives them a slight edge.
Advantage: 2013 Safeties
As we analyze the Mizzou defense over the years, it’s clear that each team has its strengths and weaknesses. But the one constant that remains is that the defensive unit has always been a key factor in Mizzou’s success on the football field.
So, who do you think has the best defense from top to bottom? Share your opinions in the comments section below.