After another bad defensive performance from Missouri against Georgia this past Saturday, people have started to wonder if current defensive coordinator Ryan Walters is the right man for the job. Today we'll be going over several reasons as to why Walters should be retained as it would be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to fire someone after this season. Let's begin:
The talent disparity
Many fans forget just how much Missouri lost from last year's team on defense that made it what it was. Cale Garrett, Jordan Elliot, Ronnell Perkins, and DeMarkus Acy just to name a few. This year Walters has much less to work with. This problem stems from recruiting and you can debate whether that is on Odom or whoever but the truth is Walters has proven to be good when given the pieces. Look at the defensive line for example. We all admit that the defensive line was a weakness going into the year, correct? Okay, so then you cannot blame Walters for the poor defensive line play when he just doesn't have the bodies. Missouri is hurting at defensive line so much to the point they had to play true freshman offensive lineman Drake Heismeyer at defensive tackle against Georgia. How is Walters supposed to scheme around that. On top of that, Missouri has several freshman in the rotation for the secondary including Ennis Rakestraw, Ishamael Burdine, and Jaylon Carlies. They just aren't ready yet but it's what Missouri has.
The defense has come up when it mattered
Look, the defense has had some rough games this year, but when you look at it in retrospect, Missouri's defense has come up big several times this season. How about the LSU game? Walters called a great defense to stop LSU at the one-yard line to win the game. How about Kentucky? Missouri held Kentucky to just ten points and was able to hold them off all game. How about South Carolina? Missouri also held them to ten points and Devin Nicholson had the game-sealing interception. How about Arkansas? Yes they gave up 48 but when Missouri was down 14 the defense made stops when they needed to and won that game.
Walters has been great before
This was mentioned briefly in the first point, but it's not like Walters has been given this super long leash and we've been waiting a long time for him to become a good DC. He already was a good DC. In 2019, Missouri's defense was top-25 in the nation and was the only thing keeping them in games. That 2019 squad was only giving up 314.8 yards of total offense per game and was also averaging 1.3 forced turnovers per game even with an offense that kept them constantly on the field. Like mentioned, if you give Walters the horses, he's shown to be competent.
The recruiting on the defensive side of the ball recently has been fantastic. Several four-star recruits on the defensive side of the ball for the next two classes including Travion Ford, Kyran Montgomery, Daylan Carnell, and Isaac Thompson. You shouldn't base who your defensive coordinator is off the recruits he has committed, but you should still keep in mind a lot of talented kids are lining up to play for Ryan Walters and firing him may cause a few kids to back off. Just a thought.
Eli Drinkwitz deserves some blame too
I didn't want to type those words, but it's true. Last year and in 2018 when the defense was poor at times we all said "Oh, well Barry Odom is a defensive-minded head coach so he gets blame". Now that Drinkwitz is the head coach he doesn't just get absolved of everything. He was the one who decided to bring Walters back and he is the head coach after all and the one who takes ultimate responsibility.