The Missouri Tigers are a football team that has struggled defensively since head coach Eli Drinkwitz took over the program. In order to try and shore up that side of that ball, Drinkwitz hired former Arizona Cardinals head coach and longtime NFL defensive coordinator in Steve Wilks who had a lengthy resume and experience coaching some of the best defensive players in the NFL.
Wilks appeared to be a great hire. Throughout the offseason Wilks said all the right things and preached defensive philosophies that were music to Mizzou fans' ears. However, through the first two games of Wilks' tenure as Missouri's defensive coordinator, Mizzou currently ranks 122nd in all of the nation in total defense.
The defense has struggled in several areas, but the department that sticks out the most is the run defense. Through two games Missouri has given up 514 rushing yards, 174 of which coming against Central Michigan and the other 340 coming against Kentucky.
The Tigers' defense has been visibly pushed around and dominated up front by its opponents which was disappointing to witness as the coaching staff was positive about the strides they thought the defense had made. Of course, that could just be coach speak. Keep in mind that most of the high-end contributors are fifth and sixth-year seniors and one-year rental transfers like linebacker Blaze Alldredge. Nonetheless, nobody wants to see the defense struggle as bad as they have after so much excitement and momentum was built up this offseason.
As a result of these early struggles, many Missouri fans have already started to turn on Wilks as the answer to the defensive struggles.
That way of thinking is nothing short of foolish.
Missouri has changed defensive coordinators three times in the last six years. From DeMontie Cross, to Ryan Walters, to now Steve Wilks. At some point Missouri fans have to come to terms with the fact that you can't just keep blaming the coordinator and rotating in new ones and hoping the defense is going to get better.
That's not saying that all the aforementioned names did their jobs, but the point we're getting at here is that you cannot expect any of those guys to scheme around subpar talent. No defensive coordinator in America is going to elevate a defense that simply doesn't have the horses just based on scheme.
It's not like Wilks isn't making adjustments or simply not trying, either. He already has shown a great mix of zone and man coverage and against Kentucky he brought down several defenders closer to the line of scrimmage to help stop the run. It just wasn't going to change anything.
Missouri simply has to recruit better talent and SEC-level talent at that. So far under Drinkwitz they are doing that. We still have to be patient, though, as Drinkwitz's first full class are only freshman and more importantly, defensive coordinator Steve Wilks hasn't even been here for a full recruiting cycle yet.
The current staff was dealt a bad hand by the old staff and that lack of recruiting competent players that can contribute over the span of an SEC schedule is ultimately why the old regime was let go.
It may not be what fans want to here, but it's the honest truth. We're just going to have to wait. Regardless, calling for an assistant coach's firing after their second week coaching in the program is just irresponsible.