Better tackling a major focus at Mizzou’s spring practices

Sep 19, 2015; Columbia, MO, USA; A general view of the scoreboard and the rock M seating area before the game between the Missouri Tigers and Connecticut Huskies at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou’s defense was a disaster during the 2016 season. That was particularly surprising coming off of years of having one of the SEC’s top units on that side of the ball.

The biggest culprit haunting the Tigers was poor tackling, as too many broken and missed tackles led to numerous big plays for opponents.

So, in order to rectify last year’s mistakes, Mizzou coaches, including head coach Barry Odom and co-defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross, have started using tackling rings — basically giant padded rings that can be rolled along the turf to provide moving targets for tacklers — to work on form this spring.

According to, Cross and Odom believe the rings will allow defenders to work on proper form without sacrificing their bodies in man-on-man drills:

“Tackling was a glaring area of improvement we need to make,” Mizzou co-defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross said. “We did a little research and think the tackle circles or doughnuts, as some people call them, allow the kids to be a lot more aggressive and saves our kids’ bodies, so we’re not hitting each other constantly. It’s a good tool to have.”

Though the new equipment at practices may end up helping, Odom said it ultimately will come down to how well the Tigers execute on the field this fall.

After all, he said, he’s had some defenses that were full of solid tacklers in the past:

“Two years ago, we were pretty good tackling team,” he said. “I didn’t forget how to teach a tackle.”

Mizzou’s first spring scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday. Whether or not the tackling rings are helping the defenders right last year’s wrong will be evident then.

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  • Yes you did forget how to teach tackling. This is where coaches depart from reality. 1. You failed to make individuals feel responsible for getting to the ball carrier first. 2. You failed to teach them what tackle to apply to what situation. 3. You failed to teach them where to take hold. 4. You failed to teach them how to leverage the body of the ball carrier over the legs of the tackler to get body of ball carrier parallel to ground. 5. you failed to teach them to stay in the technique as long as possible and 6. You failed to teach team to follow quickly to aid the finish. Finally you failed to continue Pinkel’s excellent record of turnover creation and margin. Even your montra “toughness wins” failed to show up in your tackle teaching.. Oh yes, you forgot how to teach tackling, assuming that other coaches tackling instruction has not been carrying you you whole career. And I watched your tackling ring drill, you are still failing to teach tackling.