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 KansasCity.com, 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.