New-look Missouri defense faces challenge against Purdue

Since Barry Odom took over as coach before the 2016 season, Missouri’s defense has shed its swarming reputation of recent history.

The Tigers (1-1) ranked 118th nationally in total defense last season and opened 2017 by allowing 43 points to Missouri State before playing a little better in a 31-13 loss to South Carolina last week. Last Sunday, a day after the loss to the Gamecocks, Odom fired defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross, citing “philosophical differences.”

On Saturday, Missouri’s defense faces an improved Purdue team led by offensive-minded coach Jeff Brohm.

“I’ve followed his career for a while, and I know they’ve always been very explosive and really well-coached,” Odom said. “Quarterback play is obviously really, really important to how they execute on offense, and it’s no difference this year.”

Purdue (1-1) opened the season running a two-quarterback system with junior David Blough and sophomore Elijah Sindelar. Blough led the nation with 21 interceptions in 2016, but he’s led a substantially more effective offense in Brohm’s first two games at the helm.

Last week, Blough threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns on 11-of-13 passing against Ohio. Running back Tario Fuller ran for 142 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

“We have to make sure we’re efficient at what we’re doing,” Brohm said. “I was more consistent at calling running plays. Then we were efficient in the passing game.”

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