Defensive shift highlights for the 2022 season

November 19, 2022;  Columbia, Missouri, USA;  Missouri Tigers defensive back Jalani Williams (4) celebrates with defensive back Daylan Carnell (13) after William's interception against the New Mexico State Aggies during the second half at Faurot Field in Memorial Stadium.

It’s been a year of mixed results for Missouri football.

The Tigers are currently sitting at 5-6 on the season and are playing for bowl eligibility on Friday against Arkansas. 500 football from the Tigers, who have struggled to be better than average since winning the SEC East twice in a row nearly a decade ago.

However, on at least one side of the ball, MU made a serious jump. Last year, it had one of the worst defenses in the SEC.

Now, the Tigers are fourth in the league in total defense. The unit kept Missouri in games again and again, even when offense was stagnant.

It was an unexpected turnaround, and it’s what’s kept the Tigers alive in 2022. And on Friday, they’ll hope it helps extend the season into a bowl game.

Here are the key players behind defensive resurgence.

Defensive coordinator Blake Baker

Missouri defensive coordinator Blake Baker looks on before a game at Fauru Field earlier this year.  Baker has received a significant salary increase for his work with MU Defense this year so far.

The total change in fortune for the Tigers defense came after Blake Baker was promoted after just one month. After being assigned to coach safety at Missouri in January, he was elevated to managing defense in February.

Baker was defensive coordinator before, and more recently, at Miami. However, the Hurricanes’ performance under his watch was mixed, and then head coach Manny Diaz took control of the play before Baker left for the linebackers at LSU.

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