Coordinator Corner: Figuring out the Missouri offense and defense

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by Derek Young


Kansas State offensive coordinator Collin Klein reiterated and re-emphasized a lot of what we heard from quarterback Adrian Martinez and head coach Chris Klieman since Saturday’s game. They didn’t unload the clip on South Dakota. They held back quite a bit of stuff in the arsenal.

At the same time, a lot of it was dictated by the Coyotes playing well on defense, showing them looks that they hadn’t seen in many cases and playing over the top of just about every route as well. Because of that, Klein commended Martinez for remaining patient, not forcing the issue, letting the machine work and taking what the defense gave him.


After sharing what they saw last week in Manhattan, it is also important to know that the change in defense from South Dakota to Missouri couldn’t be more drastic. Yes, the Tigers are obviously a faster unit, but they also almost exclusively line up in a one-high safety look.

The Coyotes didn’t come close to showing anything like that.

Coaching staffs often say it’s a different game every week, and that couldn’t be more true from game one to game two for the Wildcats. The entire preparation and game plan should look substantially different.


As most know by now or have read, Taylor Poitier is lost for the season after suffering another injury. Although their hearts break for him, they have to keep moving forward and develop that ‘next man up’ mentality. His replacement will be Hadley Panzer.

The sophomore saw plenty of significant snaps a year ago, and played a ton last week as well. He’s up to the challenge, and even though Poitier is viewed as an all-conference caliber lineman, Panzer’s performance isn’t much more shy than that.

It actually affects Andrew Leingang the most. He missed a large portion of preseason camp with an injury himself, but he now becomes one of the most important players on the offensive line, and Klein admitted that his role would expand in a significant way.

He’s lineman No. 6.


While they are forced to cut Leingang loose, they are close to being able to cut linebacker Khalid Duke loose, too. I say linebacker, but he can do a little bit of everything for the K-State defense. He’s listed at ‘Sam’ linebacker, though, and that is what he played exclusively versus the South Dakota on Saturday.

Duke suffered a season-ending injury a year ago and that recovery leaked all the way into preseason camp. He’s slowly working himself back into game shape. However, he did log 30 snaps against the Coyotes. That could mean he’s nearing the time where it is safe to say that he is 100 percent.

Defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman did urge that we weren’t at that point, yet. After all, they didn’t have a lot of extended drives as a defensive unit. He isn’t sure that Duke would stay on the field for 10 consecutive snaps, for example.


As always, I paid attention to when the coaches became the most animated when speaking and answering questions from the media on Thursday. For Klein, it was when discussing DJ Giddens. For Klanderman, it was when he had to share his thoughts on safety Kobe Savage.

I asked Klein if he felt better about how ready Giddens was for live action after seeing him play in non-garbage snaps and he was very exuberant with his reply. He noted that it was great for Giddens to find the end zone for the first time and that he never doubted for a second whether it was time for him to emerge.

Klanderman made it clear that Savage is just a joy for him to coach. He may make mistakes from time to time, but they are covered up often because of how much he studies, how much film he watches and how hard he plays.

He called Savage a bullet and insisted that he has to make sure he’s out of his way so he is not in the line of fire when he lays the wood.


Quite frankly, it is not a secret what the mission is on offense for Eli Drinkwitz and Missouri. They absolutely want to give Luther Burden the ball as much as possible. He saw it in a bunch of different ways versus Louisiana Tech, even if he never got loose.

The former five-star receiver and No. 1 player at his position is an East St. Louis native and has the attention of the Wildcats. Brady Cook and the Tigers want to put him in advantageous spots. Eli Huggins and Drake Cheatum both pointed out that they were anticipating a lot of usage for him.

Joe Klanderman echoed the same. They have to be sure to know where he is at all times, though that is a bit difficult after only having one game worth of film on him in a Missouri uniform.


We hinted at the development last week, but TJ Smith has improved quite a bit faster than expected and both Klieman and Klanderman have revealed that he is likely to play this week. Each called safety Josh Hayes and linebacker Shawn Robinson questionable.

I’m a bit surprised on Hayes because of what we know he was dealing with last week. Though the coaches called both questionable, so to speak, KSO believes Hayes is much likelier to play this week than Robinson.

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