On Monday, Missouri junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week. On Saturday against Kentucky, Richardson had 5 tackles, and forced a fumble, then scooped it up and returned it 60 yards to set up Missouri's first TD.
"You saw his scoop and almost score," explained Coach Pinkel, talking about Richardson. "I told you a long time ago, he runs like a linebacker. He weighs 295 pounds and he's almost as fast as a linebacker. He's a very good athlete. He has great quickness. He's great in pursuit."
"Sheldon (Richardson) is just different (than Ziggy Hood)," Coach Pinkel continued, talking about Richardson. "He's quick. He gets into gaps, gets into the backfield. He creates a lot of problems for the offense. He gets penetration. It causes a lot of problems for the offensive blocking."
"It's a gap control defense, so everybody's got a gap," explained Coach Pinkel, continuing to talk about Richardson. "But what he does is he can get through the gap pretty quick. That's the difference…………………………………… It just makes it very, very difficult for some of the best offensive linemen in the country that we've played against………………………………………. His quickness and his ability to get into those gaps and create problems, it disrupts everything. It doesn't just disrupt that gap, it disrupts, a lot of times, the whole blocking (scheme). Penetration disrupts the offensive continuity of that blocking assignment. That's what he does, and he's very good at it. Then when he gets there, he's athletic. He can turn and spin, and he can make plays. He can react, just because he's very gifted………………………………….. He's worked so hard to get as good as he is, and the incredible thing is he can get a lot better."
Coach Pinkel went on to explain that Richardson has missed a lot of developmental time since his arrival at Missouri last August. He wasn't able to join his teammates in the off-season conditioning until in June. Then he got a lot better over the next eight weeks heading into camp.
I spoke with Richardson's position coach, Craig Kuligowski.
"He can be better," said Coach Kuligowski, talking about Richardson. "He can really be better. I think he's playing at a high level, but there's certainly things in his game that he can be better at."
Richardson talked about the Defensive Lineman of the Week honor.
"It's pretty good to get noticed," said Richardson. "I thought I had a bad game, to be honest. I just didn't make a lot of plays. I couldn't make a lot of plays, because they kind of iso'd me from their game plan. They ran away from me a lot. The times they did (run my way), I thought I made a few plays."
"Triple teams, man. There's more triple teams coming my way," Richardson continued, talking about the attention that he's receiving from opponents. "I've noticed the linemen have an eye for me, now. So, I feel the respect that they're giving me. And, I appreciate that. I've worked hard to get that kind of respect in the SEC."
Richardson said that he appreciated the way that the Missouri offense took possession of the football with more than seven minutes remaining in the game, and was able to keep the football for the rest of the game.
"It was a good feeling to see those three zeroes hit the clock, and we had won," said Richardson. "It was a good feeling."