August 13, 2006

Tiger corners will play a big role

Cletus Terrell has a routine down now. Every day, he calls up the same program on his TiVO, settles in to watch and then makes a phone call to Columbia. The show is the 2005 Independence Bowl. The call goes to his son, Darnell Terrell, the cornerback who made the interception that iced Missouri's 38-31 win over South Carolina.

"My dad watches it every day," said the younger Terrell, who admitted to reviewing the game a few times himself. "He has it on tape. He has it on TiVO or whatever it's called. Every time he gets through watching it, he calls me."

Terrell's interception of Blake Mitchell delivered Mizzou just its second bowl win in more than two decades. It sent the Tigers into the offseason with a boatload of momentum. And, as much as any other play, that pick has the Tiger nation fired up for 2006. Terrell will start alongside sophomore Domonique Johnson at cornerback. Though the duo has just two combined starts (both by Johnson), hopes are high in the Tiger secondary.

"They're big corners and very unusual to have two big corners. You're lucky if you have one like that," said head coach Gary Pinkel. "Those two guys, I would be very disappointed if they don't have very good years."

The Tiger pass defense struggled mightily last year, giving up 217 yards a game through the air and 18 touchdown passes. The Tigers lost three senior cornerbacks off that team, along with safety Jason Simpson.

High expectations have been placed on Johnson and Terrell, particularly for two guys who weren't even on the two-deep for a good portion of last season.

"Experience is an amazing thing," said defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. "You sit there and watch a kid grow as you're coaching him and teaching him and stuff and then all of a sudden, they just take that step that takes them over and you say, 'Hey, he's getting pretty good.'"

Pretty good is not good enough for a starting corner in the Big 12.

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