The Missouri Tigers will take the field tomorrow night against the Syracuse Orange without one of their best defensive players. DT Sheldon Richardson will miss the game due to a suspension, which, the Syracuse Orange are fine with. According to KOMU, Richardson pulled a Fab.
A source close to the program says Richardson violated teams rules for skipping class multiple times and then failed to complete work assigned to him by the team as a punishment.
How much havoc could Richardson cause raised against Syracuse? Jared Smith at SB Nation NY explains:
Richardson, who leads Missouri and all SEC interior lineman in tackles (70), was expected to be the biggest defensive threat to the Syracuse offense, as he was going to lineup against an undersized center, Macky MacPherson (6'2, 282), and a struggling guard, Rob Trudo (6'3, 282).
Sheldon is so good that Doug Marrone even name-checked him earlier in the week to heap praise on the DT:
"He's an outstanding player," Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone said about Richardson Thursday at his weekly press conference. "He's a potential first-round draft pick in the NFL.
"He can cause a lot of problems, and he has for many teams, he's a helluva player. He's one that we will be watching on Sunday, and whatever favorite team you have, you want them to draft this kid."
The folks at Rock M Nation aren't too worried, however. They see the rest of the defensive line stepping up to fill Sheldon's mighty shoes.
A defense is more than one person, and Mizzou still has a good defensive line without Richardson, but there's no question that his suspension lowers the ceiling of the Missouri defense. Losing your best player tends to do that. This does a favor to an already solid Syracuse offensive line and puts pressure on other members of the front seven to make up the difference. It doesn't change my prediction for the game much ... but it does annoy me.
It doesn't annoy me, though.