While there are bigger “name” players who will take the field today for the 2011 Independence Bowl between the Missouri Tigers and North Carolina Tar Heels, there’s one unheralded player in E.J. Gaines who could make the biggest difference. That’s what Dave Miller of the National Football Post believes when he profiles the upcoming Independence Bowl match-up.
Miller writes, “Senior defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton gets much of the attention on the Mizzou defense because of his 6-5, 305-pound frame, but cornerback E.J. Gaines is integral to the Tigers’ pass defense. He set a new school record with 16 pass break-ups and added 69 tackles, and the first-team all-Big 12 defender will need to be at his best against Dwight Jones and the UNC passing attack.”
Jones has 79 catches for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, so he’s definitely going to be a target UNC goes to again and again. If Gaines can shut him down, the Tigers should win this out easily.