COLUMBIA – The past two years the spring Black & Gold football game hasn’t even been close. The offense put on a show both years, putting up over 70 points in each scrimmage.
On Saturday afternoon it was the MU defense creating all the excitement, holding the offense to only one touchdown and winning the scrimmage 68-40.
Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel downplayed the win, saying that a new scoring system made it easier for the defense to earn more points. But offensive coordinator Dave Yost was a little concerned with his side’s effort.
“I thought we looked a little slower, a little more hesitant, and just not as aggressive, not as fast-paced,” Yost said. “We’re better when we’re playin’ fast and aggressive and gettin’ after people.”
The seniors on the defense made sure there was no lack of intensity on their side of the ball.
“Me and Spoon (Sean Weatherspoon) made sure the defense took this as a real game situation,” senior defensive lineman Jaron Baston said. “We wasn’t gonna hold back. We know the fans like to see touchdowns, but we wanted everybody to see it’s defense this year to reckon with. We want to be one of the best in the Big 12.”
While the offense suffered through some dropped passes, fumbled snaps and fumbled handoffs, the defense was quick to swarm the ball and wrap up on tackles.
“They just came out and outhustled us off the bat,” sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert said. “They were just more physical than us, that’s what it boils down to.”
Senior linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said it was important for the defense to come out and make a statement. With all the talk surrounding the offense the past few years, Weatherspoon and his teammates wanted to show the beginning of what’s to come on the defensive end.
“We wanted to plant the flag and today I think we started to do that,” Weatherspoon said. “I think coach Steck (Steckel) is going to be happy when he watches the film.”
But Weatherspoon and Baston both said expectations for the offense shouldn’t drop after its showing on Saturday.
“That offense didn’t really show the true skills that they truly possess,” Baston said. “And if not today, they’ll show it in the first game against Illinois.”
Yost said the turnovers were what bothered him the most. Gabbert threw one interception, while the defense recovered a fumbled handoff on the one-yard line at another point during the scrimmage.
“We’re stopping ourselves on some things and we just got to keep playing and get our confidence,” Yost said.
The defense got its confidence, winning the Black & Gold Game for the first time in four years.
“It’s a great sign,” Weatherspoon said. “It gives you a lot of confidence going into summer ball.”