COLUMBIA — For the most part, Saturday's Black and Gold scrimmage is for the fans. It’s a glorified practice. A chance for fans to get their hopes up and coach Gary Pinkel to tell the media that his team has a lot of work to do. There are different rules. Different uniforms. Even a different scoring system.
For the most part, it’s a dress rehearsal.
Football might be a fall sport, but the groundwork for the season is laid in the spring. At 1 p.m. Saturday, Missouri football fans can catch their first glimpse of the 2010 Missouri Tigers at the Black and Gold Spring Game. But this game isn’t like most football Saturdays in Columbia. The Tigers play by different rules, wear four different colored jerseys and use two unique scoring systems. Here’s everything you need to know to be ready for the game:
WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, but tickets go on sale at 10:30 a.m. at the ticket office located on the north side of the stadium by the Don Faurot statue.
HOW MUCH: Tickets are priced at $3 for everyone, including students. Or fans can get free admittance by donating three canned food items.
WHO’S WHO: The defense won Tuesday’s scrimmage and earned the right to pick the uniforms for Saturday’s game. The defense chose to wear Missouri’s gold jerseys, which will be paired with black pants, while the offense will wear black jerseys and gold pants. Starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert will wear a green jersey, which means that no one can tackle. The other quarterbacks will wear white jerseys, which signify that they can be hit only above the waist.
WHAT”S GOING ON: The coaching staff decided to tweak the format of this year’s scrimmage. There will still be four quarters of play, but the first and second half will feature two different scoring systems. In the first half, the offensive and defensive starters will take on second and third-string players. The backups will be given a 14-point advantage to begin the game, and the teams will compete using standard football scoring. The day will likely be over for Blaine Gabbert, defensive end Aldon Smith and the other starters come the third quarter, and the game will switch over to the unique Missouri scoring system in which the defense can score on any play, even without the ball.
BETTER THAN THE GAME: Fans shouldn’t read too far into the results of Saturday’s scrimmage. But, the weekend-long Spring Sale outside the Tiger Team Store is certainly a worthwhile attraction. The Spring Sale features Tigers apparel at discounts of 25 to 75 percent, and an opportunity to purchase game-worn Missouri jerseys and equipment. Be warned, the football team wears overly long jerseys, those who buy one should be prepared to tuck them in or grow 10 inches.
* - denotes returning starter
Wide Receiver: 5 - Rolandis Woodland
Wide Receiver: 29 – Jerrell Jackson
Wide Receiver: 8 – Wes Kemp*
Tight End: 82 – Michael Egnew
Quarterback: 11 – Blaine Gabbert*
Tailback: 24 – Derrick Washington*
Left Tackle: 73 – Mark Hill
Left Guard: 66 – Austin Wuebbels
* Center: 62 – Tim Barnes*
Right Guard: 71 – Jayson Palmgren
Right Tackle: 77 – Dan Hoch*
Defensive End: 57 – Brad Madison
Defensive End: 85 – Aldon Smith*
Defensive Tackle: 93 – Terrell Resonno
Defensive Tackle: 90 – Dominique Hamilton*
Weakside Linebacker: 6 – Andrew Gachkar*
Middle Linebacker: 32 – Will Ebner
Strongside Linebacker: 25 – Zaviar Gooden
Strong Safety: 11 – Jarrell Harrison*
Free Safety: 9 – Jasper Simmons*
Cornerback: 20 – Kevin Rutland*
Cornerback: 19 – Carl Gettis*
Kicker: 95 – Grant Ressel*
Punter: 99 – Matt Grabner
Injured 2009 Starters:
Defensive End: 3 – Jacquies Smith
Tight End: 87 – Andrew Jones
Left Tackle: 72 – Elvis Fisher
Except for Rolandis Woodland.
The sophomore wide receiver began the spring as a starter, replacing last season's senior starter Danario Alexander. But Woodland's spot on the depth chart has never been set in stone. He has fought off challengers for the spot all spring and will continue to do so Saturday.
“I got to keep working every day,” Woodland said. “Coach said to work on being consistent and learning everything. It’s been a long spring, and I mean, still, the position is not guaranteed. So you got to just keep working every day.”
On Tuesday, during the team’s second to last practice before the scrimmage, Woodland showed why his name is still listed at the top of the depth chart. Lined up against the first-team defense, Woodland raced to the end zone as quarterback Blaine Gabbert began to run what looked like an option right.
Gabbert planted his feet and aired out a pass 40 yards down the field. Initially, the ball appeared to be overthrown, but Woodland broke away from safety Matt White, made the catch and scored a 56-yard touchdown.
“Obviously he makes plays,” Pinkel said. “He makes some plays out there. For Rolandis, it’s the consistency."
On Thursday, the Tigers had a brief practice in shorts and shoulder pads. The competition wasn’t fierce, but only one pass was incomplete that went Woodland’s way.
“I’m always thinking about consistency,” Woodland said. “Every play. When I’m blocking, when I’m catching. Consistency. Doing everything the right way.”
And Saturday will be no different. There’s no time for Woodland to embrace the moment like some of his more proven teammates can.
“It’s like an ending to the spring,” said Gabbert, who doesn’t have to worry about losing his starting spot. “It’s just kind of a deal for the fans. Just come out here and see us play football. In the end, all of the hard work is done by then. All the hard work that we put in all spring is pretty much over. It’s more for the fans.”
Unless you’re still in the midst of a roster battle.
“It means a lot,” Woodland said. “For right now, this spring is not over for me. I still feel like I got a lot to prove. I’m going to come out like it’s a practice, like any practice. I got to catch everything coming my way.”
And while he said the constant pressure becomes overwhelming at times, Woodland can put his situation in perspective. It’s been a long road for the St. Louis native who began his collegiate career at Cincinnati’s Harmony Prep School in 2007.
After redshirting his freshman year at Missouri, he played in eight games a year ago, making five receptions.
For Woodland, just the thought of jogging out with the starters on Saturday is enough to put an endless smile on his face.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “When it’s your time, it’s your time. I’ve been through a lot, and I’m just glad to be here. It’s my time. I’m excited. If I make a mistake, just come back and get it again.”