Format change leads to more competitive scrimmage

Saturday, April 17, 2010 | 5:18 p.m. CDT; updated 10:32 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 17, 2010
MU defensive back Kip Edwards runs the ball during the Black and Gold spring game on Saturday at Faurot Field.

COLUMBIA — With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, senior tailback Derrick Washington had to find a way into the end zone.

Most of the starters would be pulled at halftime, and the first-string offense still had not managed to score against the reserves.

Washington needed to back up his smack talk.

“Words are always going to be exchanged when we’re getting after it and it’s competitive like that,” Washington said. “I’m the main one talking, so we were going back and forth a little bit.”

He couldn’t let the offense be shut out by backups. He couldn’t walk into the locker room with his head down.

“You got to back it up,” he said. “When you talking, you got to do something, you got to make something happen. Otherwise you can’t say anything at all.”

With 52 seconds left on the clock, Washington took a handoff to the right and scored on a nine-yard touchdown run, preventing any serious mocking by his teammates and tying the game 14-14. A fumble return for a touchdown by the first-string defense had given the starters their only points of the first quarter.

“It was frustrating with an offense capable of doing the things that we can do,” Washington said. “We really weren’t doing them our first couple drives. But we got it together toward the end and put a nice drive together.”

Missouri’s coaching staff decided to tweak its Black and Gold game format in hopes of increasing the competitiveness. Instead of the typical offense versus defense format, it was the starters against all for the first half, but the reserves started with a 14-0 advantage.

“I think it’s a lot more competitive,” Washington said. “We’re playing from behind and we got the ones with ones. I like that a lot instead of just going offense and defense like they did in the second half. It was a good change.”

Senior linebacker Luke Lambert, who played for the reserves team, said he was skeptical about the new format to begin with, but he embraced the change quickly.

“I think it was more competitive than a typical scrimmage,” Lambert said. “I know the twos were kind of mad that it started out 14-0. We thought that was a kick in the face. We wanted to come out and show them we could play.”

Holding the starting offense out of the end zone for the vast majority of the half wasn’t enough.

“We wanted to keep them out of the endzone for sure,” Lambert said. “That’s always a goal for the defense. It doesn’t matter who we’re going against, we want to do that.We can’t let them in there that easily. They went like 90 yards. That can’t happen.”

Plus, giving up the score meant Lambert and his teammates would receive an earful from Washington.

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