COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team held its final scrimmage before the Black and Gold spring game next weekend.
Between the unveiling of the Tigers’ new uniforms and the events surrounding the symbolic kickoff to the Southeastern Conference, the spring game will be more of a football party than a practice. For the players, this Saturday’s scrimmage was in many ways the most important of the spring.
Final score: Defense 20, Offense 8
Corbin Berkstresser – 18-of-31, 255 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Ashton Glaser – 20-of-29, 211 yards, 2 TDs
Alex Demczak – 10-of-19, 66 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Kendial Lawrence – 8-59
Alex Demczak – 2-22
Jared McGriff-Culver – 3-15
Ashton Glaser – 3-15
Tyler Hunt – 3-14
Corbin Berkstresser – 3-12
Marcus Murphy – 8-4
Greg White – 4-3
Jordan Wade – 1-(-3)
T.J. Moe – 8-151
Rolandis Woodland – 5-80, 2 TDs
Bud Sasser – 5-62
Jared McGriff-Culver – 4-33
Joe Plevel – 3-36
Darius White – 3-27
Wesley Leftwich – 3-20, 1 TD
Jaleel Clark – 3-16
Tyler Hunt – 2-20
Jordan Wade – 2-18
Jimmie Hunt – 2-17
Gahn McGaffie – 2-15, 1 TD
Kyle Peasel – 1-10
Marcus Murphy – 1-8
Kerwin Stricker – 1-8
Greg White – 1-4
Cameron Chancey – 1-(-3)
Interceptions: Darvin Ruise, Ian Simon
Recovered Fumbles: Robert Steeples
Sacks: Michael Sam (3)
Tackles For Loss: Tavon Bolden, Donovan Bonner, Clayton Echard, Zaviar Gooden, Shane Ray, Darvin Ruise, Lucas Vincent
Passes Broken Up: (3) Tyler Davis; (2) E.J. Gaines; Tavon Bolden, Daniel Easterly, David Johnson, Kenronte Walker, Matt White
Trey Barrow – 1-of-5 (Made: 43) (Missed: 31, 46, 40, 29)
Andrew Baggett – 3-of-5 (Made: 31, 43, 25) (Missed: 46, 40)
Blake Owens – 2-of-4 (Made: 31, 43) (Missed: 46, 40)
“(The spring game) is more for show,” senior wide receiver T.J. Moe said. “The starters only play 10-15 plays in the spring game. I’ll be sitting on the sideline the last three quarters. Today’s a lot of fun for us — we each get 50 plays. It’s the most game-like thing we’ve had.”
Moe looked like he was having fun inside Devine Pavilion, where practice was moved after it began to rain. He caught eight passes for 151 yards, including a diving catch during the two-minute drill toward the end of the scrimmage.
Like the first scrimmage three weeks ago, the defense won the scrimmage based on the coaching staff’s point system, but the offense showed signs of improvement. Corbin Berkstresser, the redshirt freshman quarterback who has stepped in for James Franklin while he recovers from a shoulder injury, was on the other end of many of Moe’s most impressive catches.
Berkstresser completed 18-of-31 passes for 255 yards. He had one touchdown and one interception. He wasn’t happy about the short red zone pass to Moe that was intercepted by a diving Ian Simon, but he led the offense down the field three or four times, and in and out of the pocket, he looked as confident as he has this spring.
“He’s coming along,” Coach Gary Pinkel said. “Certainly there’s some mistakes, clock (management) and things like that, (but) some great lessons are learned there."
The offense is still dealing with numerous injuries. Besides Franklin, running back Henry Josey still awaits his second knee surgery, and starting tight end Eric Waters will need surgery for a torn MCL he suffered in practice Thursday. Wide receiver L’Damian Washington sat out of practice with a mild concussion, and sixth-year senior offensive lineman Elvis Fisher wasn’t quite ready to return from the knee surgery he suffered last August.
Moe said it hasn’t affected the way the team has practiced and pointed out how often the Tigers had to play without starters during games last season. At this point, they are used it. Franklin’s injury has given Moe his first opportunity to play with Berkstresser this spring, and he has helped the younger quarterback develop with the first-team offense over the last month.
“He’s getting used to all the little things,” Moe said. “When you’re playing with the (second and third strings), you don’t see every coverage. He’s seeing the speed of the game now. You have a three-foot window and all of a sudden it’s gone … Today was the best I’ve seen him play. He drove the team down the field three or four times.”
SEC officials hold spring clinic at scrimmage
Every spring, the SEC divides up its officiating crew and sends it to spring scrimmages at two different schools for a training camp of its own. With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the conference, it made sense to the send the crews there.
Half of the officiating crew was at Missouri’s scrimmage. It focused a little on implementing new rules and adjusting to the fast pace of Missouri's offense, but the emphasis was on establishing a rapport with the coaching staff.
“It was really more about meeting the coaches and building a little bit of a relationship,” SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said. “When you come here in the fall, everyone’s going to be uptight, and that’s a tough day to build a relationship. Today they’re more loose and relaxed.”
With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, Shaw has added a ninth seven-man crew. He also has 25 “supplemental” officials who work in other conferences but who want to work their way into the SEC rotation. Spring practice is a time for football coaches to evaluate their younger players, and it is also a time for referee crews to evaluate their less experienced members.
Shaw said Missouri shouldn’t expect any dramatic change in officiating but did mention the SEC crew’s “let-them-play” mindset.
“We don’t want ticky-tack fouls, we’re going to let them play,” Shaw said. “We talk about the difference between fender benders and train wrecks — you’ve got to get them on the train wrecks and talk to them on the fender benders.”
Kicking team struggles
The defense won the scrimmage by 12 points in large part because of the kicking team’s inability to convert field goals. Returning starter Trey Barrow was just 1-for-5, missing field goals from distances of 29, 31, 40 and 46 yards. Backups Andrew Baggett, who was 3-for-5, and Blake Owens, who was 2-of-4, were not much better.
“I’m disappointed in the field goals, the lack of progress there and the competitiveness,” Pinkel said. “We’re going to have to revisit that and work to make ourselves better.”