Missouri’s backup receivers put together a breakthrough performance two weeks ago in a 45-41 upset of LSU. Now, it looks like they’re getting rewarded for that performance.
In Tuesday’s depth chart release, former backups Tauskie Dove and D’ionte “Boo” Smith, who led the team with six catches each against LSU, were listed as starters for Saturday’s game against Kentucky.
Dove and Smith are slated to start alongside Micah Wilson, a converted quarterback who caught his first career touchdown against LSU, and Keke Chism, a preseason starter who missed the game because of COVID-19 protocols.
Dove, Smith and Wilson all moved up after propelling the passing game to its best performance of the season. They leapfrogged Virginia Tech transfer Damon Hazelton, who is now listed at third string with freshman Chance Luper.
“I think specifically in the wide receiver room, I think you feel a lot more confidence in your receiver depth,” MU head coach Eliah Drinkwitz said.
Jalen Knox and Barrett Banister are listed as co-starters at slot receiver after both playing against LSU.
Depth chart changes also occurred on the defensive line. Defensive lineman Kobie Whiteside and Darius Robinson both missed Missouri’s last game because of injuries, while Akial Byers missed the game because of COVID-19 protocols.
Byers is back and listed as a backup, while Robinson and Whiteside were left off the depth chart. Drinkwitz said both will likely be out at least until the team’s bye week at the start of November.
Picking up the slack on the defensive line are Isaiah McGuire and Markell Utsey. Ben Key, a community college transfer from Australia, is also listed as a backup.
Chris Turner was also moved to a backup at defensive end behind Tre Williams. Williams will play opposite Trajan Jeffcoat, who will line up at the buck linebacker position, which was officially added to the depth chart this week.
Jeffcoat has frequently been acting as a buck already this year, lining up as more of an outside linebacker on some plays. The position is a hybrid of that and his usual defensive end spot. He often moves to linebacker while on the field at the same time as Williams, especially on passing downs.
Before Missouri’s game against LSU, defensive coordinator Ryan Walters said the team had been playing with the new position since last season, but this is the first time the change has been noted on the depth chart.
Missouri used to have two defensive tackles, with Turner and Williams as starters at defensive end on the preseason depth chart.
“In 2020, you’re going to see all kinds of contributions from all kinds of players,” Drinkwitz said. “We all have to continue to embrace our role and develop. Everybody’s got an opportunity, and if your number’s called, it’s on you to be prepared for that opportunity.”
No players in COVID quarantine after latest round of testing
Missouri had its last game postponed because of COVID-19 quarantine numbers from its scheduled opponent, Vanderbilt, but the Tigers don’t have any issues currently.
The team has no one in quarantine after its latest round of testing, according to Drinkwitz. Some players are out because of sickness, but it is not COVID-related.
Drinkwitz also said there weren’t any COVID-19 positive tests on the team so far this week, but he knocked on wood because Missouri has multiple tests left before its next game.
“I’m not going to jinx it,” Drinkwitz said. “We’ve got a test today, so we’ll see.”
Bazelak, Mevis named to freshman All-American watch list
Freshmen Connor Bazelak and Harrison Mevis were named to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American Watch List on Tuesday.
Bazelak has emerged as Missouri’s starting quarterback and was named the SEC Freshman of the Week with a four-touchdown performance against then-No. 17 LSU in a 45-41 upset Oct. 10. He’s 46-of-69 passing for 692 yards and four touchdowns on the season.
Mevis is 5-for-6 on field goals this season and 7-for-7 on extra points. His 52-yard kick against Tennessee was a Missouri freshman record. Mevis has a team-high 22 points through Missouri’s first three games.