Missouri Tigers Spring Football Review

The following is a review of the Missouri Tigers offense, defense and special teams following their 2011 spring football season which wrapped up on April 16th with the annual Black & Gold game.

Offense

Returning Offensive Leaders

Passing: James Franklin 11-14, 106 yards, 1TD, 1int

Rushing: De'Vion Moore 99 carries, 543 yards, 8TDs, 5.2 YPC

Receiving: T.J. Moe 92 catches, 1,045 yards, 6 TDs

Quarterback

The main competition of the spring was the Quarterback position, which was vacated by 2010 starter Blaine Gabbert, who entered the NFL draft and was selected 10th overall last Thursday in the 1st round.

Freshman James Franklin 6'2" 223 entered spring ball number one at the position after seeing some playing time during the 2010 regular season as a true freshman, including a touchdown scoring run in Missouri's big win against Oklahoma.

Competing against Franklin for the job were red-shirt freshman Tyler Gabbert 6'0" 190 and Sophomore Ashton Glaser 6'0" 205, neither who have seen playing time yet.

Franklin started the spring slowly, while Tyler Gabbert, younger brother of Blaine, came on strong before the spring break to pull even with Franklin as co-number one at signal caller.

The younger Gabbert displayed great passing skills and accuracy with his strong arm and quick release in Missouri's up tempo offense. Tyler turned in a strong first scrimmage to help move even with Franklin before the team took a little over a week off for spring break.

One of Franklin's strength's is as a runner, something which was not allowed during spring ball, so he was not able to showcase his full arsenal as a QB.

After the break, Franklin came back and reasserted himself at the position with several strong weeks, including very good back-to-back performances in the second scrimmage and spring game, which he went 13 of 21 for 116 yards and 2 TDs and led his squad to three scores in all. His physical nature, and running skills set him apart from the other Tiger quarterbacks.

Coach Pinkel said after the Black & Gold game that competition for the starting job would resume in August with Franklin holding a slight lead at the position heading into the summer.

Running Back

The running back position is one of the deepest returning spots on the Missouri team heading into 2011, with a trio of running backs that combined for almost 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards per carry as a unit, returning.

Senior Devion Moore 5'9" 195 was the leading rusher in 2010 and started out with the first team. Junior Kendial Lawrence, who ran for over 400 yards and 4 TDs had a great spring earning the most improved back award. The quick, elusive Lawrence used his great ability to stop and start quickly to roll up a lot of positive yardage this spring and earn the number one spot with the first team.

True freshman Henry Josey 5'10" 185 saw playing time in his first year with the Tigers, and used his explosive 4.35 forty speed to score 5 TDs and rush for over 461 yards while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Josey had a solid spring, but the thought was that he would push for the starting job.

Other backs who had very good springs and look to add to the mix are red-shirt sophomores Marcus Murphy 5'9" 185 and Greg White 6'1" 215.

The Tigers had a strong emphasis on the running game and how to use the strong stable of back they have returning.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

The Tigers returned their top 5 leading receivers from 2010 this spring, led by sophomore H-receiver T.J. Moe 6'0" 200 and junior TE Michael Egnew 6'6" 240, who had 90 catches for 762 yards and 5 touchdowns. The duo was joined by seniors Jerrell Jackson 6'1" 185 X-receiver and Z-receiver Wes Kemp 6'4" 225, who had over 600 and 400 yards receiving themselves in 2010.

Not much movement among the receiving corps this spring. A couple of red-shirt freshman receivers, Bud Sasser 6'3"205 and Marcus Lucas 6'4" 205 made moves during the spring sometimes playing with the 2nd team and showing flashes of what might be in the future.

Junior H- receiver Gahn McGaffie 5'11" 185, who was one of the heroes of the Oklahoma win, was named the most improved receiver and solidified his position as the 2nd string guy behind Moe.

In the competition behind Egnew, senior Andrew Jones 6'5" 245 and freshman Eric Waters 6'4" 230 battled hard for the number 2 spot at Tight End, with Waters coming out on top for that role.

Offensive Line

Offensive line is also another position where the Tiger returned many of their starters. Four of the five linemen that started last year were back for spring football, however, starting left tackle Elvis Fisher missed with entire spring rehabbing from injury. He is expected to return to full strength by August.

In Fisher's place this spring, was a combination of 2nd team sophomore right tackle Jack Meiners 6'6" 305, red-shirt freshman Anthony Gatti 6'6" 290 and sophomore Justin Britt 6'6" 290, who played last year in a reserve role at guard, and started the spring competing for the starting center job. By the end of spring ball, Meines had moved inside to compete at guard.

The other returning starters, senior RT Dan Hoch 6'7" 315, RG Austin Wuebbles 6'4"295 and LG Jayson Palmgren 6'2" 305 all had they usual strong spring performances.

The competition to replace 3 year starter Tim Barnes started out a little rocky between junior Travis Ruth 6'3" 305 and Britt, as the shotgun snapping became an issue, with Tiger quarterbacks resembling shortstops on a baseball field in their efforts to dig the ball out of the dirt. As spring went along, Ruth became more capable and red-shirt freshman Mitch Morse 6'6" 290 moved over from his guard position and found a home backing up Ruth. Morse is a very athletic young lineman with a lot of promise.

Defense

Returning Leaders

Tackles: Zaviar Gooden 85

Sacks: Brad Madison 7.5

Interceptions: Zaviar Gooden 2

Defensive Line

Despite losing DE Aldon Smith in the first round of the NFL draft to the San Francisco 49ers, the Tiger defensive line appears to be stronger this spring then during the 2010 season.

One of those reasons is the continued development of junior DE Brad Madison 6'4" 265, who played for an injured Smith last year and led the Tigers in sacks for the year with 7.5 and tackles for loss. Madison was impossible to block all spring and gave Tiger left tackles fits.

The Tigers also appear to have an Aldon Smith clone in red-shirt freshman DE Kony Ealy 6'5" 250, who was explosive coming off the ball and rose to the second team with his play this spring.

At the other defensive end position is senior Jacquies Smith 6'4" 255, who is the fastest of the D-linemen with a 4.5 forty. He continued to elevate his game and showed more leadership heading into his senior year.

The defensive tackle positions had a problem with depth when DT Dominique Hamilton 6'5" 305 went down with an injury last season. Opposing teams were able to run up the middle once Hamilton was sidelined.

Some much needed depth looks like he has been found with the development of sophomore Marvin Foster 6'1"285 and red-shirt freshman Lucas Vincent 6'3" 295, both who played with the 1st and 2nd units at times this spring. Each provided strong defense against the run and the ability to disrupt plays in the backfield, while showed the speed and quickness to run down plays across the field.

The other returning DT, Terrell Resonno 6'5" 295, continued his strong play and will likely get some NFL looks next season, as should Hamilton, who participated halfway through the spring season.

Linebacker

The Tigers were without two of their likely starting linebackers for the spring as starting MLB Will Ebner and probable starting SAM linebacker Luke Lambert sat out rehabbing injuries. Picking up the slack was speedy Will LB Zaviar Gooden 6'2" 226, who was the Tigers leading tackler in 2010 with 85 tackles.

Young linebackers Andrew Wilson and Darvin Ruise performed well in Ebner and Lambert's absence, with Wilson in the middle and Ruise at the SAM LB position.

Defensive Back

After losing three starters from their 2010 season, defensive back was of great interest this spring. Junior Kip Edwards 6'1" 200 played a lot during 2010 and was considered the same as a starter by years end. He played well against this spring with freshman Edwin Gaines 5'10" 190 locking down the opposite cornerback position.

At safety, senior Kenji Jackson 5'11" 200, had a strong spring as the lone returning starter, and sophomore Tavon Bolden 6'2" 205 came out the number one at free safety.

Special Teams

All-American place-kicker Grant Ressel faced some strong competition from Trey Barrows, but is back for his senior season.

Barrows, a junior, won the starting punter spot vacated by the graduation of Matt Grabner.

T.J. Moe and Marcus Murphy look to be the return men as spring ball wrapped.


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