On Saturday, Missouri held their 2013 Spring Football Game. The weather was perfect, and there was a nice crowd on hand to watch the spring’s final practice.
“I think overall, it was good,” said Coach Pinkel following his team’s final spring practice. “There was a lot of mixing and matching of players, but I think we got in a lot of good work……………………………………… We evaluate this game, but we also include the other fourteen practices. What we do after this game, by Monday, is we’ll set the depth going into August. Then we’ll start again, and all of the competition at every position is still open. That’s how we do things. We’ve always done it. I think there’s going to be a lot of competition going in well into the middle of August.”
During the first half, the starters were pitted against the reserves, with the reserves being spotted a 14-0 lead to begin the scoring. James Franklin led a pair of scoring drives during his time in the first half, and the score was tied 14-14 at the half.
The starters were finished for the day. During the second half, the second-stringers took over for the starters, and they were pitted against the remainder of Missouri’s reserves. In the 4th quarter, true freshmen QBs Trent Hosick and Eddie Printz each alternated at QB every few plays, and they combined to drive their reserve unit, made up of third and fourth-string players, down the field for a score, as Andrew Stevens took it in from about 3 yards out.
As far as injuries, it appeared that everyone came through the day okay. Junior WR Jimmie Hunt sat out with a high ankle sprain that has sidelined him for more than a week. Third-string TE Kyle Peasel was sidelined, as well.
This spring’s Most Improved Awards were handed out at halftime. Recognized were: OL Connor McGovern, DL Shane Ray, LB Kentrell Brothers, DB Ian Simon, QB Maty Mauk, TB Russell Hansbrough, WR Dorial Green-Beckham & Levi Copelin.
Coach Pinkel talked about Hansbrough.
“Hansbrough looked good today,” explained Coach Pinkel, talking about the sophomore TB. “There’s a lot of competition at that position. There’s a lot of competition all over the place. Certainly Russell’s got some great quicks. He’s explosive. He’s also at a position where there’s depth. With the depth that we have at tailback, if you can stand out, that’s certainly pretty good.”
At the QB position, Saturday’s Spring Game served as a microcosm of the entire spring, as each of Missouri’s five scholarship QBs performed true to their nature, and largely played the way that they have for much of the spring. In saying that, it appears obvious to me that James Franklin will emerge from the spring as Missouri’s number one QB. As he has been all spring, Franklin was once again Missouri’s most-accurate passer, finishing his limited first-half duty 9-15-0 for 80 yards. Of his 15 pass attempts, at least 2 of his passes hit receivers right on the hands, and were dropped. Marcus Lucas dropped one over the middle that would have been good for 5 or 6 yards, and a first down. And, Bud Sasser dropped a perfect screen pass out along the left side that appeared to be set up for a big gain.
With their play on Saturday, Franklin’s competition at the QB position, RSF Maty Mauk and sophomore Corbin Berkstresser, each approximated their composite spring performance, which is to say that they were inconsistent.
Mauk was 6-17-2 for 72 yards. He rushed (scrambled) for 27 yards on 2 attempts.
Berkstresser was 9-18-2 for 98 yards.
To be sure, Mauk and Berkstresser each did some good things. They each threw some beautiful passes. But they each also threw some balls that they should not have, and they each threw some passes that were badly off target.
In keeping with matching their body of work throughout the spring, Hosick and Printz on Saturday each saw a very limited number of snaps, and they each performed well enough that, in my opinion, they have earned a place in the four-man competition this fall to become Franklin’s back-up.
As the scrimmage got underway, Mauk brought out the second-team offense against the first-team defense, which featured Kentrell Brothers at the weak-side LB position. Later, Darvin Ruise took first-team reps at that spot.
Immediately, Brothers batted Mauk’s pass down. A fumble was recovered by the offense, setting up a third and ten, which brought out Shane Ray at DE, as Kony Ealy lined up inside in the passing situation. Matt Hoch chased Mauk out of the pocket. Running right, Mauk unloaded the ball out of bounds.
Franklin brought out the first-team offense against the second-team defense. Brayden Burnett lined up opposite Ray at DE. Franklin faked it to Murphy, then got it out to Green-Beckham out along the left side. DGB picked up a block from Bud Sasser and gained 8 yards before Ruise made the stop. Harold Brantley tackled Murphy short of the line of scrimmage, setting up a third and four. Franklin got it out quickly to DGB out along the left sideline for the first down. David Johnson was there to force the big sophomore out of bounds. Markus Golden burst through and tagged Franklin for a short loss. Two incompletions later, and Brinser came on.
Franklin hit Lucas on a cross for a first down. Franklin tried to lead L’Damian Washington away from the defense, but the pass fell incomplete. Murphy ran right for a first down and more out along the right sideline. Franklin hit Sasser right in the hands on a screen. It was set up for a big gain, but Sasser failed to make the catch. Franklin came back to Sasser for 5 yards. Murphy ripped off a nice run for a first down and more, down to the 5-yard line. Murphy got it again, and this time he took it in.
Henry Josey carried the football for a short gain. Then, Sam got in the backfield to sack Mauk.
With Berkstresser at the helm, Murphy picked up a couple of yards. Then, Berkstresser got it to Darius White over near the left sideline. Randy Ponder was there to drop White for a loss. Berkstresser’s pass intended for Wesley Leftwich was a little high. Leftwich went up and had the ball on his hands, but John Gibson arrived with the football and made a driving tackle through Leftwich to break it up. Berkstresser’s pass was batted in the air and intercepted by Matt Hoch.
Franklin checked down to Josey out along the left side. Josey took it up the sideline for a big gain down to near the goal line. Then, Josey ran it in for the score.
Kony Ealy hit Berkstresser just as the sophomore was throwing the football. The pass fell incomplete. Lucas Vincent stopped Murphy for no gain. Berkstresser threw a beautiful pass for a 30-yard completion on a deep slant to Copelin. A pass interference penalty on Ian Simon moved the chains. Berkstresser overthrew Leftwich in the back left corner of the end zone. Leftwich had gotten behind Gibson.
Xavier Smith jumped in front of a forced pass from Mauk near the right sideline for an interception.
Josey took it up inside for about 3 yards before Andrew Wilson stopped him in his tracks. Gibson stepped in front of Mauk’s pass for an interception.
Berkstresser got it to DGB on a cross. The big sophomore worked his way up the right sideline for a 35-yard catch and run. Berkstresser found Lucas for 5 yards. Berkstresser’s pass was thrown well behind his receiver, and it was picked off by David Johnson.
Coming out from their own end, the second-team offense brought out a pair of TEs, and they both lined up tight, with their hands on the ground. After a pair of runs had failed to gain much, Mauk forced a pass out along the right side in the direction of Jaleel Clark. Ponder and Ruise were both there, and backed up on his own end, Mauk forced that one into a crowd. Luckily, it fell incomplete.
Mauk was better in the second half. He had one series where he stood in the pocket and delivered three or four good throws. In perhaps his best series of the spring, Mauk showed good poise in the pocket, and got it out to Darius White out along the left side. White worked his way up the sideline for a 20-yard catch and run. Mauk hit Clayton Echard on a slant for about 6 yards. Brayden Burnett stuffed Morgan Steward for no gain. Then, Mauk lofted a beautiful pass down the left sideline for a 26-yard completion to Sheldon Gerau. Steward picked up 5 yards over the right side. Burnett batted Mauk’s pass down at the line of scrimmage.
Mauk scrambled for a first down. Markus Golden tipped Mauk’s pass at the line of scrimmage. Mauk completed a pass to Leftwich for about 6 yards. Then, Mauk scrambled out to his right and threw the ball away. Ben Eskelson batted Mauk’s pass down at the line of scrimmage.
Tyler Hunt took a hand-off from Hosick and ran right for about 5 yards. Then, Hunt picked up a first down. Hosick’s pass was on target, but Brandon Colbert was a little late getting his head turned around. Hosick’s next pass was a little high, but Reid Swearingen had both hands on it before it fell incomplete.
Xavier Smith broke up an Eddie Printz pass that was intended for James Driskoll. Then, Printz got it out quickly to Driskoll near the left sideline for a short gain. Tyler Hunt picked up the first down. Printz scrambled and found Colbert down along the left sideline for a first down.
Hosick completed a pass along the left sideline for 8 yards. Miles Drummond picked up the first down. Hosick moved around in the pocket, eluded a would-be-tackler as he moved to his right and found Swearingen for a first down along the right sideline. Tyler Hunt ran inside for 5 yards.
Printz was back in, and he got it to Gavin Otte out along the right side for 6 yards and a first down at the 3-yard line. Andrew Stevens took it up the gut into the end zone.
Hosick and Printz had accomplished what Mauk and Berkstresser had been unable to do.