Defense Dominates Saturday's Scrimmage

The Missouri Tigers defense won the day during Saturday's first scrimmage.

On Saturday, the Missouri Tigers held their first full scrimmage of spring football 2015.

Afterwards, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said he was pleased with the effort of the first scrimmage, but that there was a lot still to work on to improve with this team.

The defense won the day going away, as the defense in black came out of the gate strong, including a Charles Harris interception and return for a TD among the first couple of plays.Harris was a dominant force on the day even if he was not making the play himself.

Harris' bookend at the other DE position, Marcus Loud also had an outstanding day with four tackles, three of which were for loss, and two sacks. Loud spent a lot of time in the backfield disrupting plays along with Harris.

Freshman DE Walter Brady had good day running with the second team, as well as getting some reps with the first team. Fellow reds-shirt freshman Spencer Williams and Rocel McWilliams looked good. Williams had a couple of tackles, and he showed flashes of his pass rushing ability.

The Tigers defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage for the most part, with Rickey Hatley again making a strong showing at his DT position. Fellow DT Evan Winston looks much improved, and looks like he will be a contributor.

Tigers' junior cornerback Aarion Penton looked in mid-season form with his play and intensity. Penton had to picks on the day along with 7 tackles. He also spent time as the second team nickel, and looked good there as well.

Penton combined his ball-hawking skills with a increased physical play against the run and when tackling receivers. You would have thought it was an SEC game with the focus and intensity he played at.

Fellow cornerback Logan Cheadle also had a strong day with 7 tackles and a sack.

The Tigers defensive backfield looks the most athletic and deepest it has in decades. Nickelback Thomas Wilson and safety Ian Simon had picks on the day, along with back-up safety Shaun Rupert.

On offense, starting QB Maty Mauk was 12 of 22 for 81 yards with 2 INTs, but he looks improved from last season with his technique along with his reads, and the speed at which he plays. He seems more under control, while making quicker decisions.

Second team QB Eddie Printz struggled on the day throwing 3 interceptions on 13 of 29 passing for 55 yards.

I was pleasantly surprised with the improvement I saw from third team QB and red-shirt freshman Marvin Zanders, who displayed improved passing skills and pocket presence, but also showed big play ability with his feet that he was known for as he rushed for 50 yards on 4 carries.

Zanders possibly could have scored on one broken play on a bad snap that he scooped up, rolled to his right looking downfield for the pass play, but then tucked and ran down the sideline turning on the jets before just being touched, which signals a tackle on QBs in spring ball. He could become a factor competing at the position in the future if he continues to improve

RB Russell Hansbrough made the most of his 8 carries, rushing for 108 yards, 65 of which came on one run. Hansbrough but through the line, made some people miss,and hit the pedal to full speed and outrunning defenders to the end zone.

Depth at running back is scarce with fellow backs Morgan Steward and Trevon Walters out with injuries.

Second team RB Ish Witter finished with negative yards on the day.

The receiving corps showed flashes, as J'Mon Moore, Wesley Leftwich and Jason Reese each made nice catches. Red-shirt freshman Thomas Richard led receivers with 5 catches for 29 yards, but there was an issue with consistency and a few drops.

Red-shirt freshman TE Kendall Blanton showed some flashes with his athleticism and catching ability that had me so high on him coming out of high school.

Fellow red-shirt freshman Keyon Dilosa also caught my eye with his potential.

Of course, sophomore Nate Brown is out currently, and he will be a big part of the offense when he returns. He will be much needed.

The first unit offensive line of Taylor Chappell, Mitch Hall, Evan Boehm, Connor McGovern and Clay Rhodes had some good moments.

veterans Boehm and McGovern are again the strength of the offensive line.

OG Brad McNulty would be the starter at left guard, but is working himself back into shape after being out with injury. Jordan Williams did a solid job as the 2nd team left guard.

Rhoades is ina battle for the starting right tackle spot with Nate Crawford 6'5" 305. Crawford helped his cause with a strong performance on both the first and second team units. The converted DT is athletic and intense. You can see he is still coming into his own, but he is doing it quickly.

Red-shirt freshman OG Kevin Pendelton also helped him self with a solid performance at second team right guard. He appears to have a bright future ahead of him.

JUCO transfer Malik Cuellar certainly looks the part of a starting left tackle. He is still learning, and when he gets more comfortable, you can see that he will compete with Chappell at that spot. He is currently with the second team there.

Sophomore Alec Ablen did a nice job as the number two center, and red-shirt freshman Andy Bauer was impressive with his long snapping as the third team center.

Andrew Baggett connected of 4 of 5 field goal attempts, with his longest being from 41 yards out. He also did the punting averaging 38.8 yards per kick.

The Tiger have two more weeks of spring practice, including another scrimmage next Saturday, before ending spring ball with the Black & Gold game on Saturday April 18th at 4pm.

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