Mizzou's defense throttles young offense

In what was quite a diversion from previous Mizzou spring games, the Tigers' defense allowed only 1 touchdown pulled out a 68-40 victory on Saturday in front of an excited crowd of 13,122. InsideMizzou.com was at the Black and Gold Spring Game in full force, go inside this full game report for all the details.

In what was quite a diversion from previous Mizzou spring games, the Tigers' defense allowed only 1 touchdown pulled out a 68-40 victory on Saturday in front of an excited crowd of 13,122.

"First of all, if your defense is playing well, that's OK," head coach Gary Pinkel said. "Coach James used to say if you are worried about your defense after the spring game, that's not good."

With the joy of a good defensive performance come concerns about the performance of this young offensive unit.

This spring has brought many questions about the revamped offense and how it will compare to year's past.

Blaine Gabbert's stat line (9-17 for 93 yards and 1 INT) isn't too impressive, but he looks ready to comfortably take over the starting position.

"Of course we want to win, that is the big thing," Gabbert said after the loss. "We didn't win and I didn't perform as well as I wanted to, I threw that pick, but there are a few things here and there make a few more plays and we'll pull it out. Overall the spring went really well, I just improved overall as a player."

Gabbert also made some impressive runs when he saw his receivers locked down by an improved secondary.

Gabbert had a great 20-yard run to his left after he saw no options to his right. He also had a run near the goal line that would have been a touchdown in an actual game. Instead, he was touched at the 2-yard line so he was considered down.

Another impressive performer on offense was sophomore receiver Jerrell Jackson. Jackson broke off a great 38-yard run on a reverse and also collected 2 impressive leaping catches for 26 total yards. Offensive coordinator Dave Yost was also impressed.

"I think it is kind of indicative of what he has done all spring," coach Yost said. "He's kind of been an explosive guy for us. He gets the ball in his hands and he can change the game. He is going to be a big factor in our offense."

This year's Missouri Tigers spring game may have given Mizzou fans a glimpse at how good their defense could be this season. After pulling out a victory, defensive coordinator Dave Steckel talked about unit's performance.

"I still don't understand the scoring, I just want to play hard," Steckel said. "It is just exciting to see the kids competing against each other. Our kids do a good job wanting to compete against each other and that is what is fun to watch."

New starting linebacker Andrew Gachkar showed his speed by collecting 5 total tackles and flying all over the field to get to the ball carrier.

Overall, the linebacker speed was the most impressive thing on the defensive side of the ball today. Dave Steckel wasn't too impressed, though.

"That is what they are supposed to do," Steckel said.

The Mizzou offense got the ball inside the 30-yard line 5 or 6 times but only came up with a touchdown one time. This kind of lockdown defense in that area of the field will be key to the Tigers' success on defense this season.

"We are emphasizing everything, but if you want to win football games you have to win 3rd downs and you have to win the red zone," coach Steckel said. "I think the kids did a decent job with that. We'll evaluate the film and see how well we did and where we have to improve."

From here, the Tigers will take time off from practicing and hit the weight room instead.

Then when the summer rolls around, they will refine their skills on the football field until they kick the season off in St. Louis on September 6 against the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Coach Gary Pinkel believes the summer is the most important time for improvement in his football team.

"What we do between now and when we kick off against Illinois is how good of a football team we will have," Pinkel said. "We've got to get a lot better, and we should if we coach well and work hard, so that is what we will try to do."

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