The defense closed the day out in strong fashion, grabbing a pair of interceptions during two-minute drill work. Sophomore CB David Johnson got the first one against the #1 offense, and shortly after that, senior LB Donovan Bonner picked off a deflected pass for the #1 defense.
Senior DE Michael Sam had a big day Saturday, as he recovered a pair of fumbles and had a 1/2 sack to help lead the defense, while fellow line mate Matt Hoch forced a fumble and was credited with 1 1/2 sacks of his own.
It wasn't all defense on Saturday, as all five Tiger quarterbacks each threw a touchdown pass. The biggest play of the day came when senior QB James Franklin found sophomore WR Dorial Green-Beckham down the left sideline late in the day for what was a 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown play. Green-Beckham caught the nicely-thrown ball about 20 yards downfield, and he made one move to break a tackle as he burst to paydirt. Green-Beckham had a huge day, as he led all receivers with 8 receptions for 135 yards and the score.
Franklin led all QBs with 167 yards passing, while freshman Maty Mauck added 143 and Corbin Berkstresser 120.
Not a great start for Mauk, who missed on his first four pass attempts and was sacked twice on his second series. He came back with a 10-yard bullet to Marcus Lucas against the No. 1 offense, a great pass and catch in traffic. "That wasn't really a designed play to go to me," Lucas said, "but you've got to be alert and on your toes."
Later, Mauk rolled to his right on a play-action pass and hit Jaleel Clark, who made the catch with his toes hugging the sideline, about a 35-yard strike.
James Franklin: 15 of 24, 170 yards, TD, INT
Maty Mauk: 12 of 25, 143 yards, TD, INT
Corbin Berkstresser: 13 of 27, 130 yards, TD
Trent Hosick: 8 of 9, 78 yards, TD
Eddie Printz, Jr.: 5 of 7, 37 yards, TD
If DGB was the star, then defensive end Michael Sam wasn't far behind. Sam dominated from his spot, and was a force in the backfield all day. By my count, he had at least two sacks and two fumble recoveries and many more hurries. Sam has been having a strong spring, and his coach has noticed:
"He's doing exactly what he's been doing in practice," Pinkel said. "He's got a great defense and he's working hard. We can run on defense pretty good."
3. A quote by Gary Pinkel had me thinking... On Tuesday, I asked Pinkel about redshirt sophomore cornerback David Johnson, who is making a big impression this spring. In his response, Pinkel segued to another similar topic:
"We have a lot of guys like that, and not always do we have a lot of guys like that. In the past, we had four or five, but I think we probably have more closer to ten or eleven guys like that right now that are putting themselves in position to say, 'Hey, this guy's going to help us compete for a championship.'
"That's really the compliment, other than players learning the plays, learning the system, that's what spring football is about."
I thought that quote was interesting, because it implies that he thinks there are more young players ready to contribute than in years past. That number -- 10 or 11 -- also made me wonder which players Pinkel is referencing. Obviously, Johnson is one of them. I think the safe bets for younger players who fit that mold are John Gibson, Ian Simon, Harold Brantley, Shane Ray, Connor McGovern, Sean Culkin, Levi Copelin, Russell Hansbrough and Maty Mauk. Including Johnson, that would make ten guys who are redshirt sophomores or younger that have "flashed" (another word Pinkel has used) this spring.
I wonder who I'm missing.
7. On one of the first series, I saw a receiver formation a lot of y'all have been waiting for. Missouri went four-wide with DGB, Marcus Lucas, L'Damian Washington and Eric Waters. After the scrimmage, Green-Beckham told reporters he's been moved atop the X-spot, where he backed-up Lucas. But it's clear that the staff is trying different things with its receivers, moving them around more and finding the best three or four guys for every situation. Clearly, after the two scrimmages he's had, DGB needs to be on the field as often as possible. But it was a rare site (for me, anyway) to see such a big four-wide set: 6-5, 6-5, 6-4, 6-4. Missouri has size to spare.
Under new offensive coordinator Josh Henson, Missouri’s receivers have primarily been lining up on one side of the formation instead of switching sides like they did last year. Green-Beckham, who played some slot receiver last year but now lines up on the outside and to the quarterback’s left almost exclusively, likes the consistency that comes with the switch.
"It saves us from getting tired, from going from one side of the field to the other side," said Green-Beckham, who played the "X" position in high school. "That’s the spot I belong at, the spot I’m used to."
So far, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who says different.
Henson, who seems to be implementing more straight-ahead running plays into the offense, has been pleased with the way all three backs have managed to avoid losses this spring.
He was mad at himself for not using them more yesterday.
"I looked down today and said, 'Gosh, I haven't called their number enough,' " he said. "A little bit of that might be out of wanting to evaluate the quarterbacks in the back of my mind. I don't know, but I know I've got to call their number more and get them the ball more."
The Trib (Dave Matter): Boehm still getting settled at center
KC Star: Evan Boehm takes on bigger role for Mizzou with move to center
Mizzou Network (YouTube): Mizzou's Evan Boehm moves to Center
Michael Scherer was one of Mizzou's headline recruits in the Class of 2012, choosing the Tigers over the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan State and Stanford. Scherer is likely to take over for Wilson in the middle. The outside spots could be manned by fellow 2012 signees Donavin Newsom and Torey Boozer. The trio already has gotten to know each other very well.
"We really have (bonded)," Boozer said. "Donavin, for spring break, I just went home with him. He's coming to stay with me for the two weeks we have in the summer. We're real close."
"We got pretty close," Newsom said. Me and Torey, we always go to the rec and stuff. Me and Mike, if I see him walking to class, I'll just catch him."
There's a lot to digest here, but here are some quick thoughts...
1. Starting DGB out at the Danario-Y spot made perfect sense. That said, it's difficult not to get excited about the thought of him lined up out wide in the X. And obviously his spring stats are pretty exciting, too. Despite all of the swings-and-misses in recruiting, Mizzou could potentially have an all-conference receiver, 3-4 more interesting (and big) complements, and a three-headed running back. That sounds pretty fantastic. All you need at that point is marginal improvement (and, more importantly, good health) from the QB and OL spots that were such a drag last year.
2. I'm just going to ignore that Evan Boehm had a bad day of snaps yesterday. Yep, not going to acknowledge that at all.
3. A text exchange between The Beef (who's out of town) and me from yesterday:
The Beef: Saw the 2nd scrimmage happened and DGB caught a bunch and Henson said he should have run it more.
Me: Henson's really just attempting a massive PR campaign this spring. Runs, under center, DGB, Mauk...
The Beef: That is a way to win votes with our group. Saw that DGB said he likes lining up on the outside better than the slot.
Me: I like him wherever he looks the most badass.
4. Man oh man, if David Johnson keeps looking like this, that's one giant question mark erased.
5. It's nice of Michael Sam to occasionally remind us that he is still Missouri's best defensive end.