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2014 Missouri spring football: Scherer and young linebackers find opportunity with the No. 1s

Bill Carter

Tired of talking about the receivers? Let's talk about linebackers instead.

Post-Dispatch: Scherer's time has arrived at Mizzou

Scherer said his success in the classroom translates to the field.

"Because a lot of what a linebacker does happens before you get on the field," he said. "If you don’t know where you’re going when a play’s called, or you don’t know what gap you’ve got on a running play, then you can’t play fast." [...]

Scherer redshirted in 2012, then worked his way into the two-deep last season and played some as a backup. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel likened his progression to the path former linebacker Sean Weatherspoon took during his career. Weatherspoon became a three-time first-team All-Big 12 player and first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2010.

"I’m not trying to compare him necessarily to ‘Spoon,’" Pinkel said, "but all of a sudden you see (Scherer) and say, ‘Wow, this guy’s going to be a heck of a player.’"

PowerMizzou: Black & Gold Battles
PowerMizzou: Setting the Stage

Brothers' injury, followed by a minor injury to Donavin Newsom, forced some musical chairs among the linebackers. Michael Scherer, the pre-spring starter at SAM linebacker, moved to the middle. Green moved up to Scherer's outside spot. When Newsom went down at the WILL, Darvin Ruise reassumed that position, after being challenged by the staff to drop some weight this spring. Eric Beisel is also providing some muscle in the middle, and led the defense in tackles during Saturday's scrimmage.

All told, those are the players, along with a healthy Brothers, that will attempt to live up to Green's proclamation. As go the linebackers, so goes Missouri's defense.

"The linebackers control the defense," Scherer said. "The linebackers tell the d-linemen where to go, make sure they're lined up the correct way.

As with Russell Hansbrough, Kentrell Brothers' spring injury falls into the "useful injury" category. It is giving Mizzou coaches a longer look at Beisel, Scherer, Newsom, Green, etc., and in in the long run that's probably an excellent thing. Of course, like Hansbrough, Brothers had some further development to do himself, so it's not exactly a 100% awesome thing, I guess.

And because it's certainly not yet out of the news cycle...

Springfield News-Leader: Mizzou's Pinkel, Alden to visit Springfield

The Mizzou Caravan, featuring Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel, athletic director Mike Alden, men's basketball coach Frank Haith, and others, will stop in Springfield Monday, April 21.

Others scheduled to appear in Springfield currently include volleyball coach Wayne Kreklow and women's basketball coach Robin Pingeton.

This recently became a far more interesting visit than it probably seemed at the time it was scheduled.

Fox Sports MW: These three Tigers will have extra pressure to step up with DGB out

Mauk spoke glowingly of DGB, and vice versa, in media settings; the chemistry on the field was obvious, too. The arm that delivered Green-Beckham's school-record four receiving touchdowns in a game at Kentucky? Mauk's, who himself accounted for five scores on the day.

Mauk completed 51.1 percent of this throws for 1,071 yards last fall as James Franklin's understudy. The dude loves the deep ball, loves taking chances, loves putting tall receivers in a position to out-athlete some poor schmoe and make a play.

For a solid "touch" passer with good feel, Green-Beckham was the perfect, giant, rangy target -- of Mauk's 11 TD passes in 2013, five (nearly half) were to DGB. Green-Beckham allowed the Ohio native to indulge those reckless whims to his heart's desire.

Not anymore.

I've caught myself doing this, too, but we need to be careful with the way we characterize Maty Mauk's propensity for "taking chances." Last year, he threw just two interceptions; his interception rate was a paltry 1.5% (James Franklin's was 1.9%), and his sack rate was just 3.6% (Franklin's: 6.5%). He definitely uses his legs to buy time and extend plays, but the chances he takes seem to be of the "maybe throw this too far out of bounds for my guy to catch" variety instead of balls thrown into double coverage. We'll see what happens to his decision-making when he's without his big trio of targets (Dorial Green-Beckham, Marcus Lucas, L'Damian Washington), but so far his risks really haven't been all that risky.