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Notebook: Black and Gold game gives a (hazy) glimpse at Missouri’s future

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There wasn’t going to be a ton of exciting on-field action Saturday, but the Tigers provided some ideas for the way the rest of 2019 might shape out.

Photo courtesy the Missouri Athletic Department (MUTigers.com)

Missouri’s spring game gives Tigers’ fans a sneak peak at what they’ll see come fall. It’s tough to have any true takeaways from the annual Black and Gold game, though, as while the players’ competitive nature forces them to at least try and win, this isn’t a time you’ll see them going full-out.

But we can all take a little something from these exhibitions, so here’s a notebook on Saturday’s spring season finale.

Who will be the backup QB?

Behind Kelly Bryant — who pretty much locked up the starting spot the second he committed to Missouri — no clear No. 2 quarterback has emerged.

Taylor Powell is the current backup, but that doesn’t feel set in stone. Micah Wilson is now a wide receiver. Lindsey Scott Jr. may not fulfill the hope the Tigers had in him when they brought him in last year. Connor Bazelak will only be a freshman in the fall. And Shawn Robinson isn’t eligible to play this season after transferring from TCU.

The spring game didn’t do much to answer that question.

Scott Jr. and Robinson threw for just 6 of 11 for 38 yards and 3 of 10 for 44 yards, respectively, for the gold team. Powell’s performance wasn’t very overwhelming either, throwing 10 of 20 for 142 yards against what was essentially the scout defense.

Head coach Barry Odom might still have Powell in mind, but anything can happen between now and the next game day.

Speaking of quarterbacks...

Pete will have more on the grad transfer, but it looks like Bryant might be playing into offensive coordinator Derek Dooley’s scheme this season.

It’s not a well-kept secret that Bryant likes to run, but he didn’t do much of it Saturday, picking up just eight yards on three rushes. Instead, he played more into Dooley’s style, throwing a lot of screens, dump offs and short yardage passes as he got more acclimated with his receivers in a game situation.

He did flash a little bit of an arm similar to what Tigers’ fans were accustomed to seeing from former quarterback Drew Lock, hitting Dominic Gicinto for a 36 yarder on the black team’s first drive.

Bryant ended the game 12-for-17 with 150 yards, leaving a good impression in his first performance on Faurot Field.

Pass rush puts on some pressure

Missouri’s pass rush lost a lot of pieces from the 2018 season, losing Terry Beckner Jr. and Walter Palmore to graduation and Tre Williams to an indefinite suspension, so Odom has sought out some new pieces to fill those roles.

Look no further than the spring game to see who Odom has in mind.

Jordan Elliott, Akial Byers and Trajan Jeffcoat each registered a sack Saturday, putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback after a season with a lack thereof. Chris Turner — who by now has secured a starting defensive line spot — also registered a solo tackle.

These four will be put to the test in 2019 by Odom, who wants to see major improvements from the pass rush overall come fall.

“I do think we’ve got a couple guys on the outside (of the defensive line) that will allow us to have a little more presence with (the pass rush) this year,” Odom said.

Can Bakare be the next Badie?

With Damarea Crockett’s decision to forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft, that immediately moved some younger running backs up the totem pole. Larry Rountree III was penciled in as the starter, and Tyler Badie moved into Rountree’s No. 2 spot.

But who, if any one, would take over Badie’s spot from 2018?

After Saturday, it’s looking like Simi Bakare could be that guy. Bakare was the gold team’s starting back, where he only picked up a yard on two carries. But once he made the move to the black team to take over for Rountree and Badie, he racked up 42 yards on nine carries

It isn’t clear if Dooley wants to run with a trio in the backfield like he did in 2018, but if he does, Bakare may be the one to get the call.

“Being a running back, you’re going to take a lot of shots,” Badie said. “Simi is going to do a great job in that role.”