Spring is in the air, which means a couple of things— winter weather is on its way out and Missouri Tigers Football is back in action. The Tigers participated in their annual Black and Gold Spring Game this afternoon, though it was more of a live practice than a real scrimmage. With new faces on the field, there’s a lot to catch up on since last season.
For starters, there were a couple vets in the building to kick off the afternoon — we’re talking about Larry Rountree III and Nick Bolton, of course. The two graduates had the opportunity to bang the Big Mo drum before practice commenced, which the crowd considerably appreciated.
Coach Eli Drinkwtitz was really happy with today’s entire outing, “I just wanna say thanks to all the fans that came out today. Obviously, the weather cooperated... just a great day in Columbia, Missouri.”
Special teams took up the first few time slots of the afternoon, and we can confirm Harrison Mevis has still got it. From what we saw in drills, the sophomore kicker was locked in from beyond the 40. Receiving punts were freshman Dominic Lovett and transfer Mookie Cooper. Mookie Cooper unveiled his really talented footwork during the scrimmage portion of practice. He is certainly going to be fun to watch grow with Bazelak over the next couple of seasons.
“It’s all about individual player development,” Drinkwitz explained. “We’re really process-oriented.” Coach mentioned that he didn’t particularly care for flashy plays in today’s practice, but rather he wanted to give some of his under-appreciated guys the opportunity to step up and make a name for themselves. “This wasn’t a scrimmage designed to make people feel good,” Drinkwitz jokingly said.
Our first look at the Tigers on offense was pretty much as expected. Connor Bazelak still has the starting QB position, and Tyler Badie remains in the backfield. Missouri’s wide receiver corps consists of Mookie Cooper, Keke Chism, Tauskie Dove, and Barrett Banister. Sophomore Elijah Young also appeared in the first string rotation.
“I thought I did some good things [today],” Bazelak explained post practice. “The three or four drives I had, we moved the ball down the field.” Bazelak said he looks to continue to build relationships with his teammates on and off the field.
The Tigers’ second team was comprised of senior Simi Bakare at running back, Brady Cook at QB, and featured the likes of Micah Wilson and some young guys like Jay Maclin and Dominic Lovett, who could be an impact out wide this year.
During a Redzone training session, Coach Drinkwitz showed off how open he likes to keep his playbook, as Keke Chism was catching laterals behind the line of scrimmage and throwing balls into the endzone. “I was really thrilled the way the defense started off in the Redzone,” Drinkwitz said following practice.
Tyler Macon stepped in as the third string QB and the highly anticipated freshman didn’t disappoint, as he demonstrated how versatile he can be both through the air and on his feet. In one sequence during drills, he completed 4 straight passes including two passes which he dropped perfectly in the bucket and one back-shoulder fade to Dominic Lovett all in a row. Michael Cox played behind Macon in the backfield, though the freshman running back will redshirt this season.
Towards the latter part of practice, drives were beginning from the 25 yard line, which gave us the best overall look at who would be playing what position on which team. Defensively, the Tigers’ most promising position is at cornerback, and Ennis Rakestraw, Ish Burdine, and Chris Shearin all appeared in the starting rotation. Junior DB Stacy Brown also showed up on Missouri’s second team. Touchdowns were hard to come by in today’s practice, as Burdine intercepted Bazelak 1st and goal, just one play after Bazelak connected with Dove for a monster pickup. Tyler Macon led the first touchdown drive, followed by Brady Cook.
“I think that the defense performed at a high level,” Martez Manuel said. [Steve Wilks] is a defensive genius. He has an answer for everything.”
At the safety position — you guessed it, was Shawn Robinson. He is accompanied by junior Martez Manuel and sophomore Jaylon Carlies in the deep position. Stacy Brown and Jalani Williams also appeared at safety for Missouri’s second team. Brown looks like he’ll be used at a couple of positions this year.
Practiced wrapped with a hilarious coach vs coach drill. With only a one point difference on the scoreboard, Missouri’s offensive coaches lined up against its defensive staff at the 3 yard line, and they competed against one another surrounded by players. Marcus Johnson snapped the ball over Matt Linehan’s head, resulting in a defensive stop. Chaos ensued as penalty flags were thrown and timeouts were being called in order to draw up the perfect play. The defensive staff ultimately came out on top, as they were able to convert their two point conversion.
Drinkwitz ended today’s media conference with his rendition of One Shining Moment in response to Cuonzo Martin and his team who are gearing up for their first appearance in March Madness since the 2018 season. They play at 6:25 this evening.