The 2022 Missouri football spring game took place Saturday at Faurot Field. Team Mizzou (led by Isaiah McGuire and Barrett Banister) took on Team Tigers (led by Connor Wood and Darius Robinson) to give Mizzou fans their first look at the 2022 football team.
With a quarterback competition just heating up, a plethora of exciting freshman, and some key transfers now on the team, there was plenty to look out for during this spring game.
There were certainly some early game jitters. Brady Cook’s Team Mizzou punted on their opening drive, and Tyler Macon underthrew a crossing route that resulted in a Dylan Carnell pick-six on the next drive.
Macon’s Team Tigers were down 7-0 early, but he responded quickly with a great drive that was capped off by a blazing run from Stanford transfer Nathaniel Peat from 20 yards out.
The rest of the half was back and forth between both offenses. Both Cook and Macon appeared to settle into the game, as they were making some great throws all over the field and converting with their legs as well. However, the stars of the show were playing out wide.
Luther Burden had a monstrous first half, as he led the team in receptions and had multiple highlight-reel caliber plays. Every pass he caught seemed to go for a big gain, whether it was a slant for a touchdown, a toe-tap sideline grab, or a big gain over the middle of the field.
However, the rest of the wide receiver core did not just sit idly by. Chance Luper had a great half with a touchdown and a couple of explosive plays, while Dominic Lovett took it upon himself to compete with Burden, turning a couple of short plays into huge gains thanks to his speed.
“Luther Burden and Dominic Lovett are having an East St. Louis battle so that’s fun,” Eliah Drinkwitz said at halftime. Lovett and Burden played on the same high school team, with the former being a year older.
Freshman Mekhi Miller had the third toe-tap grab of the half on a late drive to get in the stat sheet, and Barrett Banister even got in on the action with a clean juke move that led to a 21-yard touchdown to end the half for Team Mizzou.
With this team missing so many players on defense, it was expected that plenty of points would be scored. Still, a lot of credit has to be given to the offenses in the first half. Macon and Cook had some mistakes but overall played very well, combining for over 380 yards passing and 2 TDs. And, as mentioned, the wide receivers were showing out. Team Mizzou led 28-21 at the half.
The second half continued on much of the same trend. Macon’s Team Tigers opened the half with a drive highlighted by a great adjustment from Tauskie Dove on a Macon deep ball. Taj Butts would punch the ball in to tie the game at 28, one of many running backs who had touched the ball today.
Which just so happens to be a perfect segue to the Cody Schrader segment. The Truman State transfer took over Team Mizzou’s next drive by totting the rock five times, with each run showing off his power and burst at the line of scrimmage. Violent would be one way to describe how he runs, and he finished the drive off in the end zone.
Tyler Macon and co. responded with a touchdown of their own, but Drinkwitz demanded that they go for two. The timing was off on a jet sweep, and Macon was tackled behind the line of scrimmage, leaving Team Tigers down by a score of 35-34 with only four minutes left.
Team Mizzou would punt on their next drive, giving Macon and Team Tigers a chance with 1:45 left. They would make it to midfield, by Dylan Carnell baited Macon into an interception, his second of the day, and one that clinched the game for Team Mizzou.
All in all, there was a lot to like. To address the defense first, this was a very shorthanded group, and it showed. It seems like there are still going to be some concerns across the board this year, but it is way too early to make any big assumptions.
Offensively, the skill positions are loaded. The two transfers, Nathaniel Peat and Cody Schrader, headlined the backfield today, but Elijah Young, Taj Butts, and BJ Harris all made some great plays as well. It is looking like this will be a deep running back room, with all of them having different skillsets.
Having already touched on the receivers, I won’t go too in-depth. However, Tauskie Dove stole the show in the second half, making sure Tiger fans remember that he’s still around and is yet another dynamic downfield option.
Lastly, the quarterback competition appears to be closer than previously thought. Macon started and ended the game with mistakes, but he overall showed great improvement in his ability to stretch the ball downfield and be accurate, which is exactly what everyone needed to see out of him.
Brady Cook was solid, heating up more as the game went on. He has flashes where he makes some NFL-caliber throws look easy, but then at times he can be off. Becoming more consistent will be key for Cook moving forward.
This offense was fun to watch today, as it looks like Drinkwitz finally has the weapons he wants on the field. Still, it was Team Mizzou, captained by Isaiah McGuire and Barrett Banister, who won a steak dinner for their team, while Team Tigers will have to settle for hot dogs.
“The most important thing was everybody stay healthy,” Drinkwitz said. “It’s (the spring game) not gonna be a depth chart finalizer at all, it’s more about our approach and improving every day.”
The Tigers will have two more spring practices next week before spring break comes along, and then summer workouts and fall camp are ahead. Mizzou will host Louisiana Tech to open the 2022 season on September 3rd.