We’ve all been waiting for that moment. What is it going to look like as Luther Burden steps on the field in a Tigers uniform for the first time? On Saturday, we found out.
Well, kind of.
Burden showed out in the way everyone expected he would on Saturday in the Tigers’ “Black & Gold Game.” Much to the surprise of everyone, the scrimmage actually resembled a real football game for the first time in, well, as long as I can remember. The scoring system made sense. The situations weren’t made up randomly without any explanation. The game was... fun to watch? Let’s keep that system, shall we?
That said, it was still a scrimmage. And it was a scrimmage which took place with Missouri severely undermanned in the secondary. I have to make sure to mention those disclaimers just to tamp down the hype a bit.
But, you guys, Luther Burden is really good. Really, really, really good.
What does it look like when you get the ball in Luther Burden's hands in space? Well, good things tend to happen. pic.twitter.com/E0UIaaxdMb— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) March 25, 2022
He showed a bit of everything. Missouri got him touches on two screens, a slant, two fades, a go route up the seam, a slant and a deep crossing route. They did a little bit of everything to get him involved in the game, because that’s what you do when you have this kind of talent on the field.
I think this was Burden's most impressive play of the day. 3rd & 11 from the 35. Burden runs a deep over timing route to perfection. Gains about 20 yards. Don't see something like this from a true freshman very often. pic.twitter.com/Q1xWQYP3oT— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) March 25, 2022
Burden wins in just about every way possible. He’s not a burner, but he has enough speed to get on top of a corner. He’s not particularly tall, but he wins at the catch point. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but I wouldn’t recommend a corner tests his physicality.
He’s drawn comparisons to Dez Bryant and Jeremy Maclin. He’s supposed to be a senior in high school.
And, on Saturday, he was the best player on the field.
But he wasn’t alone.
I was expecting to come away impressed by Burden. Everyone who has ever watched “Touchdown Luther” play football seems to come away with the same reaction: He’s the real deal. What I wasn’t expecting was another former East St. Louis wide receiver to impress the way he did.
Did you guys see Dominic Lovett?
He was dominant. That did not look like the same player we watched last season. Lovett seemed hesitant for much of last year. He’s a talented player, but it often felt as if he was drifting in and out of the game. Drinkwitz referenced on the broadcast that he regrets overwhelming Lovett early in the season. He was lining up at every receiver position, and it was simply too much for a true freshman.
Lovett now has a home. He’s going to play in the slot. And, by the looks of things, he’s going to play well.
This was arguably Dominic Lovett's most impressive play of the day. It's a jet sweep. The safety in the box has him dead to rights... Until he doesn't. Lovett puts his foot in the turf and turns upfield at full speed. Super impressive change of direction. pic.twitter.com/kxWYZjg2DL— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) March 25, 2022
Lovett and Burden “win” in different ways. Where Burden wins with competitiveness and physicality, Lovett’s best skill is his speed. When he gets going, watch out. He also has some freakish change of direction skills. Multiple times on Saturday it appeared as if the defense had him dead to rights. Then, suddenly, he put his foot in the turf and - poof - he was gone.
This screen to Dominic Lovett is hilarious. It had to feel like high school for him all over again. How did this go for 50 yards? pic.twitter.com/2PbSimzeii— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) March 25, 2022
I know it was a scrimmage. I know Missouri was light on healthy defensive backs. I don’t care. Burden and Lovett put on a show for Mizzou fans. If Burden is as good as advertised and Lovett takes that next step, this receiver corps has a chance to be something special.