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2015 Missouri spring practice: Scrimmage rough for quarterbacks, Maty Mauk, offense

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Mizzou football had its first post-Spring Break scrimmage yesterday and the results were ... good for the defense!

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

RockMNation.com Mizzou Football coverage

Mizzou Tigers pennant Highlights:

Come for the sunshine, stay for the interceptions:

Gary Pinkel post-scrimmage comments:

STATS:

MUTIGERS.COM Defense Claims Initial Spring Scrimmage, 27-3 - Official Athletic Site Official Athletic Site - Football

Senior PK Andrew Baggett was 4-for-5 on field goals Saturday and also handled punting duties, as he averaged 38.8 yards on five kicks.

Passing Att. Yards Results
Maty Mauk 12-22 (54.5%) 81 yards 2 INT (67.29 rating)
Eddie Printz 13-29 (44.8%) 55 yards 3 INT (40.07 rating)
Corbin Berkstresser 6-10 (60.0%) 30 yards (85.20 rating)
Marvin Zanders 9-19 (47.4%) 99 yards INT (80.61 rating)
Rushing Att. Yards Results
Russell Hansbrough 8 107 TD
Marvin Zanders 4 50
Andrew Stevens 8 28
Eddie Printz 2 12
Steven Blakely 5 9
Maty Mauk 1 8
Tyler Hunt 5 7
Miles Drummond 2 6
Ish Witter 5 (‐3)
Receiving Att. Yards Rse
Thomas Richard 5 29
Eric Laurent 4 18
J’Mon Moore 3 29
Wesley Leftwich 3 19
Kendall Blanton 3 15
Jason Reese 3 12

Mizzou Tigers pennant On Quarterbacks, Maty Mauk, running backs:

Maty Mauk evaluates Mizzou's first spring scrimmage performance | ABC17 Sports

Mizzou's starting quarterback says Mizzou is disappointed in its offensive performance on Saturday while saying time can only help his inexperienced group of receivers

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Mizzou offense rusty in spring scrimmage : Dave Matter

• Mauk and the quarterbacks didn’t get much help from their receivers, but the interceptions are always the QBs’ fault, he said.

"You can say it can be the protection or be the receiver, but from my standpoint, it’s on us," he said. "There’s always something we can do better. Maybe the ball could have been a couple inches higher. There’s no excuses from the quarterback standpoint. That’s how we do it. There were no excuses for those interceptions today. Mine, Eddie’s, anybody. We’re going to come in here Monday morning, watch it, figure out why the interceptions happened and what we can do to prevent them in the future. That’s what you’ve got to do."

What to do when neither the starter nor the backup plays well in the first scrimmage? Panic obviously.

MU Spring Scrimmage No. 1 - Columbia Daily Tribune | David Morrison: Behind The Stripes

"I was slower. I didn’t want to use it as much," Mauk said. "That’s not an excuse. I’m out there, so I’ve got to be 100 percent focused and do what I can do."

All of the quarterbacks had a bad day. Mauk went through a stretch in which he missed on seven straight passes and got picked off twice, once on a nice read by deep safety Thomas Wilson and once by Aarion Penton undercutting an underthrown ball.

  • And Mizzou confirmed what we learned early on Friday morning, RS Freshman Trevon Walters tore his ACL on Thursday. He is scheduled for surgery soon. Trevon and freshman safety Tavon Ross, who just completed surgery, could both could still see the field this fall.

And about the running backs:

• With Walters out, Steward still out from last year’s hip surgery and Hansbrough now nursing a sore shoulder, the tailback depth is running shallow with two weeks of practices left. Witter, the No. 2 back, went backward more than forward Saturday. Pinkel was quick to remind reporters that MU gets some reinforcements at the position this summer. The way things looked Saturday, junior college transfer Chase Abbington can’t get here fast enough. Incoming freshmen Marquise Doherty and Ryan Williams could also help replenish the depth.

PowerMizzou.com - Days like this

Pete Scantlebury gives a series by series rundown of scrimmage

I have to agree with Pete Scantlebury, Russell Hansbrough is a known commodity at this point, so any more wear and tear he sees before the actual season starts is unnecessary in my eyes. Right now his backups are a walk-on who earned his scholarship last year for special teams play (Tyler Hunt) and sophomore Ish Witter who played a fair amount in 2014 but is a smaller back not quite ready for starter reps. Reinforcements arrive this fall in the shape of a host of highly ranked freshman, Marquise Doherty, Ryan Williams and Chase Abbington who certainly could become impact freshman, but it wouldn't be ideal to have to rely on that.

The fact that we're seeing Mizzou struggle passing right now is of no surprise to me and can be viewed as an opportunity for the offense to practice dealing with defenses focusing on shutting down the running game. Mizzou's defense is naturally going to be further along at this point, especially given the comparative turnover each side has experienced. Regardless of how Maty Mauk improves, Mizzou, as it has been for the past 4-5 years, is going to remain a run-emphasis team in 2015, using an experienced offensive line and multiple tight end sets to take the pressure off an inexperienced receiving corps.

Mizzou Tigers pennant On the Defense

Web extra: Aarion Penton's post-scrimmage interview | ABC17 Sports

Aarion Penton talks about the dominant performance by Mizzou's defense in the first spring scrimmage of 2015.

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PowerMizzou.com - Smooth transition

Beyond that, the defense forced seven total interceptions, including two by starting cornerback Aarion Penton. Safeties Ian Simon and Thomas Wilson also got in on the pick parade. So, four of Missouri's seven interceptions came by projected members of the first-team defense.

From Morrison, about the secondary

The Tigers totaled seven interceptions and eight pass break-ups on the day. That's a third of the incompletions -- 15 of 45 -- that the defense had a literal hand in making happen.

The double-edged sword of having your defense snag seven interceptions is that your offense is responsible for them. That being said, the fact that Kenya Dennis and Aarion Penton specifically are looking so good means they'll provide a younger defense front more time to get to the quarterback. Interceptions are nice but pass breakups and coverage sacks serve to force offenses to be more one dimensional and funnel the ball inside where Mizzou has playmakers at the defensive tackle and linebacker positions.

Morrison on the defensive line:

Loud and Harris served dual functions off the edge. Yes, they got into the backfield when the occasion presented itself, but they were also effective in dropping back into pass coverage and helping disguise Barry Odom's defense. The defensive tackles dropped back once in a while as well.

My initial concern about changes to Mizzou's defensive scheme I was worried about our current personnel being able to play in space, going from rushing the passer to playing containment to dropping into coverage. It remains to be seen if Marcus Loud and Charles Harris are ideal fits for such designs. But when Charles Harris went and intercepted a pass for a touchdown (albeit on the 2 yard line), I reminded myself that the threat of their hybrid position put pressure on quarterbacks to make fast and accurate reads.

It also sounds like Barry Odom isn't abandoning Dave Steckel's preference for dropping athletic defensive tackles into coverage to further disguise and confuse offenses. We might see a bit more dynamic play from the defensive line and linebacker positions under Odom, perhaps using line stunts in conjunction with zone-blitz schemes to attack quarterbacks from a variety of positions on the field. I don't know about you, but this excites me as a fan and as an X&O guy to no end.

PowerMizzou.com spoke with Craig Kuligowski, explained Walter Brady's situation

Mizzou Tigers pennant What do you think?

If you were able to sneak a glimpse of Mizzou's spring scrimmage, what would you need to have seen from the football team to 1) pique your interest, 2) impress you, or 3) raise your concern?

Let us know in the comments.