By: John Saltzman
COLUMBIA, Mo — Faurot Field played host to the Missouri Tigers Spring Game Saturday afternoon with the Missouri offense defeating the Missouri defense 21-0. Barry Odom got his first taste of life on the sidelines in a glorified fan fare practice as the players end spring practice with a bang.
The questions swirling around the program following a 5-7 campaign were apparent coming in to camp this spring. On the shoulders of young Drew Lock, the program expects to be right in the thick of the SEC once again.
Among the large questions entering 2016 was the receiving core. In Saturday’s game, Lock found J’Mon Moore who took the top off the defense for a deep touchdown to make it 14-0 early in the second half.
Later, Lock connected with freshman Justin Smith who leaped high over the defensive backs to make a fantastic catch in the back of the end zone for the score.
If Lock and the offense can continue some of the flashes of brilliance shown Saturday later in the actual season, the offense will be vastly improved. An offense that ranked dead last in yards per game, yards per play, third down conversion percentage, and points per game needs the boost that Moore and Smith provided Saturday.
Now for the bad: Walter Brady, who led the SEC in sacks for a freshman last season, went down with an apparent knee injury. Early reports are that Brady will be fine for the season and shouldn’t miss too much time, but certainly a huge loss if it has lingering effects.
While the spring game rarely indicates much, as coaches don’t want to tip their hand on plays or schemes, and try to avoid injury at all costs, it can be valuable for young players to get back on the field in a game-like scenario.
Odom’s success in his first season hinges on offense, and the flashes of brilliant chemistry between Lock and his receivers is enough to tide Tiger fans over until they return to the field next fall.
Until then, fans have to settle with the appetizer given Saturday in the form of a 21-0 victory for the Drew Lock-led offensive squad.