By Olivia Evans
Saturday afternoon the Mizzou football team ended their 2019 spring training season with their annual Black and Gold Spring Game at Faurot Field.
The Black team (offensive and defensive starters), under the leadership of Clemson graduate transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant, won 21-3. Its offense could not be halted by Gold’s (second and third-team players) defense. While the purpose of this game was to showcase how the team is developing at this point getting ready to enter summer ball, it is evident that the offense under Offensive Coordinator Derek Dooley is thriving.
Just under three minutes into the game, junior running back Larry Rountree III scored the first touchdown of the year for the Tigers on a four yard run, senior kicker Tucker McCann finished the play off with the extra point to put the score at 7-0 for Black. The rest of the first quarter would go scoreless.
At the conclusion of the half, sophomore kicker Sean Koetting made a field goal for Gold team to give them their only three points of the game. After the break, the third saw stagnant action from both teams- the defenses of both Black and Gold prevented any scoring this quarter.
With eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, Black put up two scores, once from Tyler Badie on a six yard run and then again from sophomore wide receiver Kam Scott on a 30-yard reception. The offense looked explosive and displays lots of potential to be capable to score a lot of points this season. The offensive line had strong line play and did a solid job of protecting their quarterback as well as creating gaps for their runners. There was solid chemistry between the quarterback squad and the receivers, Black team had 292 net passing yards and completed 59 percent of pass attempts.
During the Spring Game lots of players saw action, but one familiar face remained sidelined. Junior tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who was fully cleared one week ago from his season ending injury against Florida last season did not see field action today.
“When Albert is healthy and when he plays he is in a different dimension and he creates some mismatches. He has got enough work in this spring and he is in a good spot,” Head Coach Barry Odom said.
Junior center Trystan Colon-Castillo went down on the first drive of the game with a sprained ankle and didn’t return.
Bryant’s seasoning was on full display. He is a capable replacement for projected first-round NFL Draft Pick Drew Lock. Bryant matched all the hype that surrounded his transfer; he performed exactly as advertised. Bryant went 12-for-17 on pass attempts for a total of 150 yards. His longest pass of the day was 36 yards. He also rushed for eight net yards.
“Kelly did a great job coming in and learning the things we do,” Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley said. “We spent some time trying to learn what Kelly does that we didn’t do last year and we’re going to keep experimenting with that.”
Other notables included the running back trio of Rountree III, Badie and sophomore Simi Bakare.
“They [Badie and Rountree] are certainly talented and they were productive for us last year and now it’s a challenge on them to get a little bit better,” Dooley said.
The three combined for 138 net rush yards for Black team, the rest of Black team combined had three net rush yards. Badie returns after his strong freshman campaign in which he was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team by league coaches.
“The spring definitely went well, I got better, stronger, faster, older and I just understand more now,” Badie said.”
Bakare looked explosive and has good field vision. He came on strong in the second half of his true freshman season last year. Rountree III has been a consistent leader on this team as well as in the SEC- he finished last season ranked fourth in the conference at his position. Both Badie and Rountree III scored a touchdown Saturday.
“In order for all of us to be a successful team we have to stay together…when we’re tight, we’re good, but when we let leaks and negativity in we fall apart and we have to stay good to win,” Rountree said.
Sophomore wide reciever Barrett Banister who went from walk-on to scholarship athlete this past season, tied with Scott with most receiving yards with 73 a piece. Bannister looked comfortable and skilled on the field today. Scott dropped an easy grab early on, but made up for it with his reception for a touchdown from Powell.
As far as special teams, with the loss of Corey Fatony, McCann took on both punting and place kicking duties. Last season McCann came in clutch in several games and helped secure essential points for the Tigers. He had 123 points to his name last year and looks to best that this upcoming season. He currently sits fourth in the NCAA for his kicking abilities. Koetting struggled with his field goal attempts in the game but, he has only seen action in one game during his career so far. Freshman Matthew Jaeger made the extra point following Scotts touchdown late in the fourth.
With just four weeks left in the school year, this is a crucial point of development for the team before they get a short break and then have to report back for summer ball. Odom talked about the upcoming summer program for the team in which scholarship athletes will complete six credit hours towards their degree, have Monday through Friday weight training sessions, play seven on seven as well as receive instructional football 101 in a classroom like setting for two hours a week.
“The opportunity to coach our guys in the classroom this year for two hours a week is good, it’ll help their growth,” Odom said.
The football team showed their solidarity with the Mizzou Athletic Department with “Make It Right” helmet decals, as well #MakeItRight paint on the sideline.
Missouri is appealing an NCAA sanctions that included a bowl as a result of an academic fraud scandal. As of now, the team would technically be eligible for bowl play. Until the NCAA responds to Mizzou’s formal appeal, the sanctions are temporarily disbanded. The South End Zone Project is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2019- the same day as the teams season opener against Wyoming- whom Missouri beat last season 40-13. The team’s home opener will be Sep. 7 against West Virginia.
Edited by Garrett Jones | @firstname.lastname@example.org