Missouri’s defense scored as many touchdowns as its offense Saturday during the first public scrimmage of the spring at Memorial Stadium.
Making its debut under Barry Odom, who was hired in December to replace Dave Steckel after he accepted the head coaching job at Missouri State, the Tigers’ defense was thoroughly dominant.
Missouri’s offense averaged fewer than 3.9 yards per play a 27-3 loss based on the special scoring system for scrimmages.
Collectively, the Tigers’ five quarterbacks went 42 of 87 for 269 yards with seven interceptions and no touchdowns.
“We couldn’t get anything going,” said offensive lineman Connor McGovern, who played right guard and left tackle during the scrimmage. “When we were protecting, other guys weren’t doing their jobs and then, when guys would get open, we wouldn’t protect. … It was a bad day overall. Nothing was really going that great for us.”
Obviously, Missouri’s defense felt different about the day.
“Every single play, every single drive, we’re trying to dominate,” said sophomore defensive end Charles Harris, who had two tackles including a half-sack. “I’m definitely not surprised. This is definitely something we expect. As a matter of fact, this is probably just the basic standard. There’s a lot more coming throughout the season.”
Harris set the tone on the fourth play from scrimmage, intercepting backup quarterback Eddie Printz at the 2-yard line and jogging across the goal line for a touchdown.
The scrimmage ended on another Printz interception when senior safety Ian Simon picked off a Hail Mary pass during a two-minute drill with defensive end Harold Brantley bearing down.
In between those interceptions, starting quarterback Maty Mauk was picked off twice, once by sophomore safety Thomas Wilson a deep throw down the left sideline and later by Aarion Penton on an underthrown deep post to J’Mon Moore in the end zone.
A bad day for the offense almost got far worse when Mauk limped to the sideline after a 4-yard scramble up the middle. He later returned despite a sprained left ankle.
“I stepped up in the pocket there and somebody’s foot was there,” Mauk said. “I just stepped on it and kind of rolled it a little bit. It’s a little sore, but I’ll be fine.”
Penton also picked off Printz when he threw a deep out to the left sideline, but redshirt freshman DeSean Blair appeared to cut his route short.
Safety Shaun Rupert made a diving interception of Marvin Zanders during third-string drills.
Fifth-string quarterback John Eierman also threw an interception to senior walk-on Trei Walton in limited work.
Lee’s Summit graduate Corbin Berkstresser, who went six of 10 for 30 yards, was the only Tigers quarterback not to throw an interception.
Officially, Mauk finished 12 of 22 for 81 yards with two interceptions, while Printz went 13 of 29 for 55 yards with three interceptions.
Running back Russell Hansbrough provided the offense’s long touchdown on a 65-yard scamper early in the scrimmage.
He finished with eight carries for 107 yards, but also aggravated a right shoulder injury midway through the practice and didn’t return.
Mauk said the offense would watch the film together, but it was readily apparent that the wide receivers, in particular, needed to play more physically.
“We’ve got two more weeks left of spring, and we’re just going to have to keep pushing it and get some reps,” Mauk said.
Missouri’s defense expects to improve, too.
“It was a great first scrimmage, but there are still things we need to do better,” said defensive end Marcus Loud, who led the Tigers with two sacks and three tackles for a loss. “We’re trying to build chemistry for the season. We were dominant for today, but there’s still come things we need to shine some light on.”
Linebacker Clarence Green led all players with nine tackles, including a sack.
Fellow linebackers Kentrell Brothers and Joey Burkett each added seven tackles along with cornerback Logan Cheadle.
Cheadle, a Lee’s Summit West graduate, also had a sack and Brothers registered a half-sack, while defensive linemen Tyler Hanneke, Ricky Hatley and Eddie Serrano also recorded a sack.
▪ Coach Gary Pinkel confirmed that an MRI on redshirt freshman running back Trevon Walters’ right knee revealed a torn ACL. He’s finished for the spring, but Pinkel hopes Walters might return by mid-September.
▪ Safety Tavon Ross also missed the scrimmage with a torn ACL and running back Morgan Steward remains sidelined after hip surgery.
▪ Tight ends Sean Culkin (sprained shoulder) and Austin Ray (broken finger) also were out along with linebacker Eric Beisel (strained foot) and wide receiver Nate Brown (sprained knee).