University of Missouri

MU notebook: Spring game provides window into Tucker McCann’s strides

Mizzou coach Barry Odom: 'I like the progress that this team has made'

Missouri football coach Barry Odom speaks to reporters after Saturday's spring football game.
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Missouri football coach Barry Odom speaks to reporters after Saturday's spring football game.

For Tucker McCann at Memorial Stadium, 46 is the magic number.

Missouri’s sophomore kicker on the football team drilled one from that specific distance (46 yards) last year, just three games into the 2016-17 season against Georgia.

A career long then and a career long now, McCann was in familiar territory during Saturday’s Black & Gold Game.

The down marker read “4,” the ball was on the 29-year-line, and McCann was up on Saturday.

“I knew I was going to make it,” McCann said afterward.

And that he did.

Missouri head coach Barry Odom said “it was good” to see McCann hit the place kick, and make 3 of 3 extra-point attempts.

McCann himself said, “it felt good,” too, especially after last season.

McCann admitted after Saturday’s game that putting last year behind him has been a challenge. McCann, who is from O’Fallon, Illinois, was the only kicker on scholarship last season. He made 6 of 12 field-goal attempts in the 2016-17 season. He also missed 4 extra points on 43 tries.

This spring has allowed him to move on from that past.

“You can’t think about the bad times; not even the good times,” McCann said. “You’ve just got to move on and do what you know what you can do.”

McCann admitted that much of what plagued him last year was mechanical. “You’re never set with anything (mechanical),” he said. Yet he added that he has also worked on confidence, something he said he had as he marched up to the ball facing Faurot Field’s north end zone.

When the ball went through the uprights with a touch of left-curve to it, Missouri senior wide receiver J’Mon Moore was happy.

“I see him out there before and after practice, so I just feel like his hard work is going to show a little bit,” Moore said. “I feel like, last year, he was a little nervous. He kind of got thrown into the fire (and was) young.

“He’s growing every day and developing.”

Drew Lock leaves spring practice as Mizzou's starting quarterback.

Some in, some out

Among the 16,457 in attendance on Saturday to watch the spring game were nine of Missouri’s 2017 signees, including Kansas City native Daron Davis and linebacker Jamal Brooks.

Some incoming signees did play, though, including Isaiah Miller, who ran for 60 yards in the absence of sophomore running back Damarea Crockett and senior running back Ish Witter.

“If we were playing a game, they (Crocke and Witter) would’ve played,” Odom said of his two starting running backs, “but no need to get them out there today. Neither one of them are injured.”

Missouri junior safety Cam Hilton, who finished sixth on the team in tackles last year, did not play on Saturday. He his a shoulder he had surgery on in the offseason. Junior defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. and sophomore defensive tackle Markell Utsey also sat. Each is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear suffered last fall.

Junior wide receiver Nate Brown and senior defensive end Marcell Frazier also watched from the sidelines with injuries.

Mizzou offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said his team has more depth than it did after last year's spring game.

Tribute to Boneyard

The Missouri offensive line hasn’t forgotten that somber Wednesday back in January, nor has it forgotten the pet fish that brought them together over the course of the 2016-17 season.

Yes, that’s ole Boneyard, the offensive line’s Betta fish that passed away on Jan. 18.

“We had him tattooed on ourselves before the game, but it started washing off,” junior right tackle Paul Adams said after Saturday’s game. “We try to do it all for him.”

Each offensive lineman wrote a tribute message on their own bicep for Boneyard prior to the game. Missouri junior left guard Kevin Pendleton said fellow offensive lineman Alec Abeln came up with the idea, while Adams said it was a group thought.

Either way, Pendleton enjoyed participating in the gesture, although he did admit: “Boneyard II is jealous.”

“We couldn’t throw (Boneyard II’s) name out there a little bit,” Pendleton said of their new fish. “But we miss Boneyard, and we appreciate what he did for us at the beginning of last season.”