Missouri substituted backup quarterback Marvin Zanders into the game liberally — and seemingly randomly at times.
He made his first appearance on the Tigers’ third drive, providing an immediate spark with a 21-yard scamper on what seemed to be a scripted drive.
When Zanders entered for starting quarterback Drew Lock after a timeout late in the second quarter, the substitution seemed more haphazard.
Lock had led Mizzou 46 yards on eight plays in that drive, which stalled when Zanders entered on second and 10 at the West Virginia 41-yard line and only gained 4 yards in two carries.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
First-year coach Barry Odom said new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel roughed out the quarterback rotation in advance, but the Tigers also tried to be opportunistic with the QB swaps, according to Zanders.
“It’s difficult” to get a rhythm, “but you go in there and be a play-maker, be dynamic,” Zanders said.
‘Bone’ package nets first down
Senior Josh Augusta said the package is called “Bone” and offered, at best, a PG-13 reason for the name.
West Virginia only knows it was effective.
Early in the fourth quarter, with Missouri facing fourth and 1 at the West Virginia 36-yard line, Augusta trotted onto the field and took a handoff, diving forward for a yard and a first down.
“It was pretty cool, but I told him he needs to keep on his feet,” junior defensive end Charles Harris said. “He could have gotten more yards.”
Augusta, who caught passes and returned kicks in high school, was just thrilled for the chance.
“It was nice to get the carry,” Augusta said. “It brought back memories from back in the day when I used to get the ball.”
Sophomore Terry Beckner Jr. had been the ball-carrier on the package early in camp, but Augusta said he started taking reps there in recent weeks.
“He’s 365 pounds with a pretty good push up front, I like my chances on going and getting the first (down),” Odom said. “The football disappears when he gets a hold of it, so we’ll keep building that package as well.”
Next time, perhaps Augusta will avoid friendly fire.
“He actually landed on me. It was hard to get up, but it was nice getting that first down,” said sophomore right tackle Paul Adams, who said it was the first time a running back outweighed him in a game.
Odom endorses freshman kicker
Freshman kicker Tucker McCann drilled a 24-yard field goal to begin his college career, but things went off the rails from there.
His ensuing kickoff appeared to be a mis-hit that led to a 34-yard return by Shelton Gibson.
McCann then hooked a 24-yard try late in the second quarter and drove a 42-yard try in the fourth quarter low and well to the right.
After the first miss, Odom greeted McCann as he came off the field with a simple message: “I trust him, I believe in him and I’ve seen him do it in practice,” Odom said. “That’s why he’s here. He’s going to end up, by the time he leaves Mizzou, we’ll write a lot of stories about him, because he’s going to make some big-time kicks. … I’ve got confidence in him.”
Missouri is selecting captains differently this season. There aren’t five designated senior captains with a fifth rotating captain.
For the opener, senior defensive tackle Rickey Hatley, sophomore quarterback Drew Lock, junior defensive end Charles Harris, senior tight end Sean Culkin and senior linebacker Michael Scherer were captains.
▪ Senior Alex Ross, a graduate-student transfer from Oklahoma, rushed for 67 yards in 18 carries with a 23-yard kickoff return in his Missouri debut.
He also caught a pass, one of five players to make a catch for the first time with the Tigers.
▪ Senior Chris Black, an Alabama graduate-student transfer, finished with six receptions for 102 yards, while junior Dominic Collins, freshman Dimetrios Mason and redshirt freshman Johnathon Johnson also had their first receptions.
▪ Six offensive players — sophomores Kendall Blanton (TE), Samson Bailey (C), Kevin Pendleton (LG), Paul Adams (RT) and Emanuel Hall (WR) and junior left tackle Tyler Howell — made their first career starts along with four defensive players — juniors Jordan Harold (DE), Joey Burkett (LB), A.J. Logan (DT) and Thomas Wilson (FS).
▪ Seventeen other players made their Missouri debut — freshman kicker Tucker McCann, freshman cornerback DeMarkus Acy, sophomore safety Greg Taylor, freshman cornerback Christian Holmes, redshirt freshman cornerback T.J. Warren, redshirt freshman safety Ronnell Perkins, redshirt freshman wide receiver Justin Smith, junior kicker Turner Adams, sophomore defensive end Spencer Williams, freshman running back Damarea Crockett, redshirt freshman Franklin Agbasimere, freshman linebacker Cale Garrett, junior Adam Ploudre, redshirt freshman offensive lineman A.J. Harris, sophomore offensive lineman Kyle Mitchell, freshman offensive lineman Tre’Vour Simms, senior tight end Tyler Hanneke.