Campus Corner

Offensive-line depth will affect how Missouri approaches Black and Gold Game

First-year Missouri coach Barry Odom would prefer to play an actual game to close spring practice on April 16, but with only eight scholarship offensive lineman available and healthy that may not be possible.
First-year Missouri coach Barry Odom would prefer to play an actual game to close spring practice on April 16, but with only eight scholarship offensive lineman available and healthy that may not be possible. The Associated Press

Missouri’s lack of depth on the offensive line will affect the format for the Black and Gold Game.

The Tigers’ final spring scrimmage Saturday, which wasn’t open to the media, was a controlled situational scrimmage and a similar exercise could be in store for the annual spring-ending intrasquad scrimmage, which is set for 5 p.m. April 16 at Memorial Stadium as spring practice concludes with the annual intrasquad scrimmage

First-year Missouri coach Barry Odom would prefer to play an actual game, but with only eight scholarship offensive lineman available and healthy that may not be possible.

He planned to make a decision after evaluating how effective Saturday’s scrimmage was.

“I’d love to line up and play a game, but I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do it or not,” Odom said. “We’ll be able to tell after (Saturday’s scrimmage), I hope. … I wish I had a great answer for you. I’ve got about five different scenarios.”

One thing that has been decided is that the game will feature a traditional scoring system rather than the convoluted system used in years past.

Missouri only has one returning player with starting experience, junior Alec Abeln, who is expected to participate in the spring game. He started three games at left guard last season.

Junior Nate Crawford, who started eight games at right tackle and left guard last season, is sidelined until fall camp (and possibly longer) after a second surgery on his lower back.

Sophomores Kevin Pendleton, Samson Bailey and Paul Adams have limited experience and junior Tyler Howell is a transfer from Butler (Kan.) Community College.

Redshirt freshmen Tanner Owen and A.J. Harris have yet to appear in a college game, while redshirt freshman Tyrell Jacobs is a converted defensive lineman.

The Tigers’ two-deep relies heavily on walk-ons, especially after junior college transfer Malik Cuellar left the team earlier in the spring.

Junior Clay Rhodes also remains away from the team and may not return, while sophomore Andy Bauer retired due to lingering effects from a hip injury.

There’s some help coming in June with incoming freshmen Trystan Castillo from Webb City (Mo.) and Tre’vour Simms from East St. Louis (Ill.), but it’s difficult for true freshmen to make an impact on the offensive line.

Injury news

Three new Tigers — junior linebacker Joey Burkett, redshirt freshman running back Ryan Williams and sophomore safety Cam Hilton — were added to the injury report Friday and missed practice.

Burkett “got dinged up a little bit” Thursday at practice, but he’s expected to be available for Saturday’s practice, Odom said.

Williams, a Lee’s Summit West graduate, tweaked his ankle and knee, but also is expected to return Saturday.

Hilton, who switched back to safety from wide receiver, suffered another strained hamstring strain and likely won’t be available Saturday.

“We’re trying to be smart with that, because of what we’re asking him to do in that position,” Odom said. “There’s a lot of open-field running. We want to protect him a little bit and not rush him back too quickly.”

Junior defensive end Charles Harris (right shoulder surgery), junior offensive lineman Nate Crawford (lower back surgery) and sophomore defensive end Nate Howard (left knee surgery) are sidelined for the remainder of the spring.

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