Mizzou Football Spring Game: Insights and Observations

The Missouri soccer team took the field at the Devine Indoor Facility on Saturday for their annual spring “game,” which also falls on a family weekend for the program.

The Tigers completed individual drills before playing a scrimmage game for about an hour.

Here are my key takeaways from what happened on the field:

The defense continues to dominate

Following the spring theme, Tiger defense is way ahead of the offensive at this point. In his defense, the offense is operating without 2022 starter Brady Cook up front, meaning no quarterback is currently in full control of the offense.

Nevertheless, the dominance of the defensive was clearly visible on Saturday. With the presence of former defender Isaiah McGuire, the top seven in particular showed themselves. Darius Robinson got the party started early with a sack in the second drive of scrimmage, and Ennis Rakestraw, Jr. also appeared to be in midseason form. Robinson switched to the defensive end this spring and is enjoying his new role.

But newcomers Tre’Vez Johnson and Triston Newson stole the show. Johnson had several big hits in scrimmage, including one that stopped Luther Burden III at the goal line. The defense would move on to pull a stop and force a field goal, and the defender got plenty of reps overall with the first team.

Newson was a hot topic this spring when the newcomer from Independence, MS made headlines with his speed and ball-hawking ability as a linebacker. Newson undercut and returned an oblique route by Sam Horn for a touchdown in the scrimmage period, and he appears to be boosting the depth chart after recording multiple interceptions at camp.

Overall, the defense allowed two touchdowns that day. When the team got into red zone situations to end the scrimmage, the defense didn’t allow a single goal.

Rising Stars at Wide Receiver

Luther Burden, Mekhi Miller, Mookie Cooper, and Theo Wease Jr. have stolen most of the headlines in this wide-receiver space, but there’s a certain quality depth behind them.

Redshirt newcomer Ja’Marian Wayne, who has bounced back and forth between receiver and defense throughout his career at Mizzou, received plenty of goals today. With Burden and Wease Jr. only seeing limited snaps, and Mekhi Miller (to my knowledge) not on the field today, Wayne had a few opportunities to make an impact. The quarterbacks found him on plenty of short crossing and swing routes, and Wayne was able to create some big plays in space and get one of the offense’s touchdowns.

Demariyon “Peanut” Houston was hampered by injuries for most of last season, but WR coach Jacob Peeler thinks he’s a guy who could break out next season. Houston nearly had as many touches as Wayne on Saturday and stood out just as much.

Redshirt junior Micah Manning also had a great connection with Jake Garcia above middle and could be another name to watch at fall camp.

Rating of quarterbacks

Three quarterbacks saw the field for Mizzou on Saturday, with Brady Cook still sidelined due to labrum surgery.

Sam Horn generally led the front row offense and his performance could best be described as an up and down. He found Burden at the end of the field for the most explosive game of the day on his second drive, stopping the star receiver just short of the goal line. However, he also missed a couple of open targets and threw the interception to Newson. Judging by the observations, decision making and working through progress still seem to be Horn’s top concerns.

On the plus side, he showed his ability to run today as he dodged defenders. Horn is by no means just a statue in the bag and some of the moves he put on defenders were impressive.

Miami transfer Jake Garcia is the biggest wild card in the QB space right now. He ran mostly with the second line attack and had a similarly inconsistent day. The ball will certainly jump out of his hands and his arm talent is very evident. However, he was inaccurate on a lot of passes and still seems to be picking up on Kirby Moore’s offense and developing chemistry with his receivers.

Junior Dylan Laible also saw the field with the third string and convinced early on. The Hutchinson Community College product started its opening 4-on-4 run with some solid check-down passes. However, he struggled as the scrimmage continued.

More information

  • Javon Foster, Xavier Delgado, Connor Tollison, Armand Membou and Marcellus Johnson generally made up the front line of offense.
  • Nathaniel Peat had the other offensive touchdown of the day.
  • Today there were 5-6 penalties (give or take). The defense was called to hold twice, which is typical of how physical defenders like to play.

The Tigers will now complete the remainder of the semester before entering their summer training phase. The season opener is scheduled for September 2 against South Dakota at Faurot Field.

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