New Missouri staff doesn't give away much in Black and Gold Game

Missouri coach Barry Odom talks to his team after an NCAA college spring football game Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Columbia, Mo.
Missouri coach Barry Odom talks to his team after an NCAA college spring football game Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Columbia, Mo.

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Missouri's final spring scrimmage is dubbed the Black and Gold Game, but the color to remember Saturday at Faurot Field was more of an off-white.

"Some good, too much bad," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "We were a little bit vanilla in what we're doing."

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RICHARD RASMUSSEN/THE SENTINEL-RECORD

Uh Oh Bango is entered in the Arkansas Derby scheduled for Saturday April 10, 2010.

It's not unusual for teams to use purposely bland schemes during their spring games, but the Tigers did sprinkle in some excitement: a halfback pass, a flea-flicker - and the cherry on top, three passing touchdowns to give the Gold a 21-0 victory.

The scores were a sight for sore eyes, as the Missouri faithful got its first look at the Tigers since last year's low-scoring 5-7 season.

"It's definitely a relief for people who are concerned about the offense," said J'Mon Moore, who caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Drew Lock. "But I tell those people they don't need to be concerned. We're definitely going to put up points this year for sure."

To cap off his first spring camp as head coach, Barry Odom had his team play four quarters under traditional rules, with exceptions regarding special teams and quarterback contact.

"If you would've been in the office Thursday night, we got to the point where I knew spring ball was needing to get over," Odom said. "Because we were going at each other pretty good on both sides of the ball. Competitively, that's what I want in our program."

Odom said the team used "maybe Page 1 of the playbook" in the scrimmage, saving the rest for the fall.

"What we're going to come out here and obviously do as an offense isn't going to be everything," Lock said. "That's what everyone's doing in the country."

The game did start on an untraditional note, with a flea-flicker to open the first possession. It was botched for a 6-yard loss, but don't think the Tigers are going to cut back on the creativity.

"We're just throwing kinks into the offense," receiver Richaud Floyd said. "Expect things like that this year."

Another trick play came in the fourth quarter when Ish Witter attempted a halfback pass. Although his receiving target, Keyon Dilosa, was wide open, Witter didnt get enough air under the throw and it fell incomplete.

"Weight room," Witter said with a laugh. "I just need to put more strength into it. I saw him wide open. I thought I could just get it to him, put it on the run where he could just catch it and it came up a little bit short."

While his passing game could use some work, Witter's other offensive talents were put to use Saturday. He ran the ball 13 times " more than double any other player " for 45 yards. He also had four catches for 50 yards.

Heupel said Witter maybe as much as anybody on the offensive side of the ball, has transformed his body in the offseason. Moore said he calls the 5-foot-10 back a bowling ball. Linebacker Michael Scherer was on the receiving end of a strike in a previous scrimmage.

I mean, I tackled him, now," Scherer said. "He didn't go anywhere. But I got up, and my shoulder was numb for a little while, I'm not going to lie. He's been running the ball a lot, lot harder."

Other highlights on offense came through the air. A wide open Floyd caught the game's first touchdown in the second quarter.

"That was due to a good fake by the running back and (Lock), and I just did my job running the route," Floyd said. "All I had to do was catch the ball, because it was put perfectly."

Moore's score was equally uncontested, as he streaked past cornerback John Gibson and caught Lock's pass in stride.

"I like that Drew put some touch on it, enough touch for me to go get it," Moore said. "And I did the rest."

Justin Smith had to work for his. The 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman went up into double coverage to catch a jumpball thrown by Marvin Zanders.

"It was just, 'Try to get the ball at any means necessary,'" Smith said. "That was the only thing I was thinking through my head: 'Get the ball, make sure I'm in bounds.'"

Smith and Floyd are part of a group of redshirt freshmen that could add some much-needed receiving threats next season. Floyd was one of the game's surprising starters.

"They're big contributors," cornerback T.J. Warren said. "Richaud's my roommate, and we talk every day, and I knew he was going to come out here and show something. And Justin, with his 6-8 length, I knew he was going to make a big play today, too."

All that talking must've paid off, because Warren was also an unexpected starter.

"He's a physical corner, who's just open to learning whatever, and he wants to play," Moore said. "He's willing to do whatever coach wants him to do. He's a stud. I saw that coming early."

As a whole, the depth chart remains somewhat of a mystery - though Odom said the players will know before summer where they stand. No first-string quarterback has been named, but Lock took the majority of the first-team snaps. He was 9-of-13 with 134 passing yards and two touchdowns. Zanders was 8-for-13 for 83 yards and a score, and Jack Lowary was 2-for-9 for 1 yard.

"I would say Drew did some really good things today," Odom said. "Marvin did some really good things as well, and then Jack, I think he's played a little bit better than some of the throws I saw (out of) him today, but I've got to also realize he's a freshman, and all three of those guys are going to be a lot better in September than they are today."

Notes: Starting defensive lineman Walter Brady left the game after appearing to injure his knee, but Odom said the initial evaluation of the injury was positive. Seniors Sean Culkin and Chris Black saw limited action at tight end and receiver, respectively. Odom said Culkin had logged enough snaps this spring. Black's ankle wasn't feeling as good as he wanted, so he left the game early. Former Jefferson City Jay Joey Burkett played with the first-team defense.