Second team steals the show in Black and Gold Game

Story by Alex Silverman

Photos by Kelsey Alumbaugh

Gahn McGaffie gets tackled from behind by Darvin Ruise in the first half of the spring game on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

The annual Black & Gold Game, held Saturday at Faurot Field, pitted the top offense and defense against the other strings in the first half. At least that’s what the rosters said.  In reality, the absence of major contributors due to injury turned the teams into hodgepodges.

“There’s a lot of mix and match out there,” coach Gary Pinkel said.

In an effort to even the playing field, the reserves were given a 14-0 lead to start the game against the starters. They quickly showed, however, that they didn’t need a handicap. Quarterback Ashton Glaser opened the scoring with an 88-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Jimmie Hunt, who caught the ball while streaking down the middle of the field. Glaser, who threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns, said he felt more comfortable against the first team defense this year than in the past.

“When I was young I didn’t really like (going up against the first team defense),” Glaser said. “It was really intimidating going against guys like Sean Weatherspoon and Kevin Rutland, but going out there today I just had fun. Those guys are great and our twos looked really great against the ones.”

On the other side of the ball, the second team took an early advantage as well. On the next possession, freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser, who replaced injured starting quarterback James Franklin earlier this spring, threw an interception to junior linebacker Donovan Bonner, who returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Bonner said that in preparing the defense, Defensive Coordinator Dave Steckel wasn’t concerned about who was on the other side of the ball.

“Coach Steckel’s an old-fashioned dude. He doesn’t care who’s playing who, just get the job done,” Bonner said.  “And of course, the offense has some key players out, but come fall, they’ll be back ready.”

Despite being outscored 20-10 by the second team, the first team offense showed signs of life throughout the half. Berkstresser completed 13-of-20 passes, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Moe, who has seemingly emerged as Berkstresser’s favorite target this spring. Offensive coordinator David Yost said that consistency, not explosiveness, has been the major issue for Missouri this spring.

“I saw some explosive plays out of some of our guys,” Yost said. “We’re not nearly as consistent as we need to be…but I saw some explosive plays out of Marcus Lucas and explosive plays out of the running backs.”

Lucas, a junior who played on the first team, caught four passes for 81 yards to lead all receivers. The running backs, as Yost mentioned, stood out as a strength for the Tigers all day. While All-Big 12 tailback Henry Josey is likely to sit out the upcoming season due to a severe knee injury, both senior Kendial Lawrence and sophomore Marcus Murphy, have proven themselves as viable options to fill the void left by Josey. Murphy rushed for 87 yards on ten carries Saturday, while Lawrence logged 69 yards on 6 carries, including a 53-yard dash down the left sideline in the third quarter.

“Having a lot of weapons, we can attack the defense in many different ways,” Murphy said of the team’s depth at running back.

The Black & Gold Game brought the spring season to an end after a month and a half of practices and scrimmages. Pinkel said he has had to deal with more injuries this spring than any other in his career. Still, he expects a healthier squad when it really counts:

“The good news is we get all of them back healthy in the fall.”

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