Mizzou's defense dominated Saturdays Black & Gold scrimmage. (Photo by Nick Gerhardt)
By Darren Hellwege, KBIA Sports Director
Spring drills for 2011 Missouri Tigers football team came to an end Saturday with the annual Black and Gold intersquad scrimmage. And while most of the discussion about the upcoming season has centered around the battle between James Franklin and Tyler Gabbert to see who will emerge as the Tigers starting quarterback, fans were reminded Saturday that defense will be a strength.
“I’d like to think with our depth and personal, we can be a real good team again defensively,” said Tiger coach Gary Pinkel. “We got a lot of guys on the defensive line. We got 3 starters back, three guys who’ve started at linebackers, I think our safeties and corners are coming around, which I thought they would, that doesn’t surprise me. Tavon Bolden had a great spring, he’s got a William Moore type ability, so we got a lot of things in place.”
Another strong point in the defensive backfield may be emerging in cornerback E.J. Gaines, a sophomore from Independence, Mo. “He might take my job some day. You’re gonna notice him on Saturday, he’s going to make a lot of plays. You all will know who he is,” raved teammate Kip Edwards. Gaines made an excellent play intercepting a Blaine Gabbert pass, and broke up two other passes in addition to making two tackles. Reserve free safety Braylon Webb led the team with seven tackles.
The first team offense scored twice in the first half of the scrimmage, taking on the 2nd stringers, with Grant Ressel hitting a 25 yard field goal and later with Franklin hitting Columbia Rock Bridge product Brandon Gerau on a 1 yard pass. The reserves scored on a 32-yard pass from Franklin to Marcus Murphy and a 43-yard field goal from backup Trey Barrow.
As the team moves into the summer, it’s offense, and in particular quarterback that’ll dominate most discussion about the upcoming Mizzou season. Both Franklin and Gabbert expressed some satisfaction with their play Saturday, but both also saw need for improvement.
Asked about his main goal for the day, Franklin said he wanted to “move the offense. Always get positive yards, the quarterback affects what everybody else does on offense.” He said his performance for the day was “pretty good,” and that he wanted to spend the summer working on relationships. “We want to be on the same page even when things break down.” And when the topic of his spot at No. 1 on the depth chart came up, Franklin said “I can never be comfortable with Ty, he’s a hard worker so I know he’s going to come back and get some push in there, I just need to continue to work hard.”
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