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Missouri football has quiet spring game

Missouri football has quiet spring game

April 15th, 2018 by Colin O'Brien in College Sports

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Not a whole lot happened during Missouri's spring game, which is exactly the way Barry Odom wanted it.

The Tigers were without wide receiver Emanuel Hall, who will undergo a shoulder scope Monday, and Isaiah Miller and Terry Petry, both with ankle injuries, but nobody got hurt during the game and the team is otherwise healthy.

Odom said in the lead-up to the game he hoped it would be as interesting as paint drying, and that was the result Saturday. The offense won 30-0, and nobody did much that could shake up the depth chart apart from early freshman enrollee Dominic Gicinto's 65-yard touchdown reception from Taylor Powell.

"Overall," Odom said on evaluating the team, "I look at the first 14 days of spring a lot more than I do today.

"We'll look at every position on the entire 15 days, and this is just a small part of it."

You have to be at least a little paranoid to be a good football coach, and nowhere is that more obviously present than at a spring football game. Because of television contracts and brand appeal the games are widely available regionally, if not naturally, and as popular thinking in coaching circles holds, you want to give away as little as possible for opponents to use to scout your team.

But spring games give your program two hours of TV presence, get fans into the stadium and help season ticket sales. The atmosphere is more relaxed, and the crowd was given a block of time after the game to come onto the field to meet players and collect autographs, which allows for the kind of personal connection that has largely been severed between college athletes and those who cheer them on. Drew Lock even signed someone's Pokémon (an Eevee).

If players and coaches had to choose, most of them would rather a 15th closed practice and scrimmage, but they understand the value, if you will, of opening the stadium to the public, gaping hole where the south end zone used to be and all.

"I'd say the scrimmages we have are a little more valuable than the spring game," Lock said. "It's national television, you're trying to look crisp, you're running basic stuff. In the scrimmage, it's a little more stuff you're going to run during the season. It's fun, it's a cool event, but I think it's more of a production than something you really look back and evaluate and say 'We're going to be really good,' or 'We're going to be really bad,' based on the spring game."

Without the pressure of the real deal or real consequences for mistakes, with coaches watching the offense on the field, 25 yards back from the line of scrimmage, it somewhat resembles a play's dress rehearsal. One major difference here though, of many, was that the dress rehearsal did not come the night before the first performance.

The curtain won't go up for this show until Sept. 1, and there's still plenty that needs to be done before Tennessee-Martin comes to town.