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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Offense alive in Tigers' first scrimmage

Steward rushes for three scores as scoring comes often.

April 5, 2014

Morgan Steward stuck his left foot in the ground near midfield and took off toward the end zone's far corner.

“You see Morgan make that cut, and you’re like, ‘OK he might be tired or he might go.’ He makes the cut and he’s just gone,” sophomore center Evan Boehm said.

The sophomore tailback out ran the entirety of the Missouri defense for a 58-yard touchdown sprint to conclude the Tigers’ first spring scrimmage. It was his third score of the day on top of a team-high 117 yards on 13 carries.

It also lifted the Tigers off Faurot Field in a manner similar to which they left it; the last game Mizzou played on its home turf, Henry Josey ran for a 57-yard score late to propel the Tigers to the Southeastern Conference Championship game.

But now Josey is gone to the NFL draft and with him are seniors quarterback James Franklin and receiver L’Damian Washington.

Steward, taking reps in place of injured tailbacks Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough, provided some of the spark that Tigers lost with its senior class and sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk provided the rest.

The offense beat the defense 19-11 Saturday morning in an empty Memorial Stadium. At least those inside knew coach Gary Pinkel was doing well to restock the talent lost.

“We got guys all around the field that are football players, and they’re good,” Mauk said. “I’m not too worried about replacing people.”

Mauk went 14-for-23 through the air for 164 yards and a 19-yard score that harkened back to his relief appearance in Missouri’s Cotton Bowl win.

From the far hash mark, he found senior wide-out Darius White between a converging cornerback and safety. White hauled in the pass over both of them.

“Once I saw Darius get by him, I was throwing it up and let him make a play,” Mauk said. “He made a tremendous catch and came down with it.”

Mauk rushed for 20 yards and could have gotten into the end zone on his feet, but was tagged down at the 3 yard-line, since quarterbacks can’t be tackled during scrimmages.

“We were joking around with the umpire … that there’s no way Maty would be tackled right there,” Boehm said.

After starting four games when Franklin went down with a shoulder injury, Mauk has settled in at the helm of the Tiger offense. He forged a strong relationship with star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham in that span and even set the school record for touchdown passes in a single game.

“He’s dying to be a great player,” Pinkel said. “He wants to become a consistently high-level performer now.”

Mauk hit seven different targets Saturday. Green-Beckham had three catches for 23 yards and White had five for 65 yards. Sophomore Levi Copelin grabbed two balls for 41 yards.

Corbin Berkstresser (11-for-17, 129 yards, touchdown) and Eddie Printz (11-19, 96 yards, 2 interceptions) took turns leading the second and third offenses.

Redshirt senior Markus Golden had a team-high two sacks and recovered a fumble.

Missouri will scrimmage again next Saturday.

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