Banister, Downing among key contributors in Missouri win over West Virginia

Banister caught his first career touchdown while Downing rushed for 57 yards.

When redshirt sophomore receiver Barrett Banister hauled in a three-yard touchdown grab against West Virginia on Saturday, a familiar feeling washed over him, one he hadn’t felt in years.

“I hadn’t been in [the end zone] since my senior year in high school,” Banister said. “It was nice to kind of remember what it was like to score. It was a credit to my teammates. Everybody did their job, and it was a lot of fun celebrating with them whenever it was all said and done.”

Banister is one of several Tigers who contributed offensively Saturday despite not being first team.

Redshirt junior running back Dawson Downing found himself in a similar situation. Used sparingly in his first three seasons with Missouri, he rushed ten times for 57 yards against West Virginia, providing a third back to supplement the starting duo of junior Larry Rountree III and sophomore Tyler Badie.

“Dawson’s done a great job,” coach Barry Odom said. “I think he got in in the second quarter and had some meaningful snaps, carries [and] did a great job in the protection when he was in there. He’s a tough player, and he’s got a lot of respect in our locker room.”

Another challenge of the backups playing is developing chemistry with quarterback Kelly Bryant.

“I think a lot of it comes from the offseason,” Banister said. “You work out from January through August for your first game, and then obviously whenever you get in-game reps, that helps a lot. And so we’ve connected a couple times in-game and that’s been really good for us … I’m just trying to take it one day at a time, one step at a time and continue to build that relationship.”

Bryant, for his part, has noticed the contributions of the non-starters, both in the receiving and blocking game.

“It’s been good because once those guys come in, instantly they’re making plays,” Bryant said. “So, they might not be getting as many reps as some of the guys going out there mainly, but once they come in, they come in and contribute.”

The quarterback has also had a very democratic approach spreading the ball around. On Saturday, he and redshirt sophomore backup Taylor Powell, who threw three passes to close out the game, targeted eight pass-catchers between two or more times.

Redshirt junior tight end Albert Okwuegbunam entered the game with 75 collegiate receptions and 17 touchdowns. Bryant went his way twice, the same number of times as Banister. The even shares stem from Odom’s very simple offensive philosophy.

“Throw to the open guy,” Odom said. “We do have opportunities with a number of playmakers. We gotta find ways to get them the ball.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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