Mizzou wide receivers focused on task at hand

They’ve been overlooked since the summer, and the young Mizzou wide receivers don’t really care.
Missouri Tigers wide receiver Thomas Richard (16) jumps to catch a ball Sept. 5, 2015, at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo.

Missouri’s wide receivers are probably tired of quarterback questions.

What about the routes they run? What about the passes they catch? What about the work they put in?

Of the 32 balls thrown in Saturday’s 34-3 victory over Southeast Missouri State, six were dropped. A receiver problem? No. It’s more likely a youth issue, since Saturday was the first college game for five of Missouri’s receivers.

Offensive coordinator Josh Henson was a bit harsher, though, but for another reason. He’s dealing with a quarterback situation that has many questions, and the youth at receiver is an easy target.

“(One receiver ran) out of bounds; we dropped another touchdown and thought we had another right in our hands on a long throw earlier,” Henson said. “You change all that — we dropped another third-down completion that would have been a conversion — and his numbers are 17 or 18 of 22 with a couple more touchdowns. It looks different. Some of that stuff, we can control as receivers. It wasn't on (junior quarterback Maty Mauk).”

But for those playing the position, the touchdown catches in the first quarter were boosts.

Earlier this offseason, sophomore J’Mon Moore separated his shoulder. Going through season-ending surgery would’ve slighted his brothers, he said, so he chose to play.

With 11 minutes left in the first quarter of Saturday’s game, Moore leaped backward to haul in a touchdown pass from Mauk, putting the year’s first points on the board.

“A couple of weeks ago, I had to make a decision,” Moore said following Saturday’s game. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to play, but I did a lot of rehab, and the next thing you know, I’m here. (A catch like that) uplifts our spirits. We hear a lot of things, a lot of people questioning what we can do, so with us making reps and connections with Maty on the field, it really does feel good.”

That catch meant more than six points.

After losing Bud Sasser, Jimmy Hunt and the majority of weapons on the edge, Mizzou’s young guys have been faced with a tall task.

Every catch is important, said Nate Brown, who caught Mauk’s second touchdown throw on Saturday. They’re important for everyone.

“One catch for a receiver is a catch for the whole group,” Brown said. “One man’s success is everybody’s success, so we look at each other as brothers and just great teammates. When one of us makes a play, we’re all excited.”

Brown is another sophomore wide receiver that’s expected to make an impact catching balls from Mauk or freshman Drew Lock.

“They both performed well,” Brown said of the quarterbacks, though you could tell that’s not something he wanted to talk about. Why? Because that situation affects him and his counterparts every down.

“We’re a young group,” he said, but added that dwelling on that won’t heed production.

On Saturday, many of the receivers will take the field in an away environment for the first time. With the quarterback talk prevalent and the fans screaming, Brown said it’s best to “just have to embrace it.”

“Everybody is going to have their opinion (on the receivers as a group),” Brown said. “You just have to focus on what you’re doing, what your guys are doing, and everything else will take care of itself.”

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