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April 14, 2012

Spring Game Storylines


Over the last month, PowerMizzou.com has been at every one of Missouri's spring football practices. The spring ends with Saturday's Black and Gold game. Here are five things to watch for in the spring game:

Progress From Berkstresser

No doubt, all eyes will be on redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser, who has been the de facto starting quarterback since James Franklin injured his shoulder just before spring break. Berkstresser had his best day in last weekend's scrimmage, throwing for 251 yards. The Tigers would love to see him back it up with another good outing.

Threats at Receiver

T.J. Moe had eight catches for 151 yards in last week's scrimmage. But who will be the main threat outside of Moe? Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt, L'Damian Washington and Gahn McGaffie have all had their moments this spring. Meanwhile, presumed No. 2 receiver Marcus Lucas has been eerily quiet. Which one will step forth and prove to be a strong secondary target?

Elvis in the Building

Left tackle Elvis Fisher got a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA and Missouri's line is much stronger for it. Fisher is a three-year starter at the most important position on the line. He has been eased back into practice somewhat, not always going through contact drills. Saturday is as close as he can get to simulating game action until September. It will be interesting to see if he's fully ready to go.

Kicking Concerns

Honestly, this won't be answered on Saturday. Simulating a game situation for a kicker is nearly impossible. But Mizzou must be improved. Gary Pinkel said after the first scrimmage that the kicking game was a concern and it hasn't improved. Trey Barrow missed four of his five kicks last week, due in part to breaking in a new snapper and holder. Last season showed the import of the kicking game to Missouri fans. Those fans will rest easier if Barrow has a good day.

Backups Abound

At least a half dozen projected starters will miss the spring game. But the Tigers have to focus on the potential positives that come from the injuries. Plenty of players will get one last chance to make a major impression headed into the summer. Will it come on the defensive line where two starters are out? At quarterback? Tailback? Saturday is a major opportunity for players to leave the coaches with a good impression. Who takes advantage of the chance?

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