Big 12 spring game recap: Missouri

What happened:

  • The teams were split into the first team and second team, and the reserves were spotted 14 points.

  • They played only the first half and finished with a 14-14 tie.

  • The score reset at halftime, giving way to playing time for the rest of the team, and the defense won, 34-6.

  • About 15,000 fans showed up to a sunny Faurot Field.

What we learned:

  • Have to be impressed with Missouri's defense. They didn't allow a passing touchdown and DE Brad Madison scored a defensive touchdown on a fumble recovery. The offense wasn't perfect last year, but Blaine Gabbert threw for over 290 yards three times in losses. Against Baylor, even 468 yards and no interceptions wasn't enough for the win. Gabbert turned the ball over in the other two games, but the defense wasn't able to get those back and even make those games competitive. If the defense can keep the good vibes from the spring going, don't expect teams like Oklahoma State and Navy to blow out the Tigers anymore. The secondary is playing more aggressive coverages, and certainly that's a risk/reward move, but this spring, its looked like more of the latter.

  • Who set up Madison's score? Who else? Aldon Smith. Smith drilled early enrollee quarterback James Franklin and the freshman coughed it up. A rough day all around for Franklin, who added two interceptions and hit a rough patch of an otherwise solid first spring. Got a chance to talk to Smith a couple days before the game, and of course, there's a ton of excitement surrounding his second season on the field. Though his 11.5 sacks were more than all but three players in the conference, he had just 64 tackles. That's just inside the top 50 in the conference. It's worth noting that's still No. 5 among defensive linemen. Obviously, he's in the backfield a lot, so it's going to be tough for him to make a ton of tackles, but he pegged that as one area he wanted to improve in this season.

  • Fantastic day for T.J. Moe, validating his spring with a nice finish. Twelve catches for the sophomore for 85 yards.

They said it..A few stray quotes that didn't make it into the earlier Missouri featured coverage:

"I see him getting more like Chase [Daniel] in his short passes, just with the way he leads. When he came in he used to throw it really hard on the short routes, but he just leads it now and throws really catchable balls, and that’s really impressed me. I don’t know how many chinks he’s got left in his armor; he’s looking really good out there... A lot of people didn’t see how much treatment he was getting in between classes, a couple hours every day. And he could barely throw off his ankle and he’s getting ripped up by the media for his passes. That just showed me heart right there. I got a lot of respect for that guy and I’d put my neck out there for him, because he’s a great leader.

-- Junior WR Wes Kemp, on junior QB Blaine Gabbert

"He’ll get a lot better, I mean, shoot, the year he had last year? He had a good year but, shoot, he can get a lot better. He’s quicker now, he’s stronger now, he’s faster now, he’s more mature now, he’s more of a leader now. Fundamentals, year after year you get better."

"If Jeremy Maclin had one more year left, he probably would have gotten drafted in the first seven picks because he’d just be doing it over and over."

"I really like his attitude, I think he’s really driven to be a great player."

-- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, on Aldon Smith

"Even though he’s a young guy, you wouldn’t know, because he steps up and says what he needs to say and then gets the job done on the field to help us out in the secondary a lot."

-- Senior CB Carl Gettis, on sophomore DE Aldon Smith

"I think the players respect him, they know he’s a great player. I think they know if they play well around him, they’ve got a guy who can lead them. So I think all of those things are in place, you just have to go do it."

-- Pinkel on Gabbert