Mizzou’s Black and Gold football game was a welcome relief from a ‘rough semester’
COLUMBIA, Mo. — For once, Faurot Field was an oasis instead of a lightning rod, on a sunny afternoon ripped straight from Norman Rockwell’s easel.
Maty Mauk did his best Betsy Ross, threading needle after needle. Morgan Steward lowered his shoulder and left tire tracks on the backs of opposing defensive backs. Markus Golden and Shane Ray took turns collapsing the pocket.
Former players such as Sheldon Richardson, a Big Apple beast with the New York Jets, waved to the crowd and, afterward, posed for selfies. Athletic director Mike Alden did the handshake dance, as per usual, smiling with every step.
DGB? DGB who?
"Yeah, you know, I think we’re ready to get that name of Mizzou out of the news a little bit — at least the bad part," center Evan Boehm said after the Tigers’ second-team — dubbed Mizzou 2 — edged the MU "starters," 21-20, Saturday in the program’s annual Black and Gold game. "We need to put the good name (of) Mizzou back up there and show the guys everything and show that we’re really not like the last two weeks have showed."
An independent investigation decrees that Mizzou botched the tragic case of Sasha Menu Corey, the late Tiger swimmer who claimed to have been sexually assaulted in 2010 by at least one MU football player …
Columbia police report says Dorial Green-Beckham, the wide receiver with the NFL body and NFL nickname (DGB), forced his way into his girlfriend’s townhouse and pushed a woman down a set of stairs …
DGB, the best and most celebrated player on the defending Southeastern Conference Eastern Division champs, is kicked off the football team …
"It’s been a rough semester," Boehm sighed. "For sure.
"And it sucks. And it’s not fun. But you know, you go through adversity and you count on the team and you show how tough of a team you are when you bounce back from that adversity, and I think we did a great job of that."
So, for a few hours, it was about football again, and the usual sports-section fodder of how coach Gary Pinkel figures to replace 27 of last fall’s 31 touchdown receptions; the SEC Defensive Player of the Year on one end of his D-line (Michael Sam); a sure-fire first-round NFL draft pick on the other end (Kony Ealy); a veteran, physical cornerback (E.J. Gaines); a folk hero at tailback (Henry Josey); and his quarterback (James Franklin).
If Saturday was any indication — and with spring games, who really knows? — the latter figures to be the easiest.
The B&G offered more of Maty being Maty: Four throws that blow your mind, mixed in with two tosses that absolutely crush your spirit. Once you’ve got that inner Favre gene, it’s awfully, awfully hard to suppress it. Mauk doesn’t believe there’s a throw he can’t make. Which is cute, until you force one into the waiting arms of some Georgia outside linebacker.
"He’s a lot better of a player than he was before, and he was pretty good last year," Pinkel said. "I think, for quarterbacks, things slow down the more experience you get, because you see more."
And if the sophomore from Ohio missed DGB, his favorite target, he sure as heck didn’t show it, completing 11 of 15 passes on the day for 129 yards, including a 38-yard strike to Darius White and a 24-yard toss to Jimmie Hunt.
"Bud (Sasser) stepped in and really did good (Saturday); Darius is good, and banged his shoulder up, but he’ll be back," Mauk said. "They’re going to step in — they know their part. That’s why they’re here. Just going to build on it, like we said, and we’ll be fine."
Ditto tailback, given the truck stick that Steward (30 yards on 10 carries) whipped out. Ditto the defensive line, given Golden’s sack and Ray’s four stops. Ditto the offensive line, with 6-foot-6 Mitch Morse and 6-6 Anthony Gatti blocking out the sun at left tackle and left guard, respectively.
Off the field, of course …
"Unfortunately, you’re going to have problems sometimes," Pinkel said when He Who Shall Not Be Named — DGB — got, um, named. "We’ve got 127 players on our football team, and one or two do something wrong, then all of a sudden, ‘it’s awful what they do.’
"I know what we’re at, where we’re at. And when a player makes a bad decision, personal mistakes, they should be accountable, and that shouldn’t happen.
"But we’ve got a great football program here. We’ve got great kids. It’s unfortunate that one or two make mistakes and kind of drag everybody else down. But I know the particulars here. We’ve got great kids. They’re good kids, do a good job, and we’ve just got to get rid of the one or two that are making mistakes that are really hurting our football team."
So they did. As for any other prospective changes, in terms of roster or team policy, well, don’t hold your breath.
"I’m not going to do anything," Pinkel replied. "Same things we always do. We do a great job with our kids."
Well. Alrighty, then.
"I wish (Green-Beckham) the best," Boehm said. "I can’t worry about that now. We’ve got to worry about the team and worry about the guys on the team."
The train rolls on. It’s been a rough semester. But for a few hours, at least, sunshine and Mauk ruled the day. And it sure beat the living pants off the alternative.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com.