Mizzou vs. Mizzou draws a crowd months before football season
Mizzou players lined up and squared off against their fellow Tigers in the 2008 Black and Gold Game, which drew a record crowd of 26,322.
It felt an awful lot like a late fall football Saturday. The sky was gray, and the temperature was in the 50s. Parking was scarce on the southwest edge of campus. Tailgaters fired up their grills in the lots outside Faurot Field. Mizzou players took the field to play against a tough opponent — themselves.
The annual Black and Gold Game on April 19 drew the biggest crowd in spring scrimmage history: 26,322. Fans seem eager to keep football momentum going after a 12-win 2007 season, which ended with the Tigers ranked at No. 4 in the country.
“It’s definitely different from when I first got here,” said Sean “Spoon” Weatherspoon, a linebacker likely to be a defensive leader for 2008. “We didn’t have 26,000 people at a spring game then. It was exciting today just to see everyone out here.”
The offensive squad beat the defense 71-28 using a scoring system that awards points for things such as first downs, long plays, sacks, forced punts, turnovers and so on. There was much to cheer on either side of the ball.
Fans roared during quarterback Chase Daniel’s first pass, which hit tight end Chase Coffman for a first down, followed by a drive that ended with a touchdown pass to receiver Jeremy Maclin. Daniel connected on 22 of 28 passes for 195 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He hit some familiar targets, such as Coffman and Maclin, and some new ones, including spring’s “most improved” tight end Jon Gissinger, who led receivers with six catches for 57 yards.
Mizzou defensive linemen Chris Earnhardt (95) and Terrell Resonno (93) flush quarterback Chase Daniel (10) from the pocket as offensive linemen Ryan Madison (76) waits to throw a block.
Tailback Derrick Washington showed some fleet feet by running for 35 yards and catching four passes for 37 yards. Kicker Jeff Wolfert wowed the crowd by booting through two long — though uncontested, since it was a scrimmage — field goals of 53 and 51 yards. On the flipside, shaky punting elicited audible “oohs” of concern from the crowd; that’s one position the team hopes to shore up before the fall.
On defense, lineman Ziggy Hood recorded a sack, and safety Hardy Ricks snatched an interception. Linebacker Luke Lambert led with 10 tackles. Weatherspoon had four, two for losses.
To “Spoon,” though, the atmosphere of the game was as impressive as the numbers. He was amazed not only by fans who showed up, but also by the media attention for the scrimmage, which was broadcast on ESPNU. “Look at all these cameras out here,” he said to a crowd of reporters around him. “You can tell that something special’s going on here.”
Read more in: Sports