What to watch Saturday in Missouri’s spring game

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Oklahoma State vs Missouri

Missouri concludes offseason practice Saturday in their spring game. The Tigers are coming off an electrifying turnaround second to only Auburn, and Mizzou looks like they are a true future contender. The Tigers are hauling in commitments left and right, and with their proven development program, that’s cause for concern for every team in the SEC East.

The two primary focuses Saturday will be the receivers and linebackers, and here’s what we’ll be tuning in to watch:

RELATED: 5 Mizzou players ready for big roles in 2014

Pass catchers

Missouri had 31 receiving touchdowns in 2013. Twenty-seven of those are now gone with departing players, including Dorial Green-Beckham, who had a breakout season last year. The first player who comes to mind to replace DGB is Bud Sasser, who caught 26 passes for 361 yards and one touchdown last season. But who else will step up? After DGB’s dismissal, Mizzou still has 15 rostered receivers. J’Mon Moore, Jimmie Hunt and Darius White, among others, will play much bigger roles this season. Saturday we’ll get an idea of which players to hone in on heading into fall camp.

New linebackers

Mizzou’s most experienced linebacker in Kentrell Brothers won’t play Saturday due to offseason surgery, but he is expected back by fall camp. So, we’ll get a look at Michael Scherer, Eric Beisel, Darvin Ruise and Clarence Green on Saturday. This group is talented but young, and a solid performance Saturday, as well as fall camp, could result in a starting gig this season.

Secondary concerns

Although the linebackers are young, the secondary is my biggest concern. Safety Braylon Webb is the only returning starter, and the Tigers lose All-SEC corner EJ Gaines. Safety Ian Simon has had a solid spring and has emerged as the favorite opposite Webb. As things stand right now, it looks as if Aarion Penton and John Gibson will open the season as the starting cornerbacks. Another player to watch Saturday is Duron Singleton. Regardless of which players end up starting, this could be a fluid position unit during the season, with several players in the rotation to find the best four.

You’re going to know his name

You don’t know him yet, but you will come fall. Charles Harris could be Missouri’s next big thing along the defensive line. Just a two-star exiting high school, Harris should blow into a future NFL player. He’s one of the most interesting players to watch Saturday.

Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • Charles Robinson???? Yeah, you mean Charles Harris.

    • And he’s a 240 lbs DE, not a DT.

    • Honest mistake. Thanks, Gibby. Charles Harris can play either DT or DE. Talked to one source who trained Osi Umenyiora and said Harris could be his twin, football-wise. He could be a monster.

      • If they’re really saying he might play inside…. wow. We all know he’s athletic and the coaching staff has been highly praising him, but wow. He came to Mizzou pretty raw, only playing football a couple years. The best part about that is Mizzou staff didn’t have a lot of bad habits to help break and have given him fresh tools that are making him deep.

        • All very true for sure. Because of depth reasons, Harris will likely be needed more at DE.

  • Missouri has new and promising secondary, I will be there to see if they can stop Mauk and Berk air attack. I’m particularly interested in one of the top Junior College pass defenders. Linebackers were like support to Wilson last year. No single linebacker can be everywhere, Wilson tried. So the linebackers have a real chance to show us team work tomorrow. The D-line has a monster-like wall in it this year. We want to see how the rest of the team seals the line around this player. I just can’t go along with the questions about receiver this year. For all the talent Missouri had at receiver last year they still had a lot of room for improvement and the receiver corp has the talent to make those improvements. Tall and long means little if you don’t make space for yourself and catch a very high percent of balls, both of those can show encouragement tomorrow. Sometimes what you don’t have to watch for is important, because tomorrow we’re going to notice the running backs. Missouri’s spring game last year had few sacks if any. But the defensive line still sent a detailed message to the conference of how they were going to win the East. It was almost like they had a giant net up. I left the stadium perplexed about Missouri’s offense.