Taylor Powell currently holds the tentative title of second-string quarterback behind Kelly Bryant at Missouri, coach Barry Odom said after Thursday’s practice. But Odom also praised Powell’s competitor-teammate, Lindsey Scott Jr., for his recent growth.
Powell moved up to play some reps with the 1s (starters) on Thursday. Odom addressed why with a realist’s tone of caution.
“We’ve got to be smart with how we do that, because we’re a play away from (Powell) being the guy,” Odom said. “I think the more that he can get an opportunity with the timing and the offensive line and all those things, today was the day that we wanted to try to get that in. He did a nice job, as did Lindsey.”
Powell, a redshirt sophomore from Fayetteville, Arkansas, was first in line behind Drew Lock last season as well. He might have been Lock’s heir apparent, but Bryant’s commitment in December made the Clemson graduate transfer a lock to start.
The Tigers also added TCU transfer Shawn Robinson on a sit-one-season, play-two basis. Robinson appealed to the NCAA hoping to have his year of transfer ineligibility waived, but to no avail. Robinson might be Missouri’s starter in 2020, but in 2019 the backup responsibilities belong primarily to Powell and Scott.
“Coach (Derek) Dooley does a great job preparing everyone in that room,” Scott said. “If Kelly were to ever go down, (Dooley) prepares everyone like they’re going to play Saturday.”
Scott emphasized that he and Powell have different strengths and weaknesses, which to them is better than being the same mold of quarterback.
“I can run a little faster than (Powell), that’s probably pretty much it,” Scott joked. “He’s a mastermind when it comes to reading defenses and stuff. We help each other out.”
Odom said with so much time left before the season, nothing about the current depth chart order is set in stone.
“Lindsey, the last couple days he’s made some progress, so I don’t want to eliminate Lindsey from the mix,” Odom said. “We’re getting to the point where both of those guys could go in and efficiently run what we need to to try to win a game.”
Saturday’s second scrimmage of preseason camp might be an important landmark in the position battle as coaches evaluate the players’ progress.
Adding to the playbook for fall scrimmage No. 2
The upcoming scrimmage, for coaches anyway, should be a much more accurate metric of Missouri’s growth than last week’s scrimmage. That’s because this one will be closed to media and fans. The Tigers won’t be restricted to the same stripped-down playbook they used a week ago, when outside eyes were on them.
“Minus the first scrimmage — we were fairly simple in that one — in practices we’ve done a lot of things,” Odom said. “So that’ll be a little more of the approach on Saturday, some of the things we need to see. But there’s also some guys we’re going to hold out, because they’ve done enough work up to this point.”
Tigers plan to get most out of four-game redshirt rule with freshmen
Another one of the backup quarterbacks in line behind Bryant is freshman Connor Bazelak. While it’s likely that Bazelak and many other freshmen ultimately will be redshirted to save a year of college eligibility, they can theoretically appear in up to four games without burning redshirt status, thanks to an NCAA rule instituted in 2018.
That adds to the depth of pretty much every college team. Missouri intends to utilize the rule.
“We’ve got the mindset right now we’re going to play them all,” Odom said about his freshmen. “They’re all going to get in a position where they’ll play four games for sure. There’s a number of guys where, after they get some game experience, I think they can help us down the stretch as well. So I’m excited about the group, and also the opportunity to play in those four games. See how they handle the ability to do it when the lights are on.”
In particular while discussing freshmen who might surpass the four-game limit, Odom brought up tight end Niko Hea, who has turned heads throughout fall camp. He especially may be needed with a number of injuries affecting MU’s other tight ends.
“I would be really surprised if Niko Hea doesn’t play the entire season,” Odom said. “Just the things he’s done from the day he stepped on campus. So impressed with his maturity level with the things he does, and the way he can help us in different roles. He’s a talented guy.”
Supervising editor is Michael Knisley.