Missouri’s spring game is not for another couple of weeks, but the offense got off to a good start in Saturday’s first spring scrimmage. Sophomore running back Morgan Steward was the big performer of the day for the defending SEC East champions, rushing for three touchdowns and 117 yards as the offense claimed a 19-11 victory in the scrimmage.
Steward had to pick up the slack for the Missouri running game because Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy (second and third-leading rushers last season) each left the scrimmage due to injuries. Hansbrough left with a shoulder injury and Murphy was taken out due to an ankle injury. Just how severe those injuries are will be determined later.
Quarterback Maty Mauk completed 14 of 23 pass attempts for 164 yards and a touchdown. Mauk figures to be the team’s starting quarterback after stepping in to lead the offense last season when James Franklin was injured. Corbin Berkstresser made his case for consideration though, completing 11 of 17 pass attempts for 129 yards and a touchdown.
While the offense may have won the day, the defense also had their moments to shine as well. The Tigers defense had two interceptions in two-minute drills, but the first team defense was unable to prevent the first team offense from scoring on two possessions after starting at midfield.
From a special teams perspective, Missouri fans will take note that kicker Andrew Baggett successfully converted all four attempts. Missouri’s shot at an undefeated season was thrown off track thanks to a missed kick against South Carolina last season.
Missouri’s second scrimmage will be held next Saturday. The spring game will follow on April 19 to wrap up spring practices.
Kirby Smart‘s poaching of one of Nick Saban‘s longtime Alabama Crimson Tide lieutenants is officially official.
Earlier Monday, reports surfaced that had Scott Cochran leaving as Alabama’s strength & conditioning coach for an on-field job at Georgia. A short time later, Nick Saban issued a statement confirming that Cochran had left the program after a baker’s dozen seasons.
“We appreciate Scott’s contribution to our organization over the last 13 years,” the Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach stated. “We can’t thank him enough for his service and dedication to our program, and his commitment to our players. He is taking his career in a new direction, and we wish Scott, Cissy and the kids the best. As we do with every position that opens here, we will go out and hire the best person to lead our strength and conditioning program and help our players maximize the resources available in our new sports science facility.”
Shortly thereafter, Georgia also confirmed that Smart has tapped the Alabama Crimson Tide assistant as its special teams coordinator.
As noted in UGA’s release, Cochran was on Saban’s staff for all six of his national titles, as he served as an assistant strength coach at LSU in 2003. Smart and Cochran both began their Alabama Crimson Tide careers in 2007 and spent nine years together before Smart left to take his current position in Athens.
“Ask anyone who’s been around him, Scott’s passion and energy is contagious,” said the coach in a statement. “Special Teams Coordinator is a great fit as he’ll be working with all position groups. His knowledge and experience elevates our entire program, and we’re excited to welcome the Cochran family to Athens.”
This will mark Cochran’s first-ever on-field job at any level of the sport. Cochran, incidentally, graduated from LSU.
Stanford adds linebackers coach with NFL experience
Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Stanford added a new coach to the program on Monday with the hiring of Eric Sanders. Sanders was named Stanford’s assistant coach for inside linebackers.
Sanders comes to Stanford following a season with the NFL’s New York Jets. Prior to his brief stint with the Jets, Sanders was a defensive assistant for three seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Sanders has also coached with the Oakland Raiders.
This is a return to Stanford for Sanders. Sanders coached with the program in 2015 as a defensive assistant.
“Eric was with us for our 2015 Rose Bowl Championship season and he was so smart, energetic and detailed that I knew someday we’d bring him back,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said in a released statement. “Eric has great comprehensive knowledge having worked with the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs throughout his career, and he’s spent the last three years with Gregg Williams who is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL.”
Sanders has also held college coaching jobs with his alma mater, UC Davis, and Utah State in addition to Stanford.
Wisconsin redshirt senior tight end Luke Benzschawel is calling it a career. The senior announced he is medically retiring from the sport of football following his fourth knee surgery.
I consider myself fortunate to have been part of the Wisconsin football program for the past four years. I have not been as fortunate when it comes to my health,” Benzschawel said in a statement shared on his Twitter account on Monday. “However, after undergoing a fourth procedure on my knee, and despite giving everything I have to get back on the field, my doctors and I have decided that the time has come for me to step away from the game.
Benzschawel played in 15 games during his injury-plagued college career with the Badgers. Benzschawel is the younger brother of former Wisconsin offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel. Benzschawel injured his knee during fall camp last August and did not see the playing field during the 2019 season as a result.
One of Alabama’s most recognized sideline personalities appears to be heading to another SEC program. Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran, a man whose identity has become as well known as any strength coach can possibly be over the last few years, is reportedly heading to Georgia to take on a brand new role.
Scott Cochran, the longtime strength and conditioning coach for @AlabamaFTBL is expected — barring a last-minute change — to leave UA for an on-field coaching position at Georgia per sources. More to come at @tidesports
There have been many reasons for Alabama’s overall success with Nick Saban as the head coach. Having Cochran on his staff has certainly been one of the key reasons because he has been recognized as one of the nation’s top strength and conditioning coach (he’s won the award for top strength coach twice). And it may not be much of a coincidence that Cochran has been one of the only assistants on the staff for each of Saban’s national championship seasons between Alabama and LSU. His voice and energy seen on the field in warmups and on the sidelines has become a draw for television cameras in more recent years and he has been one of the leaders in the movement to recognize more strength and conditioning coaches during gamedays.
It should come as little surprise Cochran would be an attractive option for Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, a former Alabama defensive coordinator who worked alongside Cochran in Tuscaloosa. What role Cochran will be taking on remains to be confirmed, however, as reports say he will not be Georgia’s strength and conditioning coach. That role is currently held by Scott Sinclair in Athens.
No matter what role Cochran takes at Georgia, and how that ultimately pans out for the Bulldogs, this is a notable loss for Saban and Alabama. Granted, Alabama should be able to find a more-than-qualified strength and conditioning coach to take over the very lucrative (and high-paying) job, so it’s not like this will turn Alabama football into a doormat (much to the dismay of Alabama haters around the SEC and beyond).
UPDATE (6:38 p.m. ET): Alabama head coach Nick Saban has issued a statement regarding the departure of his longtime strength coach: