Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Running out of Receivers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Running out of Receivers

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, S.C. * Missouri came to South Carolina with a depleted receiving corps in more ways than one. With senior wideout Darius White back in Missouri recovering from a groin injury, junior Wesley Leftwich made his first career start Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. He wasn't the only new starter for the Tigers.

Senior walk-on Gavin Otte made his first career start, replacing senior Jimmie Hunt in the slot. Hunt made the trip and served as the team's honorary fifth game-day captain, but an infected bursa sac in his right knee kept him on the sideline for good.

The Tigers survived 21-20 without their two senior receivers, owing a lot to their other senior wideout, Bud Sasser, whose 41- yard catch late in the fourth quarter ignited Mizzou's comeback. Running a post pattern against man coverage, Sasser hauled in Maty Mauk's pass then watched Leftwich snag a 26-yarder near the goal line, setting up the first of MU's two late scores.

"Oh my gosh," Sasser said. "That was such a big play from Leftwich. I was so proud of him for making that catch and then almost scoring after he came down with the ball."

With White and Hunt unavailable, Sasser was Missouri's only receiver or tight end in the game with more than eight career catches. He finished with six catches for 86 yards. Mauk completed only six other passes and only four to receivers or tight ends.

Otte, a transfer from Central Missouri, was expected to play a bigger role in the receiver rotation this season but a sprained ankle during preseason camp sidelined him for several weeks. In the first half, Otte rotated with freshman Lawrence Lee, who caught his first career pass on Mizzou's second possession, a diving 8-yard grab as he tumbled out of bounds for the first down.

Late in the second quarter, Lee was flagged for a costly offensive pass interference penalty that wiped out a third-down conversion pass to Sasser. The Tigers had to punt on the drive.

With such an untested group of receivers on the field, the game plan gave them plenty of chances to make plays in the passing game. Mizzou continually lined up in five-wide formations in the first half and threw the ball without much interest in getting tailbacks Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough involved in the offense. …

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