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SEMS Missouri Football

The Missouri bench reacts as Richaud Floyd (17) returns a punt in a touchdown against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019 in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Johnathon Johnson will end his Missouri career as one of the more prolific receivers in team history, but his days as a punt returner appear over. He struggled in that role last year and again Saturday, against Mississippi, when regular return specialist Richaud Floyd was out because of a hamstring injury. Floyd could be back Saturday for No. 22 Mizzou (5-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) at Vanderbilt (1-5, 0-3), Tigers coach Barry Odom said Tuesday. If not, walk-on receiver Cade Musser will be the No. 1 option. Floyd “looked better than expected today in practice, said he felt great,” Odom said. “I saw him in the hallway walking down here, so we’ll see how he responds (Wednesday) after having some opportunity today. I’d say it looks pretty promising.” The last time Mizzou played at Vanderbilt, Floyd returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown, one of three return TDs he’s had in his career. After Johnson muffed his first chance at a return early in the game, Mizzou handed the job to Musser, who cleanly caught the ball on his chances and had a 9-yard return. The redshirt freshman from Blue Springs, Mo., is a backup receiver but earned looks with the return unit during preseason camp. “We need to test him more in that spot,” Odom said “He’s had a million reps at it. I trust him being out there securing the ball. The goal in that unit is to make sure we secure the ball. Then after that if we can get a first down for our offense then it’s a bonus.” Johnson was the star of MU’s offense with eight catches for 110 yards but had another special-teams gaffe on a kickoff return when he called for a fair catch inside the 5, picked the ball off the ground and took a knee, which downed the ball at the 2-yard line. Odom gave the fifth-year senior a pass for that mistake. “I’m putting that on one on myself and our staff,” Odom said. “He wasn’t clear. He thought he made a fair catch and he wasn’t clear on what the rule was. So that’s our fault.” For the season, the punt return unit remains one of Mizzou’s most improved areas. The Tigers ranked No. 129 out of 130 FBS teams in average punt return yardage (2.6) last year and now rank No. 15 at 14.8 yards.

New role for Garrett

Senior linebacker Cale Garrett underwent surgery to repair his torn pectoral tendon last week and the very next morning was at the team facility for the start of practice. He’ll all-but certainly miss the rest of the season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a role on the team. “He was out there on the field at 8:30 ready to go and asked, ‘Where’s my whistle?’” Odom said. “We got him his whistle. He’s obviously a huge part of what we’re going to continue to do, not only on the defensive side but the functioning of our program.” As for his replacement, Odom gave measured praise to sophomore Cameron Wilkins, who had a career-high six tackles as the primary middle linebacker against Ole Miss. Jamal Brooks played a couple series to spell Wilkins, and this week, there’s an OR between their names on the depth chart. Wilkins “did some really good things,” Odom said, “and he also had some learning experiences that hopefully we move past.”

On the road again

Missouri is playing one of the more unique schedules in the country. When the Tigers head to Nashville, Tenn., it will be their first trip in seven weeks — and they won’t be back on Faurot Field for another four weeks after playing at Kentucky, having a week off and then going to Georgia. By the time Florida visits Columbia on Nov. 16, Mizzou will have gone 35 days between games at home. That’s the longest stretch away from home of any Power Five league team this season. Odom will refresh his team on road-game routines this week and treat the Vanderbilt trip like it’s the first week of the season. “We’ll go through our travel tips and reminders because . . . I have a hard time remembering what we did yesterday, much less six weeks ago,” Odom said.

Big number

Mizzou is a 21½-point favorite. It’s the largest spread that favors the Tigers in an SEC road game. Since 2004, they have been favored by 20 or more points three times in a road conference game: by 26 points at Iowa State in 2008, by 21 points at Baylor in 2008 and by 20 points at Baylor in 2004. The Tigers won all three games but covered the spread only at Iowa State.

Tiger tales

Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was named to The Associated Press second-team midseason All-American team. Three players on defense showed up on the Pro Football Focus’ midseason All-American team: Garrett was a first-team choice, and linebacker Nick Bolton and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott were second-teamers. • MU has won six consecutive conference games dating to last season, which ranks fifth among Power 5 teams — behind Clemson (17), Alabama (13), Oklahoma (10) and Ohio State (eight). Penn State also has won six straight conference games in the Big Ten. • Mizzou has scored at least 31 points in 11 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the country behind Oklahoma’s 16 games • Dave Neal, DJ Shockley and Dawn Davenport will be on the call for Mizzou-Vandy on the SEC Network for the 3 p.m. kickoff.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Johnathon Johnson will end his Missouri career as one of the more prolific receivers in team history, but his days as a punt returner appear over. He struggled in that role last year and again Saturday, against Mississippi, when regular return specialist Richaud Floyd was out because of a hamstring injury.

Floyd could be back Saturday for No. 22 Mizzou (5-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) at Vanderbilt (1-5, 0-3), Tigers coach Barry Odom said Tuesday. If not, walk-on receiver Cade Musser will be the No. 1 option.

Floyd “looked better than expected today in practice, said he felt great,” Odom said. “I saw him in the hallway walking down here, so we’ll see how he responds (Wednesday) after having some opportunity today. I’d say it looks pretty promising.”

The last time Mizzou played at Vanderbilt, Floyd returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown, one of three return TDs he’s had in his career.

After Johnson muffed his first chance at a return early in the game, Mizzou handed the job to Musser, who cleanly caught the ball on his chances and had a 9-yard return. The redshirt freshman from Blue Springs, Mo., is a backup receiver but earned looks with the return unit during preseason camp.

“We need to test him more in that spot,” Odom said “He’s had a million reps at it. I trust him being out there securing the ball. The goal in that unit is to make sure we secure the ball. Then after that if we can get a first down for our offense then it’s a bonus.”

Johnson was the star of MU’s offense with eight catches for 110 yards but had another special-teams gaffe on a kickoff return when he called for a fair catch inside the 5, picked the ball off the ground and took a knee, which downed the ball at the 2-yard line. Odom gave the fifth-year senior a pass for that mistake.

“I’m putting that on one on myself and our staff,” Odom said. “He wasn’t clear. He thought he made a fair catch and he wasn’t clear on what the rule was. So that’s our fault.”

For the season, the punt return unit remains one of Mizzou’s most improved areas. The Tigers ranked No. 129 out of 130 FBS teams in average punt return yardage (2.6) last year and now rank No. 15 at 14.8 yards.

New role for Garrett

Senior linebacker Cale Garrett underwent surgery to repair his torn pectoral tendon last week and the very next morning was at the team facility for the start of practice. He’ll all-but certainly miss the rest of the season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a role on the team.

“He was out there on the field at 8:30 ready to go and asked, ‘Where’s my whistle?’” Odom said. “We got him his whistle. He’s obviously a huge part of what we’re going to continue to do, not only on the defensive side but the functioning of our program.”

As for his replacement, Odom gave measured praise to sophomore Cameron Wilkins, who had a career-high six tackles as the primary middle linebacker against Ole Miss. Jamal Brooks played a couple series to spell Wilkins, and this week, there’s an OR between their names on the depth chart.

Wilkins “did some really good things,” Odom said, “and he also had some learning experiences that hopefully we move past.”

On the road again

Missouri is playing one of the more unique schedules in the country. When the Tigers head to Nashville, Tenn., it will be their first trip in seven weeks — and they won’t be back on Faurot Field for another four weeks after playing at Kentucky, having a week off and then going to Georgia. By the time Florida visits Columbia on Nov. 16, Mizzou will have gone 35 days between games at home. That’s the longest stretch away from home of any Power Five league team this season.

Odom will refresh his team on road-game routines this week and treat the Vanderbilt trip like it’s the first week of the season.

“We’ll go through our travel tips and reminders because . . . I have a hard time remembering what we did yesterday, much less six weeks ago,” Odom said.

Big number

Mizzou is a 21½-point favorite. It’s the largest spread that favors the Tigers in an SEC road game.

Since 2004, they have been favored by 20 or more points three times in a road conference game: by 26 points at Iowa State in 2008, by 21 points at Baylor in 2008 and by 20 points at Baylor in 2004.

The Tigers won all three games but covered the spread only at Iowa State.

Tiger tales

Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was named to The Associated Press second-team midseason All-American team. Three players on defense showed up on the Pro Football Focus’ midseason All-American team: Garrett was a first-team choice, and linebacker Nick Bolton and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott were second-teamers.

• MU has won six consecutive conference games dating to last season, which ranks fifth among Power 5 teams — behind Clemson (17), Alabama (13), Oklahoma (10) and Ohio State (eight). Penn State also has won six straight conference games in the Big Ten.

• Mizzou has scored at least 31 points in 11 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the country behind Oklahoma’s 16 games

• Dave Neal, DJ Shockley and Dawn Davenport will be on the call for Mizzou-Vandy on the SEC Network for the 3 p.m. kickoff.

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