The Missouri Tigers resumed their practice schedule on Saturday morning, with a 2-hour workout in full pads inside the Devine Pavilion. Along the injury front, only Terrell Resonno, who wore a red jersey, and did not participate, was new to the injury report. Following practice, Coach Pinkel talked about Resonno.
"It's just a little patellar tendon strain," said Coach Pinkel. "It's not serious. We'll get him back in there. We've got a little time here now, so we're going to give it some rest."
After practice, Coach Pinkel talked about the work that the young guys are getting in right now.
"It's nice to see the young players get a lot of work," said Coach Pinkel. "There's a lot of enthusiasm. It's fun to watch that. That freshmen class, that we red shirted, there's a big group of them. Those guys, there's a lot of talent! This is the next (step) for them. It's kind of neat, because you get to see them. And, they're excited about it, too. Because they're doing Missouri stuff. They know the bell's ringing for them now. This is like a little pre-spring ball for them. It's kind of cool! It's neat to see it. You know, we get a lot of players back for next year. We've got a lot of good young players coming. I'm not even counting this class this year. Kids that we've red-shirted, young kids that are coming up this way. So, there's going to be some competition."
During 7-on-7s, James Franklin hit Brandon Gerau on a quick out, along the right sideline, in front of Trey Hobson. Franklin checked down to Marcus Murphy, out in the left flat, but Andrew Wilson was right there to make the stop. On the next play, everyone was covered, so Franklin pulled it down and took off around the left side. Later, Franklin's pass intended for Rolandis Woodland, who was coming across the middle, went just off of Woodland's fingertips. The ball was high, but catch-able, and it appeared that Woodland may have heard footsteps. Franklin found Gahn McGaffie out along the right sideline. Josh Tatum was in the coverage.
Ashton Glaser made a nice toss down the middle, over the linebackers, and Bud Sasser hauled it in for a big gain. Glaser hooked up with Sasser again, this time a quick out along the numbers on the right side. Glaser's pass intended for Eric Waters was overthrown. Glaser found Jimmie Hunt sitting down over the middle. Hunt turned it up for a first down.
Tyler Gabbert hit Terry Dennis on a quick out. Randy Ponder was in the coverage. Later, Tyler Gabbert threw a perfect ball to his receiver out on the right sideline, but the walk-on couldn't secure the football. Tyler Gabbert found Matt Hoch on a hitch route, near the middle of the field. Hoch's a big target, and he usually catches the football, but he's not going to run away from anyone. He might run over them. I think he may be headed for the other side of the ball, too.
During the 1-on-1 pass rush drills, Aldon Smith put a double move on Elvis Fisher, and picked up a sack. Then Dan Hoch stonewalled Jacquies Smith. Jimmy Burge bull-rushed his way past Jayson Palmgren. Austin Wuebbels stonewalled Brendan Donaldson. Justin Britt picked up a closely contested win over Marvin Foster. There's a couple of young guys to get excited about. Both just keep getting better. Travis Ruth picked up a win against Donaldson. Mitch Morse and George White battled to a draw. Brad Madison ran right past Mark Hill, on the outside. Jack Meiners does a real nice job on the edge, going against Michael Sam. Meiners, Britt, and Morse are really making improvements in their play.
Another guy who is vastly improved is Chris Freeman. He still has a long way to go, but the progress he's made in the past three months is remarkable. If he stays on this path, he'll be a real factor by the time he is needed, in 2012.
Lucas Vincent used a bull rush to pick up a win, going against Nick Demien. Josh Henson stepped in, and demonstrated some footwork, and hand placement, for Demien. Kony Ealy appeared to explode past Chris Freeman, but Freeman extended his long arms, and pushed Ealy past the QB. That earned each of them a re-do, and this time, Ealy just exploded past Freeman, with a double move to the inside. Vincent picked up a win in a closely contested battle with Britt. Henson stepped in, and instructed Britt regarding his technique.
One of the players' favorite drills is the Tiger drill. Two players lie on their backs, with the tip of their helmets on the yard lines, five yards apart. On the signal, they each scramble to their feet, and the offensive player, with the football, tries to get the five yards. The players gathered around, who are watching each of these 1-on-1 contests get real excited, as they cheer for their side of the ball to win, and the action comes quickly, as players line up across the field, awaiting the next signal. It's a rapid fire series of challenges. Big hits are appreciated!
Rolandis Woodland slipped past Robert Steeples. Then, Henry Josey tried to run over Matt White. His momentum picked up the five yards, to the delight of the offensive players. E.J. Gaines drove Kendial Lawrence backwards. L'Damian Washington spun out of Trey Hobson's grasp. Marcus Murphy and Xavier Smith engaged in a closely contested struggle. There were quite a number of "referees" debating the exact location of Murphy's forward progress.
During 11-on-11 action, Glaser hit Hoch right in the hands on a short cross, but big Matt couldn't corral it. Lucas Vincent chased Glaser out of the pocket for a sack.
Franklin found Andrew Jones on a slant. Franklin stuck that one in a small hole for a nice gain.
Blaine Gabbert found Michael Egnew on a hitch, for about five yards. Kendial Lawrence took an inside hand-off, and picked his way along the line of scrimmage, before skirting around the left edge for a big gain. Off of play action, Blaine Gabbert hit Moe on a bubble screen, out along the left side.
Tyler Gabbert took some snaps behind the number two offensive line. Darvin Ruise stepped in front of Tyler's first pass, but couldn't hold onto it. Ruise started to run with it before he had secured the football. Tyler hit Rolandis Woodland on a deep slant. Nice throw and catch. Tyler put it in a small window, and Woodland went down and made the catch. A little later, Tyler Gabbert was under a rush, and lofted one down field, where Marcus Lucas had gotten behind Jared Parham. Lucas adjusted to the ball in the air, hauled it in, and went the distance. Then, Woodland went up with two hands, on a short hitch in the right slot, and snagged a pass from Tyler Gabbert. Woodland turned it up, and worked his way across the field, before taking it up the left sideline for a big gain.
Glaser's pass to Jimmie Hunt was low and behind him, as Hunt came across the field. Hunt nonchalantly reached down and back, snatching the football, then made some people miss, as he turned it up for a nice gain. That was just a remarkable display by Hunt! Glaser dropped one into an opening, to Sasser, down the left sideline for a big gain.
Once again, Hunt and Sasser made a number of outstanding plays, and they continue to impress with their ability, as well as the consistency with which they catch the football.
"Oh yeah!" exclaimed Coach Pinkel, when I asked him if he was excited to see all of the young guys on the field. "Just more competition! If you love competition. It just makes you better."