The Missouri Tigers were back from break and getting after it on the football field on Thursday. The rains stayed away and it looked like they got in a good days work outside on the grass. Here is a quick run down of what I saw and heard.
Here are Coach Gary Pinkel's words to his team as practice began. "Let's be a much better football team in 2 hours and 15 minutes than we are now. Everyone commit yourselves to that. Let's go!
I have found that one of the best ways to judge what position guys are playing and what place they hold on the depth chart is to watch them stretch. They appear to line up by position and from first team on back.
From the stretching it looks like Brandon Smith is now the 3rd team Rover behind Deke and Scott. He was in pads but was wearing a red jersey so he didn't do much actual practicing. At 6'1" 206, that seems to be where his body size would indicate he needs to be. Maybe he can grow into the Linebacker position like Barnes did. At any rate it looks to me like there is a good chance he is now a Rover. Washington has moved ahead of King at the CB opposite Harden.
Kinney is back in pads and moving pretty well. He is still in a red jersey, but he looks like he is getting really close. He did participate in most of the drills and some of the scrimmaging.
Hibbits is at the 3rd team Whip position. There seemed to be some confusion whether he was at Whip, Free Safety or Rover, but he is definitely at Whip behind Simpson and Bacon.
Ellison appears to have climbed up to first team DT along with Bell. Outlaw is out of his red jersey. McCoy is also out of his red jersey, but he was beat red every where else. He must of hit the beach over spring break and forgotten his sun screen.
On to the drills.
- James has some really great hands. He seems to make a great catch or two at every practice I attend. It is too bad he isn't about three to four inches taller. Everyone just towers over the guy at what they list as 5'8". He has the hands and the moves, he is just too darn small to ever be a huge difference maker at WR. He can still make a heck of an impact as a punt returner though.
- Hibbits better put on some serious poundage if he ever wants to see the field on D. He looks rail thin out there compared to everyone else. Especially his lower body.
- Nash looked to be participating in more drills then before. He caught a ball out of the backfield and made a couple of nice cuts. He didn't show any limp at all during his few reps in drills. Running sprints later in practice you could still see the hitch in his giddy up. He looks like he is getting a lot closer then he was just a month ago when I attended my first practice.
- Matheny was having a rough day during the field goal drills. He missed several and just looked out of sync. Petterson was kicking it pretty well though.
- Harvey had a pretty stiff wind at his back, but he was booting it pretty well. Much better then Gohsler.
- Morris is again with the first team D ahead of Sweat. Washington is definitely running first team at CB today.
- Deke made a nice stick on Abron after a short screen pass and a 7 yd gain. This was the first big hit I have seen Deke get this Spring. He is looking a little more comfortable out there, but you still get the feeling he has more in him then he has shown so far.
- McCoy had a very nice 50 yd. TD down the sideline off a nice play fake to Abron. Both McCoy down the sideline and Mathews dragging over the deep middle were WIDE open behind the D. Brad could have thrown the TD to either one of them. Both Nino and Simpson bit way to hard on the play fake and both TE's got behind everyone. It was a nice play. The TE's had a very nice day. I didn't see many drops from them
(which I had notice quit a few of at previous practices). Howard didn't show as much as usual, but McCoy and Mathews were pretty involved.
- Kincade seemed to be limping pretty badly at times again today. He was limping around quit a bit two weeks ago. It looks like it might be a hip pointer or something involving his hip. That might have a lot to do with his drop down the depth chart.
- Harden got an easy pick off of Brad. It looked like it was thrown right to him. Curry followed up just a few plays later with a pick of Riccio that he returned for a TD, to the delight of the rest of the Defense. The corners looked pretty solid out there.
- Morris made a nice stop in the backfield of Abron. He looks like he is starting to really establish himself at on of the LB spots. It will be interesting to see who moves down the depth chart when Kinney comes back.
- Nino is already one of the real vocal leaders of the team. He is always upbeat and encouraging.
- Mitchell has improved a ton over this Spring. That is not to say he is ready to challenge for a starting spot or anything, but he made several nice play today. He just looks so much more confident and comfortable at CB now compared to just a month ago. His
improvement is pretty obvious even to this untrained eye.
- The Defense really looked good in what they call the "fourth quarter" of practice. This is when the Offense goes from the 30 yd line or closer vs. the D in the last set of scrimmaging plays. Coffey made a really nice catch right on the sideline for one TD,
but that was the only one the first unit gave up. I really think they have improved a bunch over the last month. They are giving the Offense a real run for their money these days, and at my first practice that was rarely the case. I hope this isn't just wishful
thinking, but it looks like they have taken a nice step up this Spring. I hope this continues at the Black and Gold game in about a week.
Overall the TE's and the Defense really had stand out practices today. The offense didn't look as sharp as usual and the field goal kicking was poor. Overall it looked like a pretty crisp practice considering it was only there second after a week off. Coach Pinkel and his staff certainly run a very organized and high temp workout. I am planning to attend practice for the
last time on Thursday, April 10th. I will be sure and get you guys another report on what I see.