On Thursday afternoon, the Missouri Tigers wrapped up their 14th practice of the spring, with just the Black & Gold Scrimmage remaining, on Saturday (1:00 P.M.). Saturday is going to be quite the event, with more former players in attendance than ever, and scores of recruits on hand. Other events surrounding Faurot Field, such as the Team Store sale, and softball and baseball games, add to the festivities of the day.
Returning starters are slated to play sparingly on Saturday, with most of the reps going to young players auditioning for spots on this year's two-deep depth chart. Coach Pinkel likes to utilize the Scrimmage to gain some experience for many players who have not yet seen the field in games.
"Our red-shirt freshmen haven't played in a game day environment since they were in high school," explained Coach Pinkel. "So, this will be good for them."
Thursday's practice was a shortened dress rehearsal for Saturday, in helmets and shorts, and consisted of game day warm-ups, and team meetings.
"What we do in this practice is we review the pre-game that we have before all of our games," explained Coach Pinkel. "Just kind of go back to basics, the fundamentals. Veteran players have done it for several years. The younger players have only done it once."
Coach Pinkel said that they went through and talked to the players about the 'players only' summer workouts, and simulated the drills that the players will utilize during those workouts. He emphasized the importance of those workouts, heading into fall camp.
"The seniors run it," said Coach Pinkel, talking about the summer workouts. "There's no coaches (present). They do a really good job. It's really good for leadership. It's certainly good because of the fundamentals that our players (develop). They work hard together, and it also helps team unity."
Coach Pinkel talked about the importance of the Spring Game with respect to recruiting, and said that the player reunion has outgrown the press box, and will be held in the Devine Pavilion this year.
"Some of our current NFL players will be here," announced Coach Pinkel.
Coach Pinkel indicated that James Franklin will be the starter in the Spring Game, but that Tyler Gabbert will share an equal number of reps. He seems to be very comfortable with the closely contested QB battle, identifying both Franklin and Gabbert as "very talented QBs, with good arms". He talked about letting the competition unfold, and allowing the two players to decide the competition with their play on the field. He talked about what fans can expect to see on Saturday.
"We're going to mix a lot of players up," explained Coach Pinkel, talking about the format for Saturday's Scrimmage. "There's not a lot of continuity, in terms of number one offense, or number two defense, and so on. You want to see players play well, and that you're a disciplined team, not a lot of turnovers, although the defense wants to get turnovers. There's a lot of competition going on. This competition is a practice. We evaluate it as a practice. It's one of 15 practices. We have a lot of competition on our football team."
Luke Lambert and Donovan Bonner had shed their red pull-overs for the warm-ups. It's not clear whether either of them will play on Saturday.
Other players expected to miss Saturday's action due to injury include Elvis Fisher, Austin Wuebbels, Stephen Carberry, Rolandis Woodland, Kyle Peasel, Greg White, Derrion Thomas, Will Ebner, and Xavier Smith.
While the QBs will undergo the most scrutiny on Saturday, there are a good many players that Missouri fans will want to see. Among the many to watch are Lucas Vincent, Kony Ealy, Darvin Ruise, Braylon Webb, Tristen Holt, Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt, Mitch Morse, Anthony Gatti, and Chris Freeman.