On Friday morning, the Missouri Tigers practiced on grass, in shorts and helmets, for about two-and-a-half hours. Drills were limited to non-contact, and for much of practice, players lined up against air, or worked the sleds.
Once again, Sheldon Richardson was absent.
There are no new injuries to report. As reported yesterday, Marcus Murphy will miss the season and take a red-shirt.
Following practice, Coach Pinkel seemed to be looking forward to getting his team into shoulder pads tomorrow.
"We do a little bit more each and every day," said Coach Pinkel. "The competition's out there. Tomorrow, we'll put shoulder pads on, for two practices. Then, we'll have full pads. What's really nice about this is we get a lot of fundamental work. There's not a lot of hitting out there, but we're really getting a lot of fundamental work. That's really good to get the basics of each and every position. I think that's really important. So overall, pretty good."
During one segment, the team worked on kick-offs, returns and coverage. Henry Josey appeared to be the primary kick returner. Afterwards, Coach Pinkel talked a little about the impact of losing Marcus Murphy for this season.
"With Murph, the way I look at that," explained Coach Pinkel, "is he kind of separates himself a little bit. I turn it into a positive for him. Now, he's a year under Josey. They're not in the same class anymore. That helps really both of them, and it helps Mizzou. I always look at the positive side of it, and we're very fortunate that we do have some depth at that position."
During 7-on-7s, James Franklin found Wes Kemp on a comeback near the sideline, right in front of E.J. Gaines, who was in close coverage. Franklin put the ball out away from the defender, and Kemp reached out for the catch, while keeping his feet in bounds. Later, Gaines came back, and stepped in front of a Franklin pass, for an interception.
Ashton Glaser completed a pass to Jaleel Clark, in front of a couple of defenders, for near first-down yardage. Glaser found Eric Waters on a drag route for a nice gain. Jared Parham was in close coverage, but Glaser placed the ball out in front of Waters, who made a nice running catch.
Jimmy Costello continues to struggle with his accuracy. A little later, Henry Josey took a pitch from Costello and showed some of his speed, for a nice gain.
Stephen Drain tipped Corbin Berkstresser's pass up into the air. Jared Culver came down with the ball, and advanced it up the left sideline. Berkstresser's pass was low, and behind, Dan Carpenter. Incomplete. Berkstresser hit Rolandis Woodland on a deep out, near the right sideline. Corbin throws that deep out like a pro. Berkstresser came right back and found L'Damian Washington for a completion, over in the left seam area, for a first down.
During the abbreviated 11-on-11 drills, Franklin surveyed the coverage, then checked down to De'Vion Moore out in the right flat, who was run out of bounds by Trey Hobson. Franklin did a nice job of quickly going through his progressions, and then laid the ball out in front of Moore, where he could run under it for a nice gain. Franklin makes this type of play successful, by making a quick read, and by leading the back away from the defense, and up the field. Moore had a full head of steam before the defense arrived. Brad Madison quickly broke through from the outside, and Franklin stepped up into the pocket, then took off up the middle of the field for a first down plus. Franklin dropped back, as the inside screen set up. Dominique Hamilton saw it coming, and hid behind the mass of bodies, jumping up to intercept the pass near the line of scrimmage. Franklin hit Michael Egnew out along the right side, for first down yardage. Then, Franklin kept it, and picked up big yardage running up the middle of the field.
Glaser found Andrew Jones near the left hash for about four yards. Glaser faked an inside hand-off, and started to run over the right side. Tristen Holt was right there to make the stop, for little or no gain. Glaser hit Jones again, out along the right sideline, for near first-down yardage. Nice throw and catch! Glaser put it outside, away from Holt, and Jones used his body to seal Holt away from the football. Then, Glaser overthrew Jimmie Hunt on a cross.
Costello rolled right, and threw late over the middle. Wes Leftwich got his hands on it, but couldn't pull it in.
Hamilton's interception was the highlight play of the day, and he and his defensive line mates kind of controlled the 11-on-11 segment. Coach Pinkel talked about the value of having quality depth at defensive end.
"We're very fortunate, right now," said Coach Pinkel. "It doesn't always happen that way. If you're a football team, and you want to have personnel in the right spots, the number one spot you've got to have is you've got to have the quarterback. And, the number two spot that you've got to have is the guys who get the quarterback. They're equalizers. We're very fortunate that we have some good defensive linemen."
David Johnson & Ernest Payton
Other players who made a good showing today included Gaines, Holt, Madison, and Kenji Jackson.