On Thursday morning, the Missouri Tigers practiced on grass for two-and-a-half hours, in full pads. Since this afternoon's practice will be cut short, as Coach Pinkel takes the team swimming, this will be today's lone report.
This morning's was a lively practice, and the defense appeared to be inspired, as they won the day, and reclaimed the black jerseys for tomorrow.
"It's very competitive," said Coach Pinkel. "I just like this competing, even though there's mistakes on both sides of the ball. Certainly, we've got a long way to go. But, if you come out and you compete each and every play, we become a better football team. Even with making the mistakes. We've got to get those corrected. But when we do, we'll show a lot of improvement."
Sheldon Richardson practiced in full pads for the first time, and he displayed some of the remarkable ability that made him such a prized recruit. He's at the back of the line, 5th string, to begin with, and he'll have to work his way up.
"I know he's real excited," explained Coach Pinkel, talking about Richardson's long-awaited arrival. "He's worked very hard for this opportunity. He's got a lot of humility."
During the 9-on-9 short yardage drill, Henry Josey took a hand-off from James Franklin, and turned it up inside for a short gain. Jared Culver took a hand-off from Ashton Glaser, and went off left tackle for a short gain. Darvin Ruise and Will Ebner were there to make the stop. Kony Ealy got into the backfield, and tackled Greg White for a loss. Kendial Lawrence took Franklin's hand-off, and started inside, then cut outside, for a nice gain. Dan Carpenter took a hand-off from Jimmy Costello, and started up inside, where he was stuffed for no gain. Lucas Vincent and Ebner were among several defenders in on the play. Later, Lawrence went around the right side for a nice gain. De'Vion Moore took a Franklin hand-off, and started right, then cut back inside for a short gain. Luke Lambert and Brad Madison were there on the stop. George White and Marvin Foster stuffed Carpenter for no gain. Josey took a hand-off from Costello, and got the edge on the right side for a nice gain, before Braylon Webb ran him out of bounds. Greg White picked up a couple of tough yards off right tackle. Ealy came all of the way over from the opposite side of the field to make that tackle.
During the Tiger Drill, E.J. Gaines tackled Jerrell Jackson. Kenji Jackson wrestled Greg White to the ground. Moe got low, and powered past Matt White. Braylon Webb tackled Bud Sasser. Moore ran through Randy Ponder. Trey Hobson stuffed L'Damian Washington. Wes Kemp ran over Daniel Easterly.
During 7-on-7s, Kenronte Walker arrived at the same time as Franklin's pass, and knocked the ball loose from Michael Egnew, right at the goal line. Franklin came back to Egnew, in the same area. This time, Egnew shielded Walker away from the football, and made the catch for the score. Jerrell Jackson was covered, and Franklin threw the ball out of bounds. Walker got a hand in, and knocked Franklin's pass away from Egnew, near the goal line. Walker's competing, and being physical.
Glaser hit Andrew Jones on a cross for a nice gain.
Costello found Marcus Lucas in the left front corner of the end zone. He had beaten Ernest Payton. Costello's pass was thrown behind Lucas, who made a real nice adjustment on the football. Costello found Andrew Jones near the left hash for a short gain. Lucas went up in the back left corner of the end zone to haul in the fade from Costello. Lucas catches that fade route better than any of the Missouri receivers.
Corbin Berkstresser found Brandon Gerau out along the left sideline, in front of Robert Steeples. Berkstresser came back to Gerau near the right hash. Berkstresser hit L'Damian Washington down the left sideline, in the end zone. Washington had a step on Webb, and Berkstresser laid it right in his hands. Nice throw and catch!
During a short lull in the action, I witnessed Kip Edwards exhibit some outstanding leadership. He was speaking individually to Daniel Easterly, encouraging him to keep working, keep competing, and not to get down on himself. Easterly's at that point where I've seen many young players. They're not having the success that maybe they've envisioned for themselves, at least not as quickly as they had expected, and they are tempted to allow their disappointment to sap their competitive energy. Edwards was telling Easterly, "I know you can do this! I believe in you!" Edwards pointed toward Easterly's head and said, "Be strong! Be strong!"
There was a short period during which the offense worked on the pitch play. Franklin closed out that segment when he pulled the pitch back, and hit Jerrell Jackson right in stride. JJ had a step on Matt White, as he ran down the right sideline.
During 11-on-11s, Franklin dropped it off to Kendial Lawrence out in the left flat. He picked up a block from Moe, and took it up the left sideline to near a first down. Moore took a hand-off, and went up inside for good yardage. Franklin had time, and found Moe in the left seam for a first down. Josey took it around the left side for a first down.
Josey took Franklin's hand-off, started left, then cut it up inside for a nice gain. Kemp was bracketed down along the left sideline, so Franklin threw it over his head out of bounds. Brayden Burnett got into the backfield, and chased Franklin out of the pocket. Franklin unloaded it out of bounds. Josey started right, then cut inside for a nice gain.
Lawrence took it off right tackle for a short gain. Franklin got it out quickly to Egnew near the right hash, for a first down. Brad Madison and Dominique Hamilton stopped Moore in the backfield. Franklin faked the hand-off, then ran for a first down. Franklin got the ball to Moe, out near the right hash. Andrew Wilson knocked Moe backwards, off of his feet, but Moe held on for the reception. Zaviar Gooden got into the backfield and brought down Lawrence for a loss.
Coming out from his own goal line, Franklin plowed straight ahead for a hard yard. Egnew let Franklin's pass sail right through his hands, and Steeples came up with the tipped ball. Moore took a hand-off from Franklin. Hamilton stopped him after a short gain. Josey went over left tackle, then cut it back inside, for a nice gain.
Brandon Durant came up with the interception of a Glaser pass. Josey picked up a first down running right. Glaser faked a hand-off, then got it out to Bud Sasser, out on the right side. Sasser took it up the sideline for a first down.
Glaser hit Lucas on a slant. Lucas turned it up for a big gain. Lawrence took a pitch and sped up the right sideline for a nice gain. Sheldon Richardson batted Glaser's pass down at the line of scrimmage.
Jared Culver took a hand-off from Costello, and went around the left side for a short gain. Derrion Thomas was there to run him out of bounds. Glaser tried to get the ball over Wilson, out along the sideline, but Wilson made the leaping interception. Greg White took a hand-off, and started up inside, but he didn't get much.
Tristen Holt and Tavon Bolden came up and knocked Culver off of his feet. Culver maybe got a yard.
Berkstresser found Lucas in the left seam for a first down. Later, Berkstresser scrambled right and picked up about five yards.
Coming out from their own end, Hunt let Berkstresser's pass go right through his hands. It was batted around, but fell incomplete.
It's plain to see that Franklin and Berkstresser have become friends, and get along very well together. Berkstresser just shadows Franklin, who has kind of taken him under his wing, and is helping him get up to speed. You can also hear Franklin encouraging Berkstresser during the drills. It's also becoming more and more apparent that Berkstresser is right in the middle of the competition for the back-up QB job for this season. He is the heir apparent, and will eventually challenge Franklin for the starting job.