On Wednesday morning, the Missouri Tigers were back at it on Faurot Field, as Coach Pinkel's charges worked out in full pads for almost two hours. The players are tired, both mentally and physically, and the team is pretty banged up, so the staff decided to shorten practice this morning, in preparation for tomorrow's scrimmage.
There were no new injuries to report, although Justin Britt is hobbled a bit by a ankle sprain that occurred on Tuesday. They pulled him out late, as he was starting to limp more noticeably. Brad Madison, Kenji Jackson, Jerrell Jackson, Travis Ruth, and Kerwin Stricker each wore a red jersey, and sat out all drills. Eric Waters and Jimmy Burge wore red pull-overs, and went through some drills. Burge is in a hurry to get back in there. I'd say that he's taken notice of Marvin Foster, Lucas Vincent, and Sheldon Richardson.
"We shortened practice up a little bit, because we have a scrimmage coming up tomorrow," said Coach Pinkel. "We keep the pads on, and just shorten it up a little bit. Our choice was to remain physical. We've got a lot of guys banged up. That's the way it is in two-a-days. Hopefully, we can get some guys back here pretty soon. But, keep working hard, and tomorrow is a big scrimmage."
Two players who really stood out to me today were James Franklin and Dominique Hamilton. Franklin was really sharp, and made a number of quality throws in the 15-25 yard range. Hamilton was dominant, including one play where he got into the back field and nearly took Jimmy Costello's hand-off, throwing Greg White down in the process.
Michael Sam made a good showing, as he applied consistent pressure on the QB, and was in on several tackles. On the offensive side, Marcus Lucas continues to shine. When asked about the competition at receiver, Coach Pinkel first mentioned Lucas as a player who is coming on.
"I think Marcus Lucas is a guy who has kind of stepped up a little bit," said Coach Pinkel. "I think he's a lot different player now. Of the three young guys, with Jimmie Hunt and Bud Sasser, he's the guy that played last year. Those two guys red-shirted. So, there is a little bit of an edge there............................ Most players have to go out, and kind of go through the experience, and playing in front of 75 thousand people, and kind of just get those experiences, which allows them to take the next step the next year."
During the 1-on-1 pass-rushing drills, Jacquies Smith was unblock-able, as were Sheldon Richardson and Kony Ealy. The coaching staff is constantly riding Ealy's behind, but he continues to make plays. Clearly, he's not doing everything the way that they want him to, and they're coaching him hard.
Coach Pinkel mentioned that Kenronte Walker's doing a good job, when he was asked about the competition at the safety position. That's consistent with what I'm seeing, where Walker appears to be right behind Kenji Jackson and Matt White. Braylon Webb has been coming on, too. The Tigers need Webb's cousin, Tristen Holt, to come on, as well. But so far, it isn't happening. Right now, just like at QB, there's a big drop-off behind the starting corners. Randy Ponder and Xavier Smith are pushing Trey Hobson and Robert Steeples for the back-up jobs.
During 7-on-7s, Franklin found Michael Egnew over the middle, where Will Ebner came up and laid a lick on him, after a short gain. Egnew shielded Ebner with his body, caught the ball in his hands, and held on. No one was open, so Franklin led Kemp toward the sideline. It was incomplete, but he didn't try to force it. Franklin's improving, as far as throwing it away, and not taking chances. Of course, he can always pull it down, and run, but the coaching staff might not want him taking needless hits. Franklin found Egnew near the right seam, for a nice gain. Ebner was in on the stop. Franklin made a real nice throw, completing a pass to Brandon Gerau near the left sideline for about a 20-yard gain. Franklin dropped that one over Zaviar Gooden, and in front of Matt White. That's the throw that Coach Yost says that Franklin is so good at. Franklin went down the left hash to Kemp for about 20 yards. Kemp had hooked up in an opening in the
zone. That's another one of those throws, over the LB, and in front of the safety. Franklin hit Gerau on the 10-yard out, in between Gooden and White. Gerau seemed to have his legs back under him today. That one was well-timed. Franklin dropped it off to Kendial Lawrence, out in the left flat for a short gain. Matt White came up fast to make the stop. Franklin found Moe, sitting down over the middle for about 15 yards. Again, over the LB, and in front of the safeties.
Costello looked down field, then came underneath to Gahn McGaffie on a drag route. Luke Lambert was right there to make the stop. Costello threw it deep down the right seam, intended for L'Damian Washington. Washington never looked at the ball, and Braylon Webb almost had the interception.
Glaser under threw Jimmie Hunt. Then he dropped one off to Jared Culver in the right flat for a short gain. Michael Brennen came up to make the stop. Glaser hit Rolandis Woodland near the left sideline, in front of Xavier Smith. Smith ran him out of bounds, after a short gain. Glaser overthrew Eric Waters, who was running down the left sideline. Brandon Durant had the coverage. Glaser hit McGaffie out along the right sideline for about 5 yards. Smith had the coverage, and knocked him out of bounds. Glaser found McGaffie again, in the left seam, for another 5 yards. Glaser went back to McGaffie, but this time Luke Lambert got a hand in and knocked it away. McGaffie left his feet, and went down to catch a low throw for a first down.
Berkstresser overthrew Terry Dennis in the left seam. Then, Berkstresser hit Dennis, who was sitting down near the right hash. Clarence Green had the coverage. Afterward, Coach Steckel came in and talked to Green, showing him where he needed to be. Berkstresser found Waters down the left seam for about 20 yards. Berkstresser fired one in to Terry Dennis, over near the left sideline. Tony Randolph had the coverage. Washington had his hands on a Berkstresser throw, but couldn't pull it in.
Grant Ressel is having his best fall camp. He doesn't miss many.
T.J. Moe, Gahn McGaffie, Jimmie Hunt, and E.J. Gaines each fielded punts during the special teams' practice. I expect to see the Tigers work a lot on special teams this afternoon.
During 11-on-11s, starting from his own 1-yard line, Franklin was chased out of the pocket by Sam. Then, running right, he unloaded it out of bounds. It's still amazing to see Franklin outrun the Missouri DEs. Franklin dumped one off to De'Vion Moore for a short gain. Following a Franklin hand-off, Moore started up inside. Hamilton stuffed him at the line of scrimmage. Franklin rolled right, then found Kemp for a first down.
In the red zone, Franklin found Egnew in the right front corner of the end zone. Moore took a pitch from Franklin, and started right, but quickly cut back inside, and took it in for the score. Franklin threw the swing pass perfectly to Lawrence, out on the left side. Lawrence never broke stride, and raced up the sideline to the pylon. Darvin Ruise and Kony Ealy were quickly in Franklin's face. He eluded them just long enough to unload the football out of bounds.
In the red zone, the defense blitzed Costello, who immediately hit Andrew Jones on a slant at the goal line. A couple of plays later, Costello found Jones in the back of the end zone. Hamilton got past Max Copeland, and blew up Greg White, before he could secure the hand-off. Copeland was chasing him, and he fell on the loose ball.
Coming out from his own end, Glaser hit Lucas on an out route for a first down. Greg White took an inside hand-off, and ran left for a nice gain.
Coming out from his own end, Berkstresser had to chase the snap, and covered it in the end zone. Matt Hoch was right on top of him.
We got a glimpse at one contingency, should Justin Britt be unable to play at some point during the season, when the coaches pulled him out late during practice. Dan Hoch moved over to left tackle, and Jack Meiners moved to right tackle. With Palmgren playing at center, Mark Hill moved into Meiners' vacated spot at left guard. Once Ruth gets back, Meiners will be the first man in, and will essentially be the back-up should anyone go down. Today's glimpse also tells me that Hill may the next man in, although I think that Mitch Morse would be an option, as well.