The Missouri Tigers were back on the grass fields in shells, on Wednesday afternoon, for a two-hour workout that featured light contact in the sweltering heat.
"Nice warm day. Good for mental toughness," said Coach Pinkel, referring to the oppressive heat and humidity. "You know, kids pushing themselves through the practice."
On the injury front, there is a virus going around on the team. Wes Kemp and Brayden Burnett were held out of practice today, but are expected to be back in tomorrow. I'm sure there are other players affected, that went ahead and practiced. Travis Ruth wore a red jersey, and sat out practice. The Tigers are hopeful of getting him back next week. Will Ebner sat out in a red jersey, as did Eric Waters, Kerwin Stricker, Kortland Webb, and Tavon Bolden. Jerrell Jackson, Wesley Leftwich, Kip Edwards, Matt White, and Kenji Jackson each practiced in red pull-overs. The Tigers have lost three players for the season, including Elvis Fisher, Marcus Murphy, and Brandon Durant.
Kentrell Brothers worked as a deep-snapper during warm-ups.
Today was the first day for the walk-ons who were waiting for school to start. Among them are QB Ryan Howerton, who is back for his second year, and WR Sheldon Gerau, Brandon's younger brother.
"(Marcus Lucas) is doing really good," said Coach Pinkel. "He's a remarkably different player (than a year ago). It really gets back to maturity level............................. That's just repetition, that's maturity. That's getting stronger, faster, and quicker. That's taking the coaching, and learning the system. It's a combination, really, of all of those things........................... He's got really good, natural soft hands........................... He's a big body guy (6'4" 212 pounds) who can run well, and has good body control for a big guy. He has the potential to be really good."
"(Bud Sasser) is getting better," explained Coach Pinkel. "He's doing a lot of good things. The difference between him and Marcus Lucas is that Marcus Lucas played last year. So, he's been in the arena a little bit............................ And Bud hasn't. But, you see, what I think everybody sees, is he's got a lot of talent, and he's getting better. He's got a lot of potential."
During 7-on-7s, James Franklin hit Michael Egnew in the right seam for a first down. Kenji Jackson had Moe covered down the right sideline, and Franklin threw it to the outside. Moe couldn't reach it. Luke Lambert had Egnew covered, and Franklin tried to lead the big TE away from the defense, but Egnew didn't get there. Franklin didn't really have an open receiver on those two throws, but he gave his receivers a chance to make a play without risking an interception. Franklin completed a 20-yard pass to Lucas, down along the left sideline. Lucas is starting to play like he's capable of playing, and he and Franklin are getting in sync. A little later, Franklin came back to Lucas out along the left sideline. Lucas was closely covered by Gaines, and Franklin rifled that one right in there. Robert Steeples batted Franklin's pass away. He was trying to get it to Gerau, out along the right sideline. Franklin went to Egnew out near the left sideline, but Gaines stepped in front for the interception.
Jimmy Costello found Henry Josey sitting down near the right hash for a short gain. Josey turned it up for a couple more before Braylon Webb came up to make the stop. Costello under threw McGaffie. Costello hit Rolandis Woodland on a 10-yard out near the left sideline, in front of Randy Ponder and Kenronte Walker. Costello hit McGaffie in the right seam for a nice gain.
Corbin Berkstresser hit Stephen Drain out along the right sideline. Xavier Smith intercepted Berkstresser's pass, and returned it for a TD. He held the ball away from his body as he crossed the goal line, which earned him a solid chewing out from at least three different coaches, who told him to keep the ball tucked away. Berkstresser connected with Sasser down the left sideline for about 15-20 yards.
Ashton Glaser completed a pass to McGaffie near the right hash. Glaser found McGaffie again, in the right seam for a first down.
During 11-on-11s, Lucas Vincent was working with the first-team defense. Steeples is in with the first team as the 5th DB. Franklin found Moe out along the right sideline for a nice gain. De'Vion Moore went over the left side for a nice gain. Franklin faked the hand-off, then ran over the left side for a first down.
Costello scrambled up the middle for a nice gain. Costello found Sasser out along the left sideline. Sasser turned it up for a first down. Costello completed a pass along the left sideline to L'Damian Washington for a nice gain. Greg White did a nice job of coming back up the sideline to catch Costello's pass. Ponder was in close coverage, and immediately made the stop.
Berkstresser hit Gerau out along the left sideline for a first down. Berkstresser got it to Woodland on a drag route for a nice gain. Berkstresser dropped one in to Washington, down the right sideline, for about a 20-yard gain. Berkstresser kept it on the pitch option and got near the first down.
Glaser completed a pass to Washington out along the right sideline. Glaser hit Jones out along the left side for a first down. Ponder arrived with the football, and broke up Glaser's pass, intended for McGaffie. Glaser pumped, then pulled it down and picked up a first down. A couple of plays later, Glaser scrambled out of trouble and turned it up for a big gain. Sasser made a nice reception in front of Ian Simon, then turned it up for a first down.