With camp winding down, ShowMeMizzou.com spoke with co-offensive line coach Josh Henson, to get his thoughts on how Missouri's O-Line is shaping up.
"Injuries are a big story," began Coach Henson. "But, we've got to get past (the injuries). The neat thing is that the guys who've had the injuries have really taken the next guy, and helped him. Beyond that, how we're shaping up? I think (Justin) Britt's doing well at left tackle. His ankle got a little beat up the day after Elvis (Fisher) went down. So, he was kind of fighting through that. But, he's fought though it well. He's doing well, there. I think Jack (Meiners) has hopped in at guard, and done a real nice job. I've been pleased with (Jayson) Palmgren at center. I think it's helped us add depth at center............................... He's done real well! I'm real pleased with what he's done. I feel that we have three guys (Ruth, Palmgren, and Morse) who can legitimately get in there and play that position right now in a game. At right guard, Austin (Wuebbels) is doing well. He's been real solid, had a good
camp. Dan Hoch, I think, has really focused on getting better at the little things. You know, if he can get better at the little things, steps, hand placement, those kind of things, he can really have a great senior year. And, that's what we need for all of our guys to do. Our returning players have to play better this year than they did last year for us to have a great year."
I asked Coach Henson if he's seeing that kind of improvement?
"Yes. I am seeing that," admitted Coach Henson. Then he seemed to issue a challenge to his players. "You know, I haven't seen it every day. I think we need to be more consistent. I think we need to be more consistent............................. Can you do it when it's hot? Can you do it when you're tired? Can you do it when you don't feel good? Everybody can do it when it's 72 (degrees), and they feel good. The real players, champions, do it when they're banged up, a little of this, or a little of that. Real players do it when they don't feel good."
I pointed out to Coach Henson that with the injuries to Fisher and Ruth, that they're already down to their number seven offensive lineman playing in the starting line-up. I asked him who is the next guy in?
"I think Mark (Hill), Mitch (Morse), (Anthony) Gatti," replied Coach Henson. "You know, those are the guys, right now, that have stepped up to the plate to this point."
Coach Henson talked about some of the younger guys. He said that Taylor Chappell is getting better, and that Chris Freeman needs to get better. He said that he thinks that Nick Demien will be a good player, and that he needs to focus on fundamentals and technique. He said that Demien is young, and still has time to develop into a good player.
"We've all made strides," said Coach Henson. "We're all better than where we were two weeks ago. But now, what we're evaluating from here on out, is are you good enough to play in the game? What we'll do is we'll rank our guys, and we'll figure out where we're at."
Coach Henson said that going up against Missouri's defense makes their offensive line better, and prepares them to go against anyone.
I asked Coach Henson how good Justin Britt is going to be, playing at left tackle?
Coach Henson replied, "I think he's going to be great!"