On Friday morning, the Missouri Tigers resumed practice in preparation for the December 26 Independence Bowl. Their early bowl practices are especially interesting because it's an opportunity for many young players to get in a lot of work.
"I think overall we had a really good practice," said Coach Pinkel. "It's always fun to get going again. Our first couple of practices we've designed to get a lot of work with our young players, a little bit like spring ball. We've also added a little bit more work with our veteran players, as far as a couple of periods on our opponent this year, North Carolina. I thought it was real good work."
including Elvis Fisher, Anthony Gatti, Henry Josey, and Brandon Durant. Kip Edwards wore a red pull-over, and went at less than full speed, as did Brad Madison, Travis Ruth, Kentrell Brothers, and Will Ebner.
Sophomore safety Tavon Bolden practiced with the team today, working as a safety down on the depth chart. Coach Pinkel indicated that Bolden had worked his way back onto the team by performing in the classroom on his own. Bolden won't go to the bowl game, but is expected to be back on scholarship for the spring semester.
The Tigers worked out this morning for about an hour and forty-five minutes, in helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts. The contact was fairly light in all drills. Coach Pinkel said that "everybody's healed up a little bit".
"I think we have (practice) really well designed," explained Coach Pinkel. "We're getting our veteran players back and ready to go maybe a little bit quicker than we did a year ago. And, we're really getting high-quality work with our young players. And, (they're getting) coached. That's the real plus that you get from (going to) bowl games……………………………….. Our young players don't really get coached very much during the (season). They're on the scout team. What they're doing now, is they're working on our plays, our defenses. We get a chance to just focus on coaching those young players."
During the 1-on-1 pass rush drills, Kony Ealy got in some extra work with the rest of the young guys, and repeatedly went up against Chris Freeman. Freeman did well, but Ealy won almost all of those contests. Those are a couple of young guys to keep an eye on for next year.
Shane Ray blanked Mike Boddie during their several contests, beating him to the outside, and on rip moves underneath. Ray looks really good! Boddie was basically overmatched. Walk-on DL Corey Sudhoff blew past Nick Demien a couple of times. Brad McNulty took Sudhoff wide, then got beat underneath in a much more closely contested battle. Jimmy Burge used a spin move to beat McNulty. Connor McGovern picked up a win. Mitch Morse handled Marvin Foster. Lucas Vincent ripped his way right past Mark Hill. Taylor Chappell picked up a win over Brayden Burnett. Chappell gave up ground, but moved his feet, and stayed right in front of Burnett. Chappell needs to get stronger, but he has great feet, and solid technique.
Marcus Murphy got in quite a bit of work, running the ball effectively inside and outside. Murphy took a hand-off from Ryan Howerton up inside. There was nowhere to go, and Murphy got the ball poked away. Ealy came up with the football. That was third-team offensive line going against the second-team defensive line, which is a mismatch strongly favoring the defense. Ealy, Sam, Richardson, and Vincent controlled the line of scrimmage, and wreaked havoc in the backfield on almost every play.
On the other end of the field, James Franklin turned and pitched the football to Kendial Lawrence, who went around the right side for a nice gain. Then Franklin hit Wes Kemp with a quick pass out in the right flat, and Kemp turned it up for a short gain.
Murphy took a hand-off and started up inside, then worked his way to the outside for a nice gain, when there really wasn't anything there. Darvin Ruise came up and stopped Tyler Hunt for no gain. Murphy took a hand-off over left tackle and cut it up field for a nice gain. He had a little bit of a hole that time, and really made the most of it.
Corbin Berkstresser found Jimmie Hunt for a completion over in the left seam.
The first-team offense went against the number two defense, which featured All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, Braylon Webb, at one safety spot.
Randy Ponder was working with the first-team defense, as Edwards sat this one out. Mark Hill pulled from the left guard over into an opening over right guard. Jimmy Costello followed him into the hole, and picked up a nice gain. Costello hit Brandon Gerau over near the right sideline. E.J. Gaines was right there to make the stop for a short gain.
Berkstresser completed a pass to Andrew Jones out along the left sideline for a first down. Berkstresser hit Murphy right on the hands with a swing pass out of the backfield. However, Murphy failed to make the catch. Berkstresser scanned the field, then scrambled out of the pocket for a nice gain. Berkstresser found Jaleel Clark on a deep cross. Ealy burst through and sacked Berkstresser. Murphy took a hand-off from Berkstresser, but found no running room, as Shane Ray spun him around at the line of scrimmage. Burge and Vincent engulfed the ball-carrier. Ray and Vincent collapsed the pocket to sack Berkstresser. Greg White took a Berkstresser hand-off and ran around left tackle for a nice gain. He ran over Bolden to finish it off, which appeared to surprise the safety. Welcome back, Tavon!