"It's hard to tell where we are," said Coach Henson, referring to the large number of offensive linemen who are on the shelf this spring. "There's probably five guys that are going to be in the mix that aren't out there right now. So, it's hard to tell. You don't know where those guys are at. And obviously, it's disappointing because you'd like to have those guys improving and getting better. You know, I think the guys that are out there are making strides. So that's a good thing, it's a positive thing. And, I really think that we're going to have to put this deal back together in the fall, and see what we've got."
The five guys that Coach Henson referred to are Elvis Fisher, Travis Ruth, Anthony Gatti, Mark Hill, and Connor McGovern. I asked Coach Henson if he thinks that Mark Hill will be back on the field this fall?
"I think so," replied Coach Henson. "I don't want to speak too soon, but I think he'll be back in the fall."
Coach Henson agreed that McGovern has missed a lot of time during his first year at Missouri.
"He has missed a lot of time," said Coach Henson. "He looks good, and he's done a good job with his body. I mean, this spring was going to be………………………………….. You know, obviously it's disappointing, because you wish he was in there getting reps."
"McNulty's done a good job," Coach Henson continued. "You know, I think that Mitch Morse has had a really good spring. You know, he's really stepped his game up. I think Justin Britt continues to improve."
I asked Coach Henson which guys will play this year?
"The best guys will play," explained Coach Henson.
I don't feel that Coach Henson was dodging the question. He's being careful not to be prejudiced, but rather to allow the players to determine the outcome with their performance on the field.
"Right now, we're going to finish spring, and kind of see where we think everybody is at," said Coach Henson. "Our biggest concern, probably is just finding out who are the third and fourth tackles. Who are they? If we had an injury, who would go in and play tackle?"
Coach Henson acknowledged that currently, Taylor Chappell is the third tackle.
"Right now, he is," admitted Coach Henson, referring to Chappell. "I think we've got a little bit more depth (at guard). I mean, my gut feeling is that we'll have a little bit more depth there, as we get guys back. But you know, we've got to figure out who the third guy is."
Coach Henson talked about how the injuries have forced him to take this wait-and-see approach, which he acknowledged is what they should do anyway.
"It's hard to evaluate, when you just don't know," explained Coach Henson. "And it's a hard thing too, when you go through periods of time where guys could really be improving. Like you know, Mitch Morse has been out there on the field, and he's really gotten a lot better. You wish the same thing was happening with guys like Anthony Gatti and Connor McGovern, but it's just not. It can't. It's the way it is. There's no other way to deal with it until we get to the fall."
I asked Coach Henson if he will leave all three of Morse, McNulty, and McGovern stacked up at the center position?
"No. I mean, we're going to have to thin that thing out," said Coach Henson. "But, I always feel like you've got to be at least three-deep at center. Some other spots, you can maybe switch guys from right to left, and you can do some things, you can move some guys around. But, you've got to go into a game with three guys that can snap."
I asked Coach Henson about Travis Ruth?
"I'd just like to see Travis have a whole year (of being) healthy," replied Coach Henson. "You know? And not for us, just for him, just so he could go play and have fun! And just be healthy for a year, and play. Because I think if he could do that, I really think that he could be a good player. Our biggest focus with Travis is just getting healthy through the rest of the spring and summertime, and getting his body in great shape."
Once the Tigers are healthy, Coach Henson thinks that they can be pretty good up front.