On Tuesday, the Missouri Tigers held their final practice in full pads prior to their Spring Game. It was a physical practice, with some good competition all around.
"Overall, it's the last pads practice that we'll have," said Coach Pinkel. "I thought it was very, very competitive. I thought it was good from that standpoint. It came down to the end. The defense won at the very end. I thought we got a lot done."
James Franklin, Henry Josey, Marvin Foster, and Mark Hill each watched practice in street clothes. All four players spent time doing specific exercises on the side, as did Brad Madison, Anthony Gatti, and Dan Carpenter, each of whom wore a red jersey and watched from the sidelines.
Junior tight end Eric Waters underwent surgery for a sprained MCL, and will miss the rest of the spring. Coach Pinkel indicated the recovery time for the MCFL repair is shorter than for an ACL repair, and that Waters should be able to return in time for the season.
During the 9-on-9 short-yardage drill, Will Ebner came across and stopped Greg White in the backfield for a 2-yard loss. Then, White found a seam over the left side and picked up about 4 yards. Jared McGriff-Culver ran off left tackle and was stopped for no gain. Greg White was met in the backfield by Donovan Bonner and Brayden Burnett.
During 7-on-7s, Corbin Berkstresser found T.J. Moe in the right seam for a nice gain. Berkstresser's pass hit Sheldon Gerau in the hands and fell incomplete. Berkstresser found Jimmie Hunt in the left seam for a score. Berkstresser hit Marcus Lucas in the left front corner of the end zone. Lucas had beaten Braylon Webb on an out route at the pylon.
Jaleel Clark split the coverage out in the left seam for a first down reception from Ashton Glaser. Xavier Smith was in the area, and helped to make the stop. Glaser came back to Clark out along the right sideline. The ball was thrown behind Clark, who reached back and juggled the ball before it fell incomplete. Glaser dropped it off to McGriff-Culver out in the right flat for a short gain. Glaser's pass was on target to McGriff-Culver, but Robert Steeples was there to break it up. Glaser missed Hunt on a slant with a low throw. Xavier Smith had Bud Sasser covered in the left front corner of the end zone, and he broke up Glaser's pass. Glaser hit Clark on a slant at the goal line.
Alex Demczak found Kyle Peasel in the back of the end zone. Denzel Martin was in the coverage area.
During the 1-on-1 pass-rush drill, Lucas Vincent overpowered Travis Ruth and picked up a win. Ruth ended up on the ground. Vincent bull-rushed Ruth for another win. Shane Ray started outside, then spun inside, to beat Taylor Chappell. Vincent overpowered Max Copeland, just kind of tossed him aside. Vincent has just been a beast in these 1-ons. Elvis Fisher took Michael Sam on past the QB for the win.
During the Tiger Drill, Tavon Bolden tackled Jaleel Clark. Greg White ran through an Ernest Payton tackle. Marcus Murphy ran through and spun out of an attempted tackle by David Johnson. Darius White ran through a tackle.
During 11-on-11s, Marcus Lucas had gotten inside of E.J. Gaines on a post route, but Berksresser's pass was just off-target. Lucas got a hand on it, but the pass fell incomplete. Berkstresser found Jimmie Hunt in the left seam. Matt White made a touchdown-saving tackle. Under a rush, Berkstresser rolled to the right and underthrew L'Damian Washington, who was covered by Kenronte Walker. Berkstresser's pass was high to a leaping Lawrence, who made the catch for a short gain out along the right side.
Glaser was under some heat from Andrew Wilson and had to get rid of the ball early. Robert Steeples was there to knock the ball away from Rolandis Woodland. Glaser got the ball out to Murphy out along the right sideline. Murphy made a couple of guys miss, and took it up the sideline. He picked up a block from Woodland downfield, and went the distance. Glaser's pass attempt deep down the right sideline, intended for Clark, was broken up by Ian Simon. Simon arrived early, but Bud Sasser held on to Glaser's pass for a first down out in the right seam.
In the red zone, Glaser found Sasser in the back right corner of the end zone. He beat Randy Ponder, and went up and made the catch.
In the hurry up, Berkstresser found Gahn McGaffie down the left seam for a nice gain. Berkstresser went back to McGaffie on an out route for a first down in front of Kenronte Walker and E.J. Gaines. Moe went down to make a reception for about 8 yards near the left seam.
Wesley Leftwich had a step on Ernest Payton running down the left sideline. Alex Demczak hit him right in stride, and Payton was unable to close the gap, as Leftwich pulled away and took it to the house. That's Leftwich's forte! Demczak found Joe Plevel at the goal line and Plevel went up to make the catch for a score.
Coach Pinkel talked about their plans for the rest of the week.
"On Thursday, we'll do our pregame," said Coach Pinkel. "That'll be pregame, kind of just organization of what we do pregame, to refresh that for all of our young players. What we'll do also is we'll review how our seniors handle the (summer workouts). Then, we've got the Spring Game (on Saturday), and the uniforms, and everything else. So, we're excited about it."
Berkstresser wasn't as sharp on Tuesday as he had been in the scrimmage on Saturday. Bud Sasser continued to shine, as he made several nice catches in traffic, and went up and snatched a couple of passes, including one in the back corner of the end zone.
My most improved player of the spring award goes to Matt Hoch. His emergence at defensive tackle is absolutely huge for the Tigers!