It was a quick turnaround as the Missouri Tigers resumed fall camp early Friday morning with a two-hour practice in helmets and shorts. Missouri will don shoulder pads for the first time on Saturday, and will be in full pads by the time they hit the field on Monday morning.
There was no change in the injury report from Thursday. Henry Josey, Lucas Vincent, and Justin Britt each wore a red jersey, and sat out the entire practice. Vincent and Britt are expected to return to the field during camp.
"Overall, I think it was a good day," said Coach Pinkel. "We don't have any pads on right now, so it restricts what you can do. But, it's a good time to be working on fundamentals, as always, and the details of the position. And, understand that the physical part is going to be cranking up here pretty quick. We'll get shoulder pads on tomorrow, and eventually, we'll get the pads on. Overall, I thought it was good work."
I watched the defensive linemen go through some of their drills. Sheldon Richardson appears to be in great shape, and he's performing drills in an exemplary manner. Just watching, Richardson appears to be the leader of that position group.
All three of the freshmen defensive linemen are long, lean athletes, who appear to be very agile. They're quick on their feet as they move through the drills. Even Harold Brantley, who is the shortest and heaviest of the three, has long arms, and looks to be very agile, and athletic.
During the 1-on-1 pass rush drills, Michael Sam worked his way past Taylor Chappell. Sheldon Richardson ripped his way past Jack Meiners. Mitch Morse blocked Jimmy Burge. Travis Ruth blocked Matt Hoch. Elvis Fisher picked up a win over Brad Madison. Chappell pushed Sam to the ground for a win. Meiners blocked Richardson.
During 7-on-7s, James Franklin completed a pass to Eric Waters in the left seam. Waters showed better mobility than he did on Thursday, as he turned it up field with a modest burst. Franklin and McGaffie hooked up along the left sideline with a crisply thrown ball and a nice reception. Franklin had some zip on that one, a pass that covered some distance, and that was very well placed. Franklin babied the next one, as he went down field for L'Damian Washington. The ball was slightly underthrow, and E.J. Gaines went up to make the interception. Washington came back and went up as well. Both players fell to the ground still wrestling for possession of the football. I never saw the ball hit the ground, but I'm not sure who ended up making the catch. Franklin found Marcus Lucas out along the right side, and Lucas turned it up for a nice gain. Later, Franklin found Kendial Lawrence out along the right side for a nice catch and run. Franklin hit Bud Sasser right in stride on a cross.
Corbin Berkstresser zipped a pass out along the right sideline to Jimmie Hunt, who made the reception in front of Darvin Ruise for a first down. Berkstresser's throw intended for Kerwin Stricker out along the left sideline was low and outside, and fell incomplete. Berkstresser found Jimmie Hunt running down the right seam about 5 yards behind the defense. Hunt ran right under a well-thrown ball, and took it in for the score. Berkstresser hit Culkin on a slant. Wesley Leftwich outfought Randy Ponder for the football out along the right side, then outraced Matt White up the sideline for a big gain.
Maty Mauk completed a quick pass to Wesley Leftwich out along the left sideline. Mauk found Jaleel Clark in the left seam for a short gain. Daniel Easterly was there in coverage. Mauk overthrew Joe Plevel on a deep slant. Mauk's pass intended for Brandon Holifield on a cross was thrown behind him, and the ball was tipped dangerously into the air. Mauk hit Leftwich right in stride on a cross for what would have been a big gain. Mauk's pass hit Brandon Holifield right in the hands, but fell incomplete. Mauk's pass intended for Darius White down the right sideline was underthrown. Ka'Ra Stewart nearly had the interception.
The backs and receivers broke down to work on some pitch plays. Then, they were joined by some defensive players to make the drill even more interesting. Maty Mauk threw a pitch to his left that was behind Tyler Hunt, and it ended up on the ground where Mauk scrambled to cover the football.
During 11-on-11 action, Franklin faked a hand-off, then lofted it out in the flat to McGaffie. Brad Madison had his hands up in Franklin's face, forcing Franklin to loft the football more than he would have liked, and it delayed the timing of the play. McGaffie still managed to turn it up for a short gain before Kip Edwards, Kenronte Walker, and others arrived. Franklin found Marcus Murphy out in the right flat. That play was more well-timed, and Murphy took it in stride and turned it up for a first down. Murphy took a hand off and turned it up inside. Will Ebner got a hand on him, but Murphy continued up field for a nice gain. Coach Steckel had Ebner drop to give him some push-ups, so I guess he thought that Ebner didn't make the play. Franklin zipped one in between a couple of defenders to get it to Lucas, who spun away and had nothing but end zone in front of him.
Mauk dropped back, then took off for a short gain before he was run out of bounds by Durant. Mauk's pass was a little bit behind Darius White out in the left seam, but White made a nice adjustment to come back for the football, then turned it up for additional yardage. Later Mauk found Holifield in the left seam for a first down. Morgan Steward took a hand-off and worked his way up over the right side for a nice gain. Mauk's pass was behind Levi Copelin on a cross, and fell incomplete.
Coach Pinkel talked about the process of determining which of the freshmen will play and which will red-shirt. He cited the depth at a player's position as being a factor, as well as the individual's readiness to play.
"We're going to have to look at all of that," explained Coach Pinkel. "We're evaluating freshmen. And the thing that we have to ask ourselves is can they help us win this year? So, we'll see where it goes over the next twenty practices. Last year, we didn't play any freshmen. A lot has to do with your depth, and it also has to do with is the player mature enough? Is he physically ready to play as far as size, strength, and speed? How well does he learn? All of those are factors in whether a young player is going to play or not. You might have a need for him to play, but bottom line, he has to be mature enough and have all of those qualities to be able to push themselves in. And, that's why it's hard to play (as a freshman)."
Based upon what I've seen so far, it's really just too early to tell which freshmen might play this year. The coaching staff is coaching Dorial Green-Beckham hard, and driving him to quickly get up to speed on all of the little things that are demanded of his position. That could be taken as a signal that the staff expects DGB to play this year. There's a need for a fourth defensive tackle to step up and play regularly, so there is an opportunity for Harold Brantley or Evan Winston to move up and see the field. Maybe John Gibson could force his way in at corner? One of the freshmen tight ends could play this year. Both are obviously very talented. Based on the very early returns, Sean Culkin appears to be ahead of Brandon Holifield in terms of readiness.