On Tuesday, the Missouri Tigers returned to the Kadlec Athletic Fields for a two-and-a-half hour practice in full pads. It was lively, competitive, and physical, a very good practice from my point of view. And as well as the defense is playing, the offense still managed to squeak out a win on the day's final play, an Andrew Baggett 40-yard field goal.
"We had a good workout today," said Coach Pinkel, following Tuesday's practice. "It was pretty intense. You know, the offense won today. They kind of did things at the end, and had it tied. And, Andrew Baggett came through in a pressure situation, and made the field goal to win the game."
Matt Hoch and Lucas Vincent each had to sit out the heavier contact. I don't think either player is seriously injured. Other players who sat out during practice included Henry Josey, Taylor Chappell, Sean Culkin, Evan Winston, Jimmie Hunt, L'Damian Washington, and Rolandis Woodland, who wore red jerseys. Those who wore red pull-overs and went through the lighter drills included Darius White, Greg White, Justin Britt, and Kip Edwards.
Tuesday was a good day for some of the freshmen who are under consideration to play this year, and a great day for some of the team's star players. Freshman WR Dorial Green-Beckham had another good day of practice, as he worked primarily with the number two offense. He appeared to be more comfortable, and is playing a little faster, although he's still got a lot of room for improvement. Still, he shows flashes of his remarkable play making ability.
Evan Boehm had a good day, as he competed at first team left guard for much of the day. He lined up with the second team offense, but played most of the day with the starters. Like Green-Beckham, he seems to just keep getting better.
With Hoch and Vincent sidelined, Harold Brantley worked exclusively with the second-team defense. Brantley is powerful, and quick on his feet, and he appears to be quick to the football, as well.
"He's there. He's competing," said Coach Pinkel, speaking of Harold Brantley. "You know, he's getting after it. We'll have to see where that goes. That's a tough position to play. But you know, he's big and he's athletic. He certainly has an opportunity. You know, there's other competition in there. He's going to be battling for that."
Both freshmen running backs, Russell Hansbrough and Morgan Steward, had busy days carrying the football, and each of them displayed the ability to make plays. Hansbrough is very quick and fast, and makes people miss. He's also stronger than he looks, as he's not easy to tackle. Steward is bigger than Missouri's other top backs, and is maybe a little more physical. On Tuesday, he had several impressive runs between the tackles. He too, is both quick and fast. Both of the freshmen TBs appear to have good vision in the hole.
Several of Missouri's star players really stood out on Tuesday. On offense, James Franklin threw the ball very well, and just made plays when things were tight and on the line. Kendial Lawrence and Marcus Murphy each made multiple plays with the football. Marcus Lucas, Gahn McGaffie, and Bud Sasser each made plays with the football.
On defense, Sheldon Richardson and Kony Ealy continued to stand out. When those two are on the field together, it makes things difficult for the offense. Their presence on the field elevates the defense as a whole. E.J. Gaines is another one who elevates the defense. He's better than last year, and he's become the kind of corner that offenses will want to stay away from.
During an 11-on-11 segment, with the number one defense going against the scout team offense, which was providing some different looks from the Missouri offense, Coach Steckel was very involved in coaching the defense, and he seemed pleased with much of what he was seeing. At one point, Stec ran up into the middle of his defense and was yelling, "We're getting it! We're getting it!"
During 7-on-7s, James Franklin found Brandon Holifield on a cross.
Corbin Berkstresser got the ball out to Jaleel Clark along the left sideline, but Andrew Wilson was there to jar the ball loose. Berkstresser found Levi Copelin out along the right side for a first down.
During the 9-on-9 running drill, Morgan Steward took an inside hand-off and ran up in between the tackles for a nice gain. Steward stuck his foot in the ground and exploded through a small opening, running through an arm tackle as he got into the secondary.
During 1-on-1 pass rush drills, Michael Sam ripped right past Michael Boddie. Mitch Morse blocked Jimmy Burge. Marvin Foster bull-rushed his way past Evan Boehm. Elvis Fisher won a closely contested battle with Kony Ealy. Shane Ray ripped his way past Michael Boddie. Max Copeland blocked Michael Sam. Morse stonewalled Burge. Boehm re-gripped and blocked Kony Ealy. Fisher blocked Brad Madison. Sheldon Richardson lined up on the outside, and dipping his shoulder, he ran past Anthony Gatti on the outside. That was an impressive rush move by such a big man! Shane Ray blew past Connor McGovern. Ealy blew past Nick Demien. Brad McNulty blocked Marvin Foster.
During 11-on-11 action, Franklin quickly got the ball to Eric Waters in the right seam for the first down. Ian Simon was the first one there. Kendial Lawrence took a hand-off over the right side for a first down. Harold Brantley got in the backfield. Franklin's pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage. Brantley met Marcus Murphy in the hole and drove him backwards. Later, Franklin scrambled right and threw the ball away. He had Sam and Madison in close pursuit. Murphy took a pitch running right. Gooden met him at the line of scrimmage and put a form tackle on him. With Kony Ealy breathing down his neck, Franklin ran left and threw against his body to get the ball to McGaffie in the left seam for a first down. He fitted that ball in there nicely. Franklin was flushed out to the right and hit Waters near the right sideline just short of the first down marker. Richardson raced over and threw Waters out of bounds, tossing him to the ground in the process. Franklin found McGaffie in the left seam for a short gain. Randy Ponder was there to make the stop. Franklin found McGaffie along the left sideline right at the first down marker. Gooden was right there to make the stop. Then Franklin hit Marcus Lucas for a first down near the left sideline with a perfectly thrown ball. Braylon Webb was right in Lucas' pocket. Lucas made the catch and looked down to make sure he had his foot in bounds.
Berkstresser scrambled left under pressure and threw it away. Berkstresser found Dorial Green-Beckham about 25 yards down the left seam. Nice throw and catch with Zaviar Gooden on the coverage. On third and two, Russell Hansbrough ran it up inside for the first down. He was met in the hole by Kenronte Walker. Later, Berkstresser hit Jaleel Clark down the right seam for a first down. Berkstresser got it out quickly to McGaffie out along the right side for about 3 yards. Hansbrough took a pitch and ran right. but he was run out of bounds short of the first down marker by Bonner and Ruise. Under a rush, Berkstresser stepped up inside and scrambled for the first down. Hansbrough took a hand-off and was met at the line of scrimmage by Bonner and Foster. Hansbrough showed surprising strength as he fought forward for another yard.
Maty Mauk faked a hand-off to Hansbrough and ran around the right side where Darvin Ruise ran him out of bounds after a short gain. Morgan Steward ran inside for about 5 yards. Later, Mauk hit Copelin near the left sideline for a first down. Donavin Newsom was in the area. Tyler Hunt was stopped for no gain. Mauk overthrew Joe Plevel on a cross. That pass didn't have enough bend on it as it sailed over the receiver's head and into the waiting arms of Chaston Ward. Mauk scrambled left foe about 3 yards before he was run out of bounds. Clarence Green had Mauk's pass in his hands and dropped it. Then Green immediately dropped to the ground and started doing push-ups. Mauk had Holifield open down the middle but his pass sailed high over Holifield's head. Once again, Mauk failed to apply the requisite touch on the football. Under pressure in the backfield, Mauk took off and scrambled for a first down. Once again, Mauk displays excellent running ability.
Eric Laurent was under pressure from Kony Ealy, but quickly set his feet and got the ball to Kyle Peasel down the left seam for a first down. When Laurent can set his feet, he's a very accurate passer who displays plenty of arm. I really like the way that he throws the football! Sheldon Richardson burst through and dropped Miles Drummond the instant he took the hand-off. Laurent faked it to Morgan Steward, then hit Darius White in the left seam for a first down. Laurent was rushed and threw off balance, trying to get it to White again, but Randy Ponder stepped in front for the interception. Matt White had his hands on Laurent's pass over the middle, but couldn't hold on.
With Hoch and Vincent on the sideline, Jimmy Burge was working with Richardson and the first-team offense. Brantley and Foster were working with the number two defense. This may have been the Tigers' best day of practice this fall, as the offense matched the intensity and level of execution of the defense.