On Thursday afternoon, the Missouri Tigers conducted their final spring practice prior to going on Spring Break.
“Overall, I thought it was a good day,” said Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel, following his team’s two-hour workout that included a short scrimmage, the first of the spring. “There were a lot of good things.”
Coach Pinkel said that there may be some changes in the Depth Chart off of Thursday’s half-scrimmage. We’ll know that when they come back from break.
I didn't see any changes in the Depth Chart on Thursday, but it does appear that some changes are on the way. As for injuries, Eric Laurent, Ian Simon, and Jordan Williams each wore red jerseys and sat out all drills. Simon has a sprained ankle, and should be back in following Spring Break. Torey Boozer suffered a concussion during practice, and was held out. Justin Britt and Taylor Chappell continued to wear red pull-overs, and went through non-contact drills.
“Taylor Chappell and Justin Britt did not scrimmage,” explained Coach Pinkel. “So, two of our top three tackles still didn’t play…………………………… We had Evan Boehm at center most of the day. We’re getting him consistent on snaps.”
Coach Pinkel described the move of Boehm to center as “close” to permanent.
“I wouldn’t say it’s permanent,” said Coach Pinkel. “But, it’s close…………………………………………. We’re going to see about that.”
Then, Coach Pinkel went on to list all of the reasons that they want Boehm at center, and talked about how they will work with him to iron out the snaps this spring. It sounds like Boehm is currently the starting center, with Brad McNulty at left guard, Anthony Gatti at left tackle, Max Copeland at right guard, and Chris Freeman at right tackle. Coach Pinkel suggested that Chappell and Britt may be back at full speed following the break.
As practice got underway, all of the QBs rotated through in a single group, and threw a variety of routes to all of the receivers. James Franklin and Corbin Berkstresser stood out a little from the rest of the group, although receivers like Jimmie Hunt and Dorial Green-Beckham were the players who really stood out during this segment.
The Tigers lined up to kick field goals, and Braylon Webb was doing the holding. Andrew Baggett showed off the strength of his leg during this segment.
James Franklin was ill, but he tried to continue to practice. He wasn’t himself, but he managed to finish practice.
During 7-on-7s, Franklin tried to get the ball to Wesley Leftwich in the left corner of the end zone, but the defensive back knock the ball away.
Berkstresser got the ball out quickly to Jimmie Hunt out along the left side. That was a well-thrown ball. Then, Berkstresser followed up with a completion near the left sideline to Bud Sasser. Later, Berkstresser double-pumped, then hit Eric Waters on the slant. Waters took a shot from Cortland Browning, but held on.
Maty Mauk found Kyle Peasel on a crossing route. The pass was thrown high, but Peasel came down with it. Mauk fired a short pass in the direction of Morgan Steward that bounced off of Steward. Mauk’s pass had no air under it and was slightly behind Steward, who was running away from Mauk toward the left sideline. Mauk didn’t really give his back much of a chance to make the catch.
During 1-on-1 pass-rush drills, Matt Hoch blew right past Max Copeland. Evan Boehm lined up at center and won a closely contested battle over Lucas Vincent, who forced Boehm to retreat all of the way back into the QB’s face. Brad McNulty gave ground, but stayed in front to Marvin Foster. Kony Ealy used a combination of speed and power to quickly get past Anthony Gatti, who immediately received personal instruction from Coach Walker. Boehm took Harold Brantley to the ground. Connor McGovern did a nice job of blocking Brantley. Despite being held and drawing a hands-to-the-face, Shane Ray sped his way past Mike Boddie on the outside. Chris Freeman stayed with it and picked up a win over Brayden Burnett. Freeman is much improved this spring. Not only is his technique much better, but he just appears to be quicker and slightly more athletic.
“Harold’s a really good prospect,” said Coach Pinkel, talking about Harold Brantley. “He’s very, very talented. His movement, his quickness, is very unique for a defensive tackle.”
During 11-on-11 action, Berkstresser orchestrated a beautiful 3-play TD drive. He quickly hit Bud Sasser out along the left side for a nice gain. Cortland Browning was there to make the stop. Then, lining up and snapping the ball very quickly, Berkstresser gave it to Marcus Murphy on an inside hand-off for a few yards. Kentrell Brothers and Michael Brennan were there to make the stop. Quickly snapping the ball again, Berkstresser faked a hand-off, then rifled one up and out along the right sideline to L'Damian Washington. Xavier Smith went for the interception, but Washington hauled it in, and raced up the sideline untouched.
Berkstresser came back with another set of downs, but this time the results were less spectacular. Murphy took a hand-off, and was quickly met by Markus Golden and others. Berkstresser locked onto Jimmie Hunt near the left hash and forced it into a crowd. Hunt was bracketed by Kentrell Brothers and Browning, and Berkstresser was fortunate that his pass wasn't intercepted. He had Dorial Green-Beckham in single coverage to the outside, but his eyes never left Hunt.
Mauk stepped in with the second unit and handed it off to Russell Hansbrough, who ran up inside for a short gain. Andrew Wilson was there to make the stop. Henry Josey took a hand-off and ran it up inside for about 5 yards. Mauk scrambled right and threw it incomplete in the direction of L’Damian Washington along the right sideline. Later, Mauk had the play of the day when he scooped a bad snap off of the turf, ran left to elude the rush, and found Sasser in the back of the end zone for a TD. He was under some pressure, and he threw the ball back against his body with plenty of mustard on it for the completion.
Coach Pinkel described the end of the scrimmage.
“It was tied at the very end,” said Coach Pinkel. “So we put the ball on the 27-yard line on the right middle for one kick. We put (Andrew) Baggett out there for one kick to win it or to not win it. He had missed a couple of kicks during the day, but when everything was on the line, he put it through. So, the offense won the day.”