On Thursday afternoon, the Missouri Tigers resumed spring practice in full pads on Faurot Field.
There are a few more injuries to report. In addition to red-shirt freshman LB Torey Boozer, QB Eric Laurent, and TE Kyle Peasel, senior corner Randy Ponder and RSF TB Andrew Stevens also wore red jerseys and sat out all drills.
I didn't see any new changes to the Depth Chart, although several players at various positions were rotating between multiple units. There's no position where this is more evident than along the offensive line, where there's a lot of movement during drills between the second and third unit. For example, I saw Robert Luce, Brad McNulty, Stephen Carberry, and Jordan Williams each snap the ball while working with the second-team offense. McNulty and Luce also worked as the second-team right guard. Taylor Chappell, Anthony Gatti, and Mitch Hall were taking all of the second-team reps at their respective spots, but there was quite a bit of shuffling going on at the center and right guard spots on the number two unit.
Coach Brian Jones had his TBs working on blocking; run blocking, as well as pass blocking.
During punt drills, Jake Hurrell handled the long-snapping for the number one punt unit. Sean Culkin is also doing some long-snapping. Christian Brinser has become even more consistent with his punting. He is really booming them! Marcus Murphy, E.J. Gaines, Ian Simon, John Gibson, and Levi Copelin each fielded punts.
During field goal practice, Trent Hosick was doing some holding for placements.
As the team broke up into their position groups, senior QB James Franklin asserted his leadership, and in a loud voice, he yelled encouragement and instructions to his teammates, setting the tone for an energetic and focused approach during practice. Several other veterans, including Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt, joined in to echo Franklin's motivational tenor.
After practice, Missouri Assistant Coach, and Offensive Coordinator, Josh Henson, talked about Franklin developing command presence.
“I think that anytime that you stand in front of a group of guys, and you’re naturally in a leadership position, in a physical sport like football, an emotional sport like football, I think sometimes they’ve got to feel your soul,” explained Coach Henson. “You know, it can’t all be just lovie, fun, happy, whatever it is. Sometimes, they’ve got to feel you stick your foot in the ground and say, we’re going to make a stand. And, we’re going to do it right here! You know, that’s command presence. And, that’s kind of what we talked to James (Franklin) about, that you know, he can improve on that. It’s good for people to feel that intensity from you. People feed off of that. This is an intense game. I think James (Franklin) is doing a nice job from that standpoint so far.”
During a passing drill, Franklin got the ball out quickly and hit Marcus Lucas right in the hands and right in stride on a deep slant. Franklin followed that up with another perfect pass to Dorial Green-Beckham, although Green-Beckham failed to make the catch as the ball bounced off of his hands. Green-Beckham ran back to the line of scrimmage and got right back in line for a redo. Again, Franklin put it right on his hands. This time, Green-Beckham watched it in for the reception. Then, he exploded up field with the football. Green-Beckham arrived at Missouri with less than exemplary practice habits, but he's really improved in that regard. One thing that is evident this spring is that Green-Beckham now runs pass routes in practice at close to full speed, which for him is quite fast. He didn't do that last fall. It's impressive to watch Green-Beckham come out of his breaks at close to full speed! The big kid can really run!
Later, Franklin led L’Damian Washington perfectly toward the right sideline. As soon as Washington turned his head, the ball was right there in front of him, away from the defense. Washington made the catch, and tip-toed to get a foot down in bounds. Franklin hit Jaleel Clark right in stride near the left sideline. Franklin got the ball out quickly to Jimmie Hunt out along the left seam. Franklin hit Sasser right in stride on a post. He laid the ball perfectly on his hands. Then, Franklin found Jimmie Hunt on the same route.
“I’ve been really impressed with James (Franklin) so far this spring,” said Coach Henson. “I think he’s doing a nice job. His accuracy looks to me, well it looks like it did the first four days of spring ball last year.”
Corbin Berkstresser connected with Sasser in the right seam. Berkstresser hit Green-Beckham on a go route. That pass was very well thrown.
Maty Mauk made a nice throw down the right hash to Green-Beckham on a go route. Then, Mauk threw the ball behind the receiver on his next two attempts.
Later, Mauk threw an out route to Dorial Green-Beckham along the right sideline. The throw was a little late and up the field, toward the defender. The talented sophomore receiver quickly turned completely around and made the reception.
Coach Henson didn’t want to prejudice reports regarding the QB competition, or prematurely predict its outcome.
“I think the good news right now, in my opinion, is that all three guys have really improved,” said Coach Henson. “I think there’s been improvement, and you see plays being made by all three guys in the competition.”
Trent Hosick was getting some reps with the number two offense. He hit Dorial Green-Beckham with an accurate pass on a slant. Hosick hit Clark in stride on a slant. Then he hit Darius White sitting in the right seam.
As usual, Eddie Printz was accurate with his throws. He completed a nice throw to Reid Swearingen in the right seam. Then, he found Sasser in the right seam.
“They are really talented,” said Coach Henson, talking about Missouri’s two true freshmen QBs. “I’ve been way impressed, way impressed with both of those guys. They’re both what you want from a demeanor standpoint, and an attitude standpoint. They’re both talented. I’m real impressed with both of those guys.”
Henry Josey is really moving well. There doesn't appear to be any lingering residual effects from his surgeries and his lengthy time away from the field.
Ian Simon and Cortland Browning are each making a positive impression this spring. Browning has great size and athleticism for the safety position. Simon isn't as big, but he’s even more athletic. Simon has been a very good practice player, and that, along with his quickness and foot speed, have allowed him to move ahead in that competition. But this spring, it appears to me that Browning is practicing better, as well. Both of those young safeties are showing well, and they are clearly in the mix for playing time this year.
At the corner back position, David Johnson is practicing well and he is challenging for a starting job. With his physical talent, John Gibson really stands out as Missouri's quickest, fastest, and most athletic corner.