On Thursday afternoon, the Missouri Tigers opened their 2013 fall camp in helmets and shorts. Enthusiasm ran high for the nearly two-hour workout on the John Kadlec Athletic Fields.
“I thought overall, practice was pretty good,” said Missouri head Coach Gary Pinkel, following the first day of practice. “We’re out here practicing to get better………………………………………. I’m excited about getting going, and getting better, and competing. It’s thirty days to our first game.”
This first workout could have been entitled Fundamentals of Football 101, as the emphasis was clearly on repeating the basic fundamentals, including ball security, footwork, positioning, and execution of the basic fundamental position drills that the players will go through day after day during camp. Coaches emphasized attention to detail and precise execution of the basics.
I'll have an updated Depth Chart later this evening. The biggest change from the depth chart as issued earlier this month is the designation of a fourth wide-receiver position, in addition to the tight end position. The starters at the four wide-receiver positions are, as expected, Dorial Green-Beckham, Marcus Lucas, Bud Sasser, and L'Damian Washington, with Sean Culkin lining up as the starting tight end.
After practice, Coach Pinkel said that safety Duron “Singleton, for personal reasons, will not come to Mizzou. He will not come to Mizzou.”
On the injury front, freshman defensive tackle A. J. Logan wore a red jersey and a protective boot on one foot. He did not participate. Freshman corner Anthony Sherrils wore a red-pull-over, and went through all of the drills. Coach Pinkel said that he has been medically cleared to play following an auto accident earlier this summer, but that the training staff is being careful and that Sherrils is wearing the red pull-over as a precautionary move.
Jake Hurrell and Sean Culkin did the long-snapping while Christian Brinser and Preston Soper punted. On the other end, Marcus Murphy, E.J. Gaines, Ian Simon, and John Gibson took turns receiving the punts.
Coach Kuligowski put his defensive linemen through their drills at a quick pace. I like the look of this unit. Newcomers Josh Augusta and Nate Crawford are tall, athletic-looking big men who move well. Another newcomer, freshman defensive tackle Osborne is a wide-bodied athlete. He is really wide! And surprisingly, he moves fairly well for such a wide load. Based on what I saw on Thursday, it appears that Augusta and Crawford have the best chances of making a contribution this season.
Coach Steckel put his linebackers through their paces, as well. This is another good-looking group of athletes. Donovan Bonner looks especially fit and trim, and moved well in the drills. A pair of newcomers caught my eye, as well, including Joe Burkett and Charles Harris. Burkett is bigger than I've ever seen him, close to 220 pounds, and he moves very well. He'll have no trouble adding another 20 pounds of lean muscle to his frame. Charles Harris is perhaps Missouri's biggest linebacker. He's a great-looking athlete, and he moves very well, although I couldn't help but think that he looks more like a defensive end than a linebacker.
I didn't get to see a lot of the QBs, but I did observe them for a little while. James Franklin appeared to pick up right where he left off in the spring, hitting receivers right in stride. He appeared to be decisive, albeit without defensive pressure, and he seemed to be throwing the ball with a little more velocity, at least on some of his throws. As long as he remains healthy, I don't think there's any question that he is Missouri's best option at QB.
Maty Mauk looks about the same as in the spring. He has good velocity on his throws, and he still has the low release. His timing has gradually improved, but he's not nearly as accurate throwing the football as is Franklin.
I thought that Corbin Berkstresser looked good throwing the football. It's early, and there was no pass-rush to mess with his throwing mechanics, but I thought that the work that Berkstresser has put in this summer has placed him in a good spot from which to begin camp.
It's amazing to me that I still see and hear some people suggest that Trent Hosick will end up playing another position on the football field. He throws the football very well! I don't know if people haven't seen him, or just don't know what a solid throwing motion and strong arm look like, but Hosick appears to me to be a serious contender for a prominent role at the QB position going forward.
Of course, Eddie Printz also looks good throwing the football. He throws the ball beautifully! Although Printz is likely to red-shirt this year, I think he has all the necessary tools to develop into a quality college QB going forward.
At the receiver position, Green-Beckham stands out above everyone else. What an absolute talent! But another receiver from Missouri's 2012 recruiting class is making his mark. A bigger, stronger Levi Copelin continues to impress, and he has risen in my eyes, as well as in the eyes of the coaching staff. It looks to me like he's going to play this year as a regular member of Missouri's receiver rotation.
Overall, the team appeared to come through the first day in good shape. During team periods, the Tigers are practicing and preparing to play at a faster tempo, so being in shape is paramount. Coach Pinkel has altered the Tigers’ practice and conditioning schedule to allow more time for recovery, and to try to reduce injuries. He compared what he’s doing to the way that NFL teams practice, but he assured everyone that the practices will be physical, and the team will be prepared to play football at the end of the month.
When asked what he learned about the SEC last year, Coach Pinkel replied, “Stay healthy. And, don’t turn the ball over.”