On Saturday morning under cloudy skies, the Missouri Tigers took to Faurot Field in helmets and shoulder pads for Day 3 of Fall camp 2013. Everyone appeared to be enthused about putting on the shoulder pads for the first time this fall, and they were all geared up for some physical contact during the more than two-hour workout.
Following practice, Coach Pinkel made a reference to the cool, overcast weather.
“This is like two-a-days in heaven,” proclaimed Coach Pinkel. “This must be what it’s like. This is the coolest it’s ever been, since I was coaching at Washington.”
“I thought it was real good work today,” explained Coach Pinkel. “We had shoulder pads on. That was good. It was a little bit more physical. I thought we practiced smart. Very few guys went down. We’re trying to make a huge emphasis on staying on our feet. Overall, I think we got a lot of good work done.”
On the injury front, A.J. Logan continued to watch while wearing a red jersey. He was joined by fellow freshman defensive tackle Nate Crawford, who suffered a back strain, and also wore a red jersey. Coach Pinkel said that freshman offensive lineman Harneet Gill has “left the team for personal reasons”.
There’s good competition all over the field, and there are several positions where there’s a close competition for a starting job. Russell Hansbrough is neck-and-neck with Henry Josey. Mitch Hall is in close competition with Max Copeland.
There’s a lot of competition among the top ten wide receivers for playing time. Levi Copelin continues to impress with his play, and J’Mon Moore displays a high level of talent and play-making ability that immediately places him in the mix for playing time. Wesley Leftwich had a big day of practice on Saturday, and he turned in multiple big plays.
The quarterback play on Saturday was very, very good. All five scholarship QBs threw the ball well. James Franklin connected with Marcus Lucas for a TD, as the senior receiver hauled in a well-thrown deep ball on the run. Maty Mauk threw the ball well on Saturday. Mauk has put in a lot of work in film study, and his increased knowledge of Missouri’s passing offense helps him anticipate where the ball should go.
“Darvin and Kentrell are battling at that spot,” said Coach Pinkel. “They’re probably both going to play, as long as they play at the level that we expect them to play. But it’s a battle for that starting position…………………………………. We’re excited about the competition. The competition is great! We’ve got a lot of competition going on on the field. We’ll see how it sorts out as it goes.”
Coach Pinkel went on to talk about the incoming class of freshmen, in particularly the number of quality defensive linemen.
“I’m really, really, really pleased with this freshmen class overall,” exclaimed Coach Pinkel. “You like getting them in here and seeing them. As you well know, we always believe in our evaluation system. But, I’m really, really, really pleased with this class! With the athletes that we have.”
“We’ve got some good ones,” exclaimed Coach Pinkel, talking about the freshmen defensive linemen. “All of them. I just feel real good about them, every one of them. A couple of those guys are overweight a little bit, but they’ve got great movement. You know, those guys are hard to find! I’m very pleased with them!”
Marcus Loud is an impressive big athlete. He actually has a larger frame than Kony Ealy and is nearly as long. He displays impressive explosiveness and agility. And, he can really run! That last statement applies to all of these freshmen defensive linemen, even with as big as they are.
Coach Pinkel went on to talk about starting defensive tackle Matt Hoch.
“Matt Hoch’s a guy right now who’s really got a chance to really be good,” explained Coach Pinkel. “He’s a lot different player than he was a year ago. It’s not even close! There’s a guy that’s just worked hard. You know, it’s his second year playing, starting, and he’s just got so much ability. He’s a big, strong guy. He’s a little bit different type of defensive tackle than Sheldon was. He’s a little bit more like Ziggy Hood, or maybe in between those two guys. But, there’s a guy who’s really stepping up.”
Cornerback is another position where there’s a very close competition for a starting job, although it appears to me that it’s just a matter of time before John Gibson moves ahead of and separates himself from Randy Ponder.
The real competition at cornerback will be the battle for the number three cornerback spot, essentially another starting position, between Ponder and several young players, including David Johnson, among others.
The competition at safety is really kind of wide-open. On Saturday, there were a couple of times when the safety allowed a receiver to get behind him.
“There’s a lot of competition (at safety),” explained Coach Pinkel. “It’s going to be kind of fun to see how that sorts itself out. I may regret saying this, but we may be playing a lot of players there, which is good. There’s a lot of competition there, and they’re really good athletes, which we have. But we’ve be playing more players there than we have maybe the last couple of years, which I think is a real plus for us……………………………………………. It’s all competition. It’s all good. It’s all positive.”
After a closed practice on Sunday, the Tigers will practice in full pads for the first time on Monday.