On Tuesday morning, the Missouri Tigers took to Faurot Field for a two-and-a-half-hour practice in full pads. Skies were overcast, and it continued to be unseasonably cool. Enthusiasm continued to run high among the players.
Tuesday’s injury report is the most serious and extensive of camp. E.J. Gaines was on hand, limping around in a knee immobilizer and wearing a red jersey. He's suffered a strain of his patellar tendon and it's expected that he'll be out for a week or so. Henry Josey also wore a red jersey and watched from the side with what was described as a sore hamstring. He's day-to-day. Wesley Leftwich continues to wear a red jersey as he recovers from a pulled hamstring. Players who donned red pull-overs and went through some non-contact drills included John Gibson, Matt White, and Jason Reese.
Duron Singleton was unlimited and in full pads. Graduate assistant and former three-year starting safety Kenji Jackson remained close by Singleton, providing direction for the late-arriving junior college transfer at every turn. Singleton is at the very back of the safety line, but at least he's on the field, and he will be seeing action in this Thursday's scrimmage.
Matt White is at the front of the safety line, and he went through some of the drills, but he's still not taking live reps during practice, so Ian Simon continues to make the most of his opportunity to work with the first team defense.
With Gaines out and Gibson limited, Aarion Penton is getting some work with the number one defense. So is Ernest Payton. As I wrote yesterday, those two corners have not only helped themselves in their quest for playing time this season, but they are also helping to strengthen the team by adding quality depth to Missouri's secondary.
Josh Henson was working with Evan Boehm and Missouri's other centers on snapping the football and firing out. In coaching Boehm, he was trying to help the sophomore center perfect his technique as he fired out to engage in a block after snapping the football. After a few reps and a few corrections, Coach Henson deemed that Boehm had achieved execution of the correct technique, and he continued on down the line, working with the other centers. Coach Henson and Evan Boehm each appear to me to be somewhat perfectionist, so I fully expect that Boehm will perfect snapping the football. Following Monday's practice, Coach Henson stated that Boehm didn't have a single bad snap all day. Now, he just has to do that every day.
I spent some time watching Coach Kul work with the defensive linemen. It reminded me of eating very rich food. Delicious, but easy to go overboard. This was one of Missouri's most dominant position groups this spring. Then, Coach Kul received an influx of six of the most talented defensive line recruits he's ever had. So, Coach Kul's position group is large in numbers, large in their individual size, and large in their individual and collective talent. I hesitate to even begin to count the number of future NFL players that will almost certainly come from among this group. It's more than a handful. Maybe close to a couple of handfuls.
Coach Kul gets nervous when talking about his players. He’s reluctant to heap praise on them, preferring to let their play speak for itself. So, these days, with so many obviously really talented players in his group, he’s especially nervous when it comes to talking about them. I did get him to acknowledge that Josh Augusta is coachable, and a “hard worker”, after which Coach Kul allowed that “the sky is the limit” when it comes to how good Augusta can become.
“He’s not nearly as good as he’s going to be,” explained Coach Kul, speaking of Augusta in a hushed tone, as if not really wanting everyone to know.
There has been an emphasis in practice this week for the offense to play at a very fast pace, and for them to keep the football off of the ground. The coaching staff is trying to get the offense to develop the habit of completing every pass. According to Sean Culkin, it’s something that they’re working on but have not yet achieved. They come close at times when Franklin is operating as the trigger man. He’s the one QB, other than the freshman Eddie Printz, who is accurate enough to keep the football off of the ground.
It appears that Darius White has solidified his second-team spot. The real competition at the receiver position has shifted to the other side, where the veteran Jaleel Clark is trying to hold off the very talented freshman, J’Mon Moore. Moore just glides into and out of his breaks, and he doesn’t appear to be moving as fast as he is, until he’s pulling away from the defenders. He’s very smooth, and he catches everything. He’s also very good after the catch.