On Thursday morning, the Missouri Tigers scrimmaged for the second time this fall, and in Missouri’s scrimmage scoring system, the defense prevailed by the score of 14-10.
The score was close until the final drive when Maty Mauk brought out the second-team offense against the first-team defense and took over at his own 35-yard line to run the two-minute drill. Kony Ealy broke through up the middle and sacked Mauk on 2nd down, and then on 4th and long, Mauk’s final pass attempt was picked off by Kentrell Brothers.
Afterwards, with the season opener just over two weeks away, there was urgency in Coach Pinkel’s words as he shared some of his early impressions of Thursday’s scrimmage.
“I think overall, like any scrimmage, there was a lot of good things, and things that we need to improve upon,” said Coach Pinkel. “I just think that our number one offense and our number one defense, and again we’re mixing and matching a lot of people in there, we’ve got to settle down, we need to get continuity, little things, little things on both sides of the ball, starting with our ones to become really good. That’s something that’s going to be ongoing. It’s real important that we improve each and every week. The best teams do that. I think we’re capable of doing that. As coaches, we’ve got to get that done. Certainly, I think the one offense and one defense, there’s a lot of good things, but there’s a lot little things that are going to hurt us if we don’t get them fixed. And, we intend to do that. So, we’ll grade the film, and get back tomorrow morning and get going.”
Coach Pinkel was critical of his team, citing drops and missed passes as a couple of areas in which his team needs to improve.
“I’m looking for perfection,” explained Coach Pinkel. “That’s the bar, what I’m looking at. And, we push for that all of the time. That’s what we’re trying to get done.”
There certainly was a lot of mixing and matching of personnel, to the point where it was challenging to keep track of who was on the field. And, there was a lot to take away from this scrimmage, as quite a number of players played well.
Starting with the QB position, James Franklin had a very strong performance. He was 16-21-0 for 189 yards and 2 TDs. He was also on the move for another score when time ran out and he had his team in position for a potential game-winning 36-yard field goal attempt. He was accurate and in charge.
I thought that this was Maty Mauk’s best scrimmage performance of his more than one year at Missouri. He just continues to improve. On Thursday, Mauk did a better job of standing in the pocket and distributing the football than I’ve seen from him before. At times, he stood tall in the pocket and made throws over the defense, and he was reasonably accurate. Mauk finished 12-20-2 for 150 yards and 2 TDs. Until his final set of two-minute drives, he didn’t have as many of the hazardous throws into traffic or off-target throws. He did have the two picks during that final segment, but those were largely due to the incessant pressure that Missouri’s number one defensive line was placing on him. Still, this was the best that I’ve seen Mauk play QB.
Eddie Printz had another good showing, going 9-15-1 for 98 yards and 2 TDs. He split third-team reps with Corbin Berkstresser, who was 8-14-0 for 76 yards and 2 TDs. Printz has really made a strong impression during camp, and while he doesn’t necessarily appear to be in Missouri’s plans for this year, he’s definitely placed himself in position to be able to compete for the starting job come next spring.
Eric Waters was terrific in this scrimmage, as he made 3 catches for 80 yards and 1 TD, and he ran hard after the catch. On one reception, he made the first down by snatching the ball away from a defender, and then running over a pair of defenders. He was physical, he ran well, and he caught the football in traffic.
Jimmie Hunt had a big day, with 4 receptions for 32 yards and a TD. On one pass play, Hunt picked up a first down by running over a defender. You could hear the pads popping from more than 50 yards away.
Seven different receivers caught touchdown passes on the day, including Gavin Otte, who finished with 7 receptions for 77 yards and 3 TDs.
L’Damian Washington redeemed himself after a less than optimal showing last Saturday, as he came up with 5 receptions for 92 yards and 1 TD.
Missouri’s defense was a little better against the run on Thursday, holding Missouri’s top 5 TBs to 125 yards on 28 carries (4.5 yards/carry). At times, there was simply no place to run.
At the beginning of the scrimmage, the defense was hard, as neither of the top two offensive units were able to move the ball out of their own end zone. On third down, Mauk scrambled to his right and threw a perfect pass down the right sideline that hit Darius White right in the hands. That was maybe the best pass I’ve seen Mauk throw. It was perfect! White had gotten behind John Gibson, but he failed to make the catch.
Tyler Hunt took a handoff from Corbin Berkstresser and picked up a first down, running hard off right tackle.
Franklin took over at his own 35-yard line, and he got things started with a completion for a first down out along the right side to Washington. Franklin scrambled left and threw it out of bounds. Then, he hit Washington out along the left side. Washington made the first guy miss, then juked the safety and turned on the jets, as he raced 53 yards for the score.
Coming out from his own 30-yard line, Franklin hit Bud Sasser over the middle for about 6 yards. After a fake to Henry Josey, Franklin hit Washington for a first down. Franklin held the ball too long, and took a sack. Then, he hit Darius White right in the hands for what should have been a first down. White stumbled coming out of his break, but the ball hit him in the hands. Franklin’s third down pass down the left sideline hit Dorial Green-Beckham right in the hands. It was close to the sideline, and the sophomore receiver jumped when he probably just needed to continue to run under the ball. It was incomplete.
Mauk came out from the 30-yard line. On third down, Russell Hansbrough came up just short of the marker.
Printz took over at the 30-yard line. Tyler Hunt took an inside hand-off, broke a couple of tackles, and picked up about 7 yards. Printz found Clayton Echard sitting down over the middle for the first down. Hunt ran inside for 6 yards. He dragged Marcus Loud for the last couple of yards. Printz missed connection with Echard.
Trent Hosick took over and found Gavin Otte for a first down. Hosick kept it and ran for 5 yards. He faked the hand-off to Miles Drummond, then he hit Kyle Peasel on a slant for a nice gain to inside the 10-yard line.
Mauk was back in. He threw one up for grabs in a crowd down the left sideline. Darius White went up in between Xavier Smith and Kentrell Brothers to high-point the football for a tremendous 30-yard reception. Mauk missed connection with Jaleel Clark near the left front pylon. David Johnson had the coverage. He missed Clark again, this one on an out route.
Later, Franklin drove the team down the field, and capped it off by finding Jimmie Hunt in the back of the end zone for a score. He scrambled effectively on a couple of plays during that drive, including one that resulted in a first down on a completion to Darius White.
Mauk took over. The defense got in his face and he threw the ball into the turf. Then, he came back and found Marcus Lucas for a nice throw and catch along the left sideline. First down. Lucas had gotten a step on Darvin Ruise, and Mauk hit him right in stride. Then, Mauk felt the defensive pressure from the outside, and he stepped up inside and took off for a first down. Mauk threw a strike to Eric Waters right down the middle of the field for a score. Waters had gotten behind Matt White, and Mauk stood tall in the pocket and lofted it right onto Waters’ hands. That was another terrific throw by the red-shirt freshmen, the kind of throw that he wasn’t making earlier this year.
Mauk started moving the football again, including a nice completion to Sean Culkin for a first down. Then, he was sacked. Printz came in and took over a mix-and-match second-team offense. Under a rush from Shane Ray, Printz got it out to Culkin for a short gain. Harold Brantley, Kony Ealy, and Shane Ray all met at the QB for a sack.
Berkstresser found Otte in the left side of the end zone. Otte had gotten behind Ernest Payton. Beat him bad. Then, Payton came right back and made the interception of a pass attempt by Eddie Printz. Printz stared down his receiver, and Payton read it all the way, then returned it up past mid-field.
Later, Ray and Donavin Newsom converged at the QB for a sack.
Later, Franklin had Green-Beckham singled up, and he threw the ball up in the back corner of the end zone. Randy Ponder drew the flag when he tackled Green-Beckham prior to the ball’s arrival It was all he could do to prevent what looked like a sure touchdown. Ealy, Ray, and Hoch sacked Franklin on the next play, and after Josey covered a bad snap, Franklin had to settle for a field goal, when his check down to Josey out in the flat came up short of the goal line.
In the two-minute drill, Franklin was sacked on first down. A completion on a slant to Lucas set up a third and eight. Franklin hit Lucas on a slant for a first down. That was right in front of Cortland Browning, who quickly made the stop. Xavier Smith got away with pass interference, but Franklin came back and hit Levi Copelin on an out route just short of the first down. He came right back to Copelin on the same route for the first down. Franklin scrambled for about 4 yards. After an incompletion, Franklin hit Sasser on a slant for a first down. That set up a potentially winning 36-yard field goal attempt. Andrew Baggett hit the left upright. Doink!
Berkstresser failed to move the football. He threw a pair of passes that hit defenders right in the hands.
Printz put his first one right on Waters’ hands, but Waters failed to make the catch. On third down, Printz threw it into a crowd over the middle. Waters absorbed the contact and snatched the ball away from the defender, who had a hand on it. Then, Waters turned up field, and powered his way to the first down. A couple of plays later, Printz found Culkin down the seam. The red-shirt freshman TE leaped up to make the grab just inside the 5-yard line, then he rumbled into the end zone for the score.
Mauk’s two-minute drill didn’t go as well. To be fair, the Missouri defense came up huge during this segment, and Mauk was under quite a bit of pressure on most plays. He was sacked on first down. Then, he got away with intentional grounding. Then, he hung in the pocket and threw the ball deep down the left hash right to Ian Simon, who came down with the interception. Mauk got a little lucky on his next pass attempt. He scrambled away from the pass rush and threw the ball down the left sideline into a crowd of defenders. Two defenders knocked the ball into the air, and Darius White came up with the deflection for a first down reception. Ealy sacked Mauk. Mauk stepped up into the pocket and threw the ball right to Kentrell Brothers, who made the interception and took a knee to seal the victory for the defense.
Other than E.J. Gaines, who is expected to be back in time for the season opener, the Tigers are relatively healthy, and everyone appeared to come through the scrimmage in pretty good shape.