On Friday morning, the Missouri Tigers resumed fall camp with a two-and-a-half hour practice in shoulder pads and shorts on the Kadlec Athletic Fields. Enthusiasm continued to run high in the coolness of the morning following Mizzou's second scrimmage of camp.
“We had a real good practice today,” said Coach Pinkel, following Friday’s practice. “We had shoulder pads on, which kind of knocks out a little bit of the hitting. Stay on your feet a little bit better, a little more. As I told the team afterwards, we got a lot of good fundamental work. I thought we got good team work in 11-on-11s, and we hit every phase of our kicking game except field goal block today. So, we got real good work in every area of our kicking game today. Overall, it was good.”
E.J. Gaines remains sidelined, but is expected to return in time for the season opener. Greg White and L’Damian Washington each wore red jerseys, and they sat out all drills, while Wesley Leftwich wore a red pull-over and ran through most drills. Washington suffered a bruised heel in a non-football-related incident. He’s day-to-day.
There were no changes noted in the Depth Chart at QB, where James Franklin has been officially named as the starter. Franklin, who enters his final season at Missouri ranked second on the school's career record list in pass completion percentage (62.2%) and passer efficiency rating (134.03), has had a strong showing during fall camp. In the two scrimmages to date, the senior QB has completed 68% of his pass attempts for a passer efficiency rating of 171.73.
“James (Franklin) certainly has done really, really well,” said Coach Pinkel. “He deserves to be (the starter). He’s practicing right now as well as he’s ever practiced since he’s been here. He’s very competitive. It’ll be fun to see him go through the year injury-free, and be able to do the things he’s capable of doing. So, we’re excited about that.”
There were very few changes noted in the two-deep Depth Chart. Jordan Williams has taken over the second-team spot at right guard. Safeties Matt White and Ian Simon are even at the top of the Depth Chart, and Duron Singleton began his ascent by moving up one spot from the bottom.
With Gaines out, Ernest Payton and Randy Ponder are lining up as the starting corners, with John Gibson and Xavier Smith behind Ponder, and David Johnson and Aarion Penton behind Payton. Johnson rebounded with a strong showing in Thursday's scrimmage to move ahead of Penton. I think Johnson's quick descent to fourth on the Depth Chart following last week's scrimmage, and his subsequent rapid rise to second demonstrates the closeness of the competition between several players at the cornerback position. Behind Gaines, there's not a lot of separation between two through seven.
“There’s a lot of competition there,” explained Coach Pinkel, talking about the cornerback position. “There’s a lot of guys involved with that.”
Now that the coaching staff has settled on Missouri's top ten offensive linemen, the focus is turning toward developing consistency and continuity.
Coach Pinkel was asked about the possibility of playing Maty Mauk a series each game?
“Yeah, we’re definitely considering it,” replied Coach Pinkel. “He’s got to continue to get better. I think that’s important. You know, we’ve done that in the past………………………………… I think it works best if you’ve got a quarterback, obviously, the quarterback’s got to (be someone who) we feel ready (is) to play. I think it works really well for your football team if you can do it. Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work. But we’re without question considering it. We just want to see him continue to get better.”
Coach Pinkel stated that Mauk is “getting a lot better”. He said that he’s "a lot better than he was in the spring, certainly a lot better than he was probably seven, eight, nine, ten practices ago”.
Coach Pinkel said that they’re not sure that Mauk will play. He indicated that how Mauk plays will be paramount in the decision.
With most of their personnel decisions behind them, the coaching staff is turning their focus to preparing the guys who are going to play.
“We’ve got to now start getting our top players, and working with our top two teams, and them getting most of the reps,” explained Coach Pinkel. “Because, we’re getting down to, as of this Saturday night, we’re getting down to two weeks.”