In 90-degree heat on Tuesday afternoon, the Missouri Tigers practiced for over two hours in full pads on the Kadlec Athletic Fields. As practice got underway, a few of the veteran players joked that it was “too hot”. Afterwards, as the players left the field, they did not have to be reminded to enter the cold water recovery tubs.
“I thought overall, it was a good practice,” said Coach Pinkel, following Tuesday's practice. “You know, it’s a different day just because they’re out of camp right now. So, the habits of getting good sleep when you’re out of camp, we’re not controlling those things. And eating habits, and hydrating themselves, and so on and so forth are critical to the team. The players got to take care of their bodies. And, the heat was good today. I’m glad we got it. It wasn’t that extraordinarily hot, but the radiation was good. We needed it. And, we got to battle through that a little bit. So, that was good. And overall, I thought it was good work.”
The injury list included Wesley Leftwich and Michael Brennan, who wore red jerseys and sat out all drills, and E.J. Gaines and Greg White, who wore red pull-overs, and went through some drills. Coach Pinkel said that Gaines was “about 70%”. They’re looking forward to getting him back to 100% in time for the season.
I didn’t see much in the way of changes to the Depth Chart, which appears close to being set, except for a few ongoing position battles, mostly for second-team spots. The one starting job that remains unsettled is the corner back position opposite of Gaines. And, there's the matter of the third corner, who can be considered a starter of sorts, since he's on the field with the first-team defense in passing situations.
Three corners, Gaines, Randy Ponder, and Ernest Payton, are out ahead in the competition at corner back. Behind those three there are four corners who are even heading into Thursday’s scrimmage. That quartet includes David Johnson, who’s been working with the first group, John Gibson, Xavier Smith, and Aarion Penton.
Coach Pinkel talked about there being positions to be determined and decisions to be made following Thursday’s scrimmage.
“There’s a lot of positions that we have to make some decisions on, third team battling second team, or second team battling first team, and different kicking areas, and so on and so forth,” explained Coach Pinkel. “Red-shirting. So, a lot of decisions have to be made. They’re things we’ve talked about over and over, but it will come to a point on Thursday, where we’ve got to make them.”
Coach Pinkel mentioned a few names of freshmen for whom decisions will have to be made whether they’ll red-shirt or not. He mentioned Jason Reese as a player who is on that cusp. He also mentioned Josh Augusta, but he seemed to suggest that Augusta will play.
“Josh Augusta is a really talented, big athletic athlete,” said Coach Pinkel, speaking of the Tigers’ current number five defensive tackle. “So, he’s battling in there too. So, it’s kind of nice to have a young player in there who has put himself in position to maybe help the team this year.”
Coach Pinkel said that they’ll play “seven or eight” wide receivers.
He said that Thursday’s scrimmage will begin with the starters on the field for one quarter of game conditions. Then, he said that each player will get in a predetermined number of plays.
On the adjacent field, Jake Hurrell and Sean Culkin long-snapped to a collection of holders, including Braylon Webb, Levi Copelin, Eric Laurent, Cameron Chancey, and Trent Hosick. Andrew Baggett, Luke Jackson, and Blake Owens each worked diligently on kicking the football through the uprights.
Coach Pinkel talked about his kicker and punter.
“I think we need a little more consistency from Andrew Baggett,” said Coach Pinkel. “But, he makes pressure kicks. He’s always done that. He’s certainly gotten better. His kickoffs have been really, really good this year. It’s all about focus, and mental toughness. But I think for the most part, he’s been pretty good.”
“(Christian) Brinser has been doing extraordinarily well,” said coach Pinkel. “I mean, really!”
“He went to a camp this summer,” explained Coach Pinkel, continuing to talk about Brinser. “We encourage those kickers to go to camps, because of the detailed work that they get, and the attention in coaching………………………………… He’s really, really doing well.”