On Thursday afternoon, the Missouri Tigers scrimmaged for the third and final time this fall. The defense outplayed the offense in the unscored competition.
“I thought overall, (the scrimmage) was good,” said Coach Pinkel. “I think we got a lot of the things (done) that we wanted to get done out of it.”
Evan Boehm (foot), Matt Hoch (triceps), and E.J. Gaines (patellar tendon) each sat out the scrimmage, with injuries. They are all expected to return in time for the season opener. Coach Pinkel said that Boehm was held out more as a precaution, suggesting that he could have played if it were a regular-season game.
With Boehm sidelined, Brad McNulty moved up to the first-team offense, and each of the other centers moved up one unit, as well. That caused some continuity issues, and the defensive line took full advantage of that. Even in the absence of Hoch, each of the first two defensive units spent a lot of time in the backfield, and made life difficult for the offense.
After the scrimmage, Coach Pinkel talked about the line play.
“I think we mix-matched a lot of people (along the offensive line),” said Coach Pinkel. “And, we’re pretty good up front on defense. You know, it’s the same thing. You move Evan (Boehm) out, and you move another guy up, and another guy up, and another guy up. If you multiply that times five, like we did a year ago, and you can see some of the issues that we had. I think our offensive line did pretty well overall through camp, just as our defensive line did.”
Coach Pinkel cited one particular defensive lineman as ready to play.
“I think Josh Augusta is a guy that’s doing some good things,” said Coach Pinkel. “He’s a real young player, very athletic. He’s a good kid. He’s got a ways to go in terms of playing like we want him to play after play. But that’s typical. But he’s a guy that I think he’ll help us as a freshman. I really don’t want to comment on anybody else. I’m not positive about anybody else, but I’m almost certain that he will (play) for sure.”
With Hoch sidelined, Harold Brantley and Lucas Vincent lined up with the first-team defense, and Marvin Foster and Josh Augusta lined up inside with the second-team defense. Later, Nate Crawford and Evan Winston got in some reps with the second-team defense. Augusta was dominant! And, Coach Pinkel had good things to say about Brantley, even comparing him to a recently departed defensive tackle who now plays for the NY Jets.
“Harold is a very talented player,” said Coach Pinkel. “He’s a big guy that has great movement, kind of like the guy that left, you know. (There are) similarities…………………………………………….. Fortunately, he plays for us, and I think he has great potential.”
With Gaines out, Ernest Payton and Randy Ponder started at corner, and the Tigers number one defense went to a nickel defense, with Braylon Webb, Ian Simon, and Matt White joining the two corners in the secondary.
Duron Singleton played several series in the slot, as the nickel back, with the second-team defense. All second-team corners rotated with the number two defense, although David Jonson and John Gibson took the first round of reps, before yielding to Aarion Penton and Xavier Smith.
James Franklin and Henry Josey each played well in limited action, and then the Missouri staff turned it over to the back-ups. Franklin finished 6-11-0 for 68 yards and 1 TD. Josey ran for 49 yards on 6 carries.
In addition to the challenge of blocking Missouri’s defensive front, the offense also experienced too may penalties, and other mental errors, including too many dropped passes.
“That’s Missouri beating Missouri,” explained Coach Pinkel. “And, we’ve got to get that fixed.”
As the scrimmage got underway, Maty Mauk led the number two offense against the first-team defense. Murphy took a hand-off and picked up about 7 yards. Then, Mauk hit Darius White out along the left sideline. Payton was right there to break it up. Then, Michael Sam and Kony Ealy combined to sack Mauk.
James Franklin brought the first-team offense out to face the second-team defense, which lined up in their base defense, with Markus Golden and Brayden Burnett flanking Augusta and Foster. Donovan Bonner was flanked by Darvin Ruise and Clarence Green. Gibson and Johnson were joined in the secondary by Cortland Browning and Chaston Ward.
Franklin completed a quick pass for about 6 yards. Then Henry Josey took a hand-off and picked up a first down across midfield. Josey took another hand-off and ran around the right side for about 6 yards. Franklin faked a hand-off, then hit Bud Sasser down the left hash for 24 yards. Franklin scrambled left and overthrew L’Damian Washington in the back of the end zone. Then, Franklin hit Washington right in stride running down the right sideline for 13 yards and the TD. Washington made the over-the-shoulder catch of the perfectly thrown pass in the back right corner of the end zone. The defender was right there, but Franklin laid it just over the defense and dropped it into Washington’s hands.
Mauk brought it the other way, and Matt White made a nice play on the ball of a pass that Darius White had in his hands. Matt White knocked the ball out and simultaneously knocked Darius White out of bounds.
Augusta and Markus Golden stuffed Murphy behind the line of scrimmage. Golden ended up having a very productive scrimmage, and appears to have secured his place in the rotation at defensive end. On third and fifteen, Franklin was under pressure from Foster and Burnett, and he unloaded the ball out of bounds down the left sideline.
Corbin Berkstresser brought out the second-team offense and went the other way against the first-team defense. Josey took a hand-off, and Ealy and Lucas Vincent made the stop after about a 3-yard gain. On third down, Josey spun out of Ealy’s grasp and picked up the first down.
Golden burst through and threw Hansbrough for a loss.
Mauk hit Copelin in the hands out near the right sideline, but it fell incomplete. Then, Mauk’s pass intended for Jimmie Hunt was thrown high and wide. Michael Sam got into the backfield and knocked Mauk’s pass right back at him.
Josey ripped off a nice run, but it was called back. Coach Pinkel said that it was an illegal block that is a new rule this year. He thought it would be good to use as a teaching tool for his players. Franklin’s pass intended for Washington was right on his hands near the right sideline, but Xavier Smith reached in and knocked the ball out. Franklin found Washington along the right side, and the senior fought his way past the first-down marker. Josey took a hand-off and came up just shy of the first-down marker. Then, Dorial Green-Beckham fought off a pass from Franklin that hit him in the hands. Hansbrough picked up the first down. Hansbrough got stuffed on the next one. Ray and Golden were among several player in on that one. Franklin hit Copelin sitting down near the left hash. Facing third and seven, Franklin got it to Green-Beckham, but Penton was right there to make the stop short of the first down.
Eddie Printz brought out the second-team offense. Sam burst through for a sack. Facing third and twenty, Printz’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage by Kentrell Brothers. Ray had raced past the tackle and forced Printz to step up in the pocket.
Mauk got one out quickly along the right side to Darius White for a short gain. On third and three, Vincent and Ray both burst through into the backfield and chased Mauk out of the pocket. The red-shirt freshman QB scrambled away and threw the ball out of bounds.
Berkstresser came in with the third-team offense. He completed a pass to Tyler Hunt, who tried to run after the catch for a first down. Xavier Smith had him by the leg, and a couple of defenders came in to clean it up. Hunt lost the handle, and Eric Beisel came up with the loose ball. Hunt didn’t help himself with that one. Fumbling the football is a no-no with Coach Pinkel. Berkstresser completed a nice pass to Gavin Otte out along the left side for about 9 yards.
Miles Drummond ran left for no gain. Crawford was one of several who were in on the tackle. Printz got it out quickly to Otte for a first down out along the left sideline. Daniel Easterly ran him out of bounds. Printz hit Eric Laurent out along the right sideline. The converted QB had the ball in his hands, but Xavier Smith came in and raked it out. It was ruled incomplete. Printz hung in the pocket and found Clayton Echard down the left seam for a first down. Nice throw and catch!
Morgan Steward took a hand-off from Mauk, who probably should have kept it on the zone read. Augusta, Burnett, and Foster were in the backfield to make the stop as soon as Steward took the hand-off.
On the next play, the entire defensive line met at the QB. A couple of plays later, Mauk exited the pocket prematurely, and managed to pick up 7 yards on the scramble.
Berkstresser stood in the pocket and dropped the football. Golden was there to cover the fumble. Later, Berkstresser completed a nice pass down the middle to Sean Culkin for a nice gain.
Printz was under some duress, but managed to get the ball to Jake Brents for a first down. That pass appeared to be headed for an interception, but Printz managed to squeeze it in there.
Late in the scrimmage, Ian Simon fielded a punt near mid-field and wound his way through traffic into the end zone. It was negated, however, by a yellow flag in the middle of the field.
Once again, Coach Pinkel heaped praise on junior punter Christian Brinser, who averaged 44.9 yards/punt on 10 punts, including placing 3 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Coach Pinkel has faith in his kicker, as well. He said that his “expectation level is very, very high” for sophomore Andrew Baggett, who was 3-4 on field goals on Thursday, and who Coach Pinkel said “can be a great kicker”.