April showers fell throughout central Missouri on Thursday afternoon, and the Missouri Tigers practiced indoors in full pads for two-and-a-half hours. The intensity was high, and the players were enthusiastic, as the defense once again prevailed over the offense.
Both coaches and players appeared to be enjoying their work, which featured an emphasis on individual fundamentals, along with the usual team periods.
Thursday was red-shirt freshman Anthony Sherrils' second day working at the safety position, after moving over from corner, and afterwards, safeties coach Alex Grinch talked about how his new pupil is doing.
"I feel good about how Anthony is doing," explained Coach Grinch. "Like anything else, you slow down when you're thinking too much. I drafted him as best as I could. I stood on the table trying to get him."
"Anthony is a young guy in the program at 195 pounds," continued Coach Grinch. "From the speed and athleticism standpoint, you get awfully excited about him in that safety position! We're taking a look at it, ultimately trying to find what's best for him and what's best for the team. He has the capability of playing both safety and corner. Really, those are the type of guys you certainly want. The safety position is changing so much. You've got to be a corner skillset in a safety's body. And I believe he has the ability to do it. We're evaluating him."
Coach Grinch also talked about what he wants to see from his three-year starter at safety in senior Braylon Webb.
"One of the things I want from (Braylon Webb) is finding the play that's not coming to him, he goes and finds it," explained Coach Grinch. "I use the term "hunt". He's got to hunt plays. You know, that linebacker that doesn't make the play, Braylon's there to clean it up."
Another assistant coach, Andy Hill, talked about the first-team QB, Maty Mauk, and the leadership he brings to the field.
"When you're the starting quarterback, you're in that (leadership) role," explained Coach Hill. "He was in that role last year. And, he was in that role in high school. He's used to being in that role. So, I don't think it's any different now."
Coach Hill talked about the air of confidence that Mauk exudes when he's on the field.
"The one thing about playing quarterback is that whoever's in the driver's seat, whoever's the starter at quarterback, I think he always has snappier answers, he's got more confidence, he plays that way," continued Coach Hill. "And, I think that's been true for Maty this spring. If you make plays, people will respect how you play."
I've noticed that Mauk has really improved his throwing mechanics, which has resulted in his being more accurate throwing the football. His experience of throwing the football a lot in high school shows as well, as he knows how to make a lot of different throws. He's adjusting to the smaller windows.
Coach Hill said that they're working with Mauk on "ball placement, consistent drops, stuff that he can work on". Coach Hill said that Mauk "threw very well in the last scrimmage".
"I mean, we're comfortable with what Maty is doing," said Coach Hill. "He's just got to keep getting better."
"There's a lot of guys playing well," cautioned Coach Hill. "But it's about being consistent."