On Saturday, the Missouri Tigers scrimmaged for over two hours on Faurot Field. The defense came out on top in a closely contested battle by a final score of 18-16.
Nearly all of the previously injured players were back on the field for Saturday's scrimmage. From among those previously listed with the top two units, only Matt Hoch (ankle) and Kentrell Brothers (shoulder) were sidelined. Junior TB Russell Hansbrough played, but he was unable to finish the scrimmage as he re-injured his shoulder. He's toughing it out, as he'll have shoulder surgery following Spring Football.
But senior TB Marcus Murphy played through his sprained ankle and he had a big day, finishing with 58 yards and 3 TDs on 9 rushing attempts. Murphy accounted for all of the end zone penetration on the day, scoring on runs of 3yards, and twice on runs from 9 yards out. The 3-yard TD run was especially encouraging, as Murphy took a pitch from starting QB Maty Mauk on the speed-option and made the left pylon. Mauk doesn't typically run that play anywhere nearly as effectively as did James Franklin, so it was good to see a play that was very effective for Missouri in the red zone last season produce a TD on Saturday.
Afterwards, Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel talked about the scrimmage.
"It was a pretty good day," said Coach Pinkel. "It's pretty amazing! All of camp, it seems like every practice we have and every scrimmage we have comes down to one play at the end. So I think that's really good. It's been very, very competitive. The defense has won more, but it's gone down to the end. There's things we have to improve upon, obviously, in all areas. Some of the younger players, and some of the players that are getting a little more experience, you can just see them growing a little bit. And, that's what you want, to see them getting a little bit better. Certainly, we'll finish next week, and then they're going to go back at it all summer, and then we'll get them back in August, and we'll get about 27 practices in before we play our first game. Overall, we came out pretty good injury-wise."
Sophomore starting QB Maty Mauk had another good scrimmage. He finished 16-26-0 for 153 yards passing, and twice drove his team into position for TDs in the two-minute drill. On the first two-minute drive, Mauk dropped a perfect pass in between defenders for a 24-yard completion down the right sideline to Levi Copelin, who made a nice over-the-shoulder grab. Then, Mauk hit Jimmie Hunt right in stride on a skinny post down the left hash for a 31-yard gain. That set it up for Murphy's 9-yard scamper toward the left pylon. On that one, Murphy started up inside, but quickly took it to the outside and outran the edge defenders, extending the football for the score.
Coach Pinkel said that things are starting to slow down for Mauk.
"What happens when a quarterback gets experience, everything starts slowing down," explained Coach Pinkel, talking about Mauk. "And, that's where he is right now. He's starting to see things he didn't see a year ago. And so, then you can expand with him a little bit. You know, you can say, okay, on this particular play, before you go to your base read, if you've got a mismatch in personnel, you can take number one to the boundary. The first year, you'd never say those things to him. He's not ready. So, all of those things have really advanced……………………………………………… He's sees a lot more."
Coach Pinkel talked about a couple of young players who looked good on Saturday.
"Levi Copelin is doing a lot of good things," said Coach Pinkel. "We're very pleased with his progress. J'Mon Moore, today, too! He's a real young player. He stood out. Some guys are standing out on defense, also. It's kind of a neat thing to see that! You know, ultimately, you just keep getting better and better, so you've gotten into position to play."
Copelin finished with 2 receptions for 29 yards, while Moore finished the day with 7 catches for 58 yards.
Seniors Bud Sasser (5 receptions for 55 yards) and Jimmie Hunt (4 receptions for 54 yards) each had good days catching the football, as well.
Red-shirt freshman back-up QB Eddie Printz was better than his final numbers, as he was victimized by some dropped passes, and he finished 8-17-0 for 74 yards passing. It appears to me that Printz may have moved ahead of junior Corbin Berkstresser (13-22-2 for 110 yards), who was twice picked off by sophomore corner Aarion Penton, including the decisive interception at the goal line that ended the scrimmage.
"Overall, I'm pleased with the scrimmage," explained Coach Pinkel. "There's always lots of things to get corrected. But, there were a lot of good things. And, we stayed healthy, which is so critical."