On Saturday morning, the Missouri Tigers held their second major scrimmage of fall camp. It was raining outside when the scrimmage got underway, so Coach Pinkel moved it indoors.
On a day when the defense once again appeared to be dominant, the offense prevailed in the scrimmage scoring system by the score of 11-9. Certainly, plenty of plays were made on both sides of the ball. “I thought we got a lot of good work today,” said Coach Pinkel. “We came through it healthy, which is good. And, we’re going to get some guys back (from injury), which is good. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re doing a lot of good things, but to get to where we’re as efficient and as consistent as we can be, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Two weeks from today we’re kicking it off. The clock is ticking down to kick-off.”
The defense was fairly dominant at the level of the first and second team defense. There’s not a huge drop-off between the first and second team defense, and both units were able to apply quite a bit of pressure on the offense.
While there wasn’t much substitution during the scrimmage with the first team defense, a number of players saw action with the second team defense. Harold Brantley took some first-team reps, and there were a few other substitutions associated with specialty packages.
Sean Rupert and Anthony Sherrils split reps at second team safety alongside of Cortland Browning, who had one of the big hits of the day. With John Gibson temporarily sidelined, Logan Cheadle and David Johnson took nearly all of the second team reps at corner, an indication to me that Cheadle is going to play this year.
Thomas Wilson did get in some reps at safety with the second team, and he performed well. It’s clear that the staff is considering playing Wilson, who also saw action on special teams.
Brandon Lee played a lot on special teams, as well as with the second team defense. And, he played very, very well. I think it’s obvious that Brandon Lee is going to play this year. He’s moving up. With Matt Hoch out, Rickey Hatley saw action with the second team defense.
On the offensive side of the football, Taylor Chappell saw action with the first team at right guard, splitting reps with Mitch Hall, and with the second team at guard and right tackle, where he split reps with Clay Rhodes. It’s reassuring to have a starter-quality guy like Chappell ready.
Once again the Tigers were very effective running the football. Russell Hansbrough carried the football 9 times for 59 yards and 2 TDs. Marcus Murphy had 5 carries for 34 yards. The passing game was not as effective as the running game, although the components certainly appear to be in place, and plays are being made. What’s lacking in the passing game, and this may be due to Missouri’s outstanding defensive play, is primarily just consistency of execution. And, it’s not just one thing or one person. It’s a lot of little things, including some errant throws and some dropped passes.
On the day, Maty Mauk completed just 8-of-20 passes for 103 yards.
“I think we have high expectations of Maty Mauk,” said Coach Pinkel. “That’s kind of what happens when you have a lot of ability. I thought he did some really good things. There’s also a lot of things going on out there where you see him maybe have a poor throw, or maybe the receiver’s in the wrong spot, or came out late. There’s a lot things that we see when we analyze. But I have a very high expectation level for him. And, I think he needs to play better. I mean, he did some great things. He made a lot of plays. Again, we want the consistency. And that’s no different than anyone else on the offense.”
In speaking about the freshmen receivers who are in competition for spots in the playing rotation this year, Coach Pinkel identified Nate Brown and Lawrence Lee, who showed himself more than ready with his play during the scrimmage.
“Nate Brown is standing out a little bit,” said Coach Pinkel. “Lawrence Lee is standing out………………………………………. He’s got great quickness and great hands.”
Coach Pinkel went on to say that the staff will decide on the Depth Chart and the playing rotation to begin the season after Thursday’s scrimmage. He suggested that there could be a position battle or two, and a red-shirt decision or two, that might go on into the first couple of weeks of the season.
As for the competition, and the decisions to be made, at the back running back and quarterback positions, there wasn’t clear separation between Berkstresser and Printz, or between Tyler Hunt, Trevon Walters, and Ish Witter.
Regarding the utilization of Marcus Murphy, who worked exclusively at tailback since Tuesday’s scrimmage, Coach Pinkel said that Murphy will continue to play both tailback and slot receiver.