On Wednesday afternoon, Missouri practiced in helmets and shoulder pads on the Kadlec Athletic Fields for a little over an hour-and-a-half. It was a shortened, light-contact practice in preparation for Thursday’s final scrimmage of fall camp.
The Tigers appear to be acclimated to the heat, and excited to get the season started. But first, there’s the matter of Thursday’s final scrimmage before the season-opening Depth Chart is set, and game preparation begins.
I’m not sure if Hoch and Steward will play in Thursday’s scrimmage, but it appears that both will be ready for game action a week from Saturday. Gibson and Hunt each appear to be making progress toward a return to the field, and I'd say there's a good chance both will be ready for the season-opener.
The team needs the days off they’ll get on Friday and Monday, to heal up a little, and to get their legs back. But as the Missouri players filed out onto the grass fields, I couldn’t help but notice that there are more elite-level and high-level athletes on the practice field than I’ve seen before under Coach Pinkel. This is his deepest, most-talented team.
As we head into Thursday’s final scrimmage, I’ll be looking at the ongoing competitions for the yet-to-be-determined back-up jobs in the offensive backfield, and for the second-string wide-receiver spots. Most of the rest of the jobs are already decided.
“By Saturday, we’re going to pretty much narrow down 98% of what we’re going to do,” explained Coach Pinkel, speaking earlier. “Generally, we always take one or two (freshmen) three weeks in that we might still make a final decision to go with a player. But, we’ll make those final decisions after our Thursday scrimmage, and by Saturday, which will be our first practice for our first game, we’ll be pretty much locked in at that time.”
Coach Pinkel is pleased that his team has been able to practice in the heat. That’s really the only way to get acclimated to playing in it, and it looks like it might be hot for the season-opener.
One wide-receiver who has come into camp and nailed down a spot in the playing rotation is freshman Lawrence Lee, who with Jimmie Hunt on the side line, has been taking the first-team reps in the slot. He’s quite a talent, and he’s seized upon an opportunity.
“(Lawrence Lee) has great quickness, and he’s got great hands,” said Coach Pinkel, speaking of the freshman receiver. “I mean, he seems mature. He doesn’t seem intimidated out there………………………………………… He’s very, very quick. He’s like Murph a little bit, with his quickness. You know, every receiver has their skills they bring. You know, it’s exciting to see that.”