On Thursday, the Missouri Tigers took to Faurot Field for their final scrimmage of fall camp. The first-team offense ran the football effectively, but the passing game was not as consistently effective.
“It’s real important to be consistent,” said Coach Pinkel, who spoke at length to his team following the scrimmage. “It’s very difficult to be a real good football team if you’re don’t get consistent play out of all 11 offensive players and all 11 defensive players, and your punt team, and your field goal block team………………………………………….. It’s not about being perfect, but it’s about being a consistent player so that we can become a consistent offense and a consistent defense. And, they got the message. I think they understand it. And, we’ve got to just work hard and get better.”
First-team QB Maty Mauk was just 4-11-0 for 28 yards passing, but first-team tailbacks Russell Hansbrough (3 carries, 66 yards, 1 TD) and Marcus Murphy (5 carries, 54 yards) had big holes to run through at the line of scrimmage. Hansbrough scored on a 55-yard jaunt over the right side.
“I thought we did pretty good,” said Mauk, following the scrimmage. “We went down and we scored points. Obviously, we want six, and not three. But, you’ll take it when you need it. That’s going to be our main focus this week, turning all of those threes into six.”
Later, freshman TB Trevon Walters (4 carries, 23 yards, 1 TD) scored from 1 yard out. His TD was set up by a 35-yard pass completion to Walters from Eddie Printz. Printz rolled to his right, extending the play, and lofted the ball over the defense to the freshman, who nearly made it to the goal line before freshman corner Logan Cheadle dragged him down. Freshman TB Ish Witter also carried the football 7 times for 67 yards. Both freshmen tailbacks put in a strong bid to be included in the playing rotation this year.
The following players did not participate due to injury: Matt Hoch (pec), Morgan Steward (hip), John Gibson (hamstring), Jimmie Hunt (hamstring), Gavin Otte (ankle), Eric Laurent (finger), and Tyler Hanneke. Hoch and Steward are both expected to be ready to play next week. Hunt and Gibson might be ready for the opener, as well. There were no new injuries to report.
Andrew Baggett had another good day, going 3-for-3, including a 47-yarder.
Overall, the top two defensive units put pressure on the QBs, and came up with turnovers. Harold Brantley recorded 2 sacks, and Ian Simon forced a fumble. But they were victimized by the run game. Eric Beisel received a gift from Mauk, as the QB started to dump the ball off to Hansbrough on a check down. Charles Harris was in his face, and Mauk attempted to stop his throwing motion. But the ball came out backward and on the ground. Beisel picked it up and raced 52 yards for a score.
Another defensive highlight came on a beautiful pass completion from Mauk to Darius White down the right sideline, that instead became an impressive pass-break-up. Just as White caught the 25+yard pass and started to come down in bounds, red-shirt freshman safety Anthony Sherrils arrived to knock White out-of-bounds and dislodge the football.
The staff is facing a handful or so of decisions regarding the last of the position battles. Coaches said after Thursday’s scrimmage that they hope to complete those evaluations and make those decisions by the time the team begins game week preparation on Saturday, possibly even as early as Thursday afternoon. Most of these final decisions involve whether or not to play a true freshman.
Many of the freshmen have really gotten better since the first scrimmage just 10 days ago. Coach Pinkel talked about the potential and progress of the freshmen.
“Honestly, this freshmen class, I mean, the receiving corps, the linebackers, defensive backs, across the board, I couldn’t be more excited about the potential of this freshmen class,” said Coach Pinkel. “It’s one of the tops we’ve had. Now, where will that go? How hard are they going to work to be great players? How committed are they going to be? How quickly is it going to take for them to be committed to be great players? You know, I think there’s a lot of factors to look at there. But we’ve got a lot of really good young players! And, there’s a lot of good young players in the secondary. We have a lot, and I’m really excited about that. You never really know what you got. I mean, you trust your evaluation system, but you never know until you get them out here. And you’ve seen a lot of these guys get so much better just in the last few days.”
As one coach explained, it’s one thing for the freshman to be ready to play, ready to help the team. But also to be taken into consideration is just how much the young player is likely to play.