On Saturday, the Missouri Tigers held their first practice in preparation for their January 1st Citrus Bowl game against Minnesota. As is their custom, the Tigers approached their first bowl practice with an emphasis on the development of the younger players on the roster.
“Practice today was really good,” said Coach Pinkel. “We get a practice in today and tomorrow. Then, we back off and don’t have any (practices) during finals week. It was a real high enthusiasm, high-energy practice. I’m really very pleased with it.”
“We’ve got a few guys banged up,” continued Coach Pinkel. “You know, it’s been a week since we played. There was just a lot of enthusiasm. They’re excited about getting back at it.”
The “banged up” includes just one player, Cortland Browning, who is expected to miss the bowl game. He had surgery on his foot, and he is expected to be ready for Spring Football. Brad McNulty has a sprained knee. He’ll miss some practice time, but is expected to be able to play on New Year’s Day. Matt Hoch, Jimmie Hunt, and Ish Witter were sidelined on Saturday, and a department spokesman described them as “day-to-day”.
Special teams work featured Christian Brinser, Andrew Baggett, and Tom Kalish practicing punting, while John Gibson, Anthony Sherrils, Aarion Penton, and Ian Simon practiced catching punts and setting up returns. Jake Hurrell, Mitch H. Hall, Sean Culkin, and Sam Bailey were doing the long-snapping.
Coach Pinkel pointed out that a win in the Citrus Bowl would give the Tigers a school-record 23rd win over two seasons.
Coach Pinkel also said that the program has submitted the maximum allowable four names of underclassmen for evaluation by the NFL Draft Advisory Board. He declined to identify which four underclassmen’s names had been submitted.
Regarding his SEC Coach of the Year Award, Coach Pinkel said, “I’m surrounded by great people…………………………………….. You know, that’s very flattering to me. Honestly, it’s never been a goal of mine. But what it means is you’ve got a great group of coaches, you’ve got great players. And generally, that you’ve had very good success. So, I’m just part of the whole group.”
I was impressed with Kevin Pendleton and Spencer Williams. Sam Bailey looks improved. So does A.J. Logan. Brandon Lee always stands out on the practice field. And, it was really good to discover that Keyon Dilosa was back practicing.
Missouri senior captain Bud Sasser said that there’s quality young receiver talent on this football team.
“Next year’s group of red-shirt freshmen wide-receivers is very talented,” said Sasser. “There’s like four or five of them that came in and they picked up the offense like so fast! Not only are they picking up the offense, but they’re also able to read coverages well……………………………………….. They work together, and they feed off of each other. It’s a great group!”
There’s a lot of exciting young talent on this football team.
“We just want the young guys to get the repetitions, receive the coaching” said Coach Pinkel, talking about the early bowl practices. “They’ve been doing scout team. So now, they’re out there running our plays, running our defenses. And, you can coach them up. It’s really a good situation! It’s just nice to see all of those young players out there.”