On Sunday, the weather was balmy, and the Missouri Tigers practiced in full pads for over two hours on a sunlit Faurot Field.
Afterwards, Missouri Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson talked about the work that the Tigers got in on Sunday.
“It was a good practice! It was spirited,” said Coach Henson. “The guys fly around, and they competed. From that standpoint, I was pleased with the effort. I think, you know, especially when those young guys get in there, and they kind of get their reps and get going. It’s fun to watch those guys. They’re hungry to get out there and play! So, from that standpoint, I was pleased with it. That’s fun! You get to see the young guys, and kind of see their talent. And you get to coach them. You get to see those guys get out there and make some plays. So, you’re kind of looking into the future, and looking at what those guys can do. And, trying to get a gauge for what you think their top end potential might be.”
There were a lot of questions before and after practice regarding the pending announcement that Missouri Defensive Coordinator Dave Steckel has accepted the head coaching job at Missouri State. A formal announcement will be made in Springfield this afternoon. At mid-day, Stec was still on the practice field with the Tigers.
Brad McNulty is still out with a sprained knee. Matt Hoch, Jimmie Hunt, and Ish Witter were all still out, and are listed as day-to-day. Kendall Blanton injured his elbow on Saturday, and he was held out of practice on Sunday. Desean Blair was held out of practice on Sunday with an undisclosed injury.
With Cortland Browning out for the bowl game, the Tigers now have a trio of young safeties working with the second unit. Red-shirt freshman Anthony Sherrils continues to work with the second-team defense, behind Brayon Webb at strong safety, while red-shirt freshman Shaun Rupert and true freshman Thomas Wilson are splitting reps behind Ian Simon at second-team free safety. Wilson is a fast riser, and a ball hawk.
Another true freshman, Tavon Ross, who missed basically all of camp while awaiting clearance, is getting his first chance to shine in front of his position coach and the other defensive coaches. He’s already displaying his immense talent, as well as his own ball-hawking ability.
“Tavon wasn’t here during two-a-days, so I never got to coach him before now,” explained Coach Grinch. “I’m actually getting to coach him.”
With a bit of a peek toward next year, Coach Henson talked about the young receiver corps.
“You know, Nate Brown is really the young guy that’s played this year,” explained Coach Henson. “So, he’s been in there and getting reps. He’s really the one guy that’s had the opportunity, and he’s developed. You know, there’s some other young guys there, and they’re still kind of waiting on their chance through spring football, and obviously next season. These first few (bowl) practices, we take all of those guys and kind of throw them out there on the field. And, there’s some talent out there. So it’s nice to see those guys running around. And, they’re moving around well, and they’re making some plays. So, I think the talent’s there. And obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do to develop those guys.”
“They’re further along now than they were in fall camp,” said Coach Henson. “They’ve progressed! They’ve gotten better………………………………. They’re further along, and I think there’s talent there. That’s the good news. Obviously, they’re going to have to make a lot of improvement fast, because they’re going to be pushed into action next year.”
Coach Washington talked about that trio of true freshmen receivers, who have spent the season working on the scout team.
“Practice went good,” said Coach Washington. “Those guys have been working hard. From this fall when they first got here until now, there’s no question they’re better. Working on the scout team, working with our defense, it does wonders for kids! It teaches you how to play with great tempo. You’re going against our best football players every day in practice. And if you take it seriously and work real hard, it makes you better. So right now, I think those guys are better.”
Coach Henson also talked about red-shirt freshman TE Jason Reese.
“I think (Jason Reese) is really talented,” said Coach Henson. “I think he’s got to improve his intensity. But I think once the intensity matches the talent, I think that he can be a really good player.”
Coach Henson talked about the young guys along the offensive line.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of competition next year,” said Coach Henson. “I look at it right now, and I see some of these young guys that are out here playing, and I think some of those guys have got a real shot, if they keep improving, to get in there and give us some quality depth, and even challenge for playing time and starting positions. I think it’s going to be a fun spring. We’re going to have a lot of good talent there, coming through, and fighting for a few spots.”
The Tigers will resume their bowl practices on Friday, following exams.