On Friday, the Missouri Tigers practiced in shoulder pads for over two hours. Once again, the emphasis on this practice was on getting reps for the young players, what is referred to within the Missouri Football Program as an AB Practice.
Coach Pinkel said after practice on Friday that the Tigers would have a “regular Tuesday practice” on Saturday in preparation for playing Minnesota. Then, the Tigers will have a “regular Wednesday practice” on Sunday, before the team relocates to Orlando on Monday.
The Tigers will resume practice on Christmas Day, with a couple more AB practices, before beginning their final regular week of game preparation on Sunday, December 28, with a repeat of their regular Tuesday practice.
“I’m pleased with the progress so far,” said Coach Pinkel, following Friday’s practice. “These are really good practices for all of those young players. They get a lot of work, and we get to see them.”
Jimmy Hunt had shoulder surgery on Wednesday and will miss the bowl game.
“It just got too painful,” explained Coach Pinkel, shedding some light on Hunt’s labrum injury and the timing of the repair.
In his stead, freshman Nate Brown is taking reps at the H WR position. Gavin Otte is Hunt’s back-up, and the senior will also see action at that position.
“(Gavin) Otte will do a good job there,” explained Coach Pinkel. “Nate Brown’s been in there doing a good job in there, too. Those are probably the one-two punch there. We moved Nate in there to get the work. He’s been working at the wide spot. But this really gives him an opportunity to learn what we’re doing inside. I think he’s done a really, really good job!”
“This is just five practices shy of another spring football we’re getting,” continued Coach Pinkel. “So, we can put a Nate Brown in there and just practice and get after it, and he’ll have plenty of time to learn the position, and the little things with it. I think he’s doing really, really well. And Gavin Otte’s doing really well, too. So, we’ll make that decision as we always do.”
Corbin Berkstresser missed Friday’s practice to participate in his graduation ceremony. Coach Pinkel said that there will be some other players who will miss practice on Saturday for graduation.
“I’m real proud of our college graduates,” said Coach Pinkel. “I told our team, if you haven’t graduated, you’re one semester closer to it.”
Coach Pinkel also said that the team will spend the weekend preparing for and studying Minnesota. He wants them to be ready to play the game when they depart for Orlando on Monday. Then, they’ll continue to prepare for Minnesota in Orlando.
With the emphasis on young players getting reps, there are several young players making a solid impression. It’s not just true freshmen, either, as young players like Clay Rhodes, Nate Crawford, Jason Reese, Anthony Sherrils, and A.J. Logan are making their mark, as well. And of course, it’s a lot of good work for the true freshmen.
Sherrils, Shawn Rupert, and Thomas Wilson were getting a lot of work at safety. Brandon Lee was one of the young LBs taking advantage of the reps. And Spencer Williams and Rocel McWilliams were getting in a lot of reps working behind Charles Harris and Marcus Loud.
The work these young guys are getting in now will pay huge dividends later. It will serve as a jump-start to their development.