The Missouri Tigers held a shortened half scrimmage on Saturday morning instead of their scheduled second full scrimmage due to injury and depth issues according to head coach Gary Pinkel.
"Because of injury standpoints and some other things, we decided to half scrimmages. That's half of it, and we'll continue on Tuesday, and I think we made a pretty good adjustment and made it through and obviously there good things we did and things we need to improve and get better at," said Pinkel.
The Tigers defense again won the day on the half scrimmage 8-4.
The question is: Is the defense really this dominant or is the offense struggling that much? The answer is a little bit of both.
Another dominant defensive performance, this time led by the Tigers linebacking corps, with outstanding days by Kentrell Brothers, Clarence Green, Michael Scherer, Donvain Newsom, Roderick Winters and Joey Burkett, who each stood out on various plays. Brothers led the defense in tackles with 6 followed by Green with 5 and Scherer and Winters with 4 each.
The experience at the position showed, and some things have been simplified under new defensive coordinator Barry Odom, which appears to have helped the play of Green and Newsom as we see more of the three linebacker set and less nickel from the defense in these past two scrimmages.
Scherer has taken on a stronger leadership role this spring helping his fellow linebackers, as well as helping direct the young defensive line.
The defensive line continued to be dominant with Charles Harris continuing to pose a problem for whatever offensive tackle has the unenviable task of blocker him. Harris had a sack on the day, and was disruptive on most plays.
Red-shirt freshman Walter Brady was impressive again on the day with three tackles and putting pressure on the offense with penetration. Brady, who uses his hands very well, also had a bat down on a pass play. His maturity level is surprising for a freshmen, along with his physical development. At 6'3" 255 pounds he is well put together and has a high motor which he uses on every play.
Right now, Brady is ahead of fellow freshmen DEs Rocel McWilliams and Spencer Williams, and is the third DE behind Harris and Marcus Loud. McWilliams had the better day between he and Williams and had a couple tackles.
DT Rickey Hatley has moved ahead of Josh Augusta for the DT spot opposite Harold Brantley. Hatley is a man on a mission and give good push up the middle next to Brantley, who has been tough to block during this spring. The move of Hatley to first team will also help light a fire under Augusta. Fellow second teamer Evan Winston had three tackles during the scrimmage. Winston looks like he will provide solid depth atthe DT position. A.J. Logan showed a nice motor playing on the third team and could be heard from come August.
Strong showings on the day from defensive backs Aarion Penton, Kenya Dennis, Logan Cheadle and David Johnson. Cheadle is the #3 corner on defense. Johnson made some nice plays with the second team. The play and depth at cornerback made the move of Wingo to slot easier to do.
Shaun Rupert had a good showing at his safety position. I really like what I see from Rupert. Injuries are allowing him to get more time and showcase his ability.
The offense seemed more comfortable today if not more productive.
While Maty Mauk was only 2-9 for 9 yards. He did have 3 scrambles for 18 yards.
Back-up Eddie Printz showed marked improvement from last week's scrimmage, while finishing 8-13 for 38 yards. Most of his completions coming on short passes to backs and TEs.
Third team QB Marvin Zanders continued to impress me with his QB skills and way he runs a team. Zanders does the little things well and has a smoothness about him to go with his big play running ability. He also had the best deep ball on the day in a completion to Kellum, who caught the ball and continued to run, which helped Zanders finish with 73 yards on 4 of 6 passing. I was surprised that Zanders did not get a series or two with the second unit offense.
Hansbrough had a limited day of 5 carries. Ish Witter is back in Florida for personal reasons, making a limited depth at running back even more so. Tyler Hunt really runs hard and gave a good effort.
The receiving corps is still in need of a go-to or big play receiver to step up.
Walk -on Eric Laurent continues to be steady in the slot.
Red-shirt freshman Raymond Wingo showed something today after switching to the slot position from cornerback this week. Wingo received special attention from receivers coach Pat Washington when he was in there, and finished with 2 catches for 20 yards officially, including an athletic catch in the red zone. Wingo certainly looks the part as you can see his speed and quickness on every play, even if he is not the intended target. He will bring a dynamic to the receivers that is missing for now; big play ability.
J'Mon Moore had a solid day out there. I was expecting Moore to separate himself from the pack and possibly be that go to guy the Tigers desperately need. However, that has not happened yet.
Desean Blair got reps with the first team and continues to do well.
The TEs got work as Clayton Echard led all receivers with 4 catches. Red-shirt freshman Kendall Blanton has a couple on the day,
The biggest takeaway on the day on offense for me was the play of sophomore Nate Crawford, who started the day as the first team right tackle. I wrote about Crawford's play last week, and interviewed him, but he improved even since last week. He did a great job going against Marcus Loud on the day, and really impressed me with his pass blocking skills. Crawford showed good footwork and a strong base using his hands well and moving his quick feet to keep Loud at bay. He also improved his run blocking skills.
Clay Rhodes continues to battle and will do so with Crawford. Rhodes could also move inside and play guard at some point as the Tigers look to play the best five offensive linemen at the same time.
Second team right guard Kevin Pendleton is in great shape, and will be heard from in time. He is another big, athletic,aggressive young lineman who has a lot of upside and a bright future. I cannot help but wonder if he may challenge for some playing time in 2015.
Chappell continues to hold off Malik Cuellar. Although, Cuellar continues to improve and push him. You can still see Malik learning and thinking instead of reacting. I imagine it will be different come August.
Andrew Baggett was perfect on his two attempts of 32 and 34 yards, and also averaged 38.7 yards on his 3 punts.