Friday/Saturday Practice Reports

After two days of practically no contact, practice became more intense on Friday when the players put on their shoulder pads and started hitting. As well, the Tigers had their first early practice on Saturday with an 8:15 start, but it didn't seem there was any energy lost. With a skirmish at midfield and some of the loudest hits of the young camp, the intensity grew even more during the team's fourth practice. Pinkel.

FRIDAY's REPORT:

Senior cornerback Michael Harden had one of the bigger hits, laying out receiver Arnold Britt on a crossing pattern. Britt got hit hard again when linemen Brian Smith and C.J. Mosley both hit him. Marcus Bacon put a hard shot on running back Tyrone Roberson.

"You have to be careful with the shoulder pads on, because you don't have anything below them," coach Gary Pinkel said. "It allows you to get a lot more contact. In every drill that we have, we have a tempo for the drill, and if you want to practice aggressively but safe, you have to play within the tempo."

On offense, Brad Smith has been his own self, running well and it shows he has worked hard on his throwing, although he did miss some passes. Chris Crosby made a good catch over Terrence Curry, but later he dropped one that quarterback turned safety Josh Hibbetts intercepted. Receiver Sean Coffey and new tight end Victor Sesay have both looked impressive so far, but both have shown some hands problems.

Defensively, Harden has shown why, unlike many before him, he has lasted in the starting lineup for all three years under Pinkel. In addition to his hit on Britt, Harden also had an nice interception and several good deflections.

"Mike Harden played and did some good things last year, so now you want him to get All-Big 12 honors this year," Pinkel said. "The best way to lead is to be a great player number one."

It's hard to miss safeties David Overstreet and Nino Williams because they are yelling the whole practice, mostly to compliment other defenders' plays.

On special teams, Alex Petterson and Mike Matheny continue their battle for the kicker spot. Both made all of their kicks on Friday, including one each from 35 yards. Thomson Omboga and Marcus James have been returning punts.

SATURDAY's REPORT:

"The intensity is something you want," Pinkel said. "You want that competitive environment. Sometime tempers get a little flared over. That's OK, as long as we keep it under control."

The hardest hit gave Missouri quite a scare. New tight end Victor Sesay, who has been the best at his position so far in practice, caught a pass from Sonny Riccio and then took a tough hit from Terrence Curry. Sesay immediately yelled in pain, grabbing his left leg.

The trainers took a look at him, and Gary Pinkel said it was only a scare. "Victor, yeah, he's OK," Pinkel said.

It was a day for the defense on Saturday, with both the first and second team catching several interceptions. Senior cornerback Michael Harden had at least two, which led David Overstreet to yell, "Michael, you're hogging all of the takeaways."

Josh Hibbetts, Dedrick Harrington, Marcus King and receiver turned cornerback Shirdonya Mitchell all had interceptions Saturday, although most were against third string quarterback Brandon Coleman and fourth stringer Brett Weeks.

Although second string quarterback hasn't been throwing as well as he did in the spring, he had the play of the day when he made a nice cut and ran past the defense. Receiver Thomson Omboga made some good catches practicing with Brad Smith and the first-team offense.

Freshman running back Marcus Woods continues to impress coaches, and he has taken handoffs with the first and second teams.

"He's pretty quick," Pinkel added. "He's got some girth and got some thick muscle. He's got a great future."

The team practiced kickoff coverage for the first time today. As for the kickers, Alex Petterson made more kicks than Mike Matheny in a battle that will most likely go until the opener against Illinois. Petterson made a 48 yarder before the kicking drill ended.

On Sunday, the team goes into full pads, but still will not be tackling.


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