Practice Report: Friday, August 15

With Saturday's scrimmage looming, coach Gary Pinkel gave the Tigers a little break for Friday's two-a-day. However, Saturday's scrimmage will decide several key training camp battles as Missouri hones its squad for Illinois.

Friday's two practices lasted a combined three hours, or near what a usual single practice takes.

Although he has moved down the depth chart and probably will see little playing time, running back Beau Viehmann has shown he will be a great scout player for the Tigers. It seems like every time he gets the ball, he punches it into the defense for at least 5 yards.

Wide receiver Chris Crosby got his chance to take some snaps with the first team today, while Thomson Omboga practiced a little with the second team. Omboga had the better day, including a touchdown reception on the last drill of the afternoon practice.

Omboga, Crosby and Viehmann could all get the chance to stake a spot in Saturday's scrimmage and clear up some of the questions for the offense.

At quarterback, there isn't even a hint of a question mark. Sonny Riccio has improved in the last couple practices, but he isn't even close to Brad Smith. The only really question is what this team would do if Smith ever got hurt. And that is a question Tiger fans don't even want to consider.

The best competition on the offense is at guard, where Joe Gianino and Tony Palmer are fighting for the starting spot. Pinkel has made it clear that both will play. Gianino has a clear speed advantage, beating out all of the offensive linemen in running drills at the end of practice. "I try really hard there," Gianino said. "Speed is a big part of my game."

Preseason All-Big 12 picks A.J. Ricker and Rob Droege continue to look better and better. Droege made a very good block today on Brian Smith. Scott Paffrath and Cliff Young look to be the other starters on the offensive line.

Saturday's scrimmage could go a long way to figuring out who will start at tight end as well. J.D. McCoy has the experience and is a good blocker, but junior college transfer Victor Sesay has the raw talent that Missouri hasn't seen at tight end in a long time. DeQuincy Howard suffered a strained MCL in his left leg on Thursday, and won't play in the scrimmage.

At running back, Zack Abron has done nothing to show he can't be better than he was last year. Abron won't lose the starting spot, but he could lose snaps to junior college transfer Damien Nash. Nash, who runs the 100-yard dash in 10.3 seconds, has better speed and surprisingly good size, but lacks Abron's experience at this point. Tyrone Roberson also is fighting for a spot after a hard-working summer that has clearly shown in camp. Marcus Woods has had the best camp of any freshman, but with the depth at the position, he could be redshirted.

Finally, at receiver, Darius Outlaw, Omboga and Sean Coffey have played the most with Brad Smith and the first-team offense, but this scrimmage could be most important for Crosby to get a chance to unseat one of them for a spot.

Saturday's scrimmage begins at 1 p.m. and is not open to the public. However, Supermizzou will be on hand to provide complete coverage. Check back on Saturday for all the details.

Black & Gold Illustrated Top Stories