Questions being answered this spring

With several key losses on both sides of the ball, Missouri has taken this off season to redefine its two-deep, adjust it's defense and work on a passing game that finished last season ranked 11th in the conference. From insider accounts, the Tigers are right on schedule to solving many of their early concerns. We'll look at how the offense is shaping up in today's report.

OFFENSE RB: The Tigers have not missed a beat this spring given the loss of school leading rusher, Zach Abron. Damien Nash has continued to add muscle weight, while keeping his forty time in the mid 4.4 range. Redshirt freshman Marcus Woods has also shown excellent moves and accelleration coming out of the backfield and on punt returns. The term, "ankle-breaking moves" is often used when talking about Woods' style. Head coach Gary Pinkel has said that both Nash and Woods should see several plays each game playing together in Missouri's backfield.

WR: The starters are Thomson Omboga, Sean Coffey and Brad Ekwerekwu. However, Jason Ray and Greg Bracey have established themselves as rotational players at the very least. If any of the starters fail to perform in the fall, the coaches now have at least two good alternatives to turn to.

OL: Joe Gianino's "move" to center was predictably short lived. Nobody is going to simply give a starting position to an unproven redshirt freshman, even if his name is Adam Spieker. However, a few injuries forced Pinkel's coy hand earlier than he might have wanted, and Spieker has not disappointed. Already, the youngster has had some excellent one-on-one battles with CJ Mosley and Atiyyah Ellison. One insider told us that Spieker is already playing at a level comparable to some of the better senior linemen last year. Barring injury, it looks like Tigers fans will have another cornerstone center to watch for the next four seasons. The guard and tackle positions are still in flux. Gianino figures to be one starting guard, while Tony Palmer will be the other starter at guard. However, don't forget about Mike "The Pancake Maker" Cook if either starter gets injured. The tackles appear to be set with Scott Paffrath on one side and either Joel Clinger or Tony Clinker manning the other side.

TE: Missouri will have some interesting decisions to make. DeQuincy Howard has shown excellent speed and playmaking ability catching the ball. Clint Matthews is the senior leader of the group and still possesses the best blocking skills and is a reliable receiver. The two freshmen, Barbo and Rucker, have had good springs as well. And then there is Victor Sesay who is still rehabbing from an injury suffered in the fall. It is uncertain if Sesay will be 100% by the start of fall practices, but insiders believe he will probably be ready by at least the first game.

QB: Brad Smith has been getting a steady diet of staying in the pocket and looking for his receivers quicker. Smith's passing arm is not in question. What coach's have been trying to develop are quicker recognitions of defensive coverages and when receivers are going to flash open. Smith has been hesitant in the past of throwing into coverage and getting picked off. The staff are trying to get him to relax and anticipate more this spring. Brandon Coleman has had some good moments and some not so good moments this spring. Coleman has a strong arm and is a good runner. However, accuracy continues to be an issue for the youngster. It is far from clear at this point whether Coleman will be in a position to be a suitable backup for Smith next fall. If he fails to build more confidence with the staff over the next week, expect to see both Chase Patton and Darrell Jackson competing for that second-team QB position in the fall.


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