Mizzou can only hope at this point that their latest incursion with the NCAA is as unproductive as today's skies, for prized recruit Tony Temple's future is at stake.
The weather was clouds with intermittent sunshine, and a slight, but cool wind, as the Tigers continued their week-long practice in shorts and shells. They did so without Temple, the highly-touted freshman from Kansas City Rockhurst. He practiced with the team Monday and Tuesday, but won't be able to rejoin any team functions until the NCAA Clearinghouse gives their approval.
The decision facing the NCAA is currently a toss-up. Temple is excruciatingly close to qualifying, and in cases this close, the Clearinghouse usually allows admittance. The key word is "usually," and this is Missouri. A place where, even now, Bill McCartney would bitch about our playing surface (and Charles Johnson would still be short of the goal line).
MU hopes to have Temple back in uniform as quickly as possible, but undoubtably, they'll be elated if they get him back in uniform at all.
Before venturing further in this article please be properly advised. WARNING: We haven't put the pads on yet!
EVEN WITHOUT A TEMPLE, MU BACKFIELD IS LARGE (in Numbers): Despite missing Temple, MU continues to show impressive depth in the backfield. The MAN is obviously Damien Nash. As much as I like Marcus Woods, Damien is obviously the frontrunner right now. He has obviously put in the work this summer, and it shows. Last year's indecisiveness is gone. If he stays healthy, and the line plays well, this team will rack up some huge running yards. HUGE. Marcus is Marcus. Is he going this way? Is he going that way? Where did he go? How did he get by me? Etc, etc.
The thing I like about the incoming freshman that I saw today is that they already APPEAR (read: we don't have pads on yet) to be up to par with Tyrone Roberson. Obviously he has the edge in knowledge and experience, but both Earl Goldsmith and Jimmy Jackson looked very comfortable in 7-on-7 drills in this offense. The one thing you notice right away about our backfield is its stature. Woods is 5-8, Jackson is 5-9, Viehmann (who I didn't see today) is 5-9, Goldsmith is 5-9, Roberson is 5-10, (Temple is 5-10), and Nash is 5-11. The words "hulking behemoths" do not come immediately to mind when discussing the Tigers' backfield.
CATCHING ON?: On the outside things look much different. My guess is that Brad Smith threw a lot of balls over the summer to Sean Coffey. He seems much more poised catching the ball. He will still have to work to differentiate himself from a growing stable of capable receivers. It seemed like the dropped balls got spread around today. Nobody of note had a lot, but everyone seemed to have a few. Freshman Trenile Washington fits the term used last year on Marcus Woods, "waterbug." He isn't as big as Woods, and will remind a LOT of people of the departed Marcus James. If I had to pick a freshman who might step up quickly this season it would be William Franklin. He certainly has the "get off the bus" look that Pinkle refers to when describing players with great physiques. He had an easy drop today on a sideline route, but then came back on a quick 7-yard in, grabbed it in stride, (and as Mike Kelly would say) "Took it to the House," right up the middle of the "D" on 7-on-7 drills. Coaches are really on him (READ: We need you to learn quickly if you are going to play this year).
NOT A SEASON DOES A DAY MAKE: But, don't assume that the backup QB's job is Chase Patton's job as backup quarterback. After last year, I for one thought it would be, but Brandon Coleman looked much better today than anytime I saw him last year. For that matter, comfort-wise in the pocket, all four of the backups look very good, and I would say all of them looked as good, or better, today than Brandon did at this time last year. Don't get too excited, it is still very early.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Prior to practice MU's solution to the punting problems of last year looked very impressive. Both incumbent Brock Harvey and sophomore Brent Hoenes (6-1, 195, Branson, MO –Pirates) boomed kicks high and the fields width. Things weren't quite so smooth when the coaches arrived. Brock "won" today's contest, but not by much. Each had a 50+ yarder. Most of the kicks were in the 38-44 yard range. However, Harvey had a 20 yarder, a 32, and a 36 yarder. Hoenes poorest went 28 yards, but he had 3 in the 32-33 yard range and another about 37. Harvey gets the slight edge because of hang time. His punts tend to be of the half circle variety, while Hoenes looks more like a hook. That said, from the sound of the competition, Harvey better step up. It was very audible that Hoenes "missed" quite a bit, but was still able to get some decent distance. If he gets his drop straightened out this could be a hotly contested position all year.
In the other kicking contest I couldn't keep track of who doing what, but it is very obvious that Petterson has strengthened his leg over the summer. No longer do his kicks look like he is pooching the ball. This too will be closely contested between 3 and maybe 4 players Petterson, Crossett, Russell and maybe Tantarelli.
ODDS & ENDS: First the odd. Nino Williams hurt a finger early in practice. It was in a makeshift splint very quickly (and kept him from picking off a pass during 7-on-7 drills). More odd. I see why the staff wants to redshirt George Lane (and unless he is needed I think they will). He needs a year of this programs conditioning and fine tuning. Add some weight. Some strength and a little more quickness, and he will be a real handful in the middle. Still more odd. Alex Woodley is practicing with the team, and other than being confused now and again, looks very athletic at DB. Now the end. Another person being yelled at a lot today was … Calcius Williams. He is a bit undersized at 6-4 210 (looked closer to 220), but appears to be quick and have pretty good strength (that was very hard to tell as the D-line ran drills most of the day).
QUOTE of the DAY: "Speed Kills, Strength Punishes!" ...MU Defensive Line Coach