Aug. 18 Practice Report, Part Two

A look at changes in the depth chart after Tuesday's scrimmage, along with details on how the coaching staff decides which freshmen not to redshirt.

If you had come for an updated depth chart following Tuesday morning's scrimmage, you are out of luck.

Coach Gary Pinkel said Wednesday morning that an official depth chart would not be released until Aug. 30, the Monday before the Tigers' season opener against Arkansas State.

A few assumptions can be made, however, after observing how the team practiced Wednesday. There were no ground-shaking changes apparent quite yet, but here is a look at how things might be shaking down.

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Tailback: Senior Beau Viehmann has had a fantastic fall. The former walk-on turned team captain has earned the No. 3 spot behind junior Damien Nash and freshman Marcus Woods. The fourth spot remains wide open.

Missing a week of practice--not to mention team meetings--will slow the development of freshman Tony Temple. He still has the speed and athleticism to produce this season, but his chance to shuck the redshirt might have disappeared when the NCAA got involved.

Junior Lee Ewigman has proved a reliable, if not flashy, runner. He can run downhill as well as any Missouri back, but he will find it difficult to beat out the talented freshmen.

A thigh injury has limited freshman Earl Goldsmith, opening the door for fellow freshman Jimmy Jackson. Pinkel raved about Jackson's performance in Tuesday's scrimmage.

"Jimmy Jackson really, really did some good things yesterday," he said. "We're real excited about that. He's got great quickness out there. He's a guy right now that, obviously, is one of those guys that we're looking at, that has got a chance."

Kicker: There has been a development on the field goal team.

Freshman walk-on Scott Russell appears to be the first player cut from the competition. Russell practiced his kicks before practice started Wednesday morning, but he did not participate in the drill in practice itself.

Sophomore Alex Pettersen remains the top candidate, but junior walk-on Joe Tantarelli continues to make his pitch, and most of his kicks. Freshman walk-on Scott Crossett appears a long shot at this point, but he may still claim the kick-off duties.

Cornerback: There was movement at this position Wednesday morning.

Junior Marcus King worked with the first unit much of the day, surpassing junior A.J. Kincade at one corner position. King has been a steady performer for the second team, while Kincade has been burned deep a few times the past week.

King intercepted a Patton pass in the 11-on-11 portion of the afternoon session. He would have returned it for a touchdown, if the whistle had not blown.

Wide receiver: Injuries to juniors Chris Crosby and Sean Coffey, and senior Thomson Omboga make this a unique position, depth-wise. Several young players have stepped up after the injuries, but how the return of the upperclassmen affects the young players' spots on the depth chart cannot yet be determined.

Freshman Jason Ray has made the most of his opportunity. After spending much of the weekend drilling with the top unit, he regained that spot in practice Wednesday morning. He did not stand out in Tuesday's scrimmage, but the coaching staff is likely impressed with his body of work to this point.

Ray worked with sophomore Brad Ekwerekwu and Coffey on the top unit Wednesday. If Omboga had been available, Ray would have likely been bumped back to the second team, which consisted of junior Arnold Britt, sophomore Andrew Hoskins, and freshman William Franklin on Wednesday morning.

Britt has had a strong past few days and has likely solidified himself on the second team, for now. Hoskins has shot up from the third team in a matter of days, even getting reps with the first team from time to time. Franklin appears to be Pinkel's favorite young receiver so far, despite a dropped pass in Tuesday's scrimmage.

Crosby appears to be the odd man out at the moment. He worked on the third team with sophomore Adam Maxwell and freshman Greg Bracey, among others, Wednesday morning.

Tight end: Senior Victor Sesay remains the top passing threat here, and senior Clint Matthews remains near the top because of his blocking skills.

But freshman Martin Rucker has had a great camp, earning himself reps with the first unit in sets that employ two tight ends. Like Sesay, he is a big target with soft hands, and he could make an impact in the passing game this season.

Youngsters Josh Barbo and Brian Barmann have not done much to earn attention the past few days.

Defensive line: The top eight remained unchanged Wednesday. Senior Zach Ville and sophomore Xzavie Jackson maintained the top end positions, with senior Atiyyah Ellison and junior C.J. Mosley manning the leading tackle spots. Mosley seems to be around the ball all the time, especially in short passing situations. He had an interception in the scrimmage Tuesday, and he almost had another Wednesday morning.

Sophomore Brian Smith and freshman Lorenzo Williams kept the end spots with the second team, with junior Earl Stephens and senior Phil Pitts remaining at tackle. There is a lot of quality youth at these positions, but it is unlikely anyone will shoot past these top eight.

Linebacker: Sophomore Marcus Bacon continues to make an impact, maintaining his spot on the second unit with senior Henry Sweat and junior Derrick Ming.

Bacon and Ming make a lot of plays in practice, but neither has cracked the top unit. Both should prove reliable backups or more, should the inexperienced tandem of sophomores Dedrick Harrington and David Richard falter.

Safety: Sophomore David Overstreet continues to receive reps as an extra safety in the first team's nickel package. Overstreet is a hard hitter and reacts to plays quickly, but surpassing junior Jason Simpson on the depth chart might be too tall of an order.

Junior Justin Scott has also made a handful of plays, including an interception in Tuesday's scrimmage, but he faces the same unlikely task Overstreet does, knocking off an established upperclassman.

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Quick injury update: Goldsmith performed in the afternoon session without the red jersey for the first time since last Friday. He had been suffering from a thigh injury, but appeared close to full speed today.

Forecasting the freshmen: The 2004 recruiting class, despite the issues faced by Temple and freshman QB Darrell Jackson, is shaping up to be one of the most athletic incoming groups in years. As the end of two-a-days approaches, time for freshmen to make a play and avoid the redshirt is running short.

Pinkel said the process the coaching staff uses to sort out the redshirts is an ongoing one.

"We look at that daily, because of the decisions we have to make," he said. "There are several guys we're looking at right now. After Saturday, it will kind of define itself even more. We'll be down to just a handful, and then probably down to just under a handful once we get to the first game."

Getting physical: Freshman WR Jerrill Humphrey rotated in and out of the second team offense Wednesday morning, often getting a taste of the first team defense in the inside run drill.

One player seemed to have a taste for the freshman from St. Louis: junior S Quincy Wade tangled with Humphrey twice, with Humphrey getting the better of him the second time. As the play wound down and the whistle was about to blow, Humphrey held his block on Wade, grabbing him by the jersey, wheeling him around and throwing him to the ground.

Catch of the day: Coffey showed no lingering effects of his separated shoulder, making a reaching, one-handed grab of a pass from junior QB Brad Smith on a short out route in the 7-on-7 drill Wednesday morning.

Hit of the day: There were several to choose from, including a couple from Overstreet. But Scott earns the honors, for his hit on Maxwell, who had caught a pass on a crossing route. Scott arrived just after the ball, jarring Maxwell and sending the ball clanking to the ground, incomplete.

Quote of the day: "I don't discuss the depth chart. My players don't either. They will not talk about depth. It's our business." --Pinkel, responding to a question about changes the coaching staff had made to the depth chart after Tuesday's scrimmage.

Audibles: Viehmann continues to be an offensive star, scoring a 70-yard touchdown on a run off the left tackle in the morning session. His runs are not flashy, but he executes them well and rarely is caught behind the line. He should be the focus in goal-line situations this year. … The Tigers seem to be dealing with two-a-days well, health-wise. No major injury has surfaced yet, and the players are playing smart while maintaining aggressiveness, just as the coaching staff wants them to do. … The quarterback/center connection seems to be an issue for all of the signal callers, besides Smith from time to time. Freshman Chase Patton has probably lost a dozen snaps already, and sophomore Brandon Coleman is beginning to show that tendency, too. More and more reps should help to alleviate that situation. … The speed of the defense is so much more noticeable this year. It still might not be an elite group yet, by Big 12 standards, but it should hold its own against pretty much everybody. … Only 17 days until the Tigers welcome Arkansas State to "the Zou."

Looking ahead: The Tigers get a break from two-a-days Thursday, with an early session scheduled for 8:15 in the morning. Two-a-days return Friday, with another scrimmage set for Saturday afternoon.


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