Missouri has been remarkably healthy through two-a-days, but it might have suffered a major injury Saturday.
Senior T Scott Paffrath injured his right leg early in the scrimmage. He did not return, and after practice the leg was heavily bandaged. Coach Gary Pinkel said Paffrath suffered a strained MCL, but did not say when he expected him back.
Junior WR Sean Coffey, who separated a shoulder last week, appeared to irritate the injury after making a catch in the two-minute drill. Coffey took part in the next play, an incompletion, while clearly favoring his right arm. He made it off after the play, and had the arm readjusted on the sideline. He returned to the field afterward and did not appear to be bothered by the injury.
Sophomore G Mike Cook appeared to take a blow to the groin in one drill, forcing him to sit out a few plays.
Smith stands out: Junior QB Brad Smith had his best passing day of the fall, completing 14-of-25 passes for 138 yards. Most of his passes were short- to medium-range tosses, but he completed one long pass, a 37-yard gain to Coffey. There were many opportunities where it was clear that Smith wanted to drop down and run with the ball, but the coaching staff has instructed him against that this fall.
Such production in a conference game this season would likely make Pinkel happy, but he held back from praising his star quarterback's performance Saturday.
"I think he did some good things," he said. "You have to always go back and study the video. A lot of times, good or bad, the stats don't tell the story."
Kicking woes continue: The battle to be the starting kicker rages on, but after Saturday's performances, it appeared neither sophomore Alex Pettersen nor junior Joe Tantarelli wanted the job.
Pettersen made 10-of-15 attempts, with his longest conversion from 44 yards. He missed an extra point--it was blocked--along with a try from 20 yards.
Tantarelli made 8-of-15 attempts, with his longest from 45 yards. He made all three extra points he attempted, but missed a field goal from 20 yards.
Freshmen Scott Russell and Adam Crossett combined to go 3-of-11, with Russell missing all four of his tries.
The lead punter, conversely, looks to be senior Brock Harvey. Harvey averaged 44.4 yards on 10 kicks, while sophomore walk-on Matt Hoenes averaged 37.1 yards. Harvey had the longest kick of the day, sending one 58 yards, with the help of a few bounces. Hoenes' longest boot was 50 yards, but it went for a touchback.
"The kicker, we have to evaluate it," Pinkel said. "The punting situation is certainly solidifying a little bit, but the kicker situation is still up in the air.
"The good news is, we got a few days left. The bad news is, we're running out of time. They're capable, but everything's consistency."
Depth notes: Nothing is official yet, but a few movements in depth were visible Saturday.
Junior CB Marcus King continues to get a lot of reps with the top defensive unit. King usually replaces junior A.J. Kincade, who has struggled against deep balls this spring.
Sophomore LB Dedrick Harrington and senior LB Henry Sweat split time at the mike spot Saturday. Many assumed Harrington would coast through camp and hold onto the position, despite his inexperience there. Sweat has had a strong camp and could beat Harrington out.
Of the cluttered receiver corps, junior Arnold Britt and freshmen William Franklin and Jason Ray appear to be the second team at the moment. These three are likely the top candidates to become the fourth and fifth receivers, with junior Chris Crosby to get consideration as well. Senior Thomson Omboga, sophomore Brad Ekwerekwu, and junior Sean Coffey remains the starting threesome.
Pinkel complimented the play of the tight ends after the scrimmage, but they were used in an odd way. Senior TE Victor Sesay, the projected starter, had reps with both the first- and third-team offense. Freshman Martin Rucker spent a lot of time with the first team, meaning he will likely get his share of touches this season.
Oops, we're open: Several media sources reported that Saturday's scrimmage was open to the public. In reality, only season ticket holders and friends and family of the players and coaches were allowed to attend.
But when about 1,000 fans showed up to watch the event, Missouri officials had no choice but to allow them in. Despite no gates to Memorial Stadium being open, the fans managed to find their way in through the tunnel underneath the south end of the stadium.
Pinkel said afterward that he first heard of the reports Saturday morning.
"Whoever said that in the media, that was wrong," he said. "A huge number (of those in attendance) were family, but open to public? Nope. That's news to me."
Catch of the day: Technically, it wasn't a catch, but it might have been the play of the day. Smith scrambled to his left, finding Ekwerekwu in the back of the end zone. Ekwerekwu made the grab and appeared to get at least one, if not both, feet in before flying out of bounds, but the back judge ruled the pass incomplete.
Hit of the day: Senior S Ryan Edwards hammered sophomore WR Andrew Hoskins on a crossing route late in the scrimmage, sending the receiver to his back hard. To his credit, Hoskins held on to the ball for a 10-yard completion and a first down.
Quote of the day: "They're looking forward to not getting up at 5:30 in the morning. That's what they're looking forward to. --Pinkel, on if his players were looking forward to the structure classes, which begin Monday, will bring.
Audibles: The pass blocking was sloppy early, in a drill that placed the ball on the offense's own two-yard line. Freshmen QBs Mack Breed and Chase Patton were each tagged in the end zone for a safety, while freshman DE Stryker Sulak recorded two sacks of Breed within three plays. ... There was only one turnover on the day, which the coaching staff must have appreciated. Coffey lost control of the ball while trying to change hands after a long gain, and sophomore S David Overstreet recovered it. There were two other fumbles: Kincade stripped freshman Jimmy Jackson after a short gain, but the ball again rattled out of play, while senior DE Zach Ville knocked the ball from sophomore QB Brandon Coleman's hands and deep into the backfield, but Coleman was able to keep Ville away from the ball until senior TB Beau Viehmann recovered it. ... Besides the fumble, Jackson had a good day, gaining 29 yards on four carries. Senior Damien Nash rumbled for 33 yards on seven carries, while freshman Marcus Woods had the longest rush of the day, picking up 19 yards on the scrimmage's second play. He finished with 17 yards on three carries. ... Only 14 days until the 2004 Tigers debut against Arkansas State.
Looking ahead: The Tigers return to the practice field at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon. They are off Monday, before returning to practice on Tuesday at 3:30.