The Tigers took Faurot Field today to engage in another inter-squad scrimmage. The skies above were blue and the sun was large for what turned out to be a very hot morning in Columbia. By the time practice was over, many players, especially the linemen, could be seen hunched over on one knee on the sideline.
The first string offense preformed well today, despite the heat. Blaine Gabbert continued to impress today in all aspects of the game. He played strong, smart and fast all day, finishing with a 19 yard scramble at the end of practice for a touchdown.
After the first drive for the top offensive unit (where they went 3-and-out) the second string defense had no answers for them. Blaine was able to scramble several times for gains of more than 15 yards, further displaying his incredible speed for a 6-5 quarterback. The first team was also able to use the screen very effectively, primarily to tailbacks Derrick Washington and De'Vion Moore. The most effective use of this play came on their second drive, when Washington caught a screen pass from Gabbert and took it 20 yards on a third and long from just outside of the redzone.
Gabbert wore a green shirt on the field and the other quarterbacks all wore orange. The green means that you cannot hit a player, therefore protecting the likely opening night stater. Orange means that you can hit the quarterback, but not hard. They are still protected, but not completely. Gary Pinkel made this decision with the future in mind. "(Gabbert) was an orange all spring and he has separated himself enough that I want to protect him," he said. "The others still need to get bopped around a little more."
Coach Pinkel had many good words to say about Gabbert afterward, however there was one large mistake that he made according to the coach. "He wants to make that play every time, and that's what young quarterbacks do," the coach began. "Sometimes the best play is an incomplete... When he was down there and they were in great position, it was a third down play and he took that loss. It knocked us out of field goal range and we had to go for it on like fourth and 18. That's a cardinal sin for quarterbacks. You cannot take a loss and knock us out of field goal range." He did, however, complete a pass on the next play for a first down.
Danario Alexander looked fully healed earlier on that drive, bringing down back to back receptions for close to 50 yards. He, Jared Perry, and Wes Kemp were the three starters at wide receiver today. Wes Kemp also looked strong today laying some good blocks and picking up some solid yardage after the catch.
As far as the running backs go, both Washington and Moore played extremely well. Washington saw the ball often, especially with the use of the screen play. Moore scored a couple of times and continues to improve. Pinkel is very excited about what these two can do together this season. "that is the best one-two punch we've probably had since we've been here," he commented.
Overall, Coach Pinkel was very satisfied with the play of his Tigers, however saw a few problems throughout the day. "On offense we just have to catch the ball better. That's probably my biggest concern, that, taking a couple of sacks, we had a couple of offsides. We false started about 5 or 6 times," he said. "On defense we have missed tackles, simple tackles. You have missed tackles that end up being thirty yard gains and good defenses just don't do that."
There were also some issues with the ball snapping one the second and third teams. That is another issue that Pinkel plans to address. Jimmy Costello and Blaine Dalton both looked average as signal callers today, making some good, and some bad decisions. Ashton Glaser did not look good at all, throwing several interceptions and not hitting targets in the middle of the field.
After the first set of downs, Costello was shut down by the top defense. The line got great penetration on multiple occasions, forcing poor decisions and sacks on the young quarterback.
Overall it was a good day for Mizzou, as the key players continue to emerge on the field. With the season opener only 21 days away, the Tigers are looking more and more like competitors in 2009.
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