Tigers returned to the practice field on Friday morning in full pads to begin in earnest their preparation for their New Year's Eve date with Navy in the Texas Bowl.
Afterward, Coach Pinkel talked about practice. "It was a really good practice. It was a long practice, what we do generally on a Saturday in a bye week.............. We went best against best at the end for a couple of periods. I thought that was good."
Today's practice featured some individual work, then a couple of different team periods. During the first team period, Missouri ran offense and defense on opposite ends of the field, going against the scout team. Gahn McGaffie played QB for the scout team, trying to impersonate Navy's Ricky Dobbs. Scout team skill position players each carried a different color football, as they ran through Navy's plays.
Coach Pinkel was asked about the utilization of the multiple balls. "We're just trying to get to our assignment. All we're doing there is just not following the football, trying to go to your assignment, instead of following the ball."
Coach Pinkel talked about the uniqueness of preparing to play Navy. "It's a completely different offensive team. Five or six years ago, we used to have an edge running the spread. Very few people did it.............. We don't see this (option offense). Hardly anybody in the country sees this triple option. It causes a lot of problems. It's assignment football. You have to make sure that you have people on all three phases of the option, no matter how they get into it. We're just going to work real hard at it, and hopefully we'll get better and better as the practices go on."
During 11 on 11s, Ashton Glaser hit Gahn McGaffie in stride down the right seam for about a thirty yard pass completion. Nice throw and catch. McGaffie's getting some reps with the second unit, along with Beau Brinkley, Michael Egnew, and T.J. Moe. Moe continues to impress.
Blaine Gabbert scrambled out to his right, and threw on the run, hitting Wes Kemp, who had followed Gabbert across the field, and who made a nice sliding catch for a twenty yard pick-up. Kemp took a screen pass on the right side from Gabbert for a nice gain. It was well-blocked on the outside by Danario Alexander, Andrew Jones, and Jerrell Jackson.
Gabbert came right back and hit Alexander on the bubble screen on the left side. This one was very well-blocked, as Kemp, Jackson, and Jones opened up a nice lane, and Danario took it to the house. Gabbert laid one in nicely down the left sideline, and Jerrell Jackson made a nice catch for about a thirty yard gain.
During today's final segment, the Tigers' first team offense went against the first team defense. By this point in practice, it had become pretty physical, and coaches and players had already had to jump in a couple of times to break up scuffles between offensive and defensive players. One of those broke out between Egnew and Kip Edwards, as Egnew blocked Edwards on a running play, and then continued to block him after the play, throwing him to the ground.
There were several big hits during this segment, including both safeties, Jerrell Harrison and Jasper Simmons, getting a big hit on All-American WR Danario Alexander. Alexander was a little slow getting up after that one. Harrison was laying big hits on anyone he could find. Carl Gettis got a big hit on De'Vion Moore as he came around the edge. Gettis was a little slow getting up on that one.
Later, Egnew took in a short pass, then tried to run over two defenders, before several of their teammates arrived to punish Egnew for his prior "transgressions".
Coach Pinkel attributed the physical nature of today's practice to players having finished up exams. He said that he told them that they are one semester closer to graduation.
Kendial Lawrence took an inside hand-off and skirted around the right side for a real nice gain. Gettis got in another big hit, this time on Jerrell Jackson. Jackson came right back though, with a real nice diving fingertip grab for about a twenty-five yard completion.
The second-team defense got into this competition, as well. That unit featured Brad Madison, George White, Jimmy Burge, and Marcus Malbrough up front, Zaviar Gooden, Tyler Crane, and Donovan Bonner at LB, and a secondary of Trey Hobson, Kenji Jackson, Del Howard, and Kip Edwards.