The Tigers practiced this morning inside Devine Pavilion in shorts and shoulder pads. This was a practice that was considered a Sunday practice. There was almost no hitting today, in stark contrast to yesterday's rock 'em sock 'em, knock down, drag out.
The defensive units spent quite a bit of time in their individual drills working on getting off of the chop blocks that Navy routinely employs.
Once the team broke into the team segments, it was all Missouri versus Navy (scout team). Most of this work was at less than full speed. It was interesting, partly because this is the type of practice that the media rarely gets to see. A few highlights included several crisp pass completions from Blaine Gabbert to Danario Alexander, one over-the-shoulder grab down the seam that was perfectly placed, as it resembled a ballet in its grace and beauty.
Alexander and Sean Weatherspoon were excused from practice early, as they were scheduled to walk in their graduation ceremonies early this afternoon. These two are graduating from Missouri after only three-and-a-half years. Kurtis Gregory received his Masters Degree in a ceremony last night, a feat he accomplished in four-and-a-half years.
The big buzz at practice today was the presence of eight recruits taking their official visits, a group headlined by Liberty, MO, WR Marcus Lucas.
A couple of young receivers continue to stand out from among what is a very promising group. Michael Egnew and T.J. Moe are each staking an early claim on increased playing time heading into next year. That's going to be one of the competitions that I will be paying close attention to in the spring. I count ten returning scholarship WRs, and each of them appears to be capable candidates to see the field next season. Of course, Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson will be the leading candidates, and one would assume that they would have the inside track on a couple of those spots for next year.
After practice, Coach Pinkel talked about the how these practices are organized. "Overall today, it was a good practice. This kind of parallels what we would do on Sunday night of a bye week.............. What we'll do is we'll have our Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday practice on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week. Get into game preparation mode, and get prepared to play before we go down after Christmas. Then, once we get down there, we'll repeat our normal Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday practices (on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday), since we play on Thursday (12-31-09)."
Coach Pinkel talked about the discipline required to play defense against Navy's triple option. "A lot of people play this game with three days preparation. If we had them on our schedule, we would have taken time to teach all of this stuff during two-a-days. It's assignment football. It's discipline. You can't over pursue. It just presents a lot of problems."