On Saturday morning, inside Devine Pavilion, the Missouri football team scrimmaged for the first time this spring.
One very interesting aspect of today's scrimmage was that the coaching staff utilized a number of different combinations of players and units. Starters went against starters, and second-teamers, as well. Individuals and position units took reps with different strings than their usual alignments. Almost every DT took some reps alongside Dominique Hamilton with the first-team defense. Safeties and CBs rotated in and out of all three units. Same with receivers and RBs. Except for Blaine Gabbert, who wore a green (no contact) jersey, and only took reps with the starters, all the other QBs wore orange (high contact) jerseys and rotated in and out with all three teams.
I expect that there will be some movement within the depth chart following this scrimmage. In general, the defense ruled the day, and won the scrimmage.
After the scrimmage, Coach Pinkel said, "I thought we got a lot of good work out here today, and I think any time you're talking about a scrimmage when you're going against each other, there's the good and the bad. Every player did some good things, every player did some poor things and you try to get yourself to improve as a football team so we're better Thursday, the next scrimmage, than we were today. The defense, I thought, played outstanding today, I think offensively, we struggled. That's what happens, and we'll work to get it better."
Senior CB Kevin Rutland, who had two interceptions today, talked about the dominance of the defense over the offense.
"I think we really tried to keep an aggressive style of play going, and I think that really helped us today," said Rutland. "Guys are flying to the ball, running to the ball. And, guys were aggressive on balls in the air................ We have experienced safeties and experienced corners, even the back-up guys.............. I think we have the upper hand on the offense for now, but they'll come back for sure."
Regarding his two interceptions, Rutland said with a smile, "I was just in the right place at the right time."
On the injury front, Austin Wuebbels continues to sit out of all drills with his lower back pain. He's not moving very well, but said afterward that his problem is non-surgical. He'll recover fully with time. Terrell Resonno wore a red pullover today and limped through some non-contact drills. L'Damian Washington was back in action today, and took some reps with the first unit, as well as the second and third string offenses.
The scrimmage began with Blaine Gabbert running the first team offense against the first team defense. Derrick Washington took an inside hand-off and cut up inside for a short gain. Will Ebner was one of the defenders who got up from the pile. Blaine missed connection with Jerrell Jackson over along the left sideline.
Later, Blaine handed off to Jackson on the speed sweep, with Derrick Washington leading the way around the right side. Same play Jackson scored on against KU. This time, it went for about 5 yards. Gooden and Ebner were among several defenders who arrived in a hurry. Derrick Washington took a pitch around the left side for first down yardage, then was stripped of the ball. Blaine hit Rolandis Woodland on an inside screen that went for about 7 yards.
Blaine found Michael Egnew out along the right side with a quick throw. Egnew followed a good block from Wes Kemp up along the sideline for about 5 yards before Gooden and Gettis forced him out. Woodland went down and made a nice grab of a low throw from Blaine for a short gain. Hamilton batted down Blaine's pass attempt at the line of scrimmage.
Jimmy Costello brought out the second string offense, and handed off to Kendial Lawrence for a short gain, then came back with a pass completion along the right sideline to Gahn McGaffie, in front of Carl Gettis.
Ashton Glaser directed the second-team offense against the second-team defense. An inside screen to Derrick Washington was snuffed out pretty quickly by Luke Lambert and Jarrell Harrison. Kendial Lawrence took an inside hand-off around the right side for about 5 yards, before he was run out by Gettis, Tyler Crane, and others. Lawrence took another hand-off from Glaser, and cut up inside, but Lambert stuffed it for no gain. Glaser completed a quick pass to L'Damian Washington out along the left sideline for about 7 yards. Matt White was right there to make the tackle. Lawrence took a hand-off and cut up inside, where he was tackled for no gain by Lambert and Bonner. Glaser found T.J. Moe on a slant for a first down. Glaser's looking really good, taking what the defense gives him. After a motion penalty pushed the offense back 5 yards, Glaser scrambled out to the left, under pressure from Brad Madison and Crane, and unloaded the ball out of bounds.
James Franklin led the third team offense out and scrambled for about 4 yards after Brayden Burnett burst through inside the right tackle, and chased him out of the pocket. Franklin completed a quick out to Jaleel Clark along the right sideline for a first down, before Nikko Sansone took an inside hand-off, and darted his way up field for about 5 yards. Franklin put a real nice touch on an inside slant to L'Damian Washington, leading him away from the defense, but Kenronte Walker closed fast and stopped Washington in his tracks following the first down reception.
Curt Roth dropped a real nice pass that Franklin laid right on his hands out along the right seam. Matt Davis took a hand-off around the right side for no gain. Burnett beat the right tackle again, and stripped Franklin of the ball, as he started to throw. I don't think James saw him coming. Chris Willet took a pitch around the left side for a couple of yards.
Franklin went deep down the right side to Jordan Levy, who was interfered with by Robert Steeples. Franklin zipped one in to Owen Lenander out in the right flat, in front of Randy Ponder. Nice throw and catch!
Costello worked with the starting line, and went up against a mixture of first and second-teamers. His pass attempt to Egnew fell incomplete. Costello kept it and ran up the middle for a short gain. On the next play, Munir Prince arrived right with the ball, and dislodged it, by putting a big hit on Jerrell Jackson, who was coming across the middle.
Glaser worked with the starters, and missed connection with Egnew coming across the middle. Matt White and Will Ebner stopped Lawrence after a short gain.
Derrick Washington took a Franklin hand-off, and cut up inside for a nice gain. Then, Franklin hit McGaffie with a 20 yard pass completion up along the right sideline. Jasper Simmons knocked him out of bounds, but McGaffie held on. Franklin put that one in a tight spot, where only McGaffie could get it. Nice throw and catch! Washington took another hand-off around the right side for little or no gain. Lambert came across for the stop. Franklin pulled it down, under pressure, and made it back to the line of scrimmage before Aldon Smith dragged him down. A little later, Franklin spun away from Lambert, and started up field, but the whistle blew the play dead. I thought prematurely, too. Kevin Rutland jumped Franklin's pass attempt down the left hash for one of his two interceptions on the day. Rutland was playing the slot in the nickel package, with Edwards and Gettis at the corners.
Tyler Gabbert came in and worked behind the number three offense. This was a tough day for Tyler. Not much went well, and it was apparent that he was really pressing. He experienced multiple dropped snaps, and when he wasn't scrambling for his life, made several errant throws. Bart Coslet and Michael Brennan ran him down behind the line of scrimmage. A little later, Tyler hit Lenander out along the right seam. He then under threw Curt Roth. Coslet and Michael Sam chased Tyler out of the pocket, but Tyler made the completion to Clark, who had come back to the ball, although it was well short of the first down.
In summary, the defense is ahead of the offense, which is especially evident at the level of the third unit. Glaser and Franklin helped themselves today. Glaser might be the number two come Tuesday. We could see Franklin move up, too.
I think George White's starting to separate from the other DT's seeking the opportunity to play this year. Hamilton was a monster all day, and was one big reason why the defense controlled the day. Burnett stood out. So did Matt White. When you see White in street clothes, you wouldn't think this little guy is a football player, but he plays a lot bigger than he is and is always around the ball.
The Will Ebner-Luke Lambert competition is heating up. Both had good days. Both will play. When the Tigers played the nickel, Lambert joined Andrew Gachkar on the field. It's hard for me to imagine that you wouldn't want Gooden out there in that package, but what do I know?
L'Damian Washington continues to impress, catches everything, and is especially good at coming down with contested balls.
After practice, Rolandis Woodland talked about working on various aspects of his game and said that he and Washington are "pushing each other", and that, "L'Damian's looking good."
Egnew looks right at home at TE, as though that spot belongs to him.
Along the offensive line, despite the absence of two of the team's four returning starters, the first unit looks pretty solid. The second unit needs reinforcements, and the third unit............. well they just had a hard time blocking Burnett, and others.
Coach Pinkel talked about this situation. He said, "We had a lot of energy. Had some offensive line injuries, and obviously that trickles down, that creates some problems, but that's something you've got to work with. We have two rookie offensive linemen starting and then what happens behind that is you just keep moving people down. What happens, is you get in position where you're going against some good players, and you grow from it. Ultimately it will make you better, and it will make us better and as long as it's spring football it's okay."