*Spent some time watching one-on-one passing drills, especially the young receivers. Most would agree the biggest problem for the Tiger offense was the lack of big play ability. There is some thought that ability could rest with the younger wideouts.
*Marcus Lucas looked good early, beating Tavon Bolden one-on-one for a big game. Lucas made a tough catch over the middle later in practice, but fumbled the football.
*Bud Sasser continues to impress. I saw him standing side by side with Rolandis Woodland and Sasser looks both taller and thicker. And he continues to get open.
*L'Damian Washington got a win while matched up with redshirt corner Xavier Smith. Washington has impressed me most of his time on campus and I think he'll push for time next year.
*Jaleel Clark isn't flashy but he was open absolutely all day long.
*Jimmie Hunt made a really nice grab on an out pattern. Hunt looks to have really good hands. It's my early guess he will push to start next year. He and Sasser have struck me like Michael Egnew did last December.
*Speaking of young guys in the passing game, Tyler Gabbert looks like a completely different quarterback than he did in fall camp. Really like what I've seen out of him.
*Apropos of really nothing, Pinkel was asked about Andrew Gachkar after practice and his importance to the defense. He noticed the same oddity I did a couple of weeks ago: Gachkar got a vote for defensive player of the year from the coaches, but didn't make the first or second-team all-Big-XII.
"I told him, 'I'll be disappointed if you don't make one of these first or second-teams,'" Pinkel said. "I thought it was great. He had a great year."
Gachkar led the Tigers with 81 tackles.
*Gachkar doesn't have any eligibility left. But at least four Tigers who do have turned their names into the NFL Draft Advisory Board to see where they stand. On offense, Blaine Gabbert and Egnew turned their names in. On defense, both Aldon Smith and Jacquies Smith did. (There may be a couple more, but those are the ones I've verified).
Jacquies said he just wants to see where he stands and he'll definitely be back next year. I asked if he'd have to do a sales job on Aldon.
"I don't know," Jacquies said with a laugh. "We'll have to see."
Aldon said he's not even thinking about it right now.
"I have to come back to school. I have to graduate," Aldon said. "I promised I would do that."
So is that a statement he'll be back next year?
"I have to graduate," Smith said.
Understand, that's a very non-committal statement. There are plenty of ways to earn credits while playing in the NFL or after. Smith wouldn't say what he'd have to hear from the draft board to consider leaving Missouri.
*Speaking of the Smiths, they've gotten a lot of attention this year, but are definitely part of the less hyped defensive line in the Insight Bowl. Led by Adrian Clayborn, Iowa is thought to have one of the best defensive fronts in the country.
"They have some really good players, guys that are pretty much shoe-ins for the NFL," Jacquies Smith said. "I think we've got some pretty good guys too."
Clayborn is, of course, a Missouri native and a player that a lot of the current Tigers know pretty well. But Aldon Smith isn't one of them.
"I don't even know him," Smith said. "It's just two good athletes on the field."
Even if they won't admit it, playing in a game with a guy like Clayborn may serve as a little motivation. During Saturday's practice, Aldon Smith made a great move to get to the quarterback in one-on-one line drills. One of his teammates immediately called out, "Adrian Clayborn!"
*The Tigers are off until Friday. Pinkel said that Friday's workout would focus primarily on the young players and then Saturday would begin a lot of first-team on first-team work and preliminary practices for Iowa. Some of the players said they've already begun to break down film of the Hawkeyes.
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