Missouri was back on the field for a two-and-a-half hour workout in Tuesday's lone practice. PowerMizzou.com has the latest from fall camp with the Tigers.
News and Notes
*The only injury update is on wideout Rolandis Woodland, who left practice yesterday and had posted on Facebook that he was getting X-rays. Turns out, Woodland's injury is turf toe. No timetable for a return was given on Tuesday. Gary Pinkel simply remarked "half our receivers are out."
*With Woodland, Jimmie Hunt, T.J. Moe. Sean Culkin and L'Damian Washington currently sidelined, there are opportunities for other receivers. Chief among those could be Bud Sasser and Jaleel Clark. Sasser has worked with the top two teams at both inside and outside positions while Clark has also gotten first-team reps at one of the outside spots. Both have had some good moments in camp the last few days.
*Juco linebacker Markus Golden had his first opportunity to work in full pads today. Golden did not do every drill, but did work in on many of them. Pinkel said earlier that the goal would be to work Golden in on special teams and then see how it goes on defense. Golden redshirted last season in junior college, so he has three years to play three seasons at Missouri.
*Another brief skirmish in camp. Linebacker Darvin Ruise and offensive lineman Connor McGovern went at it for a minute. The fight was broken up fairly quickly.
*The tailback position will be interesting to watch as we noted yesterday in our practice report. To my eyes, there's not much discussion about the top spot. Kendial Lawrence has been the best back in camp in my opinion. Marcus Murphy has had a few fumbles, but is certainly the number two guy and Jared McGriff-Culver and Greg White are situational backs with more size. Russell Hansbrough is back completely out of red and showed some nice shiftiness and speed during drills. It will be interesting to see if he can make up for time he has missed over the first 12 days of camp.
Each day, we will include some video highlights from the morning practice. Click the video player below to watch some of Tuesday's action.
*At one point during the day, the Tigers split with the top two offensive units facing the scout team defense and the top two defensive teams facing the scout team offense. Freshmen Evan Boehm and Dorial Green-Beckham continue to work with the top offensive units and it's a near foregone conclusion both will play. But another name is emerging as a freshman that could see the field.
Freshman defensive tackle Harold Brantley is getting consistent snaps with the second-team and could fit in the rotation early on. Part of that is a statement about Brantley and part is pure necessity. Lucas Vincent missed the first 12 practices before returning on Monday. During Tuesday's workout, he limped off the field with an apparent leg injury. Vincent did remain on the practice field, but did not participate in drills for the last portion of practice. He said on Monday he was about 75% and it remains to be seen whether Tuesday will set him back at all. That creates a chance for Brantley to turn heads, particularly in Thursday morning's scrimmage.
"He's there. He's competing, he's getting after it," Pinkel said about Brantley. "We'll have to see where that goes. That's a tough position to play, but he's big, he's athletic, he certainly has an opportunity. There's competition in there, he's going to be battling for that, but I think especially with Lucas struggling like he is, you've got to get backup players ready to play."
Linebacker Michael Scherer also saw some time with the second-team defense and special teams units on Tuesday and could see some time this year as well.
One Spot Available
Mizzou will play four cornerbacks quite a bit throughout the course of the season. With E.J. Gaines, Kip Edwards and Randy Ponder all back, the top three jobs seem fairly secure. But that fourth job is up for grabs.
"When Robert Steeples left, the fourth cornerback job kind of opened up," sophomore Xavier Smith said. "But even still, I still always compete and still always go for the guys who are ahead of me spots in the top three."
"My goal was to be better than I was last year," Payton said. "Last year I had to redshirt because I didn't know the plays, I wasn't fast-paced at it. But this year, I came in better than last year. I know the calls, I'm quick at calling the plays. I've just got to read and react this year."
All the cornerbacks mentioned the need for the position to become more physical.
"We all want to be more physical," Smith said. "We know the Southeastern Conference is more physical, but overall, we should just be that way in our room."
For a blueprint on how to do that, Smith has leaned heavily on Gaines.
"E.J. sets the tone," Smith said. "I've known him since high school, we've been roommates since the dorms, now I live with him.
"We met at a Dallas Nike combine. We didn't know we were going to Mizzou, we exchanged numbers and ended up committing."
We'll have more on the young reserve corners later today in a PMTV-HD Video Feature with cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford.
Here are our observations from various team periods during Tuesday's practice:
*Corbin Berkstresser had as good a day of camp as I've seen so far. One throw stood out when Berkstresser rolled right out of the pocket and threw a strike to freshman receiver Levi Copelin in double coverage. The ball was delivered on the money, but Copelin couldn't hang on. Still, doesn't take away from the throw. Offensive coordinator David Yost told me on Monday that he thought Berkstresser's numbers in the scrimmage were not indicative of how well he played. You can hear more of that interview on our podcast later in the week, but there is little doubt in my mind Berkstresser will back Franklin up this season.
*During run drills, as I mentioned, Russell Hansbrough showed off some nice moves. On one run, he avoided a tackler in the backfield and bounced outside. But waiting for him was Ian Simon, who made the stop. Simon also came up to help in run support on the next play. He's a guy I think has a chance to really push for a starting job opposite Kenronte Walker at safety.
*Gahn McGaffie made back-to-back tough catches in 7-on-7. He has had a strong camp with Moe out. I'm not sure when it's time to be concerned about Moe being sidelined, but that time isn't here yet. Once he's back, I'm not sure how many snaps are available for McGaffie, but he's a guy that will make contributions this season.
*During 11-on-11, Berkstresser hit Dorial Green-Beckham with a back shoulder thrown down the left hashmark and the receiver made a nice adjustment to haul in the pass. Green-Beckham is getting more and more comfortable. It's my opinion that he may be more of a situational receiver, getting put to use in specific packages, early in the season. But by mid-year he's got a real shot to be an every down receiver for the Tigers.
*James Franklin was right on target during 11-on-11. He was fitting passes into very tight windows. He did raise some eyebrows when he was serving as a lead blocker ten yards downfield on a Kendial Lawrence run. It's nice to see, but as Lawrence kind of rolled up the back of Franklin's legs as he went down, I overheard one observer say "You don't need Franklin to be blocking downfield right now." It's good to know he can do it, but I don't know if you want to see a lot of it during fall camp.
The Tigers will return to the practice field for the first of two on Wednesday morning at 7:15. PowerMizzou.com will once again be on hand with a full report.
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