On Monday morning, the Missouri Tigers returned to the Kadlec Athletic Fields for a two-and-a-half hour workout in full pads. It was a lively, physical practice after a day off and under cloudy skies with the temperature near seventy degrees.
There were a few changes noted in the Depth Chart following Saturday's scrimmage, but most notable was the return to action of a couple of linemen. DT Lucas Vincent participated fully for the first time this fall, and starting right tackle Justin Britt participated in the non-contact portions of practice. TE Eric Waters got back in wearing a red-pull-over, and he also went through the non-contact drills.
There were a couple of new injuries to report. L'Damian Washington watched from the sidelines in a red jersey after injuring his shoulder, and Jimmie Hunt was on the sidelines as well, with a foot injury. Zaviar Gooden wore a red pull-over and sat out most drills. During practice, Roloandis Woodland donned a red jersey, and began watching from the sideline, and late in practice, Evan Winston limped off the field. It doesn't appear that any of the new injuries will keep anyone out for very long.
"Overall, we got in good work today," said Coach Pinkel, talking about Monday morning's practice. "We were very competitive. We have a lot of guys out, especially on offense. But we're just going to work through it, and hopefully, we'll start getting some of them back."
Significant features of Monday morning's practice included the return of Lucas Vincent, Justin Britt, Eric Waters, and Russell Hansbrough. Waters was injured early in camp, as was Hansbrough, who looked very good in his first day in full pads. Hansbrough plays fast, and he can make people miss. Vincent was at full speed for the first time this fall.
Another highlight of Monday morning was the play of Dorial Green-Beckham, who enjoyed his best practice of the fall. Green-Beckham is moving up the Depth Chart, and he's becoming more and more acclimated to playing receiver at Missouri. I thought that Green-Beckham had his best day of practice on Friday, then took a step back on Saturday. But on Monday, Green-Beckham took another step forward. He looked more sure of himself, and he played a little faster.
"He had a real good practice today," said Coach Pinkel, referring to Green-Beckham, who is playing at both the Y and the X WR positions. "He's working at really two positions, an inside and an outside position. He's getting a little more comfortable………………………………………….. He's playing better, too. A lot of those guys when they're thinking out there, they're not running as fast as they normally do. They're out there thinking. And you know you've got to be able to just go and fly. And, we all know that he can do that. And today, I thought after the first scrimmage and everything, today I thought he really upped it a little bit today, which is really good. You know, he'll keep getting better and improving, and that's good."
There were several plays that signaled Green-Beckham's improved play, but there was one that really stood out to me. During 11-on-11s, Green-Beckham lined up with the first team offense, and caught a quick pass from James Franklin out along the right sideline. It didn't go for much, maybe about 5 yards, but the timing of the route and the coordination of the throw and catch was advanced. Green-Beckham was quick through the route, and he made the reception running close to full speed and turned it up field without hesitation. E.J. Gaines and others were right there to make the stop, but Green-Beckham's execution on the play was well ahead of where it had been a week ago.
"They're both talented," said Coach Pinkel, talking about his freshmen tailbacks, Morgan Steward and Russell Hansbrough. "They're both competing, and they're both doing well… They're both talented.………………………………………….. We'll just see where it goes."
During the 1-on-1 pass receiving drill, Dorial Green-Beckham beat John Gibson on a slant and took it in for the score. Kerwin Stricker beat Ka'Ra Stewart on an out route, but Stricker dropped the football. James Franklin lofted a beautiful fade toward Marcus Lucas in the right back corner of the end zone. E.J. Gaines was all over him, and made a play on the football, but Lucas leaped high and came down with the football for the score.
During the 1-on-1 pass rush drill, Evan Boehm blocked Marvin Foster. Kony Ealy ripped his way past Anthony Gatti. Jack Meiners stonewalled Michael Sam. Sheldon Richardson beat Brad McNulty. Mitch Morse stonewalled Jimmy Burge. Foster evened the score with a win over Boehm. Gatti won a closely contested battle over Ealy. Michael Boddie aggressively attacked Shane Ray off the ball and picked up a win. Burge defeated Robert Luce. Brad McNulty blocked Harold Brantley. Sam blew right past Nick Demien. Brayden Burnett bull-rushed Stephen Carberry right back into the QB. Shane Ray bull-rushed Boddie right back into the QB. Robert Luce blocked David Butler. Foster ripped his way past Brad McNulty. Brantley powered his way past Demien, getting to the QB in less than 2.8 seconds. After Jordan Williams surrendered a sack, Coach Henson stepped in and instructed Williams regarding his footwork.
There weren't any defensive linemen in red. Every player from that position group was fully participating. Seeing the first two units intact was impressive. Kony Ealy has moved ahead of Brad Madison and he lined up with the first team. And, the third-team defensive tackles, Harold Brantley and Marvin Foster, are applying the heat on the guys in front to them.
During 7-on-7s, Franklin dropped it off to Murphy out in the right flat. Murphy took it up the right sideline for a first down plus. Franklin's pass attempt intended for Jaleel Clark down the left sideline fell incomplete.
During 11-on-11, Kendial Lawrence took a hand-off running right and picked up a couple. Shane Ray was in on the stop. Franklin hit Bud Sasser on a cross for a big gain. Franklin tried to lead Murphy up the field, but Murphy peeled toward the sideline, and Franklin's pass fell incomplete off of Murphy's fingertips. Franklin quickly found Lucas out along the left sideline for a first down. Donovan Bonner, who in Gooden's absence was playing the first-team weak-side linebacker position, was right there on the coverage. Franklin faked it to Lawrence then got it out to Clark in the right seam. The defense was all over it, but Clark followed blocks by Sasser and McGaffie to pick up about 5 yards. Hoch, Sam, and Ealy converged on Franklin, who unloaded the football out of bounds. Murphy ran inside for a couple. Richardson, Sam, and Ealy were all there to make the stop. Franklin thought he had Lucas at the goal line, but Braylon Webb was there to challenge. Lawrence took a hand-off over the left side for a TD. Franklin went back to Lucas on the fade in the back right corner of the end zone. This time, Gaines climbed the ladder and knocked the ball away. Franklin found Gahn McGaffie on the slant near the goal line. Ebner, Walker, and Webb were all there to make the stop short of the goal line.
Corbin Berkstresser lofted a fade pass into the back right corner of the end zone where Wesley Leftwich did a good job of finding the football and of shielding Xavier Smith away from the football as he came up with the TD reception. Murphy took a hand-off and ran left for a short gain where he was met by Kentrell Brothers.
Maty Mauk's pass attempt intended for Levi Copelin near the left sideline fell incomplete. Mauk's pass out in the left flat was thrown low, but Morgan Steward went down and picked it up off of his shoe tops, but the delay allowed the defense to gain an advantage. Steward fought forward for about 3 yards. Russell Hansbrough took a hand-off and ran left for a nice gain. Hansbrough ran a long way to his left to pick up a couple of yards. Mauk's pass sailed high and incomplete through the end zone. Copelin was in the area. Donavin Newsom was in Mauk's face, and Mauk floated a high one into the back corner of the end zone. The defender never located the ball in the air, and Joe Plevel came down with the TD reception. Morgan Steward ran right and got the edge, spun away from an attempted tackle by John Gibson, and took it in the end zone.
Eric Laurent hit Dorial Green-Beckham out along the left side for a first down reception.
At one point during 11-on-11s, Franklin couldn't find anyone open, and he had to throw the ball away out of bounds. Coach Steckel ran into the middle of his defense clapping his hands, and yelling, "That's it! Now you're getting it!"