On Saturday morning, Missouri practiced in full pads on Faurot Field for over two hours. For the second straight day, the defense prevailed over the offense on the last play of the day.
Starting quarterback Maty Mauk talked about practice, and the quality of the Missouri defense that he and his offensive teammates get to go against on a daily basis. And, he talked about how going against such a high-level defense gives them the opportunity to get better as individuals and as an offensive unit.
“Practice went a lot better today,” said Mauk. “Today, we kind of came out here with a purpose. We knew what we wanted to do. We wanted to get better, and that’s what we focused on. When it came to 11-on-11s, we were taking things that were there. We weren’t trying to force things. We were taking the easy things. And, that’s what you’ve got to do in this offense. You’ve got to move the ball.”
“We’re going to be in the film room tonight, and we’re going to get better,” continued Mauk.
Could this year's defense be better than last year's?
“I can’t even tell you how good our defense is,” explained Mauk. “They’re really good! When you have a defensive line like ours, it really helps you out. They’re going to put stress on an offense."
If you asked Taylor Chappell how much better he’s gotten since day one until today, going against Markus Golden, it’s night and day difference," continued Mauk. "So, they’re making us better. Mitch Morse is going against Shane (Ray). And, you’ve got Harold (Brantley), Louie V., and Matt Hoch in the middle. And they’re pounding on our offensive line, and it’s going to make them better.”
The competition along the offensive line, particularly at the second and third level, is heating up. Within the next week or so, I’d expect there to be some shuffling of the depth along the offensive line. In addition to Michael Fairchild and Nate Crawford of whom we’ve already spoken, Paul Adams and Andy Bauer each appear to be making a move.
But perhaps the most significant development along the offensive line thus far is the play of junior tackle Taylor Chappell, who has filled in with the first-team offense while McGovern sits out of the contact periods of practice. Chappell has been doing a good job.
“The offensive line is looking great,” said Mauk. “Chappell’s stepping up for Connor, and he’s really stepped up! That’s what you need. You’ve got to have that sixth guy ready.”
Mauk gave a quick rundown on how his receiver corps is doing.
“You can see Jimmie (Hunt), Darius (White), and Bud (Sasser), from day one until right now, it’s a big difference already,” explained Mauk, talking about the improvement he’s seen since the beginning of camp. “And, J’Mon’s really picking it up. Nate Brown’s looking really good. He’s not up with us yet. I don’t know if he will, but he’s really impressing people. Lawrence Lee inside, is looking good, too! So, we’ve got the guys. We just need to be more consistent.”
“J’Mon (Moore) is six-three, and he’s fast,” explained Mauk, talking about what Moore brings to the field. “He’s not only fast, he’s kind of got that Murph in him where he can make a step and he’s still full speed and go. And that’s what you need. If you can get the ball out to him real quick and let him make plays, that’s what he’s got to do for this offense. And, he can be really dangerous out there.”
As noted by Coach Pinkel on Friday, Cortland Browning and Morgan Steward each joined Braylon Webb and Connor McGovern on the injury report. According to Coach Pinkel, none of the injuries appear to be a threat to the season. Coach Pinkel wasn’t sure which of the injured players would be ready for full contact by Tuesday’s first scrimmage.
Freshman corner Raymond Wingo continued to be absent from practice, due to a death in his family.
And there’s still nothing new on the status of the two freshmen players who have yet to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center, Tavon Ross and Walter Brady. It’s hoped that each of them will soon be cleared to practice.
After a week of practice, it appears that there is no longer a question regarding the preparedness of Missouri’s back-up defensive ends, Charles Harris and Marcus Loud. Harris is nearly dominant, and Loud has also made a very good impression. I think they’re ready to contribute as part of a four-man rotation. The question now becomes if one of the athletic true freshmen DEs will increase the size of that rotation. Rocel McWilliams and Spencer Williams are tall and athletic. They’re working hard, and already getting better.
Mauk said that the Missouri secondary is unforgiving, if he makes a mistake. He cited their speed to the ball, and he said that he has to be careful where he places the football. But, he welcomed the challenge of going against such a high-quality defense on a daily basis.
“It’s just going to make us better,” concluded Mauk.