Guess who's back... (Photo via Bill Carter.)
(Sunday live thread!)
Well, it's official ... I'm pretty sure every primary Mizzou media outlet has done a "McGaffie wants to move past that kickoff return" story. Which probably makes it difficult for him to move past that kickoff return.
Here's where we get a bit of a lull in practice. Saturday was not in full pads, and the players are off on Sunday-Monday while classes get started. So I guess this is the last one of these posts until Wednesday.
- MUtigers.com: Saturday Practice Report
- The Trib (Dave Matter): Saturday Camp Report: Tigers get a starter back in action
The Trib: Keeping QB in one piece is key for MU season
The Trib: Will Ebner develops bond with defensive coordinator Dave Steckel beyond football
The Missourian: Cornerback Randy Ponder looking to make more plays for Missouri football
The Missourian: Missouri's McGaffie hopes to rise above memorable 2010 play
PowerMizzou: Saturday Practice Report
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Alex Grinch
PowerMizzou: Freshman Q&A: Levi Copelin
PowerMizzou: PHOTOS: Saturday Practice
KC Star: MU practice report: Britt returns, eager to catch up
KC Star: Mizzou safety Matt White has chance to redeem himself
We Are Mizzou: Mizzou Rookie Spotlight: Markus Golden
We Are Mizzou: Morgan Steward Mic'd Up
Pinkel says Franklin is doing "absolutely awesome," but medical staff wanted to give him some rest, especially with no practice Sun or Mon— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) August 18, 2012
As concerned as Missouri's coaches are about keeping Franklin's body in one piece this season, they aren't worried about what's going on between his ears. His confidence is no longer handled like a water balloon.
In Thursday's scrimmage, Franklin threw an interception on his second series before rallying to finish the day 16 of 25 for 177 yards and a touchdown. It was a replica of the second scrimmage of last year, when his first attempt was picked off but he went on to complete 16 of 23 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown.
Note the contrast in Coach Gary Pinkel's assessments.
In 2011: "He started a little slow, but I thought he did really well once he got going."
In 2012: "He doesn't play really well, then all of a sudden he finishes like he's going to be first-team All-SEC. So that's disappointing."
-- The Trib
Yeah, read that entire Trib article about Franklin; it boggles the mind how many bumps and bruises these guys compile through the course of a season. Goodness.
There is still little to talk about here, other than Russell Hansbrough's move up the depth chart. As Gabe points out in his practice report, Mizzou has a history of playing true freshmen at running back and giving them about 3-4 carries per game on average. Considering the level at which some of them played as sophomores or juniors (Henry Josey, Derrick Washington, Kendial Lawrence), it seems to be a pretty effective approach.
And in the third week of camp, things began to click for the one known as DGB...
Since [Dorial Green-Beckham] tugged on that Missouri cap back in February everyone’s wondered how and how much Missouri will use him in the offense this year, and after more than two weeks in camp, it’s becoming obvious he’ll immediately see the field and catch more balls than I might have expected. Two years ago during training camp, I wrote here that first-year starters T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew would lead Missouri in receptions, even though they had combined to catch all of nine passes in previous seasons. Not everyone agreed or understood why. But those were the two players consistently catching passes in practice in 2010. That’s where Blaine Gabbert’s reads told him to throw the ball. They were getting open. They were catching everything. What happened that season? Moe caught 92 balls, Egnew caught 90, two of the top-five prolific seasons for Missouri receivers in team history.
Now, I expect Franklin to distribute the ball more evenly this season because MU has more weapons, but when trends start to develop on the practice field, it’s not usually by accident.
-- The Trib
One way McGaffie can distance himself from the play is by making a lot more of them. With slot receiver T.J. Moe out for much of fall camp with a sore hamstring, McGaffie’s role has increased.
Since a shaky start on the first day of camp, McGaffie has stood out as one of the offense’s top performers. He’s caught nearly everything that has come his way, building a rapport with quarterback James Franklin and displaying the same shifty moves in the open field that landed him in the end zone against the Sooners.
The coaching staff has acknowledged that McGaffie — experienced, fast and reliable — shouldn’t be seen as Moe’s backup. Even when Moe returns, McGaffie will get his opportunities.
-- The Missourian
PM: Was there any one instance that stuck out that made you realize that?
Copelin: Yeah, there's no excuses here. You're lucky to get a warning, and I think was lucky at first. If you aren't ready to buy into the family, maybe this place isn't for you. Thankfully, I had some guys that pointed that out to me and we got it corrected real quick.
Stop it, Matter. Just stop it. I had effectively tamped down my DGB expectations to something at least reasonably realistic. Don't do this to me.
Big news from— Gabe DeArmond (@GabeDeArmond) August 18, 2012
#Mizzou practice:RT Justin Britt out of red and ready to go full speed for the first time in camp.
Perhaps the biggest development today was the full return of OL Justin Britt. The junior right tackle had missed all of camp previously, as he recovered from a Jones fracture in his left foot during the summer. The offensive line also got a second new face added to the mix, as Mitch Hall, a brand-new transfer from Ole Miss, made his initial practice as a Tiger. He will wear #73 in the Black & Gold.
Britt was not shy about admitting he felt rusty, but also added that it's nothing that can't be overcome.
"If we had a game tomorrow, I'd play," he said.
Britt also tried to look on the bright side. His absence, he said, allowed several players to get work they wouldn't otherwise get. Among them are guards Evan Boehm and Max Copeland, who are battling for the starting left guard position but got to work on the first team together for much of camp because starting right guard Jack Meiners was moved out to right tackle to accommodate Britt's absence.
"Some twos got to work with the ones and some threes got to work with the twos," Britt said. "Everybody got work."
-- KC Star
Now all we need is for T.J. Moe to hit the practice field, and the band is all back together...
I noticed a few snaps during 11-on-11 where Brad Madison and Kony Ealy were the starting defensive ends. Along with Michael Sam, all three will see significant playing time this season. As for which two start, I have no idea.
SEC football is actually in Ebner's blood. His maternal grandfather, Jeff Adams, played both ways for LSU and lettered there from 1946-49. He was a teammate of LSU quarterback Y.A. Tittle and played in the Cotton Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The Ebners also have cousins who played at Mississippi and Mississippi State.
"The SEC is a comfort zone to us," said Elaine, whose husband and oldest of three sons, Jake, played football at Houston.
The youngest Ebner has one last season to fulfill the promise he showed as a sophomore, but his second senior year is about more than staying healthy. For Ebner, it's time to offset his lows with some highs.
-- The Trib
Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy. Please stay (somewhat) healthy.
Safeties coach Alex Grinch sees some terrific qualities in White, who he says has had a solid camp.
"From a mental standpoint, he leads the group in terms of understanding of the defense, understanding the calls, understanding adjustments," Grinch said. "He has the confidence to make those things, and that’s a great starting point.
"He’s practicing at a fairly high level (and is) a guy that can produce for our defense."
Grinch agreed with the notion that smart players such as White, an engineering major, are difficult to keep off the field.
-- KC Star
That spring is when Ford said Ponder improved the most. He said Ponder became a more physical player and began to make more plays at practice. The coaching staff noticed Ponder's improvement, and he moved up the depth chart.
"It's getting your hands on balls. It's making crucial tackles, might be making tackles for losses. It's great coverage on third down. It's interceptions and caused fumbles and recovered fumbles," Ford said. […]
"Randy is one of those guys. He has it. He has it, but he has to tap into himself, and when he knows he's got it, his play speaks for itself," redshirt sophomore linebacker Darvin Ruise said. "He's just a physical player out there for his size."
-- The Missourian
I hate that I'm so skeptical about Matt White. Prove me wrong, No. 17.