QB No. 1 is ready to go, therefore camp was, at worst, a relative success.
Fall camp ended with last Thursday's scrimmage, so while we wait to find out the extent of Jack Meiners' injury, let's take a look at some camp wrap-up articles.
- Mizzou Network: Inside Access: Defensive Line
- The Trib (Dave Matter): Camp Pinkel comes to a close
- The Trib: DGB is getting up to speed
The Missourian: Pinkel says Missouri is a work in progress
The Missourian: Michael Sam lightens mood for Missouri football, one song at a time
PowerMizzou: Best in Camp
PowerMizzou: Questions and Answers from Camp
PowerMizzou: Freshman Q&A: Chaston Ward
- KC Star: Mizzou's Richardson eager to hit another gear
- The Maneater: After camp, Moe takes in breeze
We Are Mizzou: Chaston Ward Mic'd Up
We Are Mizzou: Rookie Spotlight: Russell Hansbrough
Russell Hansbrough is, uh, quiet.
Quarterback James Franklin looks healthy after suffering a torn labrum in his right throwing shoulder in the spring. But Missouri quarterbacks have worn green jerseys throughout training camp, not taking hits during practice. Franklin said he is not worried about the adjustment to game contact.
"I actually kind of like getting hit," Franklin said. "After that, I really feel acclimated, really warmed up and ready to go."
Offensive coordinator David Yost thinks Franklin's experience and playing style help him handle getting tackled in games.
"We don't worry as much about a guy that's played a lot like he has. He's gotten hit and beat up quite a bit, so he understands what it takes and everything," Yost said.
-- The Missourian
There are still unanswered questions heading into the season -- we don't know how a suddenly thin offensive line will perform, we still don't know what we have at the safety position, we still don't know about the kickers, and we still don't necessarily know about defensive tackle depth -- but the single biggest question heading into fall camp was answered about an hour into the first practice. James Franklin is just fine. And that's pretty awesome.
Can Missouri run it without Henry Josey?
To be honest, this was a question many had, but not one we really had. Kendial Lawrence was good last year after Josey went down. The coaches have loved Marcus Murphy for two years. Russell Hansbrough impressed in camp. Add all that to the fact that much of Missouri's success on the ground comes off the threat of Franklin running anyway and we don't have many concerns about the ground game. Will they be on the edge of the nation's top ten again? Probably not. But as much as that has to do with missing Josey, it has more to do with a banged up offensive line and better defenses across the board in the SEC
I'm still a little concerned about this position, but that might just be me underestimating Kendial God Lawrence. Really excited to see what Marcus Murphy and, apparently, Russell Hansbrough have to offer.
By now, there have been many tomorrows. Players have woken up many times now. They’ve come out of the Athletic Complex’s back glass doors and have tapped the metal rectangle to their right and the new team motto it displays: "S.W.A.G: Sacrifice Will Achieve Greatness."
It’s the sign that has helped portray the enlightened confidence of the program. Perhaps it’s Moe who has helped carry it.
"I don’t know if I’m the face for it; I’m maybe just the one that spoke about it first," he said. "The whole team kind of adopted the attitude. It was there last year, (but) nobody told us we were gonna suck. Here, we got everybody in the SEC telling us we can’t compete."
As he said, the Tigers will soon have to show that they can execute on the field to get respect from their new neighborhood. For now, off of it, there might be something to be said of Moe, who likely won’t participate in another August with the team.
"I wake up every morning and know my clock is ticking. I got five more months until I graduate here," he said and then pointed to Franklin. "Couple more months with this guy. Couple more months with one of my best friends around here."
-- The Maneater
If Green-Beckham's freshman season is anything like his finish to preseason camp, Missouri's offense could find another gear in its first season in the Southeastern Conference. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound receiver led Missouri in catches (12) and receiving yards (159) in the team's three scrimmages and on Thursday ripped off the kind of low-risk, high-reward play the passing game has been missing the last couple of years.
In the team's final dress rehearsal before Saturday's 6 p.m. season opener against Southeastern Louisiana, Green-Beckham turned a quick slant from Maty Mauk into a 65-yard catch-and-run to the end zone against the No. 1 defense. It was the type of explosive play last seen consistently by a Missouri receiver during Danario Alexander's senior year. In 2009, Alexander led all FBS players with 1,781 yards on a school-record 113 catches.
-- The Trib
So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit. So excited about this unit.
Offensive Question still to be Answered
Gabe: Can the offensive line survive a rash of injuries? Prior to Thursday, I thought so. But if Jack Meiners is out for a prolonged period of time, that is four of the projected ten linemen on the two-deep. That's a lot for ANY team to overcome. Elvis Fisher was still being limited in camp and Justin Britt has had all of four practices. Yes, it's a concern headed into the season.
Pete: The line is the biggest one, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Jack Meiners. But, the receiving unit has a chance to be really good, but it's largely unproven. If more guys step up there, Missouri's pass catchers could rival the 2007 team in terms of top to bottom talent.
Technically speaking, if Max Copeland really is improved and Evan Boehm is ready for prime time, Mizzou could still field a pretty good line whether Jack Meiners is out for an extended period of time or not. But there's no question that the offensive line finished fall camp with far more questions than it started with. And that is certainly reason for some sweaty palms. Until we see this line handle John Jenkins, Abry Jones and the Georgia defensive front on September 8, this unit is an enormous question mark.
"This dude fits in anywhere," defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said.
MU coach Gary Pinkel has said Richardson accomplished most of what he did last season on pure ability. He missed several preseason practices last August because of NCAA Clearinghouse and shoulder issues and sat out spring practice while recovering from labrum surgery.
But now Richardson says he feels as good physically as he has since high school. Richardson, who’s 6 feet 4, said he played last season at 315 pounds but hovers around 295 now. He has also increased his bench press from 350 pounds to 400 and claims he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds.
"I got my high school speed back," he said with pride.
-- KC Star
For his teammates, each shaky note further demonstrates an obvious truth: Most of Sam’s talent lies on the football field.
"His singing, on a scale of 1 to 10 … I’d probably give him like a six," senior offensive lineman Elvis Fisher said. "It’s pretty good, but he’d still be kicked off American Idol on the first day. But for here, it’s pretty good."
Even when the music fades away, Sam can’t help but make his voice heard. During a physical morning practice earlier in camp, junior linebacker Andrew Wilson snagged an interception and began to run with the ball.
Most of his teammates shouted encouragement or stood quietly on the sideline. Sam, allowing his pop culture instincts to kick in, seized the opportunity.
"Wilson! Wilson! Wilsoooonnnnn!" Sam screamed hysterically, mimicking Tom Hanks’ frantic cries after losing his beloved volleyball in the 2000 film "Cast Away."
-- The Missourian
Three good ends, one excellent tackle ... and two to three other potentially solid tackles. You can work with that, but until I see Matt Hoch and Lucas Vincent thriving, I won't necessarily know that they can. (It's worth mentioning, too, that both Gabe and Pete and PowerMizzou mentioned that Jimmy Burge had a lovely camp. He could be a solid No. 4 tackle, though thanks to injury he spent quite a bit of time as the No. 2 in camp.)
Assuming Will Ebner's pinched nerve issue is rectified by Saturday, the linebacking corps finished this camp exactly as I preferred: invisible. No major injuries, no major issues. Beat writers aren't going to spend an inordinate amount of time watching a unit they know pretty well, and linebackers like Andrew Wilson and Zaviar Gooden are very, very well-known entities by now.
PM: You were a quarterback in high school before moving to safety. Are you used to the position now?
Ward: My freshman year, I started on the freshman team as quarterback, and then I got moved up to JV as quarterback. Then my sophomore year, I was asked to play free safety on varsity, starting free safety. Junior year, I started at quarterback and then toward the end of the year, I hurt my shoulder and I had to play a little free safety. Senior year, I pretty much played every position on defense.
PM: But you feel like safety is your best position?
Ward: Yes sir.
E.J. Gaines is still incredible, Kip Edwards is gimpy, Randy Ponder is improving, Kenronte Walker is steady and [Insert Starting Free Safety Here] is still mostly unknown. We'll see how this goes. No other Mizzou unit has more upside (Gaines) and potential downside as this one.
Three shakiest positions: 1. Kicker: Barrow had a rough spring but was made all his field goals in the first two scrimmages before missing 4 of 7 in the finale. That was probably enough to secure the job only because top backup Andrew Baggett was 6 of 14 in the final two scrimmages. 2. Defensive tackle: Injuries depleted an already thin crew, but Matt Hoch will be back after a sore hamstring limited him the last couple weeks. Lucas Vincent is recovering from a sprained ankle — on top of his torn pectoral muscle. Richardson, a player with All-SEC potential, might be the defense's most indispensible player. 3. Safety: Kenronte Walker settled in at strong safety, but Braylon Webb's torn meniscus handed the free safety job to Matt White, who had his share of struggles last year. Is Ian Simon a long-term answer there? Is there an impact player in this group?
-- The Trib
No pressure, Trey Barrow. None ... at ... all.