2012 Mizzou Fall Football Practice: Day 3 Links And Analysis

BIG POSSUM PONDER. (Photo via Bill Carter, of course.)

Day One
Day Two

Sunday live thread, etc.

Quarterbacks

Honestly, I didn't even find any good quotes about the quarterback position. Between Thursday and Saturday, James Franklin's right arm went from Story No. 1 to "Yawn, he can make every throw, let's move on." It's incredible.

Running Backs

"I think I'm in great shape," Lawrence said. "I did a lot of stretching in the offseason, a lot of yoga, a lot of regeneration to keep my body healthy. ... If possible, I want to touch it every carry because I'm hungry for the game. But I'm eager for the team to go out and move the ball around."

Murphy, who is 5 foot 9, 185 pounds, offers an intriguing package after he ran for 181 yards on 22 carries as a true freshman in 2010. He might become an explosive option to Lawrence.

He rebounded from his shoulder injury to turn in a stellar spring performance and was named the team's most improved running back. But Murphy suspects a lot of players will get a shot.

"We have pretty good depth, and ... we bring a lot of aspects to the offense," he said. "We have a lot of skills coming from different backs, and that will be good going into the SEC.

-- Post-Dispatch

Of all the storylines that will be pumping by the time SE Louisiana visits on September 1, I will perhaps be paying the most attention to that involving running back position. Can Kendial Lawrence start a little faster than in seasons past? In the first game of each of the last three seasons, Lawrence has carried the ball 20 times for 28 yards. His career marks in September and October: 4.2 yards per carry. His career marks in November and beyond: 6.0 yards per carry. Lawrence has a bit of Tony Temple-itis in that regard, and it would behoove both him and Missouri if he were to start faster this time around. Meanwhile, even more than Lawrence, I'm really, really wanting to see Marcus Murphy in action. The last two times we saw him (in the 2011 and 2012 spring games), he looked fantastic. As I've said before, he looked quite a bit better than Henry Josey in the 2011 spring game. If he has a nice game against SE Louisiana, even though it's SE Louisiana, that will go a long way toward alleviating one of my concerns for the season.

Receiving Corps

One freshman receiver has stood out above the rest. And his initials aren’t DGB. Sean Culkin, who’s playing the Y/tight end position, is catching everything and really gets upfield after the catch for a 6-5, 230-pounder. It might be too early to start handicapping the rookies’ chances of contributing this year, but if we’re only going off practice production, I’d give Culkin the best odds so far. During one four-play series with the No. 3 offense, Mauk attempted three passes, all three going to Culkin: a quick throw along the sideline that Culkin turned into a first-down pickup; a high pass over the middle that he snagged in coverage; and another short throw in the slot that he turned into a 10-yard gain. Great size, good hands, great burst after the catch. Looks like the ideal Missouri slot tight end.

-- The Trib

Green-Beckham saw more passes thrown his way Saturday than in either of the previous two practice days. He started out 11-on-11 drills by letting a ball slip through his hands on what would have been a seven-yard gain. Another ball was poked out of his hands as he tried to make the catch.

"I know he's thinking a lot. So there is a few more that have bounced off him, but I know that he catches the ball very cleanly and smoothly," Yost said.

Yost said the freshman's drops were simply a result of thinking too much, not a lack of catching ability. Lucas also thinks Green-Beckham is doing well and just needs time to adjust.

"He's just continuing to learn the plays. That's the biggest thing. Once he does that, the speed and everything will come with it," Lucas said.

-- The Missourian

Waters turned a 15-yard catch from James Franklin into a first-quarter score by side-stepping a safety who then tripped over an incoming linebacker. An A&M safety, coming from completely across the field, caught him near the 10-yard line. But he managed to rumble in.

OK, so Waters isn't the fastest guy.

"He almost got caught," said a smiling MU receiver Marcus Lucas, for whom speed isn't an issue.

Said a laughing Waters: "I'm not claiming 4.3 speed."

Especially not now. Waters isn't completely at full strength. He's recovering from April surgery for a medial collateral ligament injury suffered during spring practice.

-- The Trib

We've now seen beat writers single out the following receivers for praise through three practices: Marcus Lucas, Jimmie Hunt, Eric Waters, Gahn McGaffie, Bud Sasser, Sean Culkin, Levi Copelin. That's seven guys, and we haven't heard anything from T.J. Moe or L'Damian Washington yet. After Dorial Green-Beckham signed, I mentioned that he is walking into a situation in which he doesn't have to produce immediately. He is still getting all sorts of attention, and he is still going to be feeling all sorts of pressure, but it's okay that he's struggling a bit (relatively speaking) right now. If you saw him play in his high school season opener on ESPNU last year, you saw him drop a couple of early passes and look a little nervy; that eased up pretty quickly. I fully expect him to look nervous all the way through the SE Louisiana game. Hopefully he's gotten that knocked out of him by the time Georgia comes to town, but even if he doesn't, Missouri has more passing games weapons heading into 2012 than it has at any point since 2008. It's exciting, and we haven't even heard much from the No. 1 recruit in the country yet

Offensive Line

Four of Missouri's five projected starting offensive linemen have added a collective 40 pounds to last year's listed weights, led by right tackle Justin Britt, who's up from 295 to 315. […]

Asked about the weight gains yesterday, Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel insisted they're unrelated to Missouri's move to the Southeastern Conference, a league with a reputation for bigger bodies and more physical play along the line of scrimmage.

"No, we set weight goals for every player," said Pinkel, who went on to describe the team's process of analyzing each player's body composition. "It has absolutely nothing to do with the SEC."

Instead, the weight gains are stylized specifically for each player, said Jana Heitmeyer, the team's director of sports nutrition.

"We want them to be bigger and leaner. That's the big thing," she said. "Our guys are already lean. Now we're trying to make them a little bigger with the same leanness. I guess we'll kind of see."

-- The Trib

It's funny the way the SEC has butted its way into everyday storylines. Linemen almost always gain weight from year to year throughout their careers, and though there have been some more aggressive weight-gains this time around -- obviously Matt Hoch moving from a 260-pound end to a 300-pound tackle is a bit of an outlier, as is Justin Britt's 20-pound gain -- it's funny to watch how we all assume (myself included) that the SEC has had something to do with the outliers.

Defensive Line

This Sheldon Richardson, removed from the hype and hullabaloo, is more than just a mouth or a repaired shoulder. According to Gary Pinkel, his biggest improvement for the start of camp is one of experience.

"He was here the whole summer," Pinkel said. "First time, no fault of his, he's been here a year and this is really the first consistent training he's really had, the whole summer. That was great for him."

His first full year in the program couldn't have come at a better time. Right or wrong, Missouri's defensive line will be scrutinized throughout this first year in the SEC. More specifically, it will be the defensive tackles -- a group that often brings glory in the SEC, and a group that many think is Missouri's least deep.

Richardson has heard those questions, too.

"We just feel like we're not respected at all," Richardson said. "We just come out here and make everybody better."

-- PowerMizzou

DISRESPECT!!!!!1!!

Love it.

Linebacking Corps

Darvin Ruise had an interception of Maty Mauk. Ruise was a star in the spring game and has made quite a few plays early in camp. The Tigers have depth at linebacker, but the sophomore is making a sure bid for playing time.

-- PowerMizzou

Outside of the receiving corps, it does appear that Mizzou is deepest at linebacker. The starters -- Zaviar Gooden, Andrew Wilson, Will Ebner -- are basically laminated onto the first-string, but players like Donovan Bonner (in the spring) and Darvin Ruise and Mike Scherer (in August) are trying their damnedest to earn some playing time.

Secondary

* A couple of interesting highlights today: an offensive lineman playfully calling walk-on freshman running back Miles Drummond "Predator" after a long touchdown run - Drummond has long dreads - and senior cornerback Kip Edwards revealing that junior cornerback Randy Ponder's nickname is "Big Possum."

"He's not afraid to stick his head in there," Edwards said. "Randy is a hitter and he will deliver, so that's why we call him 'Big Possum.'"

* I spotted senior strong safety Ian Simon working with the first team in Missouri's nickel package.

-- KC Star

BIG POSSUM.

Miscellany

No open practice on Sunday, just Football Fan Day at 4:00 at Faurot Field. Free parking and admission, and evidently players and coaches will sign autographs until about 5:15.

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