2012 Mizzou Fall Football Practice: Day 4 Links And Analysis

Brad Madison suffered a (not serious, apparently) injury on Monday. (Photo via Bill Carter.)

It hasn't reached OU levels by any means, but the offensive line injuries can stop anytime now. Any ... time...

Quarterbacks

Later, in 7-on-7 passing work, QB Corbin Berkstresser had a couple of really nice TD passes. One went to WR Marcus Lucas of about 15 yards, who came back to the pylon to make a diving catch despite tight coverage by Gaines. Both sides argued the result of the play, but it was ruled a TD catch, and replay showed that to be the correct call. Later, Berkstresser hit TE Brandon Holifield on a 10-yard scoring strike, after he looked off his primary receivers, and found Holifield, who rolled away from coverage to give his QB some space to make the throw. Also, QB Maty Mauk connected with TE Sean Culkin on a 30-yard TD strike, with Culkin making yet another impressive catch, which is fast becoming a staple of daily practices…

-- MUtigers.com

Both Maty Mauk and Corbin Berkstresser evidently made some nice throws yesterday. It could be a really interesting race between the two to succeed James Franklin in a couple of years. And, of course, the best news of fall camp is that they won't be fighting it out to start on September 1.

Running Backs

Freshman tailback Russell Hansbrough was back in a red bib, having slightly re-aggravated an ankle sprain.

-- PowerMizzou

Sounds like Jared Culver-McGriff -- THE CRIME DOG -- was getting some reps with the first string. We haven't heard a ton from either Marcus Murphy or the freshmen of late, but a) I saw (most of) what I needed to see from Murphy in the spring, and b) Culver-McGriff has molded himself into an ideal backup. I have to assume that one of the true freshmen still plays this year, but we'll see.

Receiving Corps

"If you just want to be good at Hillcrest," Beckham recalled telling Green-Beckham, "you don't have to do anything. You don't have to do anything. But if you really want to be a great player, then you have to take every opportunity that you have on this field to work as hard as you can."

The subtext was easy to translate. Green-Beckham wasn't facing elite competition at Hillcrest, a Class 4 school that played in the Ozark Conference against the likes of Camdenton, Joplin and Waynesville. He dominated every Friday and finished his career as the country's all-time leader in receiving yards.

But the Rolla Bulldogs ain't the Georgia Bulldogs.

-- The Trib

Holifield (6-5, 215) is new to football, having played only one injury-plagued season in high school. However, he displayed his potential in practice Monday morning by gliding across the middle, grabbing a pass and eluding defenders for a 50-yard touchdown.

Culkin (6-5, 225) had plenty of offers after a 55-catch senior season when he was MVP of his team. That came after he was named MVP of his basketball team. He also holds school records in the long jump and 400 meters.

"Catching the football is fun, it's as simple as that," Culkin said. "You've got to be able to catch and block to be a good tight end. But this is a good offense and they use their tight ends, for sure. It's just a good place to be."

-- Post-Dispatch

You were more of a basketball guy until late in your high school career. What was the reason for the switch to football?

HOLIFIELD: I played football my senior year and kind of fell in love with the game, so I was like, 'I'm going to continue on this path.' It opened a lot of doors for me, and now I'm here at Mizzou.

-- PowerMizzou

Pinkel said that his receiving committee was indeed loaded.

"My big thing with receivers right now is, you know, separate yourself," he said. "You want the ball, you want to be the guy, separate yourself."

It hasn’t been Waters making the eye-popping catches at practices.

He’s been talking about his role, and he’s been separating himself in another way that Pinkel appreciates.

"He’s a different guy than he was two years ago," Pinkel said.

-- The Maneater

It's really, really easy to like Sean Culkin.

Meanwhile, it's really easy to see that DGB isn't your stereotypical blue-chip athlete. He seems to use cliches as armor when he is speaking, still a little insecure and trying really, really hard to fit in with the rest of the team. That's a good thing. He hasn't asserted himself just a ton so far in camp, it seems, but that'll come.

Offensive Line

Missouri’s first practice in full pads had two casualties Monday, including a loss along an offensive line that’s grown all too familiar with training camp injuries. Left guard Travis Ruth left a 1-on-1 pass-rush drill after suffering what was described as a left triceps injury. The Tigers are already without their starting right tackle, Justin Britt, who broke his left foot a few weeks before camp began.

"It’s the same song, different verse," co-offensive line coach Bruce Walker said.

-- The Trib

Another freshman lineman got his first taste of action with the No. 1 offense Monday as Evan Boehm took all the first-team snaps at left guard after Travis Ruth left with a triceps injury. Boehm was among the country’s top guard prospects for the 2012 class and could become just the third true freshman offensive lineman to see playing time on Gary Pinkel’s watch, following Dan Hoch (2008) and Jack Meiners (2009).

-- The Trib

I really, really didn't want to see Travis Ruth get hurt. It's reassuring that Evan Boehm is playing this well, this quickly, but here's to hoping Ruth is back by the opener.

Defensive Line

Defensive end Brad Madison got tangled up with left tackle Anthony Gatti and hurt his left side. The good news for the senior was that he didn’t think it was related to his surgically repaired shoulder. "I should be fine. The shoulder’s fine," he said. "It’s just a little strain in my chest. Right now, it’s just uncomfortable to breath. That should go away in a day or two." Madison sat out the rest of practice for precautionary reasons. Kony Ealy replaced him on the right edge.

-- The Trib

"I think the kids see where the competition is, weight-wise," defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said. "The last few years, we've recruited bigger guys. Stryker Sulak was 205 out of high school, and when he left, he was 235. Now, the guys we get out of high school are 235, 240, 245 already. Rickey Hatley is 260 already. We're just signing bigger guys out of high school. They're just as talented as the other guys, but they're big now."

Ray is still a vestige from the old conference, a true speed rusher. He may be the last defensive end that Missouri signs who is under 230 pounds in high school. In the 2013 recruiting period, Missouri has one offer out to a defensive end under that mark, and it's lone defensive end commitment, Marcus Loud, is 245-pounds.

Even after a sometimes-standout spring, Ray said the staff made it clear where he needed to improve.

"They told me to put on size, to get bigger, stronger and faster to compete," Ray said.

-- PowerMizzou

It's nice being able to see a starting end get hurt ... and have him replaced by a potential stud in Kony Ealy.

Linebacking Corps

"We enjoy when the pads come on," middle linebacker Will Ebner said. "We can practice all we want to without pads and work on our fundamentals and everything. But you don’t get the full aspect of the game until you’re able to hit somebody."

"The offensive guys get chippy when there’s no pads," defensive end Brad Madison said. "You can always see receivers get the alligator arms when they come across the middle. You could see a couple of guys get that today. You find out who’s not afraid to come across and get a ball."

"You always see offense is giddy the first couple days of practice," Ebner added. "Then there’s a few of them who disappear when the pads come on. It’s like they go into hiding."

-- The Trib

We're still hearing very little from the linebackers. And I'm still totally okay with that.

Secondary

Gaines and Edwards will continue to be tested at practice by trying to cover the Tigers' tall group of receivers. It may be difficult, but the veteran corners say they enjoy practicing against height.

"I always tell them, 'The bigger, the slower,'" Gaines said.

Ford likes the confidence shown by Gaines and Edwards. He said it is necessary to be able to succeed at the cornerback position.

"Every once in a while, they (the receivers) are going to get by you," Ford said. "You can't panic. You've got to trust your technique, trust your fundamentals and believe, as I tell my guys."

-- The Missourian

Two years ago, Ponder was set to leave Missouri. He was looking at New Mexico State as well as some junior colleges. One person convinced him to stick it out.

"My mom," Ponder said. "She told me 'If you run from this, you'll run from things your whole life.'"

Ponder came back. He earned a scholarship. He became the Tigers' third corner.

"I had a couple good practices and it started going into scrimmages and I was like, 'Yeah, I made the right decision,'" Ponder said. "That's when they gave me a scholarship."

-- PowerMizzou

The safety position is still up in the air -- Ian Simon is getting mentions here and there, but Matt White is also seeing a lot of time with the first-string -- but I become more and more confident about the corner position by the day.

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