2012 Mizzou Fall Football Practice: Day 5 Links And Analysis

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

That was me yesterday. Within an hour or two, No. 3 tackle Taylor Chappell tore his ACL. So apparently reverse psychology is needed now. BRING ON THE INJURIES, BABY. YEAH. MORE, MORE, MORE.

Pardon me for a moment now while I go throw up.

Mizzou Football set to Wale: RPT's version of heaven

Quarterbacks

Once again, there is little report here. James Franklin was given a little bit of rest yesterday, and Maty Mauk looked solid again.

Running Backs

Other defensive highlights in that series included S Braylon Webb and LB Will Ebner combining for a tackle behind the line of TB Marcus Murphy, a subsequent TFL by DT Matt Hoch, a sack by Sam, and a nice open-field tackle of TB Kendial Lawrence by a hard-charging LB Zaviar Gooden. Lawrence did gain 3 yards on the play, enough for a first down, but Gooden's impressive play kept the damage to a minimum. It wasn't all defense, however, as the offense won the period, thanks in part to a nice burst up the middle by Lawrence for a 5-yard gain and a first down, a Franklin-to-Marcus Lucas pass for 10 yards, and a tough run in traffic by Murphy that netted 4 yards on a 3rd-and-2 situation.

-- MUtigers.com

It's certainly nice to hear that Marcus Murphy is running well "in traffic." We already knew he was good in the open field. Meanwhile, Russell Hansbrough is still nursing a sprained ankle, which isn't good for his chances at playing time.

Receiving Corps

Freshman tight end Sean Culkin also got some work with the first team at this morning’s practice, while freshman tight end Brandon Holifield did some work with the second team and also made a highlight-reel catch at one point, catching a ball over the middle from Mauk and outracing a few players to the end zone.

-- KC Star

With Eric Waters still nursing a knee injury (he apparently re-aggravated it yesterday), it seems more and more likely that both true freshmen will play this year, even the "raw" Holifield. (You're not allowed to mention Brandon Holifield without including that adjective.)

Offensive Line

Naturally, most of the news yesterday came from the trenches.

Missouri announced serious injuries for two offensive linemen on Tuesday night. Starting left guard Travis Ruth is out with a torn triceps tendon suffered on Monday. Backup right tackle Taylor Chappell will miss significant time with a torn ACL sustained in practice Tuesday morning.

Ruth is a fifth year senior, but could apply for an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA.

According to a release from Mizzou, Head Athletic Trainer Rex Sharp would not call either injury season-ending at this point, but there is no timetable on a return. Ruth is slated to have surgery on Thursday and begin rehab immediately. Chappell should undergo surgery in the next couple of weeks.

-- PowerMizzou

With Chappell out for the second half of Tuesday’s practice, Michael Boddie and Chris Freeman split the snaps at right tackle with the No. 1 line. Freeman had left the team over the weekend but had a change of heart Monday afternoon and was allowed to return. Pinkel declined to comment on the details of Freeman’s decision, saying only, "That’s between us, but he’s back, so that’s good."

-- The Trib

True freshman and Lee’s Summit West grad Evan Boehm, a four-star recruit who coach Gary Pinkel recently praised for being physically ready to play, has earned significant reps at left guard with the first-team offense in Ruth’s absence.

-- KC Star

The last true freshman offensive lineman to receive a letter for Missouri was current senior Jack Meiners, who played as a freshman in 2009.

Pinkel said it is no coincidence it has happened only twice in 11 seasons.

"Offensive line is probably the most difficult position to play as a true freshman, just because of the physical size and strength that you have to have…and there’s so few players that have that right then and there," Pinkel said. "The good news is physically, he’s ready to play."

Not that this is a surprise. Pinkel said the staff had an inkling Boehm could play early back when they were recruiting him. Offensive coordinator David Yost agreed and said Boehm’s father, Royce — the head coach at Lee’s Summit West — and the rest of his staff deserve credit for getting him ready to play.

-- KC Star

The silver lining in the offensive line injuries: Evan Boehm is getting a crash course on blocking with the No. 1 unit. And he’s not getting pushed around. On the final play of an 11-on-11 series, the freshman picked up a blitz from linebacker Zaviar Gooden and helped clear a path for Lawrence for a first down. Later, during 1-on-1 pass-rush drills, he won multiple matchups against nose guard Matt Hoch. The staff’s confidence in Boehm seems to grow by the day. And they were confident in his chances to earn a job back when he chose Missouri. "He’s got an opportunity," Pinkel said. "The thing Evan’s got, he’s got strength, size, he’s bright. He’s a good competitor, a state wrestling champion. He’s got those things in place as a freshman offensive lineman to play early. We’ve had a lot of great offensive linemen around here but they didn’t have all those things that are necessary to play as a freshman. … He’s got it all. He’s in there competing. It’s exciting."

-- The Trib

Thank goodness for Evan Boehm, huh? You lose two of your top six or seven linemen in one day, and that hurts, but it does appear that Boehm will counter that at least a bit.

Here's the current O-line hierarchy as I see it, purely based on assumptions and practice reports:
1. LT Elvis Fisher
2. RT Justin Britt (still hobbled a bit, but I'm not worried about him at all)
3. RG Jack Meiners
4. C Mitch Morse
5. LG Evan Boehm
6. LT Anthony Gatti
7. RT Michael Boddie
8. RT Chris Freeman
9. C Brad McNulty
10. RG Nick Demien
11. LG Connor McGovern
12. LG Max Copeland

Tackle and center are in fine shape (for now), but the pool of guards is getting awfully shallow.

Defensive Line

If you had defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in the pool to throw the first punches in camp, you’re a winner. Same goes if you had offensive tackle Michael Boddie, who exchanged brief haymakers with Richardson during a pass-rush drill. Richardson scored two points for a takedown — and lost his helmet in the fracas — but teammates and coaches quickly broke it up.

-- The Trib

"If you look at Sheldon Richardson today from this same time last year," said defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, "it's almost night and day. And last year he looked good, trust me. He looked real good. You're seeing a much improved guy, a more mature player, a more mature competitor. He's playing with more discipline and he's got a great attitude."

Actually, if you looked at Sheldon Richardson a year ago, you wouldn't have found him on the practice fields at Mizzou. It took 30 months for the Gateway Tech star to get to Mizzou after he signed with the Tigers. After falling short of initial academic standards, he spent two seasons at a junior college in California, though he played only one season. With other delays, he didn't get to Mizzou until Aug. 11, 2011, missing the start of two-a-days.

He played last season with a long-standing shoulder injury that kept him from fully extending his arm and that required surgery on his labrum after the season ended. That kept him out of spring ball, but he was good to go in time for the summer fitness program, which Richardson acknowledges is "critical."

-- Post-Dispatch

"Our defensive line training has always been pro-style," defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said, "and we're going to see more pro-style offenses in the SEC than we did in the Big 12. Our guys were already preparing for that."

While the prepation won't change on the whole, a few players said the different tweaks will be worked in in preparation for certain teams, in the weeks leading up to those games.

One big aspect that will be harped on this year is "gap control." It's a philosophy that defensive linemen, especially tackles, occupy a certain gap on a certain play to limit running lanes.

It's always been a big part of Missouri's defensive scheme, but now this year, they're hearing about it more.

-- PowerMizzou

"(Hoch) played defensive line for us in camp (out of high school)," he said. "So we really did want him as a defensive line and as a tight end out of high school. He felt like playing defensive line would be a good move so we moved him over there. He started gaining weight, and he said, ‘Do you think it would help the team if I moved to D-tackle?’ I said, ‘Yes I do. I want you to.’ So he agreed to make the move."

And what about the weight gain of 40 pounds? What happened to November’s 260-pound Hoch?

"Well, his brother, Dan, played (offensive) tackle for us," he said of the current Jacksonville Jaguars rookie. "He was 335 pounds, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch for him genetically to do it."

Kuligowski smiles.

"He just started eating more cheeseburgers than salads, and here he is."

-- The Maneater

Gotta love Michael Boddie mixing it up with the golden boy of the defensive line, huh?

(You've also gotta love how good Richardson has looked to date.)

Linebacking Corps

Other than the blurbs above about the linebackers and running backs facing off a few times, it doesn't look like there's much to report here, and that's the way I like it. Kentrell Brothers earned some second-string reps, and Mike Scherer made a few more plays.

Secondary

Ian Simon, Matt White and pre-camp starter Braylon Webb all got time with the first unit. All say that Walker is the leader at the position.

"Kenronte's definitely the leader of the safety group," Simon said. "He and myself, I can probably say, are the most vocal ones, but Kenronte's the one we turn to. He's the one who starts off every drill, he's the one who's showing us how to get going and be self-starters."

-- PowerMizzou

The optimist's view: Braylon Webb, Ian Simon and Matt White are pushing each other to higher heights with this increased competition.

The pessimist's view: Neither Webb, Simon nor White have done anything to separate themselves or raise each other's respective game.

When there is an even position battle, I always root for the youngest of the bunch to win the starting job, simply because I love three- and four-year starters. So while I still liked what I saw from Webb last year, go Ian Simon.

(Also, check out the beard on Kenronte Walker in the PowerMizzou PMTV feature. Dude looks 39 years old now.

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