After a week of full-on basketball talk, let's check in on how spring football is going.
Quick note, as always: I'm sharing blurbs below but trying to keep them minimal because they're all from subscriber sites (PM, Trib). Mizzou is spoiled with the day-to-day coverage from Dave Matter, Gabe Dearmond, Pete Scantlebury, etc., and I highly recommend subscribing to these sites if you can. This year, fewer pieces of practice are open to media, to the point where Matter has been covering Columbia College basketball more than Mizzou spring football, but there have still been plenty of interesting tidbits.
There's not much to be gleaned from these short open sessions in regards to the quarterback battle, but I took some time to watch the true freshmen on Friday. One thing that stood out is it seems Eddie Printz makes a concerted effort to bounce on the balls of his feet even during drills. While some quarterbacks take their time while warming up, Printz is in constant motion with his feet.
It appears Evan Boehm's moon-lighting at center during the first week of practice has been made more permanent. On Tuesday, Boehm led the centers during stretches. Those stretch lines serve as an "unofficial" depth chart, but it should be noted that despite working at center during the first week, Boehm still led the left guards in stretch lines. His switch during stretch lines hints that there's more permanence to his move.
After practice, offensive coordinator Josh Henson said Boehm is getting a long look at center, but wouldn't go as far as calling it "permanent."
Defensive tackle Lucas Vincent looked much quicker, and stronger, compared to his play last year. On one play, he overpowered Evan Boehm right into the backfield. On other, his bullrush was stopped by McNulty, so Vincent spun inside to tap the bag acting as a quarterback. I'll have a full feature up on Vincent later, but he's really rebounded from a tough year after tearing his pectoral muscle.
Boehm responded by completely shutting down Harold Brantley twice.
Henson has already installed new parts for Missouri's offense and, as Mauk happily shared yesterday, changed the terminology and breadth of MU's playbook.
"Everything is so much easier to think about," Mauk said. "You don't have to think about 20 different things that you don't know what they mean." [...]
Mauk said he considers himself a dual-threat quarterback, but those running skills could be stymied during controlled practices and scrimmages.
"The hard part when you're a creator — and I'm not saying he's Johnny Manziel or anything — but when you're scrimmaging and you can't touch a guy … it's hard to really judge that," said Hill, referring to the Texas A&M quarterback, who won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman last year. "We'll have to judge that as we go."
PowerMizzou.com - PMTV-HD: Mauk eager to go
PowerMizzou.com - PMTV-HD: Pinkel talks practice 3
PowerMizzou.com - PMTV-HD: Hunt ready for more
PowerMizzou.com - PMTV-HD: Henry Josey is back
PowerMizzou.com - PMTV-HD: RSFR looking to contribute
PowerMizzou.com - PMTV-HD: E.J. Gaines
PowerMizzou.com - PMTV-HD: Washington learns WRs
PowerMizzou.com - PMTV-HD: Pinkel talks practice 5
PowerMizzou.com - Spring Practice 2 photos
PowerMizzou.com - Spring Practice 3 photos
PowerMizzou.com - Spring Practice 4 photos
Q: With your background coaching the offensive line, does that impact your perspective on the entire offense?
A: I think it's natural as a play-caller when you get into crunch time. I've been around quarterback-wide receiver guys who, when they got into crunch time, they leaned on what they knew. When you get into crunch time, you lean on what you know and what you feel like can have a direct effect. But I think you've got to be careful that way, too, that you don't become predictable in what you do.
Coming at it from an offensive line perspective, really, all I thought about coming into spring was not the offensive line. It's because I have a comfort level and know what's going on there. I've been through all the little adjustments to it. What I'm really doing this spring is making sure that I double check so that I know and know and know all the other parts to the offense. That's what you've got to have when you're calling plays.
"Everyone's hungry," senior offensive guard Max Copeland said. "Everyone's angry. Everyone's mad. We didn't get to comeback with a, 'Oh, well, we still...". No. Everyone is sick and everyone put all that anger and frustration into any facet they could, whether it was the weight room or the field."
Receiver L'Damian Washington echoed Copeland's description of the team attacking offseason workouts. He mentioned the fact that others would talk about the break following the season, and every time he heard that, he would quickly interject.
"No, we didn't," Washington said. "Everyone came back early to hit the weight room, hit the field, to work on fundamentals. We're a hungry group."
"Sometimes when you have so much success and it's consistent and it's back-to-back-to-back, sometimes you need a reality check. We got that last year. I've never seen a group so hungry, never seen coaches so hungry, to be great again."
Not a lot to conclude at this point, really. The QB competition is ongoing, the offensive line is getting shuffled around, and the injury bug has more or less stayed away. Evan Boehm's move to center is the most interesting note of the spring, really. If it is indeed permanent, I'm curious what it does to the left guard position. Obviously Mitch Morse, one of the center candidates, can move to right tackle without a problem; he played that position a decent amount last year and wasn't too bad at it. But if Boehm indeed ends up at center, that means the left guard battle is between some combination of Brad McNulty (the assumed starting center), Mitch Hall, Connor McGovern, and Nick Demien. The quotes we read about McNulty last year were that he wasn't amazingly strong, so one would think that he might not be a perfect fit at guard. (Then again, people can get stronger, and he's put on some weight since last year.) Still, it's plugging one potential hole and perhaps opening up a new one. We'll see.
And on a further note, in terms of recruiting, this is the worst possible time for Missouri to have struggled on the field. In discussing his commitment to Ole Miss, St. Louis lineman Andy Bauer mentioned stability as one of the reasons for his choice. Right now, on the recruiting trail, opposing coaches are hammering potential Mizzou recruits with "Gosh, I don't know if Coach Pinkel is going to last much longer, so you might want to keep that in mind." And the only response Missouri can have is to kick butt next fall. Until then, though, there really is no response. That's a problem considering a) how many offensive linemen Mizzou has narrowly missed out on in recent years, and b) how many high-caliber, semi-local offensive linemen there are in this year's recruiting class -- Bauer, four-star Braden Smith (Olathe), four-star Roderick Johnson (Hazelwood Central). But again, Mizzou just has to tread water in this recruiting class until the Tigers prove this fall that they can turn/have turned things around. (If they indeed can/do.)