I'm back! And I'm going to be offended if we don't again end up with 1,000+ comments today. You set the bar high while I was out of town.
1. Practice reports
Practice Report: Day Eight
The offense got 11-on-11 work off to a good start, as the #1 unit gained a pair of first downs against the #1 defense while working from the shadow of its own goal line. Starting at its own 1-yardline, the #1 offense gained seven yards on a pair of middle runs, and then senior QB James Franklin avoided pocket pressure and rolled out to find senior WR L'Damian Washington for 10 yards on 3rd-and-3. Washington made a nice sliding catch by the sideline to secure the first down. On the next snap, designated as a 3rd-and-1, Franklin found sophomore WR Dorial Green-Beckham on an out route for a gain of eight yards and another first down. Later, with redshirt freshman QB Maty Mauk guiding the way, the ones got another first down, with the highlight being a Mauk-to-Washington completion on 3rd-and-1 for a gain of five yards. Junior WR Bud Sasser helped spring the play with some good open-field blocking.
Tigers closer to first scrimmage
Cornerback John Gibson, who’s still nursing a sprained ankle, also sat out drills today. He’s in line for the No. 2 job opposite third-year starter E.J. Gaines, along with Randy Ponder and David Johnson.
"We’ve still got guys battling for that No. 2 and No. 3 spot. It’s not settled yet," cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford said. "That group of guys who are after E.J., from there on down, everybody’s got to turn up the intensity and be more consistent. That’s what we’re looking for."
Mauk would seem to hold a significant emotional edge in the minds of Missouri fans.
Namely because he, unlike Franklin and Berkstresser, never played a down as the Tigers were stumbling to their first losing season since 2004.
But Franklin outplayed Mauk in the spring, so Mauk decided to become a better student of the game over the summer.
Mauk said he'd hole up in the film room for an hour or more at least three times a week to pore over footage of himself and see where adjustments were needed.
"In the summer, there's really not that much to do in CoMo," Mauk said with a laugh. "I want to perfect everything I'm doing on the field. Film study, yes, it's boring. But it does help you, so I had to do it in my free time."
So far in camp, Pinkel has been very complimentary of his freshmen defensive line, most notably the defensive tackles. He mentions how defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski refers to them as one of his strongest classes. However, "Coach Kool" (that's how he signs his name) is usually a more reserved guy when it comes to his players -- which is funny, considering all the success he's had with players across the line.
After practice, Kuligowski talked about his freshmen. Even though he's still reserved, it's clear how highly he thinks of them:
"This is a very good group of freshmen," Kuligowski said. "A lot of them are, but more than usual. These guys are all coming in here and they are closer to game-ready than a lot of freshman are. It's good to see, it's going to make our team better. Those guys are going to be competing their butts off for playing time.
"I don't know what's going to happen, but it's great when you've got a big group that's all great competitors and physical guys."
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