2014 Missouri spring football: Day 1 practice reports focus on ends, injuries

Bill Carter

MUtigers.com: Mizzou Football 2014 Spring Camp Preview
The Trib (Behind the Stripes): Missouri Spring Practice Notes: The "Golden Ray of D-End Optimism" edition

Morse said it's going to be kind of weird not playing next to Connor McGovern -- who moved from right guard to right tackle -- anymore. They had developed such good chemistry that they could communicate by a series of grunts last year, he said. Coaches have been hounding Morse to be a little more vocal this season. He and Braylon Webb were leading stretches today. [...]

Let's leave you with Morse talking about the loudness dynamic of the line last year, when he and McGovern comprised the "less vocal side" of the line: "You should just hear the games. You hear all sorts of things. Max" Copeland "is saying, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Evan is talking. Me and Connor were just like ‘..........’"

The Trib (Behind the Stripes): Missouri releases pre-spring depth chart
The Trib (Behind the Stripes): Missouri kicks off spring practice
Post-Dispatch: Tigers hungry to surpass last year's glory
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou reveals spring depth chart
Post-Dispatch: Tigers kick off spring drills

Missouri probably had the country’s deepest set of defensive ends last fall with starters Kony Ealy and Michael Sam, both All-SEC picks, and backup standouts Golden and Shane Ray. This year, Golden and Ray could very well form the SEC’s best tandem, but the Tigers don’t have any established depth behind them. The only current scholarship players on the roster at defensive end are their backups, redshirt freshmen Charles Harris and Marcus Loud.

Golden isn’t concerned about the young edge rushers.

"Before (last) year started, didn’t nobody know me and Shane was going to do all that," he said. "Everybody was worried about Mike Sam and Kony. I wouldn’t want to put pressure on those guys. I believe they can come in and play. I told them, ‘Y’all don’t need to do what we did. Just come in and play hard.’ That’s all they’ve got to do and they’ll be alright. … Those guys have a lot of potential. They can be great players for Mizzou."

KC Star: Missouri opens spring football practice looking to build on momentum

Sophomore tight end Sean Culkin, 6 feet 6 and 245 pounds, who is listed atop Missouri’s spring depth chart, was among three players Pinkel said were held from practice.

"Culkin hit his hand and has a real small fracture in his index finger," Pinkel said. "He won’t need surgery, but we probably won’t get him back until we get back from the break."

Junior cornerback Ernest Payton, 6-2 and 210 pounds, who tore his ACL in early September also remains limited. But he also might return after the break.

Finally, sophomore nose tackle Ricky Hatley "turned his ankle walking off a curb," but he should return soon.

The Missourian: Missouri football starts spring practice, picks up where it left off
PowerMizzou: Tuesday's Spring Notebook

Mizzou has five members of the 2014 signing class who have enrolled early in school to go through spring drills. Linebacker Brandon Lee, cornerback Logan Cheadle, quarterback Marvin Zanders, offensive lineman Michael Fairchild and defensive back Kenya Dennis have impressed the head man so far.

"They're doing really good," Pinkel said. "We embrace those guys. They're kind of by themselves. You get four or five guys that come in here, it's a lot different than in the summer when you have 25, 30 guys and they kind of all huddle and hang together. We give them two big brothers, generally one from their home town and one from their position, so we have two guys that are with them all the time. We also have little meetings with them, we teach them about the standards that we have in our program, all the things that we're about at Mizzou. We do a lot of things with them extra to make them feel at home and I think that their confidence level keeps getting stronger and stronger all the time."

PowerMizzou: Five Spring Questions
PowerMizzou: Time to back it up
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Spring Camp, 3/11
KBIA Sports: Mizzou Start Spring Practice Off With a Roar
Mizzou Network: Mizzou Football Starts Spring Practice

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"Before (last) year started, didn’t nobody know me and Shane was going to do all that." -- Markus Golden, owner of my favorite quote of the day.

The big takeaways from Day 1:

Don't read too much into the early depth chart on the offensive line. We kind of knew that already, but whereas Connor McGovern gets the first crack at Morse's RT spot now that Morse has moved left, that's not the end of the conversation. As we've discussed many times, it's all about the top five. Positions come later.

So I figure the OL hierarchy looks something close to this:

1. Evan Boehm
2. Mitch Morse
3. Connor McGovern
4. Anthony Gatti
5. Mitch Hall
6. Brad McNulty
7. Jordan Williams
8. Taylor Chappell
9. Clay Rhodes
10. Stephen Carberry
11. Alec Abeln
12. Mike Fairchild

If McNulty is able to move up to No. 5, he'll likely slot in at RG, and things would remain the same. But if Chappell, Rhodes, or maybe Williams moves up, they could take RT and move McGovern back to RG.

Shane Ray is fast. Again, we already knew that, but ... 4.44? Even handheld, that's ridiculous, especially considering Golden was clocked at, what, 4.52 last week? 4.55? We'll see how the new batch of ends holds up against the run; Sam and Ealy were unquestionably the best two ends in that regard. But in terms of pass rush, Mizzou might not drop off at all, which is a crazy thing to say after losing a first-round draft pick and the SEC DPOY.

Max Copeland was loud. I miss him already.

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