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Mizzou Links, 8-5-08

PRACTICE REPORTS!!!  First up, from

Danario Alexander and Steve Redmond wore red jerseys and sat out the day. Alexander is still on track for a full recovery right around October 1, while Redmond is recovering from knee surgery to remove cartilage and should be back within a week. Van Alexander wore a red bib, signifying no contact, but has been cleared 100 percent to play in what Coach Gary Pinkel termed a "miraculous recovery" from an ACL tear. Blake May also donned a red bib toward the end of practice, but should return.

Then PowerMizzou...

Only two players were not at practice as expected. Drew Temple and Aldon Smith are currently held up in the NCAA Clearinghouse. Pinkel said he fully expected both to be ready to go by the end of the week or early next week. Smith was at practice, but did not work out. Temple was not in attendance that I saw.

And Dave Matter...

Of all the newcomers in action on Monday, slot receiver Gahn McGaffie caught my eye the most. Playing Jeremy Maclin’s position with the third unit, McGaffie took a few short passes from Blaine Gabbert and ripped off some nifty runs through the heart of the defense. Missouri might be in need more of outside receivers — at least until Alexander is healthy — but it could be tough to keep McGaffie off the field.

Strangest sight of the day: A 6-foot-4, 225-pound D-linemen wearing No. 99 and slipping up, around and under offensive linemen. It’s going to take a while to remember that it’s the freshman, Jacquies Smith, and not Lorenzo Williams on the South Beach Diet.

Rare will you find a true freshman offensive tackle who looks the part of a Big 12 offensive lineman on the first practice of his college career. Hoch is a 6-foot-7, 295-pound exception. Still not sure if there’s a real need to press him into duty this season, but perhaps if he climbs to No. 2 on the depth chart, he can benefit from the practice reps and not necessarily play in the games.

And The Missourian...

One of the hardest adjustments for [Kurtis] Gregory was moving from small-time high school to the demands of Big 12 football. In high school, his coaches went with the keep everything simple method. In college, his coaches demand that he be able to read every defense and know what's about to happen.

"I've been watching a lot of film," Gregory said. "You see the saftey at 15 yards, he's not coming. When he's 6 yards away, that means he's coming,"

This season, if he missreads one play, it could result in Daniel pulling himself off the turf with a mask full of dirt and a sore body the next day.

"It's all about communication out there," Gregory said. "When you see us moving our arms around, that means we're talking."

And the KC Star...

On this steaming afternoon - it was 99 degrees when practice started at 3:45 - MU head of sports medicine Rex Sharp was reminded of when salt pills fell out of favor.

“That was probably about ’94 that we stopped using salt tablets,” Sharp said. “Some people just mis-took them. More was not necessarily better.

“The water in the body was attracted to the stomach to dilute the salt. So the fluids were not getting into the outer part of the body.”

Worse, that was a time when many coaches told players not to drink water until after practice. “We just weren’t very smart,” Sharp said.

That idiocy ended just about 10 years ago.

On Monday, players drank often from either Gatorade bottles or from water tanks placed around the practice fields.

“We’re smarter now,” Sharp said.

And the Post-Dispatch (whose story title gave me an excuse to post this):

Although it was only the first of 23 practices in the next three weeks, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said something felt different.

"There's a sense of urgency already here,'' he said. "It took a while last year. It was a couple of weeks before we found out what we could do, but now we already know what we're capable of and we know what everyone is saying.''

Of course, Pinkel is trying to play down those things while approaching camp with the same workmanlike mentality as ever.

But in the back of his mind, he knows of the possibilities.

"We have some different goals, but No. 1 is to win the Big 12 championship,'' he said. "If anything else happens, it happens.''

Finally...Big Head shares some thoughts on the beginning of camp...

And no...not every Links post during camp will be nothing but camp blurbs...just the first one...