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It's safe to say...Scrimmage No. 1 will not dampen optimism

"What you did today?  Do exactly that on September 5."

First, the initial scrimmage reports from the usual suspects:

  • Dave Matter: Gabbert, tailbacks shine in first scrimmage
    Gabbert finished the day 17 of 22 for 219 yards, with a touchdown pass and an interception ... on a tipped ball that could have been caught. To give you some perspective on how much his accuracy has improved, here were the five incompletions: (1) A swing pass to Derrick Washington in the flat that was too high; (2) a 19-yard bullet that Wes Kemp couldn't corral despite a diving effort in the end zone; (3) a drop by Jared Perry; (4) a pass off Perry's chest that safety Jasper Simmons intercepted on the deflection; and (5) another off Perry's hands. Otherwise, Gabbert completed 14 of his final 15 passes. Of his 22 attempts, all but one, the early dink to Washington, hit his intended target. Not too shabby.
  • PowerMizzou: Gabbert, ground game highlight scrimmage
    Gabbert was finally able to show his speed, as well, finishing with 55 yards on 5 carries and a touchdown. After practice, Sean Weatherspoon claimed Gabbert ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash the last time the team tested, and it showed. The sophomore, who was the only QB in the protective green jersey, ran for one touchdown, and would have had a second and third if not for the scrimmage's touch-rule. With the pocket disintegrating because of the ever-present Aldon Smith, Gabbert split through the defensive line and cut right, heading 18 yards into the endzone.
  • The Trib: Missouri scrimmage stats
  • KC Star: Scrimmage report
  • PowerMizzou: Scenes from Saturday's scrimmage
  • PowerMizzou: PMTV: Tigers talk about scrimmage
  • PowerMizzou: PMTV: Missouri Scrimmage highlights

Until a relatively humbling Black & Gold Game, in which he struggled while missing his top two receivers (Jared Perry, Danario Alexander) and his top target at a previous scrimmage (Michael Egnew), the spring storyline was that Blaine Gabbert was improving by the day, and that big things could be in store.  After B&G, however, we got to hear all summer how Gabbert had an "up and down" spring (because nobody pays attention to anything but the spring game), which was honestly a nice motivator for Gabbert and everybody involved.

So we get to August, and we're right back to hearing about Gabbert looking better every single day.  Yikes.  Until he proves himself on September 5, clearly this is all relatively meaningless.  But holy's getting harder and harder to stay grounded and not get excited.

Looking over the stats, there is a lot to like.  After the defense dominated earlier in the week, the offense struck back in grand fashion.  Mizzou's three main RBs (D-Wash, De'Vion Moore, Kendial Lawrence) put up 115 yards in 21 carries, and their current projected starting receivers (Danario, Perry, Wes Kemp) had 13 catches for 181 yards (despite Perry apparently having a pretty poor day).

Meanwhile, the kicking game looked good--Tanner Mills (sorry, General Mills), Grant Ressel, and Trey Barrow made a combined 20 of 24 field goals, while Mills routinely landed kickoffs deep in the endzone.  And the defense, torched by the first string offenses, unloaded on the second- and third-string offenses, picking off a total of five passes (Jasper Simmons, Matt White, Jeff Gettys, and two walk-ons nabbed them) and "sacking" the QB seven times.

All you can really ask for from a scrimmage, in which there's always a zero sum game going on (if Mizzou makes a good play, they're making it against...Mizzou), is that the first-string of both the offense and defense looked good, and without actually having been there, I'd say the stats and the above links suggest just that.

And of course, if you missed it below...

  • PowerMizzou: Tigers land state's best
  • Post-Dispatch: State's top prospect commits to Mizzou
    Demien didn’t know his recruiting would transpire like it did.

    "I was hoping to land maybe one or two offers from schools," he said.   "I didn’t know it was going to blow up this big. I was awestruck at first. I was shell-shocked, you could say. I started to weed out schools where I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to waste their time.

    "Missouri had always been one of my top schools. I rooted for them growing up. I got to look at Oklahoma. I felt Mizzou had the same stuff there. I felt like I could excel at Missouri the same way I could at Oklahoma."

We've been pretty optimistic about our chances with Demien for a while, but it's nice that he pulled the trigger before the season started.  Now all eyes turn to Marcus Lucas and Kony Ealy. Land Lucas, who's had Mizzou at the top of his list for a while, and this is a really good class.  Lucas, Demien, James Franklin, Jimmie Hunt, and a bunch of kids who were good enough to get early offers?  Yes, please.

Land Lucas AND Ealy, who appears to be favoring Georgia Tech at the moment, and I think most would consider this Pinkel's best class, top to bottom, even if the rest of the scholarships go to a bunch of 2-star Texans (which they probably will...and with Donovan Bonner thriving immediately, it's hard to complain too much about that strategy, huh?).