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2012 Mizzou Fall Football Practice: Day 9 Links And Analysis

E.J. Gaines is really good. (Photo via Bill Carter.)
E.J. Gaines is really good. (Photo via Bill Carter.)

So you know how we went a few days there without many quarterback links? That changes when the starting QB goes 18-for-22 in the first scrimmage of the fall.

Meanwhile, I guess this was the perfect scrimmage: the first-string quarterback and running back looked good, as did the first-string defense. Plus, nobody extra got hurt. Can't ask for much more than that.

He's not Ka'Ra Stewart anymore? Boo.


"I actually like when we go up-tempo, like the 2-minute offense," Franklin said. "I like when we do that, and for some reason I have, like, a different mindset. And it's just like, 'It's open.' And I hit it."

But Yost said Franklin is beginning to play more aggressively throughout games.

"He is starting to attack the defense, which is the same thing Chase (Daniel) did in his second year. It's the same thing Blaine (Gabbert) started doing in his second year," Yost said. "He sees the defense. He sees the reaction. And then he can kinda, attack them as opposed to waiting for them to (attack)."

-- The Missourian

"(Before the injury) I take reps, and when the twos, threes go, I watch them but I think about my plays," Franklin said. "But then when I was out, and I knew I wasn't going in, it was like, 'Oh, wow. I guess Coach Yost is right. If they do this, this is open.' Things like that."

Franklin returned in time for a few sessions of seven-on-seven this summer, and he said he quickly saw the benefit of his time on the sideline.

"I was like, 'Well, it can't be that easy,'" Franklin said. "But then going through it all, I was like, 'Well, it IS that easy, if you read the coverage, if you make the right read, looking at the defense."

-- PowerMizzou

During Saturday's scrimmage, after a rather impressive defensive stand when none of the Mizzou running backs were able to hammer the ball across the goal line, Franklin heard his defensive teammates talking a bit too much trash and decided to chide them right back.

"I told (linebacker) Will Ebner, 'You're lucky you didn't have The Tank out there, just the little running backs out there,'" Franklin chuckled. "'Once I run it, it might be a different story.'"

And that is the most intriguing aspect of the upcoming season, how often will Pinkel and offensive coordinator David Yost allow The Tank to show himself on the field. Right now, it makes sense to be very careful with Franklin. Pinkel has already given him the speech about how important he is to the offense and how it's far more critical to show a little discretion with his ability to take off out of the pocket.

-- Post-Dispatch

So evidently the "dump off to the RBs 20 times" thing wasn't so much a decision by the coaches as it was by James Franklin and Maty Mauk on Friday night. Interesting. Regardless, it resulted in a lot of easy throws and completions, and Franklin's arm looked stolid going downfield when it had to.

Running Backs

"One thing that I think that helps in our offense is we have so many threats at receiver," Franklin said. "So when they're running their routes down the field, the defense backs up to cover them and we can dump it to the back. We have some good backs."

For Lawrence, his first preseason scrimmage looked familiar. Last August, he was Missouri's most explosive and consistent playmaker in camp, but the results didn't translate in the fall, at least not initially. […] "He's had a really good camp," offensive coordinator David Yost said. "Really, it's what he's done since Henry got hurt last year. He's been a very productive guy. … Henry kind of jumped on the scene and went, but in no way did we think Kendial couldn't play or couldn't be our starting tailback. It was just a matter of how Henry was playing. He's been on that same mission, to have a great senior year and a great season."

-- The Trib

Kendial Lawrence looked good early in the scrimmage, and Marcus Murphy looked good late. As I mentioned yesterday, both are solid backs that don't seek to avoid contact at all costs. And apparently there's a chance that James Franklin uses them repeatedly in the passing game this fall.

Receiving Corps

● Fighting for a job at slot receiver, Jimmie Hunt had a couple drops but made some impressive moves in the open field. He’s not the biggest or fastest but maybe the most elusive receiver of this bunch. This should be the year he finds a role in the passing game. […]

● Freshman slot receiver Levi Copelin seemed to help his cause with a team-high seven catches. He was more sure-handed today and has a knack for getting open in space. Between Moe, Gahn McGaffie, Hunt and Copelin, I’m not sure how Missouri splits the reps at the H position — if Copelin indeed plays this year. Holifield, meanwhile, didn’t have his best day, with at least three drops on catchable balls.

-- The Trib

One thing The Beef and I were discussing the other day, when we talked about ball distribution, was the issue of success in Dorial Green-Beckham's first season. I know quite a few fans will be a little disappointed if he is anything less than Sammy Watkins, but while there's always a chance for a Watkins-esque season, the more likely odds are on him settling into a nice role as a No. 2-4 target ... which could mean only about 30-40 catches or so considering just how many receivers are earning targets right now. But hey, that's about three catches per game, and if two are on inside screens (for an average of, say, 10-20 yards) and one is in a jump-ball or red-zone situation (10-30 yards), I don't think I'll have much problem with that.

But that comes really close to setting expectations for DGB this season ... and I'm consciously trying to avoid that. So disregard that last paragraph.

Offensive Line

Somehow he found the inspiration early Saturday morning during Missouri's first scrimmage of camp in front of fewer than 200 fans. Regardless of the setting, Mad Max was not going to be silenced.

"I've done it for 21 years of life," he said, "and I don't plan on stopping until I die."

Copeland's enthusiasm persisted for two hours, and around the Mizzou program folks are getting used to it. If you never had watched him play football, you might think the enthusiasm stems from his new status as a potential starting guard.

But this is business as usual around practice, where people sometimes try to temper Copeland's outbursts but find little success.

"He's a fairly high-energy guy," coach Gary Pinkel said. "It's kind of an understatement. He's a little psycho sometimes."

-- Post-Dispatch

Granted, if ROCK AND ROLL MAX COPELAND does indeed start in Week One, that probably means that either Justin Britt or Elvis Fisher aren't 100 percent, or Evan Boehm didn't surge as much in August as we anticipated; but I'll still be pretty excited about it.

Defensive Line

Junior DT Sheldon Richardson was disruptive throughout the day, as he was credited with three tackles for loss, while senior LB Will Ebner had two TFLs of his own. Junior DE Michael Sam had a pair of QB sacks, a TFL and a forced fumble, while sophomore DE Kony Ealy broke up two passes and added a QB sack.


Richardson also lined up at defensive end some Saturday, which he did last year. But he says coaches are also experimenting with him at different spots of the field, even letting him rush the passer without his hand on the ground.

"What you didn’t see was that I was standing up sometimes," he said. "I like playing on two feet, being an athlete, and (the coaches) know that. It’s something they are working on right now, and they want to see if I can maintain it. I think I’m doing pretty good at it right now."

But for all his moving around Saturday, Richardson did not pick up a sack. Sam, however, had two, while end Kony Ealy – who was rotating in with the first team on defense – and tackle Evan Winston each had one apiece. Ray and Brayden Burnett each had a quarterback hurry.

Ealy, who also had two passes defended, said it’s a blast playing with such a talented group.

-- KC Star

Burge is the oft-forgotten member of Missouri's defensive line troupe. After playing extensively in 2010, his time tailed off in 2011. Now, with a few injuries on the line, Burge is trying to reclaim his spot in that rotation. On Saturday, he didn't disappoint, adding a tackle-for-loss and clogging up lanes in the middle.

This season, he's gotten back to basics.

"As a d-tackle, me and Hoch are trying to keep our pad level down, split double teams and be tough and physical," Burge said. "It's what we practice everyday. Get low, push the line for the linebackers, make plays. It paid off for us.

"It definitely felt good, making that goal-line stand. You never know when you're going to have that situation. I'm sure we'll have plenty of them. But it's a good sign that we can get in there and be big and tough."

-- PowerMizzou

Generally speaking, you don't necessarily notice many defensive players during a scrimmage. There's no P.A. guy telling you who made the tackle, you probably don't know the new players' numbers very well, etc. But I'll say this: you noticed Kony Ealy yesterday. He was all over the place, he was making plays in space, he passes the eyeball test ... he looked really good. If Michael Sam holds him off for the starting job, I guess it's well-earned at this point.

Linebacking Corps

Will Ebner lost all of last season to injury after suffering a concussion in the opener against Miami (OH). It has been a common theme throughout his career. After playing in every game as a freshman, Ebner missed action in both 2009 and 2010 (a season in which he played less than full strength throughout due to a foot injury) before sitting out last year. But he is healthy and performing at a high level through the first dozen practices.

"He's practicing every day, I'm real happy for him. Just knock on wood, he can stay healthy," Pinkel said. "That kind of experience and we also know how physical he is. You get him and Andrew Wilson on the field at the same time, you've got two really physical linebackers and if he can stay healthy, that'd be great."

-- PowerMizzou

You also noticed Will Ebner yesterday. Ebner just can't make a quiet tackle. (On the other hand, I didn't hardly notice Andrew Wilson or Zaviar Gooden at all. That's not an inherently bad thing, but it's interesting.)


"There were some great hits out there," Coach Gary Pinkel said, "and that's good."

None, though, was louder than Gaines' shot on Green-Beckham, the highly touted receiver from Springfield.

After the snap, Green-Beckham immediately turned toward quarterback Corbin Berkstresser for a screen pass. Before the ball had left Berkstresser's hands, Gaines was heading toward Green-Beckham. He crushed the 6-6, 220-pound freshman as the ball reached his hands.

"It was just a normal, basic Cover 2 play," Gaines said. "I was in the right place at the right time. Dorial was on the bubble route, and I came up and I welcomed him to Mizzou."

-- The Trib

"I welcomed him to Mizzou." E.J. Gaines is really, really fun.

Special Teams


Andrew Baggett: 5 for 5, 28, 28, 20, 37, 26
Trey Barrow: 5 for 5, 28, 28, 20, 44, 30
Brad Clements: 2 for 2, 28, 28


Trey Barrow: 4 for 171 yards, 42.75 average, 1 inside 20
Christian Brinser: 4 for 175, 43.75 average, 0 inside 20

-- The Trib/box score

Can't do too much better than these numbers. The kickers weren't asked to do too much -- only one FG longer than 37 yards, only two longer than 28 -- but they also made all of their kicks.