First, the injury news.
Good to know!
We've been hearing about Marcus Murphy playing in the slot throughout the fall, and it looks like Gary Pinkel's ready to put a ring on it.
Marcus Murphy starts as slot WR with 1 offense.— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) August 21, 2014
The first team offense took the field and got off to a lightning-fast start.
Mauk attempts a dump-off pass to Hansbrough, doesn't connect, pass is backward, Beisel picks up fumble, returns for TD— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) August 21, 2014
Rough. They bounced back quickly though.
Cats and dogs living together, man. Eddie Printz took over the offense, which stalled out after a few plays. This gave Andrew Baggett a chance to get involved. He had himself quite a day, too.
Good day for Andrew Baggett. 3 for 3 on FGs. Just connected on a 47-yarder— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) August 21, 2014
Enough about the offense, how'd the defense look?
The second-team offense has netted three yards so far against the first-team defense for #Mizzou.— Pete Scantlebury (@PeteScantlebury) August 21, 2014
Harold Brantley with his 2nd "sack" of the scrimmage, ending another 2 offensive drive.— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) August 21, 2014
So solid then, good to know. The defense hasn't really been a worry-spot though.
At this point, we should be seeing marked improvement in the areas considered to be deficient going into camp. Herein we find the problem: instead of highlighting how far the Tigers have progressed, the final scrimmage let us all know that things haven't changed.
The good news
The linemen and running backs are as sound as ever.
This shouldn't come as a surprise to many. I assumed going into camp that these position groups would probably be our strongest, and I was correct in that assumption. This fact was on display during today's scrimmage, where the running game looked like it was in mid-season form and the defensive line was disruptive. Both of these things make me optimistic about the season, but not any more optimistic than I was before camp.
The bad news
The passing game hasn't shown much improvement
Going into fall camp, we posed a question: "Who the heck is going to catch Mauk's passes this year?" We've been told that Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt, and Darius White will all record their fair share of catches this season, but their on-field performances haven't lived up to the hype yet. The passing game is lagging far behind the running game, and I'm not the only one who's noticed.
Andrew Baggett good from 39. As in the first 2 scrimmages, the run game appears to be much further along than the pass game for the 1s.— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) August 21, 2014
Little doubt IMO that Hansbrough has been the best #Mizzou offensive player in camp over the last three weeks.— Gabe DeArmond (@GabeDeArmond) August 21, 2014
The ire--and make no mistake, Pinkel wasn't bubbling about the performance on Thursday--was directed largely at the offense, and more specifically at the passing game. Starting quarterback Maty Mauk completed just four of his eleven passes for 28 yards, including only two of his last eight throws.
By no means am I insinuating that Mizzou won't be able to effectively attack defenses through the air. What I am saying is that the passing game has consistently been the most underwhelming aspect of fall camp. There are several possible explanations for this:
- Mauk and company are still working out the kinks.
- The defensive line's disruptive presence hasn't allowed the passing game to blossom.
- The receivers aren't as talented as we hoped.
- The secondary is much better than we ever could've imagined.
- Pinkel and Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson are playing the long con.
My guess is that it's some sort of combination of those. Should we panic? Not yet, but a pinch of worry wouldn't be unnecessary. It's also important to remember that this is a scrimmage. It means less than an NFL preseason game. Drawing any concrete conclusions from this glorified practice is not advised, so by all means FREAK OUT!
Good ol' Dave has you covered.
Quips and quotes
In four starts replacing an injured James Franklin last year, Mauk completed 57-of-114 passes with ten touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran for 178 yards and a score as well in those four games. The discrepancy of last season versus this month led one reporter to ask Pinkel if Mauk was a better player in games than he was in practice.
"What are you saying there, man?" Pinkel responded briskly.
The reply came that Mauk had played very well in games last year, the conclusion left unsaid being that he hadn't so far in three scrimmages.
"You been evaluating him a little bit?" Pinkel asked. "We're working for consistency. Him like anybody else."
Whether it is cause for concern cannot be judged by seeing three scrimmages out of a three-week long camp. There is little question, though, that Pinkel wants to see more out of his offense. It is a message he said he communicated to his team after the scrimmage.
"We've been here before," Pinkel said. "Everybody, him included, we just need more consistency. I don't know what to tell you. We've got to get it done.
#FeistyGary is my favorite Gary.