MUTIGERS

Defense Wins Black Jerseys Back, Injury News Is Also The Talk of Football Camp

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The Missouri football team hit Faurot Field for the first time this fall, as they were put through the paces of a two-and-a-half hour full-pad practice Thursday morning in humid but mild temperatures in Columbia.  The latest injury news was the talk in the media overnight and into this morning, as starting WR Jerrell Jackson has been lost for approximately four weeks due to a broken scaphoid bone in his left wrist.  Jackson was out at practice today doing what he could on the sidelines, but was mostly forced to be a spectator and a player-coach for his teammates.


Two more Tigers were added to the injury list, as DE Aldon Smith was held out of contact drills due to a hip pointer, while WR L'Damian Washington was sidelined due to a thigh bruise.  Both are considered day-to-day, but are not expected to practice this afternoon.  Sophomore DE Brad Madison looked to take a majority of the snaps in Smith's place with the #1 defense today, while sophomore WR T.J. Moe ran with the #1 offense most of the day in Jackson's absence.

Junior TB De'Vion Moore returned to full go this morning after missing the last two practices with concussion-like symptoms, while junior LB Will Ebner sat out Thursday as he continues to work on mending his strained hamstring.

The defense held the upper hand on Thursday, and gained back the black jerseys for Friday's practice.  That evened the count up at two wins apiece for the offense and defense this fall, and Coach Pinkel told reporters assembled afterward that he felt today's practice represented "good work."

Naturally, the popular topic post-practice was the injuries that have popped up during camp.  Here's what Coach Pinkel had to say...

"We've got some guys who are banged up a little bit, but that's two-a-days," Pinkel said.  "Also, it sends a message to everybody how important getting depth at every position is," he said.

When asked about how the injuries change things, Coach was adamant that as unfortunate as injuries are, there's nothing to do but push forward.

"It doesn't matter, I don't really care who gets hurt," he said.  "We have no excuses for anything.  Bottom line, people move up and whoever's playing game day against Illinois, plays.  We don't ever talk about, 'Woe is me,' and 'This is awful that this happened to us,' we don't do that around here.  We don't have any excuses for nothing.  Bottom line, if a guy gets hurt, we have to coach better, and we've got to have people step up and play at a better level, and that's what we're going to do," Pinkel stated.

When asked about the potential of moving receivers around to different spots to make up for the loss of Jackson, Coach had this to say...

"We're going to keep everybody at their position right now, then we're going to make a decision, probably, after Saturday (scrimmage)," Pinkel said.  "It's not fair to move a player from a receiver position from the outside to the inside (prior to the scrimmage) if he hasn't had any work.  We're just going to have everyone prepared as best they can and then what we're going to do is move some personnel around in preparation, knowing for sure, going into the Illinois game he's (Jackson) not going to be there.  We've got to sort it out.  Will it be defined then?  Not necessarily, but we'll tweak it until we get it right and get our best players at the right position," he added.

Onto the highlights from the day...

Overall, Thursday was yet another very physical practice.  Both sides of the ball are getting after it physically and are competing very hard to win the black jerseys every day.  It's been good to see the evenness between the offense and defense, as the win count stands at 2-2 right now...

One rookie who definitely meets the eye test is LB Darvin Ruise.  A high school quarterback who has been converted to linebacker, he's definitely already developed the mentality of being a bruising defender, as he's been seen many times being physical and putting big licks on the offense...

Sophomore TB followed up his nice day Wednesday with another solid outing on Thursday, as he was seen darting up the middle for a gain of 15 yards, followed by a five-yard run around the left edge early on in 11-on-11 work against the reserve defense.  Later in the day, "Show Time" (a nickname) had a quick burst up the middle against the #1 defense for another gain of close to 15 yards...

When the #1 offense and #1 defense went against each other, it was the defense who held the upper hand today.  The offensive line didn't give up a sack of QB Blaine Gabbert, but the Tiger defensive line, despite missing the services of 2009 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Aldon Smith, seemed to get consistently good pressure to help disrupt timing.  Junior DT Dominique Hamilton got big pressure on one play against Gabbert, and flushed him from the pocket, forcing a throw on the run that couldn't be completed to the right sideline to WR Wes Kemp.  Then, on consecutive plays, the line got good pressure in the pocket, forcing a throwaway by Gabbert that was nearly a sack, followed by good pressure off the edge by Brad Madison that led to an interception over the middle by senior LB Andrew Gachkar.  Also, Kendial Lawrence tried a run up the middle on a 3rd-down play, but DT Terrell Resonno and DE Brad Madison were there to stop it short...

It wasn't all defense, certainly, as the play of the day came from the #1 offense going up against the #1 defense.  On a 3rd-and-1 play, senior TB Derrick Washington carried the ball and got to the left edge.  He eluded all pursuit and scooted down the sideline for a 32-yard touchdown, showing that the talk about his increased quickness from last year was not only idle chatter...

A true freshman who stood out Thursday morning was CB Xavier Smith.  Smith was seen breaking up a pair of passes in 11-on-11 work, including one that came late that came in the endzone as QB Tyler Gabbert tried to hit WR Bud Sasser  for a score...

The Tigers will return to the practice field this afternoon for an abbreviated practice session which has been moved up to a 3:05 p.m. start time.  The practice is scheduled to last for an hour, and after that, the team is scheduled to go swimming to get a break from the summer heat.

Stay tuned to www.mutigers.com for continuing coverage of Tiger camp!

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