MUTIGERS

Mizzou Football Practice Report, Aug. 7th

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The Mizzou football team added shoulder pads to their practice wardrobe for the first time in fall camp, as the Tigers went through the paces of a two-and-a-half hour workout Saturday morning at the Kadlec Athletic Fields in Columbia.  Per NCAA rules, full pads cannot be introduced until practice five, which is Monday, but the shoulder pads added to the excitement of the day.  Head Coach Gary Pinkel told reporters afterward that he liked what he saw.


"It was a very physical practice," said Head Coach Gary Pinkel.  "You have to be very smart how you practice, we try to teach our kids what the drill is like and what they can and cannot do in a drill so we stay healthy.  I thought overall it was a good day, and I liked the intensity level.  I thought we got better today," Pinkel said.

Before we get to the practice report, there was a bit of bad news to come from camp, as Coach Pinkel confirmed that sophomore LB Donovan Bonner will be lost for the season, due to a torn ACL in his left knee.  Bonner, who played in 2009 as a true freshman, injured his knee late in Thursday's season-opening practice, but returned to finish practice that day, in hopes that the injury wasn't serious.  On Friday morning, Bonner woke up with a swollen knee, and Head Athletic Trainer Rex Sharp ordered an MRI, which revealed the torn ligament.  Bonner will have surgery in the near future, after the swelling subsides.

"That was really unfortunate," said Pinkel.  "The good thing for him, as we always look at the positive in a tough situation - he'll be able to redshirt this year and get three years back.  Pat Smith, who is the best orthopedic surgeon around, he's going to fix him up 100%, and he'll be stronger, faster and quicker than he was this past year.  The same story we've told a lot of players, including Jeremy Maclin, so he's got to have a good attitude and we'll help him through it," said Pinkel.

Here were some highlights from today's practice...

In 7-on-7 passing work, junior LB Will Ebner continued his solid camp when he had good coverage over the middle on a receiver and reached in to deflect the pass into the air.  Teammate Jarrell Harrison snagged the ball out of the air for an interception and went the other way for a short return.  Later in the day in 11-on-11 play, Ebner jumped high near the line of scrimmage to bat down a pass...

Sophomore WR T.J. Moe is definitely looking like he's not bothered anymore by the nagging foot injury that hampered him so much in 2009.  Early in the day, he made a nice grab over the middle in traffic, and he looks ready to improve on his stellar spring camp.  Moe was featured earlier this week in a good piece by longtime MU scribe Vahe Gregorian in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch here...

The play of the day was far and away an amazing one-handed diving catch by true freshman WR Jimmie Hunt.  Just three practices into his first camp, Hunt is definitely turning heads and leaving observers wondering if he'll be playing in 2010.  On the play, Hunt got downfield on the left seam and laid out completely to catch the ball with one hand and bring it in for a completion.  The effort drew a spirited rebuttal from senior co-captain TB Derrick Washington, who shouted, "Somebody's moving up the depth chart!"...

Now to the 11-on-11 highlights...

Another true freshman receiver making good impressions is Bud Sasser.  On Saturday, Sasser made a really impressive leaping grab on the sideline on a ball thrown by fellow freshman QB Tyler Gabbert, who put the ball high to avoid some tight coverage.  Just when it looked like the ball would sail harmlessly out of bounds over everyone's head, Sasser skied above everyone to haul it in, and he came down just in bounds for about a 15-yard gain that drew some oohs and aahs from those in attendance.  A couple of plays later, Sasser grabbed a slant pass from Gabbert and got upfield for a sizeable gain before being tagged down...

Sophomore TB Kendial Lawrence looks just as quick as ever, and he showed his speed on one quick hitter up the middle against the #2 defense, which was followed by QB Jimmy Costello getting a nice chunk of yardage on a keeper up the middle.  Freshman LB Andrew Wilson made a play for the #2 defense a few snaps later when he had tight coverage over the middle and knocked down a pass from Costello intended for junior TE Andrew Jones...

When the #1 offense and #1 defense went against each other, QB Blaine Gabbert sold a screen play really well and hit TB Derrick Washington a little delay/slip screen that Washington took upfield for a big gain, thanks to some great blocking by the line and receivers.  A few plays later, Gabbert avoided pressure and hit WR Jerrell Jackson on a crossing route for a 15-yard gain.  But the defense also had their highlights, with senior co-captain LB Luke Lambert leading the way with a tackle behind the line of TB De'Vion Moore.  Shortly after that, DT Terrell Resonno, DE Aldon Smith and LB Zaviar Gooden all showed great pursuit to string out a sweep by Washington, to hold him for little to no gain...

Speaking of Lambert, the Brookfield, Mo. native cut off his previously flowing locks of shoulder-length brown hair on Friday, and saved the clippings to donate to the Locks for Love organization, which takes donated hair to make into wigs for cancer patients who have lost their natural hair due to cancer treatment.  A great move by a team captain, indeed!...

Later on, freshman QB James Franklin took some snaps with the #1 offense, and against the #1 defense, he completed a pass to Jackson and then defeated some solid downfield coverage by getting downfield with his legs for a big gain of nearly 30 yards before being touched down.   Franklin went back to working with the #2 offense, and later hit WR L'Damian Washington on a quick slant that the speedster turned upfield for what looked like a 50-yard touchdown, although it was hard to tell if he got tagged before crossing the goalline...

In one last matchup of top string units, Blaine Gabbert drilled a pass over the middle intended for TE Michael Egnew, who was covered by LB Andrew Gachkar.  Gachkar was able to get his hand on the ball and deflect it slightly, but the ball hung in the air for Egnew, who was able to gather it in after juggling it momentarily.  Egnew showed great concentration on the play, as he made the catch and got downfield for 20-some yards on the play...

The defense got a big play late when Gooden broke through on a blitz to force a throwaway by Gabbert.  Gooden showed tremendous closing speed on the play, which was close to being a sack...

Up next for the Tigers is a closed practice Sunday morning, then they'll turn their attention to the annual Fan/Photo Day at Faurot Field.  The team will get to the stadium early Sunday afternoon to get various photos and videos shot.  At 4 p.m., the gates will open to the stadium, and Tiger fans can come out to meet and get autographs from their favorite players and coaches.  The session is scheduled to go until 5:30 p.m...

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