Tigers Prepare For Saturday's Big Scrimmage With Friday Practice

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On Friday morning, the Missouri football team held its final practice prior to the first scrimmage of fall camp.  Friday's workout was conducted in shoulder pads and shorts, and was a non-contact session to keep people fresh for Saturday's scrimmage, which will begin around 8 a.m. at Faurot Field.  With no tackling allowed, no score was kept today between the offense and defense, as the focus was on final preparations for Saturday's big day, which will feature around three hours of scrimmaging - an estimated 50 snaps per unit, according to Coach Pinkel.

Coach talked with reporters following today's practice about today's practice, and the importance of Saturday's scrimmage...

"It was a shoulder pads practice, I thought it was good work today," Pinkel said.  "Tomorrow is game day for our whole football team.  Tonight what I'll do in our team meeting, I'll talk about our grading system, I'll talk about the production chart that we use on defense, talk about the point of attack chart that we use on offense, and explain to them kind of how if you move up or down, how we deal with that in our program, especially for the young players, they need to know that.  I always try to tell these guys, it's just not in the scrimmage tomorrow, it's the 11 practices that we've had up to this.  It's not just the scrimmage, we don't base decisions just on the scrimmage, we base all of our decisions on every single practice, as I've mentioned before, that after every single practice we discuss every player on this team, his name is brought up, good or bad," he said.

Friday brought the first appearance from NFL scouts, as representatives from the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on hand for in-person evaluations.  It has been in the news recently about how some top-line college programs have banned NFL scouts from coming around to practices, but Mizzou draws rave reviews from NFL personnel for how well Coach Pinkel and the staff treat scouts and others associated with the league.  After practice, you can find scouts watching film in the office facilities, and they are even invited to grab a meal in Mizzou's nice dining hall.

Speaking of the pro ranks, Mizzou's Sean Weatherspoon is scheduled to start tonight for the Atlanta Falcons as they play host to the Kansas City Chiefs.  Chiefs fans in the state of Missouri will also hear a familiar voice calling the action on the Chiefs TV broadcast, as Mike Kelly, the Voice of the Tigers, will be making his debut on tonight's game, and he's going to call all of the Chiefs' pre-season TV games.

Back to the Tiger Friday report, on the injury front, DE Aldon Smith (hip pointer) and WR L'Damian Washington (thigh bruise) returned to practice after they both sat out Thursday.  Smith eventually put a red injury bib on late in the day, but he still was out on the field taking snaps during 11-on-11, since full contact wasn't allowed.  Junior LB Will Ebner was on the sidelines most of the morning, doing various conditioning work with trainers, but he did venture out onto the field for a few snaps late in practice to test out his hamstring.

Friday's practice focused on a lot of 2-minute drill and situational work on both sides of the ball.  In 7-on-7 work, CB Tristen Holt made a real nice read and break on a ball over the middle to go up high and knock away a pass that looked like it would be completed.  Next, TE Michael Egnew made a beautiful diving catch over the middle, and that was followed by pass break ups by FS Jasper Simmons and CB Kip Edwards, who took a lot of snaps with the #1 defense when it went to an extra defensive back.  Additionally, freshman CB E.J. Gaines grabbed an interception during the scrimmaging...

Later, when things went to 11-on-11, here were some highlights...

Redshirt freshman safety Matt White made a very athletic interception  for the #2 defense when he went high to pull in a pass intended from James Franklin to Jaleel Clark on the right seam.  Also making plays for the reserve defense included LB Andrew Wilson, who got into the backfield for pressure that disrupted an attempted screen pass, and DE Michael Sam, who got good pressure to force incompletions twice, and followed that by getting a sack on a third great effort...

When the #1 offense and #1 defense matched up, highlights included a touch sack by LB Luke Lambert, and tight downfield coverage by CB Kip Edwards of WR Rolandis Woodland that forced an incompletion.  It wasn't all defense of course, as QB Blaine Gabbert made connections with WR T.J. Moe on a nicely-timed out pattern for 10+ yards, and then later Gabbert found TE Michael Egnew down the seam on a pretty-looking play that went for around 20 yards.  For the reserve offense, QB Ashton Glaser had a good day, and he connected a few times with WR Terry Dennis for completions that helped move the ball.

Stay tuned to www.mutigers.com for full coverage of Saturday's big scrimmage.  We have a recap, as well as official stats and highlights of the action.

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