Summer Workout Series Video:
Today was the first cool day of practice for the Tigers with temperatures in the upper 70s, thanks to a storm front rolling through mid-Missouri. This was a nice break during the sweltering Missouri heat that has been in the 90's during most of two-a-days. Coach Gary Pinkel likes the hot days to help build mental toughness for the team, but the weather change was certainly appreciated by the players, who turned in a very competitive practice Wednesday at the Kadlec Athletic Fields.
Back in practice today was Luke Lambert. He began the day in a red bib but after warm-ups he was able to take it off and begin practice as normal. Will Ebner did some drill work, but later returned to the sidelines working separately with trainers to keep his hamstring healthy. Coach Gary Pinkel said that a hamstring is not something that can be messed around with and it needs to be watched very carefully. Tailback De'Vion Moore, who had a minor concussion Tuesday, was held out of contact drills today as a precautionary measure, but he's expected to return tomorrow.
Jarrell Harrison will have surgery on Friday to repair torn meniscus in his right knee, due to an injury sustained on Tuesday in the morning practice. Coach Pinkel reiterated to the media today that if all goes as planned, there would be a chance Harrison - who missed most of the 2009 pre-season camp, as well as the first two games of the season due to a foot injury suffered in camp - could return for the season-opener against Illinois.
It was a real competitive practice Wednesday, with the offense winning the black jerseys for the second time in three days. In the seven periods that were scored by coaches, six of them came down to the final play, which was pleasing to Coach Pinkel.
"I thought we had a good practice today, a lot of competition, it was good," said Pinkel. "We caught a little break with the weather, probably going to scorch up this afternoon, but overall I thought it was good work," he said.
With a practice featuring 105 guys, most everyone has nice plays, but a couple of individuals seemed to stand out today, including sophomore TB Kendial Lawrence and freshman LB Adam Burton.
Lawrence had a couple of touchdown runs in red zone work, scoring from 4-yards out against the #1 defense and later from 6-yards away against the #2 unit. He also made a couple of nice cutback runs where he showed good patience before darting through the opening created by his linemen. Coach Pinkel had good things to say about Lawrence after practice.
"We look at him as a second starter, that's the way we look at it, like De'Vion Moore was a year ago, he's moved into that category," said Pinkel. "We're very fortunate to have three guys of that caliber, we've got some good-looking young players too. You know, he's been in the program, he's learning, playing last year as a freshman, that experience has really helped him. He's got good hands, he's quick, and obviously he's a better player now than he was a year ago," he said.
Burton, who missed all of last year as he was continuing to recover from a knee injury sustained in high school, grabbed a pair of interceptions for the reserve defense, and he continues to show that he has the ability to be a very physical defender, as he's being noticed more and more making big hits out there.
Some other highlights from today's practice, courtesy of contributing writer Lindsay Petersen:
As the team went through warm-ups and drills this morning, the 3rd down drills seemed to highlight some of the best offense. QB Blaine Gabbert threw a pass to WR Jerrell Jackson for a 20 yard gain. Gabbert also threw a pass to WR T.J. Moe who gained 15 yards on the play. WR Rolandis Woodland was also able to gain several yards for the offense off a pass by Gabbert. Woodland's spin skills helped him gain another 5 yards on the caught pass. S Matt White had a good morning when he took an interception off of QB Jimmy Costello and ran it back several yards before the offense could bring him down. Once B. Gabbert was back on the field, he threw a slant pass down field to WR Wes Kemp for a 15 yard gain on the play. WR Rolandis Woodland would bring the offense within the 5 yard line after a 15 yard gain, but this was not enough to stop the defense from winning this drill as they surged to the top after several tackles and gained the victory on this drill.
The team moved on to punt returns next. S Jasper Simmons, DB Carl Gettis, and WR T.J. Moe all practiced returning the ball. Moe's versatility on the field is extremely helpful on the field.
During 11 on 11, the QB Jimmy Costello was able to throw to his TB Henry Josey for a 1st down to help the offense gain some points. Later, QB Blaine Gabbert connected on a swing pass to TB Derrick Washington, but Washington doesn't gain yards on the play because the LB Andrew Wilson is there to stop him the moment he catches the ball. LB Luke Lambert is also able to block a pass thrown by B. Gabbert and gains points for the defense. WR Jarrell Jackson made a catch thrown by B. Gabbert but is knocked out of bounds by LB Andrew Gachkar. The defense wins this match up.
The next round of 11 on 11 is a turn around for the offense. Their luck changes as QB Jimmy Costello throws a pass that TE Andrew Jones catches with gusto and gains 15 yards on the play. As the practice progresses, TB Derrick Washington is able to score a point for the offense by taking a hand off from QB Blaine Gabbert and running for a touchdown. Not long after, QB Ashton Glaser throws a pass that is intercepted by LB Adam Burton which gives the defense points to challenge the offense. In the end, the offense wins this match up to even the score.
On the final 11 on 11 drill, the offense is motivated to win after QB James Franklin takes the ball running down the field for a gain of 10 yards. QB Blaine Gabbert then throws a perfect pass to WR T.J. Moe for a definite first down. The defense gains back points in the next play when QB Franklin runs out of time and is pressured and touched by LB Jeff Gettys and DL Brad Madison for the sack. QB Tyler Gabbert is quick to pick up the offense when he throws a pass and TE Eric Waters makes the 15 yard catch. When QB B. Gabbert gets back in the game he has a tremendous long throw to WR Jerrell Jackson with DB Carl Gettis on the coverage to knock him out of bounds after the catch. B. Gabbert then has another sharp pass on the run to WR Jaleel Clark for a 20 yard gain. In the end, the offense wins this drill as well.
This practice proved to be another great day for the Tigers as they continue to improve their skills each day. Check back for more updates at www.mutigers.com