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April 8, 2011
Columbia, Mo. -
By Allie Steiner, Mizzou Athletic Media Relations Student Assistant
The Missouri Football team continued its drive toward the 2011 Black & Gold Game with a Thursday afternoon practice held inside the Dan Devine Indoor Pavilion. The Tigers went inside as the threat of inclement weather loomed over Columbia, and Coach Gary Pinkel put his squad through the paces of a two-hour workout. Included in the day was some controlled scrimmaging, in preparation for Saturday's major scrimmage which begins at Faurot Field at 9 a.m.
Here's a recap of what took place on Thursday:
Attending practice today were two former Tiger players turned coaches, Mike Jones and Tony Van Zant. The two were in Devine Pavilion to observe practice. Mike Jones is best known for, "The Tackle," during Super Bowl XXXVIII while playing with the St. Louis Rams. He was just picked on January 31st to be the new head coach for the Lincoln University Blue Tigers. Van Zant, who was one of the highest profile players to ever be recruited to Mizzou, was picked by Jones to be Lincoln's running backs coach on March 1st.
Defense won practice once again, and will be in black for Saturday's scrimmage. Matt White started the day off in good fashion when he made a great read on a sideline route and picked off Tyler Gabbert during 11-on-11 drills. Ashton Glaser was also picked off twice during the drills, but he also led the third-string offense to several scores late in the day.
Kendial Lawrence, Greg White, and Michael Egnew all scored touchdowns during 11-on-11 drills. Many young receivers are showing a lot of potential through spring camp. Wesley Leftwich who graduated a semester early and is now on campus participating in spring drills has been very impressive. He picked up quite a few passes from both Gabbert and Glaser. Kendial Lawrence is also having a great spring and he's continuing to make a strong case for the top spot on the depth chart at tailback.
The Tigers are back in action on Saturday morning for their final full practice scrimmage before the spring game on April 16th.
Gary Pinkel Post-Practice Quotes:
"It was a very controlled scrimmage. We did some live and some thud, in which we control hitting. A lot of situational things, it was very physical and there was a lot of competition. And the big competition is going to come on Saturday because we're going to get another 45 or 50 plays with the ones, twos, and threes. We just want to see the improvement, what you're always looking at scrimmages, `Is this guy getting himself more in position to help us win championships?' That's what you're looking for. So that's what competitions all about so we'll see what happens."
On Tyler Gabbert...
"He's having a real good spring. I think you look at all those guys and there is great competition. Two real good players. And that's really what you want. Fortunately we have that in a lot of positions. I think without question he has really improved. We saw that in our bowl practices, also. "
On having the quarterback decided by end of spring...
"No, I've been doing this a long time and we decide when we decide. so if guys are competing and playing well, I've been in a situation where you wait 7, 8, 10 days before the first game. I've done it when they're done with the end of spring, I've done it when they're done with the 2nd week of two a days. We just see where it goes. But that's okay."
On Wesley Leftwich...
"He's doing well. He's catching the ball well. It's been tough for a freshman to get out here. He's got great speed but I'm very impressed with his ball skills. You get a guy like that who has great numbers, quickness, explosion, strength. He's got incredible numbers for a first year player. Then you also see a guy with ball skills whose potential is pretty outstanding."
On receiving corps...
"Well that's where the competition is. That's where guys earn jobs and I think it's pretty healthy. When we first got our program, our competition was pretty limited. There were depth issues. It's nice because I think it brings out the best in everybody. And bottom line is, you've got to go beat people out, there is not pecking order. You've got to go do it. But I've seen many, many players that have beaten experienced players out. But they've got to do it on the field."
On replacing Tim Barnes...
"I think Travis Ruth is doing a really, really good job. Mitch Morse had a little bit of trouble snapping today, he didn't the other day so that's just a young center working through it. We used Justin Britt in there a little bit. So we're trying to figure out how we want to do that. What you want to do is find out who your two best centers are, regardless of who the backup is at another position. You want to have three guards, and you want to have three tackles. If you can have four guards or four tackles ready to play then that's just that much better. I think all those guys are really doing a good job so we'll just see how it goes."