Aug. 17, 2012
Columbia, Mo. -
The Missouri Tiger football team held a two-hour practice Friday morning on the Kadlec Athletic Fields, and a day after the defense dominated the second major scrimmage of fall camp, the Tiger offense got back in the winner’s circle. Senior WR Gahn McGaffie and junior QB James Franklin connected on a couple of red-zone touchdown passes against the #1 defense in the final period, and freshman TB Russell Hansbrough had a pair of touchdowns (one running, one receiving) against the #2 defense, and the offense won the final period to claim the overall win and regain the black jerseys for tomorrow.
The afternoon practice scheduled for 3:45 was called off to give the team some rest as they continue preparations for the 2012 season opener against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 1st – just two weeks away from Saturday. Meetings will replace the practice, and the Tigers will return to the practice field Saturday morning.
“We have that (the afternoon practice) as an either/or kind of thing, and we’ll get in good meeting time and take advantage of that, and we’ll have a real good practice tomorrow morning,” said Head Coach Gary Pinkel.
A day after his offense took it on the chin in an 18-4 scrimmage defeat, Pinkel said he liked what he saw today out that side of the ball.
“Overall, I thought it was good, I thought it was intense, a lot of enthusiasm,” he said. “The offense had taken a little bit of a beating, and so they came out and competed hard today, and I thought the defense did too,” Pinkel added.
With the overall score tied going into the final period of play, the #2 offense and #2 defense squared off in red zone work knowing that whichever side won the period would win the black jerseys.
The reserve offense got things off to a rousing start, when QB Corbin Berkstresser
hit TB Russell Hansbrough
on a pass in the flat. Hansbrough showed some nice cutback moves against the grain, and thanks to outstanding downfield blocking, he weaved his way virtually untouched for a 20-yard touchdown that set off a big celebration from the offense. Hansbrough carried for a gain of 6 yards on the next play, but the defense came up with three straight stops to tie the period score at 3-3. Another offensive celebration followed as Hansbrough burst into the endzone from three yards out for another touchdown, as the offensive line cleared a huge hole off right tackle.
The last series of the day came down to red zone work with the #1 offense and #1 defense. Franklin got a gain of 5 yards on a keeper, but the defense pulled even at 5-5 after a couple of incomplete passes, the second of which was a near diving catch in the endzone by WR Jaleel Clark. The play was disputed by the offense of course, as that side of the ball maintained Clark made a legal catch. Since there is no instant replay available in practice, Coach Pinkel’s call stood of an incompletion.
The next two plays sealed the win for the offense, as Franklin stood tall in the pocket despite pressure, and delivered a 10-yard scoring strike to McGaffie near the right seam on a sit-down route. McGaffie made the catch despite getting hit off his feet by a hard-charging Matt White instantly after the ball got there. The next play went to the other side of the field, and again Franklin found McGaffie from 5-yards out for the score. On the last play of the series, LB Donovan Bonner got into the backfield and stuffed TB Kendial Lawrence for a 5-yard loss on a 3rd-and-goal snap from the 2-yardline.
After practice, Coach Pinkel was asked by media about his thoughts on the place kicking battle taking place between incumbent PK Trey Barrow and challenger Andrew Baggett. Here’s his thoughts:
On the Kicking Competition
“The importance of the position and it produces for us is staggering. As I mentioned before, it’s not only the point producing, it’s got huge momentum implications. If you make or miss one of those field goals, if you come away with no scores when you’re (in position). It’s got to sort itself out, it’s very competitive. I think we’ve got two guys who are very capable. Bottom line, like any position on the field, you’ve got to produce and we’re waiting for someone to try and grab it. We’ll see where it goes, it will probably go down to the end.”
Junior CB E.J. Gaines is having an outstanding camp, and Coach Pinkel was asked about his play thus far. Here were his thoughts:
On E.J. Gaines
“He’s an amazing young guy. He’s 10 pounds heavier than what he was last year when he played, and he was first-team all-conference. He doesn’t ever have a bad practice. We never say gosh he’s not working hard enough, it never comes up. He loves playing corner, he’s good at it and I think he wants to be great. I think he’s a great role model, a great visual aid to other players, he’s got a no-nonsense approach to practice. One reason why he plays so well is that he practices so well. We have a saying here, you play like you practice, and he’s a great example of that.”