Camp Notebook: Defense Wins Spirited Practice

MUTIGERS.COM Safety Braylon Webb
Safety Braylon Webb

Aug. 19, 2011

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Missouri Tigers continued preparations for their fast-approaching Sept. 3rd season opener, with a full padded practice Friday morning at Faurot Field. The enthusiasm was noticeably up throughout the morning, in response to a message delivered by Head Coach Gary Pinkel leading up to the workout.

"Overall it was a good practice, real high energy," Pinkel said. "I talked to our team about enthusiasm, we're a pretty good, competitive football team when we play with a lot of enthusiasm and we kind of cranked that up a little bit today. We needed to do that, we needed a better practice," he said.

The defense claimed a win Friday, and upped their overall camp lead to 6-4. The scheduled afternoon practice today has been adjusted and the team will hold extended meetings instead of hitting the practice field. Mizzou will next practice Saturday morning, before getting two days off to rest up and enjoy the first day of school, which begins Monday. After that, camp will wrap up with afternoon practices next Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by the final scrimmage of fall camp on Thursday afternoon.

Projected starting defenders Jacquies Smith (DE), Will Ebner (LB) and Matt White (S) were all out for Friday's practice. Smith and White had ankle injuries, and Ebner was feeling the after-effects of a concussion from Thursday's scrimmage, so he was held out as a precautionary measure. Their absence, combined with the injuries of a handful of other top-line Tigers, is becoming a key theme in camp.

"We have a lot of guys out right now, I think we have five defensive starters out and I think three other first or second team offensive players out, so eight first or second team players are out right now," Pinkel said. "It is what it is, I don't really worry about it because some days, some years it happens, sometimes it doesn't. It also cries out that younger players and experienced players have got to get better. We have to try and turn that into a positive for the backup players," Pinkel said.

Some highlights from today's 11-on-11 scrimmaging included:

Redshirt freshman safety Braylon Webb made a nice play on the ball over the middle, and stepped in front of a James Franklin pass for an interception and what might have been a long return, had whistles not blown the play dead. With the #1 offense and #1 defense squaring off, TB De'Vion Moore bulled through traffic for three tough yards and a first down on a 3rd-and-1 attempt...

Redshirt freshman WR Bud Sasser made perhaps the catch of the day when he made a one-handed, falling-down grab down the right sideline from QB Jimmy Costello for a gain that went for some 45 yards. Soon after, QB Corbin Berkstresser hit WR Rolandis Woodland on a nice stop-fade ball for 30 yards that saw Woodland adjust and jump high to snag the pass...

Junior TB Kendial Lawrence was at it again later in the day when he took a toss sweep on a 3rd-and-2 snap against the #1 defense, and got free for some 40 yards before being dragged out of bounds.

The last set of scrimmage plays were done in redzone work. With the reserves going up against each other, DT Sheldon Richardson put on a bull rush through the middle of the line to get to Berkstresser for a touch-sack. Safety Daniel Easterly closed fast on another play to tackle WR Gahn McGaffie for no gain on the 5-yardline on an attempted inside screen pass, and DE Derrion Thomas got loose to sack QB Ashton Glaser, as the coverage by the secondary shut down Glaser's options on the play...

The last series featured the ones against the ones from the 10-yardline and in. On the first snap, LB Luke Lambert stuffed a gap to bring down Lawrence for no gain, on a play which initially looked like it might break. On the next snap, TB De'Vion Moore made a nice cutback in the backfield to avoid pressure and he went around the left side for an 8-yard TD run that drew cheers from the crowd of incoming MU freshmen students who were waiting to paint the Rock M on the north hill. After that, more cheers erupted from the onlookers as QB James Franklin scanned all his options and found WR Brandon Gerau in the back of the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown. Braylon Webb broke up a screen pass, before Lawrence plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown to wrap things up on a 4th-and-goal play...

Stay tuned to for continuing coverage of fall camp.



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