Henry Josey (20) had four carries—one for a touchdown—during Thursday's scrimmage. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)
By Jason Byrnsvold
Every football team deals with injuries in summer camp, but Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said he’s never seen as many injuries as he has seen with this year’s Missouri football team.
“We had 12 players out today, five starters on defense and three starters on offense,” Pinkel said. “This is the most people I’ve had out for a scrimmage since I’ve been coaching.”
Starting quarterback James Franklin completed nine of 12 passes for 82 yards and one touchdown in Thursday's scrimmage, the final one before the first game of the season.
Pinkel is using a “moving them over and moving them up” playing philosophy: instead of worrying about the players lost to injury, focus on the value of added experience for the backup players that have been thrust into starting roles.
An injury to starting senior wide receiver Jerrell Jackson has given sophomore receiver Marcus Lucas and redshirt freshman Jimmie Hunt the opportunity to show the coaches that they deserve more playing time this season.
Lucas filled the role of Jackson in the starting lineup during Thursday’s scrimmage and got a lot of playing time with starting quarterback James Franklin.
“I knew it was going to be challenging, but I just looked at it as a big opportunity to show what I could do working with the (first string) so I definitely used it as a positive to help elevate my game,” Lucas said.
“I feel like I showed the coaches that I’m game-ready. With Jerrell being out, I wanted to help the offense not lose a beat.”
Though Hunt didn’t get an opportunity to work with Franklin and the other first teamers, he had a standout scrimmage, hauling in a 56-yard touchdown to go along with four other receptions for 96 total yards.
The depth at receiver this year is an encouraging sign for a team that relied on two receivers—Michael Egnew and T.J. Moe—to carry the passing game for most of 2010.
Even when Jackson returns to the starting lineup and Lucas sees a reduced number of plays, he is confident that he and Hunt will be better prepared to help the team in any way they can.
New starting quarterback James Franklin said that he isn’t making a concerted effort to spread the ball around more than Blaine Gabbert did last year, but he is instead just going through his progressions quickly and relying on solidified depth at receiver.
“It’s just ‘take what the defense gives us,’” Franklin said. “If they go one way, we go the opposite way. I trust all the receivers and there is not one guy I look to every time. If one guy isn’t open, I don’t try and force it or stay on it, I just go to the next guy. That’s why the distribution looks like it is more spread out.”