Tag Archives: T.J. Moe

Missouri quarterback Franklin has support of Pinkel, teammates through challenging season

By Joe Vozzelli

James Franklin’s game Saturday against Florida is one most Missouri fans would like to forget ever happened. The junior quarterback threw four interceptions — a career high — and struggled with the touch on his passes all game.

Just don’t count Franklin among those who will forget about his less than stellar game against the Gators. And that could be a problem.

Franklin shoveled most of the blame onto himself at Monday’s media day at the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex.

“On three of the picks, I sailed (the ball), and on the other one I didn’t see (the defender). I think it was more that I was hurting myself,” he said.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Franklin takes things personally.

“He takes a lot on himself. But, there’s also a point where you let go and move on,” Pinkel said. “James has to mature through that.”

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Missouri punter Barrow must win job again

By the Associated Press

Well before game day, Missouri punter Trey Barrow is getting plenty of competition.

After an inconsistent performance at No. 6 South Carolina, Barrow needs to beat out Christian Brinser for the starting nod Saturday at Central Florida.

Barrow averaged 46.7 yards on seven punts against the Gamecocks, but with a net of only 28.7 yards. He shanked his first effort, a 35-yarder, and several others had short hang times.

South Carolina’s average starting position after Missouri punts was its 45, and three possessions began in Missouri territory.

Barrow, a senior, ranked ninth in the nation with a school-record 44.8-yard average last year. He also finished last season as the kicker, stepping in for injured Grant Ressel and going 7 for 9 on field goals and making all 23 extra-point kicks.

This year his net punting average is 33.5 yards, 103rd best in the nation.

Barrow is accustomed to the black-and-white world of a specialist. He insists there’s no additional pressure this week.

“I’m no stranger to competition,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun week.”

Barrow lost the kicking job to Andrew Baggett during preseason camp. Now he’s in a fight to keep his job with a program he desperately wanted to be a part of growing up about an hour’s drive away from school. He was a four-year letterman in football, basketball and baseball, starring at wide receiver in football, also started at defensive back, kicker and punter for Moberly High.

When Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Yost offered a scholarship midway through Barrow’s senior year, it was an easy decision.

“I’ve always liked punting and kicking,” he said. “When Mizzou told me I could come here to kick – I’ve been a Mizzou fan my whole life, I love this place – I just jumped on the opportunity.”

Barrow was on the practice squad for two years before handling kickoffs in 2010. That year, coaches told him to concentrate on punting instead of field goals after Ressel earned 1st-Team All-American honors in 2009 after making 26 of 27 field goals and all 39 extra point attempts.

“It was a big change, not doing a lot of stuff at practice, just punting,” Barrow said. “Before I was running routes and playing defense, and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with the art of kicking, really.

“I think it’s helped a lot having all that extra time to work on the form, to work on how you hit the ball.”

When Missouri struggles on offense, as it did while producing just 255 yards at South Carolina, problems elsewhere are magnified.

“He switches the field position,” receiver T.J. Moe said. “Trey, every once in a while, when he gets ahold of one, he can kick it 80 yards. Certainly, when we’re down there at the 1-yard line, that’s what we want him to do.”

Punters coach Andy Hill informed Barrow he would be competing to save his job. He’s co-No. 1 on the depth chart with Brinser, a redshirt sophomore.

“Overall, he’s punting the ball pretty good in practice, and I just want to make sure the way you do things in practice, in his case, is what you put on the field on Saturday,” Hill said. “I told him that competition should make you consistent and be able to make you focus better.”

Whatever happens this week or the rest of this season, Barrow won’t be ready to quit. He wants to kick professionally.

“I’m not ready to give up football yet,” he said. “I love playing, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve been playing with teams since seventh grade. I’ve loved it. I love it.”

Coach Pinkel is confident James Franklin is ready to play

Story by The Associated Press
Photos by Karen Mitchell

James Franklin (1) drops back to make a pass during practice on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. Franklin is confident that he will be ready for the first game, no backup needed.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel says there’s no doubt quarterback James Franklin will be ready for the opener. Both Pinkel and Franklin said after the opening day of fall camp that he could play right now.

Pinkel said Thursday night that Franklin is showing no signs of problems coming off shoulder surgery in March. Franklin said he was careful with his throws and hadn’t been hit yet but gradually will air it out.

“James looked pretty good overall,” Pinkel said. “If you just walked out here and didn’t know he had surgery, you wouldn’t think anything was up. You just marvel at him. It’s very, very encouraging to think where we were back in spring football when this whole thing went down.”

Dorial Green-Beckham pulls in a pass at Missouri’s first football practice.

Missouri, 8-5 last season, begins two-a-day practices Friday, with the first full-pad workout set for Monday. The season opener is Sept. 1 against Southeastern Louisiana.

“Obviously, I haven’t been hit yet, but I feel like I could play tomorrow,” Franklin said. “Today I was extra careful and not fully letting it go, but I put some velocity on and felt good.”

In his first year as starter Franklin completed 63 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, plus rushed for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns. The junior is the Tigers’ only quarterback with college experience heading into the school’s first season in the Southeastern Conference.

Redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser is the backup quarterback and played with the first string throughout spring practice after Franklin was hurt.

Freshman Dorial Green-Beckham, a wide receiver from Springfield, Mo., who was the nation’s top recruit, is not listed on the depth chart. Pinkel said the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Green-Beckham will have to earn a spot just like any other newcomer.

“We’ll let him come around like everybody else does,” Pinkel said. “Like any freshman on our team, you start at the bottom of the list. And I think he respected that. I told Jeremy Maclin the same thing.”

Missouri is limiting media access to first-year players for the first time under Pinkel, entering his 12th season, because of Green-Beckham, who’ll be available for the first time on Sunday.

Wide receiver T.J. Moe, the top returning pass-catcher, was limited with a hamstring injury sustained several weeks ago. Moe said he’d be at full speed soon.

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Plenty of depth at receiver for Missouri, skills might be in question

darren hellwege logo

Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator

As we get ready for Mizzou’s 2012 football season, there will be some things we know. James Franklin is a good quarterback in any league. And regardless of who is on the other side of the ball, Elvis Fisher can block.

But in other positions, we’re less certain, and one of them is wide receiver. There is a difference between Big 12 defenses and SEC defenses and in the secondary is one of the places you find the biggest gap. Several of the teams Mizzou will play this year have corners and safeties that are above and beyond any they’ve faced in the past. Missouri’s wide receivers will be under pressure to step up and perform.

Fortunately, there is a great deal of depth, from experienced stars to the best high school football player in the nation.

Let’s start with the old hands returning…

T.J. Moe: A true team leader, I have a feeling the whole discussion about whether or not MU’s receivers can make the grade in the SEC will not be appreciated by Moe and that he’ll show up Thursday with a snootful of determination. It’s his last year in black and gold, and the all-Big 12 wideout will continue to play with maximum effort. He isn’t a blazer but makes catches and makes things happen after the catch.

Marcus Lucas (85) during the first half of the spring game on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

Marcus Lucas: Showed up big time in the Black and Gold scrimmage, and has speed to become a big play target. His size will be a big asset against the SEC d-backs.

L’Damian Washington: Speaking of size, the 6-foot-four-inch Washington led the team with more than 18 yards per catch last year and has the speed to compete against the quicker defenses in the Deep South.

Gahn McGaffie: Named the most improved WR in spring drills, McGaffie is flexible enough to play any of the receiver positions, which is helpful. Also contributes on special teams, as any Tiger fan can tell you. His touchdown on the opening kickoff of the 2010 Homecoming game against Oklahoma remains an all-time great moment in Tiger football history.

Bud Sasser: A big, strong guy who can play tight end or the Z-receiver position. Lot of potential and has all the tools with good hands, size, speed, runs a good route. Just needs to get out there and perform.

Jimmie Hunt: Another sophomore like Sasser, has huge potential. Led team with 110 yards receiving in the Black and Gold game.

The team has more depth, with guys like Rolando Woodland and Jaleel Clark providing even more bench strength. If they want to contribute more than occasionally, they need to step it up now because the Tigers added some new names to the mix in the offseason, including the guy who is known statewide by his initials even before he ever set foot on a college field, DGB.

Dorial Green-Beckham:  The nation’s No. 1 recruit has superstar written all over him and could well play a part in Missouri moving up to the next level nationally in the sport. The only question is how soon will the potential be realized, but I have a suspicion that when things start on Sept. 1 Gary Pinkel will not be able to say no to the temptation of putting DGB on the field as a starter. He’s huge (6 feet 6 inches) and has every tool you could want as far as ability, hands, he goes and gets the ball and makes plays with his feet, too. As a coach’s son, he gets the game and we hear he brings in a fine attitude. The sky is the limit.

Darius White:  Because of the recruitment of Green-Beckham there’s been little said of White, who will sit out the 2012 season and play as a junior in 2013. But he’s another guy with enormous potential, and was the No. 3 wide receiver recruit in the nation coming out of high school. The high school All-American played two seasons at Texas before deciding to transfer to Missouri. While he didn’t do a lot in the burnt orange, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for young receivers to get on the field, either. I have a feeling that a set of White with Green-Beckham and Lucas could be the best receiver corps in the SEC next season, which might well make it the nation’s best. Add in tight end Eric Waters, and quarterback Franklin will have an embarrassment of riches to throw to this year.

Tomorrow: Indications are that Henry Josey’s knee injury will keep last year’s surprise superstar off the field in 2012. But there are still some very good running backs, including a pair of seniors.

Spring Football Notes: Physical practice leaves tight end injured

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Photos by Kelsey Alumbaugh

Story and Audio by Alex Silverman 

The Missouri football team practiced inside Devine Pavilion on Thursday.  Coach Gary Pinkel praised the team’s effort, calling it a “physical practice.”  While that physicality might help prepare the Tigers for the hard-hitting Southeastern Conference, it took the team’s top tight end off the practice field.

Waters Fall

Junior tight end Eric Waters sprained his left knee Thursday while making a block for T.J. Moe during 11-on-11 drills.  Moe had caught a pass in the flat from Corbin Berkstresser and created room to run with a lateral move.  Pinkel said Waters, who took the top spot on the depth chart with the graduation of All-American Michael Egnew, had been having a really good spring and that he had improved a lot.  After practice, Moe described the play that led to Waters’ injury:


Berkstresser Quick on Feet

Freshman Corbin Berkstresser characterizes himself as a “pass first, run second” quarterback.  On Thursday, you wouldn’t have known it.  Berkstresser turned heads when he scrambled to evade pressure from the first team defense and ran to his left for a 10-yard touchdown.  Still, Berkstresser said scrambling is still  outside his comfort zone:


Moe took notice of Berkstresser’s newfound footwork, saying that the freshman showed confidence through his play both on the run and with his feet set:

Defending Academics

Former Missouri wide receiver Sean Coffey appeared on “Costas Tonight: Live from 30 Rock” as part of a panel on college sports and academics.  In reflecting on his experience at Missouri, Coffey criticized the athletics department for focusing on maintain athletes’ eligibility rather than on enrichment through education. After practice Thursday, several members of the football team, including August graduate Elvis Fisher, defended the academic integrity of Missouri athletics:


Second Scrimmage

The Tigers will hold their second full scrimmage of the spring Saturday at 9 a.m.  Pinkel sees the scrimmage as an opportunity for his players to prove themselves and earn spots heading into the following weekend’s Black & Gold Game.  He said he is constantly encouraging his players to compete with one another and said that the best, rather than the most senior, will take the spots atop the depth chart:


The athletics department’s effort to rebrand Missouri sports will culminate at the Black & Gold Game on April 14 with the revelation of the new uniforms for five sports teams.  Players from men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and soccer will model their respective teams’ new look at halftime of the game.  Athletes from other sports will then reveal the new football uniforms both on the field and in the concourse so fans can get an up-close look.

Mizzou’s Henry Josey and Michael Egnew selected to first team All-Big 12

Tight end Michael Egnew.

Senior tight end Michael Egnew received his second and sophomore tailback Henry Josey his first All-Big12 football team awards, announced today. The two made the first team, three players received second team honors and nine others received honorable mentions.

Egnew’s year started slowly but was able to finish with 484 yards of offense with three touchdowns.

Josey was on pace for a very strong year before being injured and missing the last two games of the year. He finished the year on top of the conference, averaging a little more than 8 yards per carry and 116 rushing yards per game. He carried the ball 145 times for 1,191 yards and nine touchdowns.

Also honored was Columbia native Trey Millard, a full back at Oklahoma. The sophomore graduated from Rock Bridge.

First Team:
Henry Josey, RB, sophomore
Michael Egnew, TE, senior

Second Team:
Jacquies Smith, DE, senior
E.J. Gaines, DB, sophomore
Trey Barrow, P, junior

Honorable Mention:
Dominique Hamilton, DT, senior
Dan Hoch, OL, senior
Kenji Jackson, DB, senior
Luke Lambert, LB, senior
T.J. Moe, WR, junior
Jayson Palmgren, OL, senior
Sheldon Richardson, DT, junior
Braylon Webb, DB, RS freshman
Austin Wuebbels, OL, senior

Complete list of All-Big 12 honors 


This report uses information from Mizzou Athletics and the Big 12 Conference




No excuses for the Mizzou Tigers after loss to Kansas State

Story by Darren Hellwege
Photos by Nick Gerhardt

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There are a lot of clichés about excuses, most of which are inappropriate for a family website. Let’s say they all stink and leave it at that. Mizzou doesn’t get to make excuses after the football team lost 24-17 to No. 20 Kansas State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday.

No excuses. The Tigers just plain blew it.

There will be those who disagree, but the better team did not win on Saturday. Mizzou should have won this game. They were and are a better football team. But, time and time again, opportunities were thrown away and numerous mistakes sabotaged what might have been a winning effort.

It all started virtually the moment the Tigers stepped off the bus. Coach Gary Pinkel said throughout the week that the Tigers had to get the ball to All-American tight end Michael Egnew more. In Mizzou’s first four games he had only eight catches. But, Pinkel quickly added, they couldn’t force the ball to Egnew.

On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback James Franklin tried to force the ball to Egnew. Kansas State’s Ty Zimmerman intercepted the pass and the Wildcats’ offense turned it into a touchdown. Before the game was five minutes old the Tigers were down 7-0.

Both Egnew and Franklin said the interception was their fault. “The read was there. I should have gone underneath the defender instead of on top,” Egnew explained. Franklin’s explanation was even more technical. They stood up like men. No excuses.

After the first quarter Missouri — a team with an All-American tight end, a talented young quarterback, several strong receivers and a new-found star at running back — had a total of zero yards of offense.

After that, MU became perhaps even more exasperating. While the defense tightened up, the offense moved the ball. Henry Josey made some nice runs and Franklin started hitting on some passes. But nothing much came of it. A 12-play, 58-yard drive ended with a field goal. Another stalled at the Kansas State 35 and ended with a punt.

The final drive of the half saw the Tigers move 57 yards before ending with one of the great mysteries of this entirely baffling season: a missed field goal by Grant Ressel.

It was only the third time in the last five seasons the Tigers have scored as little as three points in the first half.  But even then, trailing 10-3, the Tigers had to feel like they had a good chance to win the game.

The second half started in a positive way as MU intercepted K-State quarterback Collin Klein on just the second play from scrimmage. New life, new momentum?


Instead, the Tigers teased fans once again with a long drive that finished with another missed field goal. After having missed three field goals in his first two years combined, Ressel has now missed six in the first five games of the 2011 season.

“It’s like Tiger Woods,” Ressel said. “He’s in a slump, you know? Eventually he’s going to figure it out, he’s going to be great again. He’s Tiger Woods. He’s the best golfer there is. I’m a pretty good kicker and eventually I’ve got to get back into my swing.”

From there the game, with the teams still just a touchdown apart, went from bad to worse for MU. After a defensive stand that looked to give the momentum back to the Tigers, along with the ball, freshman linebacker Darvin Ruise committed a roughing the punter penalty on Ryan Doerr. The 15-yard penalty sent the Mizzou defense back onto the field.

“It’s always tough when you have to go back on the field after you think it’s done,” defensive end Brad Madison said. Seven plays later Klein scored from three yards out and put the ‘Cats on top 17-3.

In the fourth the Tigers, as they’ve done in all three losses this season, put a late rally together to pull tantalizingly close. Down 21 points with more than 11 minutes left, Franklin engineered an impressive drive, covering 79 yards in 12 plays. Josey scored the first touchdown of the day for Mizzou and it was 24-10.

After going nowhere on three plays Kansas State punted back to Mizzou, who proceeded to put another scoring drive together. When Franklin scored from the 1, suddenly it was 24-17.
But it was too little, too late. KSU got the ball with 5:30 left and was able to get key first downs before running out the clock. Missouri never had possession again.

With the loss, the Tigers fall to 2-3 on the season.

“We just are not playing very good football right now,” Pinkel said. “It starts with me. I’m not doing a good enough job coaching these guys. I made a lot of mistakes, this does not look like a very well-coached team.”

Pinkel wasn’t the only one pointing fingers at himself.

“I might have played my worst game as a Missouri Tiger,” T.J. Moe said.

“We cannot win games like that,” Jacquies Smith said. “We cannot wait until the last minute to try to make these runs.”
“I think everybody’s angry on this team,” said defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton. “We just got to stick together.”

So, the Tigers are 2-3. Can they pull it together?

This writer has absolutely no idea. Missouri came within a whisker of beating a strong Arizona State team. They played the No. 1 team in America very closely. And on this day, they outplayed Kansas State, when not beating themselves. Unlike many observers, I think Missouri is still a very talented team. The Tigers should be 4-1, and with a few breaks even 5-0. Instead, they have a losing record for the first time since 2004.

Maybe Grant Ressel will find his swing this week in practice. Maybe the linemen will stop jumping offsides, the personal fouls and the turnovers will stop. Maybe whatever appears to be bewitching this team when the game is on the line will fix itself. There is exactly one team left on the schedule (Oklahoma State) that I think Missouri has very little chance of beating. They could end up 8-4.

Or, they can keep playing as they did today at Kansas State. If that happens, this season could end up in a place Tiger fans haven’t been in a long time during the bowl season. At home, watching on TV.

And making excuses.

Just one little thing missing from Mizzou football—consistency

It looked so good, so promising, so real, so shiny and exciting. And so inconsistent.

darren hellwege logo

Darren Hellwege, sports commentator

Just like that dot com stock, the musical career of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, or the XFL, Missouri’s chances of an upset in Norman, Okla., just went “poof” and blew away. The Tigers gave up 28 consecutive points in falling to the Oklahoma Sooners 38-28 Saturday night at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The Big 12 Conference opener loss drops Mizzou to 2-2 on the year.

“I expected better play from both sides,” a disappointed Tiger coach Gary Pinkel said after the game. “We made some plays, we battled. But we have to play more consistently.”

Many Tiger players also mentioned that word: consistency. There were times when the Tigers looked just as good as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team. The 28 points Mizzou scored is more than the Sooners gave up in their first two games this season combined. But they also had stretches where things just weren’t connecting at all.

The Tigers started by holding Oklahoma to a 3-and-out, the second consecutive week where the Tiger defense forced a punt right away from the opposition. Then the Tigers had an impressive 76-yard scoring drive to jump on top 7-0. After a Sooner field goal, Mizzou came right back with a 45-yard strike to a wide open L’Damian Washington and well into the first quarter, the Tigers led 14-3.

Then, it all went horribly wrong.

It was clear in mere seconds that the visions of beating the mighty Sooners for the second year in a row might be a mirage. It took the Sooners only six plays to slap the Tigers back down to earth after Washington’s score, with Landry Jones hitting Ryan Broyles for a 24-yard score. Mizzou was still leading but suddenly looking a whole lot less invincible.

The Sooners then mounted a 10-play, 80-yard drive to snatch the lead back from the interlopers from Missouri. On the next drive the Sooners covered 70 yards in just 1:25 and suddenly it was 24-14. The Tigers had to start feeling like they’d been taken in by a pool shark, letting them win a game or two and feel sure of themselves only to discover, with next month’s rent on the table, that they were facing Minnesota Fats.

The Sooner continued to build their lead—and the Tigers frustration—and it was largely due to a player who is one of the great stories in all of college football this year.

Dominique Whaley was a second string running back, sitting on the bench at Langston University, a historically black college 58 miles from Norman on a map, but light years away in the football universe. After getting 28 yards on the season for the NAIA-affiliated Lions, Whaley left Langston to walk on at Oklahoma. He has not only earned his place in the starting lineup, but added to his legend with 82 yards on the night. When he notched a touchdown in the third quarter (his fifth of the season,) Tiger fans in Columbia started wondering what else was on TV.

But the Tigers showed some gumption by putting up two more scores in the fourth quarter. They showed a bit of the Mizzou offense that rolled for 69 points last weekend as Henry Josey took off for a 48-yard touchdown scamper, to move the Tigers within 10 with 6:44 left in the game. Josey finished the game with 137 yards on 14 carries.

“Henry Josey’s the real thing,” coach Pinkel said of the newest Tiger sensation, who started the season listed third on the depth chart before Kendial Lawrence and De’Vion Moore were lost to injuries. “He can touch the football and change the game.”

T. J. Moe said simply of Josey, “Henry’s a special guy.”

But Oklahoma wasn’t about to let the Tigers have a chance to knock them off the top of college football’s mountaintop for the second year in a row. The Sooners responded immediately with the knockout blow, a drive of seven plays and 62 yards, climaxed by a touchdown pass from Jones to Broyles that sent many in the sell-out crowd happily into the night, victory secured.

The Tigers would score a final touchdown in the last minute of the game to make the score more respectable, but few in black and gold celebrated that James Franklin quarterback sneak.

In the locker room after the game, Pinkel wasn’t the only one using the same word: consistently, the Tigers referred to consistency. Tiger safety Kenji Jackson expressed frustration with the game, saying, “We’d get a big play and then just shoot ourselves in the foot. That’s just Missouri beating Missouri.”

Franklin agreed. “We did some good things, but there’s also a lot of things we didn’t do so well. That’s just (needing to) be more consistent.”

Jarrell Jackson also felt like the night was more about Missouri’s mistakes than the greatness of Oklahoma. “OU’s real good, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”

Moe took encouragement from the way the Tigers played against the nation’s top-ranked team. “We’re getting better. We thought we could beat them.”

But while the Tigers came away feeling like they’re a good enough team to play with the best teams in America, perhaps the biggest compliment came from the other locker room. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables compared the Tigers to Florida State. The Seminoles entered the weekend ranked No. 11 after losing to Oklahoma.

“(Missouri) have much better precision than Florida State. Their ability to throw is much better. In Big 12 play, that is well documented,” Venables said.

While there are good things to recognize in the team, the game revealed some problems that still exist for Mizzou. Franklin has a world of talent but is still inconsistent. He looked terrific on the first two scoring drives, but completed only three of 10 passes in the third quarter.

“I think I’m learning to trust my receivers, the offensive line,” said Franklin, who finished the night completing 16 passes on 33 attempts for 291 yards. Franklin also rushed for 103 yards on 25 carries.

Moe led the team in receiving, with 119 yards on seven receptions.

Oddly quiet, as he’s been much of the season, was All-American tight end Michael Egnew. Egnew caught two passes for 40 yards, lifting his season totals to just eight catches in four games, totaling 97 yards and with just one touchdown. By comparison, four games into last season Egnew had caught 33 passes for 298 yards.

Egnew’s lack of catches hasn’t escaped the eye of Pinkel. “We’ve got to re-evaluate that. We talked about that a little bit at halftime. We need to get him more involved in the offense, there’s no doubt about that.”

The defense also didn’t have their best night. While the Tigers did manage to snag two interceptions, Jones completed 35 of 48 for 448 yards and looked every bit the Heisman Trophy candidate he is.

The Tigers now get a bit of a break. It’s two weeks until they play again, traveling to Manhattan, Kan., to play the Kansas State Wildcats on October 8. The ‘Cats are a very surprising 3-0 after getting an upset win at Miami (Fla.) on Saturday, 28-24. The Tigers will work on a lot of things. The defense needs to get more of a rush and improve the secondary play. The offense needs to tighten up some things, especially getting Egnew more involved. But, mostly, they need to work on being more consistent.

That doesn’t need to start two weeks from now in Kansas. It needs to start tomorrow, as the Tigers get back to Columbia and go back to work. “We need to get more consistent in practice and during the week,” said Kenji Jackson, a senior and one of the Tigers team captains.

The Tigers didn’t play well enough—consistently enough—to beat the best team in the nation Saturday. But if they can improve their consistency and reduce mistakes (they had seven penalties for 45 yards, more than Pinkel would like but an improvement over the first three weeks of the season) this team can still come away with a lot of wins this season. To score 28 points and roll up more than 500 yards in total offense against Oklahoma, the Tigers obviously are doing some things well. If they can learn to do them CONSISTENTLY well, the Tigers think there’s nobody they can’t beat. They’re looking for a success that doesn’t evaporate like their early lead tonight. They’re ready to go out and play as well as they did in the first quarter tonight each game, each play, all game long.


Mizzou Camp Notes: Monday, August 8

Stretching before practice. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)

The Tigers donned full pads for the first time on Monday and the defense capitalized. With the pads come the scoring competition between offense and defense.  If the defense stops the offense for a two yard gain on a hypothetical third down and three, for example, then the defense takes that play. Each side wins a certain number of plays per period, and whichever side wins the most periods wins for the day.  The defense took day one thanks in part to a stingy defense near the goal line, although the third and fourth string offense played most of that final series.

  • Junior center Travis Ruth is the only offensive lineman who didn’t start last year, filling the void left by center Tim Barnes. His fellow linemen cheered him on  as Ruth fared well against teammates from the sufficiently stacked defensive line unit in one-on-one drills.
  • James Franklin’s timing with his receivers is improving, but he still has a ways to go if Mizzou expects to be an elite team. Before they make the catch, his receivers still have had to slow down or leave their feet more often than they probably should. Naturally the projected starter is still great on his feet. He looked particularly savvy when he ran for a first down on a hypothetical third and seven. It’s a situation under which Franklin thrived in limited action last season: the team converted four times out of four from that distance or longer with No. 1 under center.
  • Returning starting running back De’Vion Moore looked like the best tailback on the field on day one of full pads.  With reports that Missouri may be looking to ditch the running back by committee approach, Moore’s progress will be monitored closely. He’s the best all-around back in practice despite running a tick slower than juniors Kendial Lawrence or Jared Culver, sophomore Henry Josey or redshirt freshman Greg White. Although Mizzou does not have a consistent, bonafide game changer at that position, that’s not typically a total necessity in this Big 12 or Gary Pinkel’s spread offense–Kansas State has an elite running back (with questionable mental fortitude) in redshirt sophomore Bryce Brown, but our Darren Hellwege picks them to pick near-last or last in the Big 12. Colorado also had an elite running back in Darrell Scott in 2008, but that under-stocked team went 5-7 on the year.
  • The defensive lineman roared when Terrell Resonno leveled redshirt freshman Robert Luce in drills. Luce is third on the depth chart at center, behind Travis Ruth and redshirt freshman Mitch Morse.
  • With RB Marcus Murphy out for the season with an injury redshirt (torn labrum), RB Kendial Lawrence, RB Henry Josey, WR T.J. Moe and redshirt freshman WR Jimmie Hunt returned kicks and punts. If Hunt can consistently catch the ball, he may have the edge over Lawrence and Moe, who both stand to see a lot of time on offense. Hunt has the speed (4.45 second time in the 40 yard dash according to Rivals.com) and the moves to be an effective returner. If he can see the field well and spot open running lanes at full speed, he could be a legitimate threat. Moe continued to excel as he did last season, and Lawrence made it through traffic as well–it will certainly be an interesting competition to watch.
  • Projected starting DE Brad Madison, a redshirt junior, showed off his occasionally unstoppable spin move, “sacking” QB James Franklin when the first units went head-to-head. The effectiveness of Brad Madison’s trademark evasive maneuver is well-documented (see: three sacks against Texas A&M in 2010), but in order to maximize the spin’s effectiveness, Madison must hone his ability to bullrush—where the defender attacks the offensive lineman head-on and tries to power through him into the backfield. He has improved that skill-set since last season, but by how much is hard to say after only one day of practicing in full pads.
  • Corbin Berkstresser looked sharp again, as if wearing hip and thigh pads would really make a difference in his ability to throw. He found back-up WR L’Damian Washington in space 20 yards out from the goal line. Like Franklin, not all of his throws were on target, though he has done a better job than the starter of hitting his receivers in stride. But make no doubt about it–James Franklin is the clear-cut starter this year. The coaches believe he gives the team the best chance to win, and Pinkel is very unlikely to allow a freshman to start. Berkstresser has been running the second team offense, even though the depth chart released by the team lists only Franklin, sophomore Ashton Glazer and senior Jimmy Costello at quarterback.
  • Sheldon Richardson is in Columbia and reportedly hanging out with the team, but he has yet to see the field. The Tigers await NCAA clearance for the high-profile recruit from Gateway Tech High School from St. Louis.

The team held only one practice on Monday, with a day’s worth of meetings in place of the usual afternoon practice, according to coach Gary Pinkel. The Tigers resume two-a-days tomorrow at 7:15 and 3:45.

PHOTOS: Mizzou Tigers hit the practice field for new season

The 2011 football season began on Thursday with the first practice for the players — just helmets, no pads. The public gets a chance to meet the team on Sunday, Aug. 7, for Photo Day.

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