Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team plays its second intrasquad scrimmage of fall camp at 7:15 a.m. today at Faurot Field.
With more than a week of camp remaining, positions are still up for the taking and wrinkles still need ironing out.
In Missouri’s first scrimmage, the Tigers’ young receiving corps impressed, showing big-play potential and seeming to have a good handle on the offense for a group with no returning starts.
Head coach Gary Pinkel would still like to see more.
“I just think our whole passing game, we’re inconsistent,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young players (but) it doesn’t matter. That’s just the whole thing is if you can get to that point where you don’t beat yourself, and you don’t have poor routes, you don’t have poor throws, you don’t drop footballs.
“There are so many ways to mess up a pass play, more so than a running play. That’s just football 101, and hopefully we’re going to keep working hard and getting better.”
Also impressive in the first scrimmage were young quarterbacks Drew Lock and Marvin Zanders. Another solid showing could spark talk that Eddie Prinz’s spot one step behind starter Maty Mauk isn’t set in stone.
Another offensive player to keep an eye on today is tailback Morgan Steward. Steward is still battling back from a pesky hip injury and got more reps than expected in the first scrimmage. It is yet to be seen if he can bounce back from his heavy usage and if he can improve upon his 1.9 yards per carry on Saturday.
Defensively, the D-line continues to draw the most interest. Junior college transfer Marcell Frazier has played well and is battling for the second defensive end spot with redshirt freshman Walter Brady. Junior Josh Augusta is still trying to prove he can use his 6-foot-4, 335-plus-pound frame to become a regular force inside for the Tigers.
Pinkel said most of the playbook has been put in place.
“Coming out of spring football, you kind of flood the offense and defense,” he said. “You throw a lot at them and then you go back and start trying to just make sure you’re doing all the little things right (and) better. And so that’s kind of where we’re at in trying to get all those things taken care of.
“That’s something I think can also cause some confusion, especially if you have young players, because you’re throwing more at them probably than what they can handle, but you need to get it in initially and then come back to it. That’s pretty much what we do on both sides of the football.”
He said he expects to get roughly 30-35 snaps per team in, compared to his goal of 45-50 snaps in the first scrimmage. He said safety and team captain Ian Simon will “most likely” play in today’s scrimmage but that the team will have to be cautious with his hamstring, which has kept him out of practice this week.
Two weeks into training camp, the Tigers added a new face to the team. Anthony Hines, a cornerback transfer from College of San Mateo (Calif.), will be eligible to play this season if Pinkel and his staff choose not to redshirt him.
“It was just a situation where, from an eligibility standpoint, he has four years to play three” years, Pinkel said. “… You’re not really a junior-college player. It’s just a little bit different, and we like that way better if it works out that way. We just thought he was a really good athlete.”
Hines is still recovering from a foot fracture. Pinkel said the staff examined the injury when Hines visited Columbia and it looked fine.
The South San Francisco, Calif., native had three interceptions and eight pass breakups last season. The Tigers have a solid set of cornerbacks as is, but whether Hines can come back in time to contribute this season remains to be seen.
“That’s going to be difficult, but anything can happen, too,” Pinkel said. “If you have injuries, shoot, anything can happen. But we have to get him out here and start working with him. Obviously, he’s got some experience, a little bit of experience level different from a player coming from high school.”