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August 6, 2011

Saturday Practice Report



Missouri went through a two-hour plus workout in shorts and shoulder pads on Saturday morning. PowerMizzou.com will be at every open workout for the next three weeks. Here is the big news from day three:

*Quick injury note: Eric Waters has turf toe and Gahn McGaffie strained a hamstring during practice. Both were held out. Neither is thought to be serious and both are currently day-to-day (to steal a line, aren't we all?)

*Just a quick observation about one of the freshmen. Every time I look at the secondary, I think, "Who's that big kid wearing 28?" Earnest Payton doesn't physically look like a freshman. Not sure there will be a need to play him this year, but I wouldn't rule it out, especially on special teams.

*Speaking of the secondary, there's been a lot of talk about Tavon Bolden, who finished spring atop the depth chart, but started fall third. I talked to Bolden after practice and all he said is that, "Coach Pinkel is in charge of all depth chart movement. All I can do is come out here and work as hard as I can." At some point, I'd expect Bolden back challenging for that No. 1 job, but it may not be any time during camp.

*With Bolden down the depth chart, Matt White is running first string at safety. He stood out in one-on-one drills, doing a very nice job blanketing Michael Egnew down the sideline on one play.

*Randy Ponder had a pick during those drills as well, stepping in front of Marcus Lucas. When I asked Gary Pinkel about the corners after practice, Ponder was one name he specifically mentioned, having come to campus as a walk-on, but earning a scholarship.

*Also impressing during passing drills was Donovan Bonner, who forced an incompletion covering Lucas about 25 yards downfield. Impressive play for a linebacker.

*Jerrell Jackson made a lot of catches during the first half of practice today. He paid the price late, though, when he stretched out over the middle. Despite appearing to pull up so as not to lay a big hit, Kenji Jackson just leveled the receiver. Jackson stayed down for a few moments, but was back in on the next play. Jackson wasn't done. He had a nice hit on Brandon Gerau on the sidelines as well. I'll have a one-on-one interview with the senior safety and Tiger captain tomorrow morning.

*Some more secondary notes: The first-team nickel defense appears to include Kenronte Walker at safety with Matt White sliding to the "hybrid" position for right now. The linebackers in that alignment are Will Ebner and Zaviar Gooden. Second team nickel includes Braylon Webb, Daniel Easterly, Trey Hobson, Robert Steeples and Tyler Davis for now.

*Speaking of Hobson, he just keeps making plays in practice. He has to hold the unofficial school record for practice interceptions and today batted down two passes that I saw.

*There is a lot of talk about the young receivers. To me, Jimmie Hunt and Bud Sasser stand out on a regular basis. I tried to ask some of the Tiger defensive backs which youngsters look good to them at receiver, but they're well-trained. None took the bait and all praised the entire group of wideouts as working hard.

*Watched Grant Ressel kicking off to the side a little bit. If my eyes did not deceive me, he hit a 65-yard field goal that had plenty of leg. Granted, it was without a holder, a snapper or a rush, but that's still a lot of leg.

*There has been a lot of talk about the running back position and the desire to see someone separate. But Missouri might be adding more players to the mix. Pinkel mentioned Greg White yesterday as putting himself in the discussion and I've been impressed with his ability.

White is the biggest of the scholarship tailbacks (and the only one over six feet tall). He said he doesn't mind the label as the "big back" but added, "I'm not slow. I'm bigger, but I'm not slow. I can step out and catch the ball too."

*Late in practice, I noticed Jayson Palmgren working at center some, which fits with what players told me in spring that all interior linemen were working on being able to snap the ball. One of Palmgren's snaps landed at James Franklin's feet before the quarterback was ready, but otherwise no problems that I saw.

*Play of the Day: In 11-on-11 periods, Corbin Berkstresser lofted a jump ball that appeared to travel about 50 yards in the air against the No. 1 defense. L'Damian Washington went up and made a spinning grab in the end zone over Kip Edwards.

The Tigers will return to the practice field at 7:15 on Saturday morning in shoulder pads. PowerMizzou.com will be there with the full report. Stay tuned to the site throughout the day for much more from today's workout.

Nobody covers the Tigers year-round like PowerMizzou.com. We will be at practice every day of camp with complete coverage. If you are not yet a member, just try out our free trial.


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