COLUMBIA, Mo. (MU) - Big plays in all facets of the game highlighted Mizzou's first major scrimmage of fall camp this morning at Faurot Field in Columbia, as the offense claimed a 56-48 win as part of the detailed scoring system that pits offense against defense.
Two long pass plays for scores, an interception return for a score, and a 57-yard field goal were some of the highlights, but the day overall belonged to senior TB Derrick Washington. Washington, a co-captain, has been a demonstrative leader all throughout camp this fall, and he packed his lunch pail today, as he ran 7 times for 133 yards (1 touchdown) and caught 3 passes for 59 yards, including a 47-yard catch-and-run (thanks to a great peel-back downfield block by WR Wes Kemp) for a score to cap a 2-minute drill late in the day. The Raymore, Mo., native made it known right away that he was ready for a big day, as he shot off-tackle on the first play of the scrimmage for a 73-yard run. Washington also had a 42-yard run later in the day.
"He's good, he's been around," said Head Coach Gary Pinkel. "That's what you have to do, when you have starters returning, they have to play better than they did the year before, or your team's not going to get better. That's the message we have to get to our whole offense and defensive team, because we've got a lot more returning starters this year than we had last year," said Pinkel.
Fellow backfield mate Kendial Lawrence also had a hand in some big plays, including a 60-yard catch-and-run from QB Jimmy Costello for the first offensive touchdown of the day. On the play, Lawrence took a middle screen and weaved his way through the #1 defense first wave, and then he turned on the jets and raced down the left seam untouched for the score. The #1 defense came right back on the next series and rebounded by forcing a three-and-out. Lawrence ended the day with 6 receptions for 84 yards and the score, while also adding 21 yards on the ground in 4 attempts.
Junior QB Blaine Gabbert had an efficient day, as he completed 18-of-23 passes for 162 yards and the 1 TD to Washington. The Tiger quarterbacks collectively had very good play on Saturday, as only one interception was thrown, and that came early on as DL Bart Coslet stepped in front of an Ashton Glaser pass and ran it back 40 yards for a score. But Glaser dug in and bounced back to have an outstanding overall day, as he ended by completing 17-of-21 passes for 168 yards. Glaser led one drive late in the day that ended in a 1-yard TD run by TB Nikko Sansone.
Redshirt freshman DE Michael Sam, who missed practice this past Monday to be at the funeral of former Tiger teammate Daniel Schatz, had a massive day, as he recorded 5 quarterback sacks, and added another tackle for loss. On one of the sacks, he jarred the ball loose from QB James Franklin, picked it up near midfield, and raced the other way nearly 50 yards before Franklin pulled him down just shy of the goalline and the score.
Sam's performance had the crowd buzzing, and it certainly drew the notice of Coach Pinkel, too.
"He went against the one offense sometimes, too," Pinkel said. "I think everybody noticed him. We always look at who you're going against, if you're going against a real inexperienced player, we take that into consideration. But certainly his effort was great, and everyone he was going against, he played at a real high energy level. He's got a lot of talent, he can run and he's matured remarkably from a year ago, which young kids do," Pinkel added.
Franklin, who is battling to hold onto the #2 spot on the depth chart, had a solid day, completing 17-of-26 passes for 125 yards. Franklin got some work with the #1 offense during the day, and he led one nice drive downfield against the #2 defense before the defense held on a 4th-down play where Franklin kept on a 4th-and-1. He appeared as if he would have been able to gain the necessary yardage on the play were it live scrimmaging, but he was ruled down by two-hand touch on the play by coaches just before he got to the marker.
Washington's first score came on a 1-yard run that capped a crisp 40-yard scoring drive by the #1 offense against the #1 defense. Taking over on the defense's 40-yardline, Washington ran for 8 yards, and after a Blaine Gabbert-to-T.J. Moe pass for 4 yards and a first down, he ran for another 4 yards. Gabbert followed with an 8-yard pass to TE Michael Egnew, which followed a 14-yard scamper by Kendial Lawrence down to the 1-yardline, from where Washington punched it in.
Sophomore WR T.J. Moe (47 yards) and junior TE Beau Brinkley (41 yards) each caught 7 passes to lead the way for the Tiger receiving corp. Lawrence's 84 yards was tied by WR Brandon Gerau (84 yards on 5 catches, with 1 touchdown) for most yardage on the day. True freshman WR Bud Sasser also had a nice day, as he made 6 receptions for 80 yards in his first-ever scrimmage as a Tiger.
Highlighting special teams play, sophomore PK/P Trey Barrow had the crowd of over 1,000 people cheering loudly when he made a 57-yard field goal late in the day.
Overall, Coach Pinkel told reporters that he saw some good things, but that there's still work to be done.
"I think we looked a little rusty, I think we looked okay on both sides of the ball, particularly the one offense and the one defense, and okay isn't good enough," he said. "We'll continue to work hard, we've got a chance to have a real good football team, but we've got a lot of work to do," Pinkel said.
On the injury front, junior LB Will Ebner did not play Saturday, as he rested his ailing hamstring. Sophomore DE Aldon Smith (1 QB sack) and redshirt freshman WR L'Damian Washington (3 catches, 32 yards), who both missed practices earlier this week, played in the scrimmage. New injuries popped up on Saturday for senior OL Kirk Lakebrink (ankle) and true freshman WR Jimmie Hunt (ankle), but both were x-rayed and were not labeled as serious. Their status for next week is not yet known. Additionally, junior OL Dan Hoch sprained a toe early in the day, but played the rest of the way with the injury, Coach Pinkel said.
The Tigers will return to the practice field on Monday, with a pair of practices scheduled. Stay tuned to www.mutigers.com for continuing coverage of fall camp.