PLAYERS VOCALLY REMEMBER O’NEAL—There was an absence at Faurot Field on Monday afternoon, as the Missouri Tigers began football practice. That absence was Aaron O’Neal. The redshirt freshman died on July 12 after a workout on that very field. His presence, however will be remembered throughout the 2005 season. After practice had ended, the team huddled at mid-field and broke the huddle by saying, in unison, “A.O.”.
After the practice, which lasted about two hours and fifteen minutes, Pinkel was asked about whether or not he sensed any “heavy hearts” from his players or staff. Pinkel responded by saying, “I think it’s unfair, in a lot of ways, to as me that because I don’t think there’s a person on this football team that doesn’t think about it or deal with it everyday. We’re all very sensitive to that.”
The cause of O’Neal’s death is still unknown. Questions have arisen from some about how quickly the training staff responded to O’Neal’s complications and how quickly he was taken to the hospital.
“We haven’t changed any thing. I just told out players that there will be a trainer on the field until the last person’s gone in any practice that we have, so that will be for sure. And if any player goes down, we’ll have someone there immediately.”
There will be memorials throughout the season for O’Neal, but Pinkel said he didn’t think the tributes should be his idea.
“I want it coming from them, I think that’s were it should come from—his teammates.”
NEW OFFENSE UNVEILED—The Tigers ran offensive sets with four and five receivers on Monday. The new, more wide open offense is expected to utilize the speed of quarterback Brad Smith. When asked if there will be a grace period for his offensive unit to learn the new system, Pinkel said laughing, “I don’t get a grace period.”
But he said their success won’t be based on the new offense, but doing the little things right.
“If we block better and throw and catch and run better and we fundamentally do the right things,” Pinkel said, “I don’t care what offense you run, you’re going to be better.”
CAPTAINS NAMED—The captains for the 2006 season were unveiled yesterday, as well. They are: senior quarterback Brad Smith, senior offensive lineman Tony Palmer, senior safety Jason Simpson, senior linebacker Derrick Ming and senior cornerback Calvin Washington.