The Missouri Tigers held their first official scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday morning at Faurot Field. While the defense edged out the offense, 16-12 using modified scoring, the offense showed improvement despite a patchwork offensive line.
Starting with the play of the quarterback, James Franklin started the day hitting his first nine passes for 111 yards. Granted, they were conservative and somewhat short, but he hit receivers in stride and they were on the money. Franklin finished 18 of 22 for 228 yards. “I thought he did a good job. He’s an experienced player. I thought he did pretty good at making decisions. Overall, the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense had a pretty good day so I think you’re always encouraged by that,” said head coach Gary Pinkel.
Corbin Berstresser had an off day, connecting on just 13 of 31. What I see from Berkstresser is a strong arm, he can fit the ball in tight spaces, but his short touch passes were awful. His bubble screen passes were off and the short passes in the flat were offline. Highly touted freshman Maty Mauk really impressed me. He finished 25 of 36 for 152, and that percentage should have been higher, but the third stringer receivers and backs dropped a lot of those passes. He looked more relaxed than he has during the early part of camp. He runs through his progressions pretty well for a freshman and every pass is right on. Nice touch on the ball and he showed he can zip it when he needs to.
AUDIO Gary Pinkel’s postgame audio (6:00, allow 10 sec lead before audio)
The best aspect of the offense was the running game and I felt it was more individual effort. Kendial Lawrence did a great job all morning of fighting for extra yards and keeping plays alive. Lawrence had 37 yards on 11 carries, including a 20 yard run. Marcus Murphy picked up 35 yards on 11 touches. “Our running backs, I think we’ve got some good speed and depth and our running game is certainly real important to us. We just need more continuity in our offense. We need to be a more efficient passing team and with the running game, that’s what will make us a real good football team,” said Pinkel. “Murph’s a lot like (Henry) Josey and a lot like Kendial (Lawrence). They’ve both got great acceleration and great speed. Our running backs have to have that. We’re not in the I-formation. We go laterally, we go vertical, we stretch the field and we hit a lot of seams. What allows them to be good is their burst. They’re a lot alike, all those guys are a lot alike. We’ve got two freshmen a lot like those guys.”
Defensively, the Tigers have the biggest depth at that position and really all three aspects of the D played well today, including the line, Andrew Wilson and the linebackers and E.J. Gaines and the secondary. Michael Sam stood out the most to me. He put up some great scrimmage numbers finishing with two sacks, a forced fumble and one tackle for loss.