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August 25, 2009

Camp Breakdown

Nobody will cover fall camp like PowerMizzou.com. We will have analysis, reaction, photos and video from every single practice leading up to the season opener. To get your free trial membership going today, just click right here.

School started on Monday and with that, Missouri is shifting into game mode. There are three open practices remaining, ending with Thursday's final fall scrimmage, but all signs are now pointing toward Illinois in Columbia. PowerMizzou.com recaps the major stories in camp so far.

Gabbert Looking Good


The major question for most fans was how Blaine Gabbert would play. So far, so good. Gabbert has been a standout most days at practice. He has completed 31-of-53 passes for three touchdowns without an interception in the two scrimmages. And he's shown an ability to run the ball for a big man as well. If his camp performance carries over to the season, Tiger fans could be looking at a pleasant surprise.

Hang on to the Ball


Gary Pinkel has said a few times that his biggest concern is the drops from the Tiger receivers. Danario Alexander had one rough day, but for the most part has had a very good camp. Wes Kemp and Andrew Jones have avoided the drops as well and Michael Egnew had a slow start, but has looked very good the last two weeks. Still, with a young quarterback, the drops need to, well, drop.

One-Two Punch


Pinkel has called Derrick Washington and De'Vion Moore "the best one-two punch we've had" at tailback. The duo has both looked solid throughout camp, particularly in the first scrimmage when Moore scored two touchdowns. Both can also be a threat in the passing game. Add in Kendial Lawrence's performance and Missouri's as deep at running back as it has been in a while.

Banged Up Up Front


The only real injury news concerning the two-deep to come out of the first three weeks centered aroudn Dan Hoch. The starting right tackle sprained his knee and Missouri missed him in its second scrimmage. With Hoch out, Kurtis Gregory has shifted to right tackle and J.T. Beasley moved up to first-team at guard. But it was clear the Tigers are better offensively with Hoch on the field. The latest diagnosis had Hoch returning the week of the game against the Illini.

Three-Headed Monster


That's the moniker that has been assigned to the Tiger trio of defensive ends, Jacquies Smith, Brian Coulter and Aldon Smith. On any given day, the starters look different. "I don't really consider myself a second-teamer," Aldon Smith said. All three will play and all three have shown a penchant for pressuring the passer. That should help out a secondary that is looking to bounce back from a terrible 2008.

Defense Bites Back


The Tiger defense was generally abused by Gabbert and Co. in the first scrimmage. But the second time around was a different story. The defense won the scrimmage 34-20 and didn't allow the offense across midfield for about the first 45 minutes of the scrimmage. Thursday's third scrimmage sets up as a match for fall camp braggin' rights.

New Starters Stand Out


The main reason most don't know how to view this team is the number of starters that left after last season. But in addition to Gabbert, there have been some replacements who have had strong camps. We picked one on each side of the ball who has impressed. Offensively, Wes Kemp has removed nearly all doubt that he'll be one of the top three receivers when the season starts. He's not the biggest, the fastest or the strongest, but he has been the most consistent wide receiver in camp. On defense, there wasn't much talk about Andrew Gachkar coming into camp. But the junior has nailed down the starting job at outside linebacker and his speed allows the Tigers to play a traditional 4-3 scheme much more often than they have in recent seasons.

Newcomers Make an Impact


Pinkel has said that linebacker Donovan Bonner and safety Jasper Simmons will play for sure, along with Lawrence at tailback. Fellow safety Jarrell Harrison is in the running, along with freshmen offensive linemen Jack Meiners and Justin Britt. Pinkel has said either Meiners or Britt will play for sure and both might see the field. Those are the only sure things, but wide receivers T.J. Moe and LDamian Washington also look like they have a shot.

Nobody will cover fall camp like PowerMizzou.com. We will have analysis, reaction, photos and video from every single practice leading up to the season opener. To get your free trial membership going today, just click right here.

PowerMizzou.com's fall camp coverage is sponsored by CJ's in Tiger Country, home of the BYFO (Burn Your Face Off). For the best wings around, check out CJ's at 7-4 E. Broadway in Columbia or call in an order at (573) 442-7777. Click on the graphic above for more information.


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