Missouri held its final morning practice of fall camp on Saturday. The Tigers will take a two-day break from practice with classes starting on Monday and hold three afternoon workouts before closing camp to the media after Thursday's scrimmage.
Britt Back in Action
After sitting out or being limited in the first 19 practices of camp while recovering from a Jones fracture in his left foot, right tackle Justin Britt was back at practice full speed on Saturday morning.
"It feels like I'm part of the team again," Britt said.
His return brings the offensive line back to some sense of normalcy. While projected starting left guard Travis Ruth is out for the season with a torn triceps tendon, the Tigers now have four linemen starting at the positions they were pencilled into before camp.
While Britt was down, Jack Meiners was playing right tackle with the first team, Max Copeland was at right guard and true freshman Evan Boehm was at left guard.
"People have got to play a lot of different positions," Britt said. "It kind of develops our depth better."
With Britt back, Copeland is currently starting at left guard with Boehm backing him up. That is the only spot on the line that is still in question. Britt being back will allow the Tigers two full weeks of practice with their projected starting five before the Southeast Louisiana game to open the season on Septebmer 1.
"It's just as important for them as it is for me," Britt said of the experienced gained by the other linemen in his absence. "It plays a big role. I need it and it showed today."
*Each day, we provide fans with a few video highlights from practice. Click on the player below to get a look at some of Saturday's action.
Two Freshmen Still Standing Out
Over the last few days, the talk of the freshmen in camp has focused heavily on tailback Russell Hansbrough and wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Those two continued their emergence on Saturday morning.
Green-Beckham led the team in both catches and yards during Thursday's second scrimmage. He caught a slew of passes on Saturday morning, including a deep ball down the right sideline from Maty Mauk.
There has never been any doubt Green-Beckham would play, but over the last week, he has flashed quite a bit of the potential that had him rated as the top high school prospect in the country last week and has had Tiger fans projecting his stats for six months now.
In addition to getting reps with the first two offensive units at tailback, Hansbrough was also working with the kickoff return team on Saturday. Though Pinkel said yesterday that no decisions have been made on freshmen seeing the field, it seems more and more likely that the Texas speedster will skip a redshirt season.
Playing Hansbrough is a decision that would be made not only for what he might bring to the field, but also as somewhat of an insurance policy. The Tigers' top four tailbacks were all injured at one time or another last season. If Kendial Lawrence and/or Marcus Murphy were to go down, the Tigers would not want to be in the position of throwing a freshman on the field for his first game action against the likes of South Carolina or Alabama.
Mizzou has played four true freshmen at tailback over the last five seasons. Here are their statistics during those seasons:
Henry Josey, 2010: 76 carries, 437 yards, 5 touchdowns (all 2nd among tailbacks)
Marcus Murphy, 2010: 22 carries, 181 yards, 2 touchdowns, 24 kickoff returns, 19.8 yard average
Kendial Lawrence, 2009: 52 carries, 219 yards (3rd among tailbacks), 12 kickoff returns, 18.2 yard average
Derrick Washington, 2007: 36 carries, 184 yards, 1 touchdown (3rd among tailbacks)
That averages out to 46.5 carries for 255 yards and two touchdowns per season, which would be a good estimate for Hansbrough's first year in the program.
News and Notes
*Missouri announced yesterday that starting safety Braylon Webb would miss seven to ten days after surgery on a torn meniscus. I talked with safeties coach Alex Grinch after practice who said that Webb was "well on his way" to establishing himself as a starter. While the injury doesn't preclude that from happening, it does open an opportunity for Matt White or redshirt freshman Ian Simon. We will have more on the safety position in a PMTV Video Interview with Grinch later this afternoon.
*Lawrence had one of the big plays of the day when he ran off right tackle out of the Wildcat formation.
*I noticed a few snaps during 11-on-11 where Brad Madison and Kony Ealy were the starting defensive ends. Along with Michael Sam, all three will see significant playing time this season. As for which two start, I have no idea.
*Ole Miss transfer Mitch Hall, whose decision to attend Missouri we broke yesterday morning, was already at practice on Saturday. He is wearing No. 73, which was formerly worn by Mark Hill, who has given up football, but remains on scholarship and has been at every camp workout. Hall has to go through a few workouts in shorts prior to putting on full pads. My only observation of him on Saturday morning is that he looks every bit of his listed 6-foot-6, 330 pounds.
*Saturday was the third planned day off of throwing for James Franklin. No reason for concern as Gary Pinkel said he was pleased with where Franklin was at. Simply a precautionary day of rest that was planned prior to the start of camp.
Missouri's next practice will be at 3:30 on Tuedsay afternoon. PowerMizzou.com will have plenty of camp coverage over the next three days and will be back at practice on Tuesday.
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