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MU working to improve No. 6 ranking

Saturday, August 16, 2008 | 8:49 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA - Saturday morning, the Missouri football team earned its highest preseason ranking ever at No. 6 in the Associated Press poll.

By lunchtime, Tigers coach Gary Pinkel wasn't happy.

Pinkel's body language said it all, stalking around the field during the Tigers' second scrimmage of fall practice.

"I thought it was OK. I was kind of disappointed," Pinkel said about what he saw. "I told our football team, ‘We got to get better.' I thought it was sloppy in a lot of ways.

"But overall we got a lot of work to do to be ready for this first football game."

The first real fight of camp broke out between new left-tackle Elvis Fisher and defensive end Dominique Newton. Fists flew and Fisher lost his helmet before cooling down and going off to sit on the bench by himself.

"That wasn't very smart," Pinkel said. "Both of them would have been ejected from the game. We'll give them a little awareness training to make them aware of why they shouldn't have done that."

Quarterback Chase Daniel led the offense in a game-like situation set up by the coaches. Starting with the ball on its own 35, the Tigers had 1:30 to march down the field trailing by two points.

Daniel's completed passes to Jared Perry and Jeremy Maclin before being sacked and having a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage. Facing a third and 12, Daniel was forced from the pocket and found freshman wide receiver Wes Kemp across the middle for a first down. Both of Kemp's catches on the day were impressive. The first catch was a floating duck out of the hand of backup quarterback Chase Patton. Kemp sprinted to beat a defender to the ball and came down with it to cheers from the hundreds of fans in attendance.

Daniel finished the day 11 of 17 for 162 yards passing, including a 57-yarder down the sideline to Maclin, who, not surprisingly, blew by defenders for the touchdown.

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon raised his hands to encourage some noise from the mostly empty Memorial Stadium stands when the second-team offense faced a fourth-and-long during its two-minute drill.

Weatherspoon then promptly intercepted Patton and was joined in celebration by every defensive player. The practice-ending interception was sweet revenge for the defense after Perry caught a jump-ball in the endzone on Friday to give the first-team offense a win in a goal-line situation.

Kicker Jeff Wolfert might have a second coming as a rugby kicker. With nothing to do while the offense was squaring off with the defense, Wolfert set up the ball standing out of bounds at the 30-yard line and booted the ball right through the uprights from the wide angle. The true distance of Wolfert's kick to the uprights was 48 yards. To prove it wasn't a fluke, Wolfert did it again with the same result.

Punter Jake Harry continues to have effective punts. Harry punted eight balls during the scrimmage for an average of 40.3 yards.

The biggest blow to the Tigers during Saturday's scrimmage was Perry dislocating his shoulder late in the practice. Pinkel diagnosed the injury as a mild separation.

"He'll be out a couple of days and he'll be fine," Pinkel said.

Junior defensive end Brian Coulter re-injured a sore ankle in the scrimmage.

Wide receiver Danario Alexander continued to rehabilitate his surgically repaired knee by running the Memorial Stadium steps. Linebacker Van Alexander, who is recovering from knee surgery, did not participate in the scrimmage.

 


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