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Young defensive ends provide new burst for Missouri football

Monday, August 17, 2009 | 7:07 p.m. CDT; updated 12:20 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 18, 2009

COLUMBIA - Ziggy Hood might have left the most glaring hole on the Missouri defensive line, but the first-round pick's defensive tackle spot isn't the only place where there's some replacing to do.

Hood dominated the headlines with his ascension up draft boards, but a lot of consistency headed out the door with the departure of fifth-round pick Stryker Sulak and two-year starter Tommy Chavis.

With plenty of playing time up for grabs this season, sophomore Jacquies Smith and redshirt freshman Aldon Smith have solidified themselves as two of the three members of the starting defensive end rotation, along with senior Brian Coulter.

Aside from their last names, and the buzz they've created among the coaching staff, there aren't many similarities between the two.

The 250-pounder Jacquies Smith is shorter than Aldon Smith, but thicker throughout, his lower body strength allowing him to get underneath defensive lineman and drive them back into the quarterback.

"He is an undersized defensive end, but he's really aggressive, and he doesn't think like that," senior defensive end Brian Coulter said. "I've seen him go up against Colin Brown last year, and guys who were two times bigger than him, and all he's thinking about is getting back there and getting to the quarterback."

But more than "strength," the word that comes to mind when his teammates think of Jacquies Smith is "burst," a burst off the line of scrimmage that is second to none along the new-look Tiger front.

"He's real good off the ball," Aldon Smith said. "He's got that real fast first three, four steps."

If the first thing that comes to mind with Jacquies Smith is his burst off the line, for Aldon Smith it's his size.

The redshirt freshman stands 6 feet 5 inches and has a massive wing span that allows him to create separation with offensive linemen.

"Aldon's got those long arms," Coulter said. "He's able to lock out tackles better to read the pass and the run."

Aldon Smith's height is ideal for the position, but while others praise his ability and effectiveness, he stills sees plenty of progress to be made.

"I don't think I've really learned how to use my arms," Aldon Smith said. "When I do, I'm going to be a lot better."

The constant willingness to find an area where he needs to improve is indicative of what Coulter says he sees from the redshirt freshman almost daily. The two are roommates, and Coulter says that no matter how well Aldon might do in a particular practice, he's always focusing on what went wrong and how he can correct it.

"He might go up one-on-one four times and get all but one, and he'll be upset that whole day because he wasn't undefeated in one-on-one pass rush," Coulter said. "And those are the kind of people that I love to live up and play beside."

Despite the differences in size and style, Coulter says there is a theme between the two: speed. Both know how to get to the quarterback, but beyond that, each has the willingness and ability to make plays all over the field.

"You'll see (Nos.) 85 and 3 flying sideline to sideline across the field trying to make tackles," Coulter said. "And they're going to be making tackles that you don't expect a defensive end to make."

 

MONDAY MORNING PRACTICE NOTES

  •  There was plenty of depth chart shuffling after the team's first scrimmage Saturday, but the most significant news probably comes with the new competition that has emerged for the team's backup quarterback slot. Sophomore Jimmy Costello is still the team's designated No. 2, but freshman Blaine Dalton has shown the coaching staff enough that he will also be taking reps with the second offense this week.
  • Some of the motivators behind other moves among the offensive depth chart showed themselves again during the morning session. Senior Jared Perry, who had issues hanging onto passes during Saturday's scrimmage and has been moved down into the No. 2 slot at one of the team's receiver positions, dropped another pass during 11-on-11 drills Monday morning. Rather than move redshirt freshman Rolandis Woodlard into the starting lineup (Woodland was listed as the No. 2 receiver at Perry's X position), it looks like the team has slid Danario Alexander out of the slot and to the outside for now and moved sophomore Jerrell Jackson into the slot.
  • Freshman tailback Kendial Lawrence made another big play during 11-on-11 drills Monday, motioning into the backfield from the left slot before taking a handoff to the right, making a cut back to the middle of the field and taking it all the way for a touchdown against the No. 1 defense. Lawrence has been rewarded for his progress with a promotion to the No. 4 slot on the depth chart at tailback.
  • Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton looked excellent during one-on-one pass rush drills, beating senior Kurtis Gregory on multiple occasions. Hamilton showed an excellent combination of quickness and strength as well as great use of his hands.
  • Sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert looked  like a sophomore, and relatively human, during the morning session. While Gabbert has wowed in just about every area throughout camp there were several miscues during the full team session, included a couple bad overthrows, and a few obvious miscommunication with his receivers.

 


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