COLUMBIA — Corbin Berkstresser spent spring break in Florida last week at teammate Keric Lickerman’s place.
Berkstresser, a redshirt freshman on the Missouri football team who has stepped into the starting quarterback role while James Franklin recovers from a shoulder injury, said he appreciated the week-long respite from the scrutiny the previous few weeks had brought. Yet he still ended up playing catch on the beach and even missing the game a little.
“You don’t want to get completely out of the game,” he said.
When the Tigers returned to practice Tuesday, coach Gary Pinkel told his staff and players that he didn’t want it to take a few days for practice to return to the same intensity it had in March.
He liked how they responded. The defense kept up the pressure it has shown all spring, and senior offensive lineman Elvis Fisher finally saw some live repetitions after recovering from the torn patellar tendon he suffered last August. Berkstresser made some mistakes against some surprise defensive schemes but continued to make strides, reminding Pinkel of James Franklin a year ago.
“Overall, I thought we became a better football team today,” Pinkel said.
Berkstresser said Pinkel preached hard before practice to make sure the intensity was there, but wide receiver Marcus Lucas said the players recognized that it was up to them to decide what kind of practice they wanted.
“It’s definitely on our players,” Lucas said. “If we don’t want to do it, then it’s not going to happen. The seniors and natural leaders are out there giving us the enthusiasm.”
Franklin watched practice and gave Berkstresser advice from the sideline, his right arm in a sling. He had surgery March 23 and, according to Pinkel, is recovering well.
“Those labrum tears are so painful the first two or three years, (but) he’s a pretty tough guy," Pinkel said. "He works tremendously hard in the training room, and he has a great attitude.”
The coaching staff isn't expecting Franklin to miss any games but does not know when he will return. It will not be during spring practices.
Meanwhile, running back Henry Josey will have his second knee surgery in two or three weeks, Pinkel said. Last fall, he tore his patellar tendon, meniscus and ACL. This upcoming surgery will repair the ACL.
Pinkel said Josey was doing well but wouldn’t say whether he will be back for the upcoming season.
“He has three seasons to play two,” Pinkel said. “When’s he ready to play, that’s when he’ll play.”
Other players, like offensive lineman Travis Ruth (back injury) and tight end Bud Sasser (pulled hamstring) returned Tuesday. Receiver L’Damian Washington suffered what Pinkel called a minor concussion Tuesday when he hit his head on the turf of Faurot Field. Pinkel said he was happy the turf will be replaced in two weeks.
Pinkel also said other players who are recovering from knee injuries (like Fisher) or shoulder surgeries (such as defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson) could probably play in the scrimmage Saturday, but that the staff is leaning on the cautious side.
Pinkel feels for Petrino
Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino crashed his motorcycle Sunday night riding through the hills outside of Fayetteville, Ark. He suffered four broken ribs in his upper chest, a cracked vertebra and some abrasions but made it to the Razorbacks’ practice Tuesday. He was not wearing a helmet when the accident occurred.
Pinkel left a message with Petrino’s secretary Tuesday to check on Petrino. Pinkel also rides a motorcycle and has appeared in a series of ads advocating motorcycle safety for the “Share the Road” campaign.
Pinkel, though, has had his own close calls. Like Petrino, he once lost control going around a curve and had to bail. He was not seriously injured, but his Harley Davidson needed repairs.
“I’ve been there,” he said. “I love riding my bike, but it is very dangerous. You have to have remarkable focus. I went down myself, and it’s a scary thing. You have to have the ability to stop, and if you don’t, things happen.”