Pinkel says Missouri football team is a work in progress

Saturday, August 25, 2012 | 10:00 p.m. CDT; updated 4:36 p.m. CDT, Sunday, August 26, 2012
James Franklin *prepares to throw a football during an afternoon practice in early August. The quarterback was injured in the spring and said he isn't worried about game contact as the Tigers prepare for the home opener next weekend.

COLUMBIA — As the first game of the season approaches for the Missouri football team, coach Gary Pinkel said the Tigers still have work to do.

"I don't think the continuity of our (No.) 1 offense or (No.) 1 defense is where it needs to be," Pinkel said.

Quarterback James Franklin looks healthy after suffering a torn labrum in his right throwing shoulder in the spring. But Missouri quarterbacks have worn green jerseys throughout training camp, not taking hits during practice. Franklin said he is not worried about the adjustment to game contact.

"I actually kind of like getting hit," Franklin said. "After that, I really feel acclimated, really warmed up and ready to go."

Offensive coordinator David Yost thinks Franklin's experience and playing style help him handle getting tackled in games.

"We don't worry as much about a guy that's played a lot like he has. He's gotten hit and beat up quite a bit, so he understands what it takes and everything," Yost said.

One area the Tigers might need to worry about is field goal kicking. Pinkel mentioned the kicking game as something the team needs to work on.

The tight competition between redshirt senior Trey Barrow and redshirt freshman Andrew Baggett has turned ugly. Each kicker made only three of seven attempts during the team's final scrimmage of Thursday's training camp.

Baggett had been in the lead, but a dreadful last week of training camp put him behind Barrow on the depth chart for the scrimmage. Pinkel had hoped one player would emerge as the starter, but the situation has only become more unclear.

One player who has improved throughout camp is freshman wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.

The former top recruit began training camp with lackluster performances, frequently making mistakes and dropping passes. But as camp progressed, Green-Beckham improved. He moved up the depth chart, working with the first-team and second-team offense. He also led the Tigers in receiving yards in each team's last two scrimmages.

He showed his speed on a 65-yard touchdown catch against the first-team defense on Thursday. Green-Beckham caught a short pass from freshman Maty Mauk, broke a tackle and outran the defense to the end zone for a score.

"He's got great speed. But he's thinking a lot out there," Pinkel said. "He's thinking about routes, he's thinking about route adjustments, he's thinking about things he's never had to do, and when you think, you don't play instinctively. You just don't use all your speed."

"But that speed is such a great weapon for any player. He has that. He's right now, a lot different than he was 10 practices ago."

Freshman guard Evan Boehm will also have to make strides. Boehm might become the first true freshman to start on the offensive line for Pinkel. After redshirt senior guard Jack Meiners suffered a knee injury during Thursday's scrimmage, Boehm and junior Max Copeland took all the reps at the two guard spots for the first-team offensive line.

Pinkel said Meiners would get an MRI, and the severity of the injury is not yet certain.

"We're hoping it's not serious," Pinkel said.

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