Missouri football's offense sputters in final scrimmage

Thursday, August 22, 2013 | 8:54 p.m. CDT; updated 7:32 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 26, 2013
Missouri linebacker Donavin Newsom practices his defensive skills during Missouri football practice on Thursday at Farout Field.

COLUMBIA — False starts, dropped passes, wrong routes. Put nicely, the Missouri football team lacked focus on offense in its final scrimmage of fall camp.

For a while, everything was going well. Quarterback James Franklin led a touchdown drive to start practice, but it was the only touchdown the offense scored all afternoon.

What happened to the tempo the coaching staff and players have been raving about after practice? What about the pitch and catch Franklin was playing with his receivers? The word "finish" is printed on the back of every coach's t-shirt, but on Thursday the offense couldn't even get started.

Dorial Green-Beckham caught one pass and picked up one yard. The offensive line allowed 4.5 sacks and was fortunate the number wasn't higher. The kicking game was concerning, as coach Gary Pinkel put it. Starter Andrew Baggett was the only kicker to make a field goal all practice, but even he couldn't finish.

In the final drill of the day, Baggett pushed a kick wide right. It hit the bleachers with a thud that echoed through a nearly empty Memorial Stadium. A fitting end to a sloppy practice.

"My own worst enemy is myself," Baggett said.

That was the theme of the day.

The offense committed unforced errors across the board. 

"I'm not taking anything away from the defense," offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. "We just made a lot of mistakes that weren't the defense making the mistake. 

"It all boils down to focus. And it's just frustrating that we would not have the maturity to finish a little better."

Was there a silver lining in the two-hour scrimmage?

"I don't know if any of us stepped up today," Henson said, who stopped short of calling it the worst practice of the year. "It wasn't pretty on offense. I was disappointed with it. It wasn't acceptable by our standards."

Franklin pointed to the heat as a reason for the sluggish practice, but the 90-degree temperature wasn't out of the ordinary for a late-August afternoon in Missouri. Pinkel mentioned the team settling into a new schedule with camp closing and school starting.

Henson wasn't hearing any of it.

"Whatever it was, we didn't do it how we needed to do it," he said. "That's unacceptable, and it's our job to get it fixed as an offense, as a group, as a coaching staff, and as a team all together."

Missouri only has one week to fix it, with the opening game against Murray State looming on Aug. 31. After a practice like Thursday's, Pinkel didn't seem convinced about his team's readiness for the big games.

"We better be," he said. "I don't know that you ever feel ready."

Injury report

Three starters missed Thursday's scrimmage. Center Evan Boehm had a foot strain, but Pinkel said he would be ready to play against Murray State. Cornerback E.J. Gaines missed practice once again with a knee injury, and defensive tackle Matt Hoch missed his second consecutive practice with a strained tricep.

During the kicking drills at the end of practice, defensive end Michael Sam, who had 2.5 sacks during the scrimmage, limped off the field with an apparent foot injury. Pinkel insisted Sam was fine after practice.

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