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Missouri football scrimmage No. 3: What to watch

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | 9:26 p.m. CDT; updated 7:31 a.m. CDT, Thursday, August 21, 2014
Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin took the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS and had a bucket dumped on him at the MU practice fields on Wednesday.

COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team closed its fall camp with a cool-down. 

MU chancellor R. Bowen Loftin accepted coach Gary Pinkel's Ice Bucket Challenge on Wednesday after the team's practice. Captains Bud Sasser and Mitch Morse doused Loftin with a bucket of ice water.

"I picked a really good day, didn't I?" Loftin said on the 93-degree afternoon. 

The chancellor said he's used to getting doused with cool liquid. He allowed teams to dump buckets of Gatorade on him during his time at Texas A&M. He hopes this victory tradition, which is normally reserved for head coaches, happens a lot this year. 

"I want to watch Pinkel get doused every game," Loftin said. 

Before the Gatorade baths can begin, Pinkel has to get his team through its last preseason scrimmage Thursday.

Here's what to watch for:

Impact freshmen 

As the chancellor said Wednesday, Missouri has, "a lot of guys that aren't well known yet. This is their time to shine and show the world how good they are." 

Thursday's scrimmage will be a last audition of sorts for freshmen in particular as they try to show they deserve major minutes this season. Freshmen Nate Brown and Lawrence Lee earned meaningful playing time at wide receiver. Freshman tailback Ish Witter (two touchdowns) and freshman cornerback Raymond Wingo (one interception) also showed their worth during the last scrimmage. Cornerback Logan Cheadle and offensive lineman Mike Fairchild also will be fighting for spots.

Maty Mauk's backup 

Corbin Berkstresser appears to be in the driver's seat to back up starting quarterback Maty Mauk. Berkstresser (11-of-16, two touchdowns) outperformed redshirt freshman Eddie Printz (9-of-15, one touchdown) during the last scrimmage and was the first to follow Mauk in drills this week. With Berkstresser's previous starting experience, the junior should solidify his spot in the depth chart unless Printz plays spectacularly. 

Marcus Murphy's law 

Marcus Murphy will see time at both tailback and receiver for at least Missouri's first game. But how Pinkel and offensive coordinator Josh Henson decide to use Murphy on Thursday could be telling. Murphy played primarily in the slot during the first scrimmage and only recorded rushing statistics during the second. Neither extreme will be likely this close to game day, but it will be interesting to see how often Murphy plays at both positions. 

No matter how Missouri uses the tailback-turned-receiver during the scrimmage, one thing is for sure: Tiger fans will be seeing a lot of him on the field this season. 

Health and wellness 

Receiver Jimmie Hunt, tailback Morgan Steward and cornerback John Gibson have all been limited in practice this week. All three will likely feature prominently for the Tigers this season, but Pinkel might choose to rest them. 

Linebacker Darvin Ruise cut his playing weight to where his coaches want. If Ruise is rewarded with increased playing time with the team's starting defense, the senior should expect a starting role in the team's linebacking trio. 

Heated tempo 

Thursday's scrimmage takes place at 10 a.m. Pinkel said he wants his scrimmages to be played at game speed, but the later start time (the previous two scrimmages started before 8 a.m.), will also bring about game-like temperatures. The National Weather Service was forecasting a heat index in the 90s by 10 a.m.

Will the players slow down their playing tempo to adjust to the heat? That remains to be seen, but expect some more ice buckets either way. 

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.


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