Tiger seniors eager to set tempo

Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:29 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The seniors on the Missouri football team aren’t fooling around this preseason.

After Sunday’s practice, the seniors weren’t satisfied with the team’s effort. They met and decided it was up to them to create a better practice environment.

“When we had the bad practice before, we met in the locker room and talked about seniors leading and how everyone else would feed off what we do,” senior Atiyyah Ellison said. “That’s pretty much what happened. The first group got out there and made some plays. Then it was just a domino effect.

“We needed to hit the next gear and not just be out there practicing.”

The domino effect produced one of the Tigers’ sharpest practices Monday morning, and Ellison, a defensive tackle, said it reveals the Tigers’ sense of urgency entering the season.

“That just tells you how bad we want to win,” Ellison said. “We feel like, ‘Why shouldn’t it be our turn this year to do well?”’

The Tigers also said Monday they would hold their first scrimmage of the preseason today. Initially, the Tigers had scheduled to have their first scrimmage for Saturday.

They will run about 35 plays today, which will be about the same length as the scrimmage scheduled Saturday. Coach Gary Pinkel said the Tigers will use this format instead of having about 20 plays today and 55 plays Saturday.

Pinkel said the first and second teams will be allotted a certain number of repetitions, and the third and fourth teams will scrimmage during the time left. The coaches will script all the plays, pitting specific units against each another.

Because the first-team offense and defense often play against each other in practice, Pinkel said he doesn’t feel inclined to make it happen frequently today.

The scrimmage gives the Tigers coaching staff another means to evaluate players outside the previous 10 practices.

“We look at this as more of a game-type atmosphere,” Pinkel said. “Even though you might have done well or maybe not as good as you like (in practice), let’s see how you do in a game.”

COFFEY COMES BACK: It didn’t take long for senior Sean Coffey to return to practice after he separated his right shoulder Friday.

Coffey, a 6-foot-5 wide receiver, joined his teammates but wore a red jersey over his white jersey to signify he was restricted from contact in the morning. This allowed him to participate in 2-on-2 catching drills and conditioning.

On one of the pass routes, he smoothly dived and made a catch fully extended.

“It was just instinct,” Coffey said. “It was without thinking, but yeah, after I did it, it wasn’t smart at all. But I made it, and I was fine after I did it.

“It’s just good to know I’m not thinking about (the shoulder) when I out there.”

Even though the diving catch looked good, it didn’t please Pinkel to see Coffey putting his shoulder in danger.

“How about that I had to yell at him for trying hard?” Pinkel said. “I said, ‘Sean, this is about the team. If you go down on the ground and do that, then you’re hurting the team.’”

SCOUTS SURFACE AT PRACTICE: Two NFL teams got a look at the Tigers on Monday. Scouts from the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts watched the morning practice.

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