Get out of the way.
Missouri football equipment assistant Adam Borts is a well-built, if not husky man, one who could hold his own in a fight if he needed to. He’s smaller in stature than most of the other offensive and defensive linemen on the team, but not all of them.
At Thursday’s practice at the Dan Devine Indoor Pavilion, Borts stood over the desire of a dozen large defensive linemen, each of whom would have a running start aiming directly toward a towel near Borts’ feet. The only thing standing between him and these diesel engines with legs was an offensive lineman of equal size trying to stop him in the one-on-one pass rushing drill.
The linemen bend down into a crouch and wait for the signal to go from one of the assistant coaches.
“Green 80,” one assistant growls.
“Red 40,” he continues.
With that, Borts receives the snap about seven yards from the players and only one thing goes through his mind.
“All I’m thinking at that point is to get the hell out of the way,” Borts said with a laugh. “Obviously the best thing I can do is move. I can move pretty good, though.”
The drill goes on for 15 to 20 minutes during the hourlong practice, which was run by offensive coordinator Dave Christensen because head coach Gary Pinkel was in El Paso, Texas, meeting with Sun Bowl officials.
Borts successfully escapes a few close calls with defensive linemen Xzavie Jackson and Tommy Chavis but does get hit by freshman defensive lineman Brant Scott and is almost knocked into a nearby wall because of the collision.
“They look at the drill on tape and I make a few awkward moves that the guys kid me about,” Borts said.
Perhaps the best thing that worked in Borts’ favor on Thursday was that it was the first practice since the season ended last month. A few of the players said Thursday’s practice was a good first step to get readjusted to game speed and conditioning. Jackson said he spent the week off catching up on sleep.
“Man, the week off was great to get away and get some rest,” Jackson said. “But getting back here, you want to do anything you can to get back, and this drill was the first time you get to hit somebody up. It felt great.”
The Tigers are getting back into their normal football routine in preparation for the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29 against Oregon State. Coaches and players have had a chance to view the team on film and were able to offer a little more insight into the Beavers.
“They’ve got a real nice running game,” said defensive lineman Lorenzo Williams. “They’ve got a nice little running back (5-foot-9 Yvenson Bernard) who looks real good when he runs with his dreads.”
INJURY UPDATE: Trainer Rex Sharp updated the status of injured defensive lineman Brian Smith. Sharp didn’t rule out the possibility of Smith playing in the Sun Bowl, but said Smith’s rehab was going to be more geared to getting the senior ready for the various senior games and NFL workouts Smith will be participating in when he returns from a broken hip suffered on Oct. 21 against Kansas State.
“He’ll start in the pool tomorrow, actually,” Sharp said. “But our focus is on the Senior Bowl.”