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Competition fuels defense in Tigers’ first scrimmage

Players say they’re practicing against the best offense in the Big 12
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:17 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
MU running back Jimmy Jackson scampered for a touchdown in the Tigers’ first scrimmage. Jackson and the rest of the team finished the day inside the Devine Pavilion after lightning was sighted near the practice field.

Columbia- All it took was a lightning strike to charge up the defense.

For the first hour of Monday’s scrimmage, the Missouri football team’s defense struggled to stop the offense. Chase Daniel and Chase Patton consistently marched their respective units up the field, and the defense made mistakes that resulted in big gains. In the first half-hour alone, wide receiver Danario Alexander had two catches that totaled 73 yards after poor coverage and missed tackles by the defense.

Scrimmage stats

PASSING

Chase Daniel: 9 comp., 12 att., 182 yds, 0 TDs, 0 int. Chase Patton: 12-21-216-2-1 Dominic Grooms: 11-16-135-0-1 J.P. Tillman: 10-16-47-1-0

RUSHING

Marcus Woods: 4 att., 41 yds., 0 TDs De’Vion Moore: 11-36-0 Jimmy Jackson: 12-30-1 Derrick Washington: 10-24-0 Earl Goldsmith: 8-22-0

RECEIVING

Danario Alexander: 3-79-0 Will Franklin: 4-78-0 Jeremy Maclin: 4-65-0 Chase Coffman: 4-23-0 Jared Perry: 3-43-1 Martin Rucker: 2-20-0 Greg Bracey: 1-75-1


When lightning was spotted north of the practice fields, however, the team moved inside Devine Pavilion. At that point, the offense was beating the defense 27-8. After the move, the intensity of the practice increased, and the defense forced the offense into mistakes. Only time restraints stopped the defense’s furious comeback, and practice ended around 10:30 with a 49-43 victory for the offense. The team used the same scoring system it has in previous scrimmages, where the defense earns points for stops, turnovers, blocks and the like.

While defensive players admitted that the move inside Devine Pavilion helped them regroup, it was the offense that helped them turn up the intensity.

“They fuel us,” defensive tackle Ziggy Hood said of the offense. “We know we have a high-powered offense, and we just try to compete against them.”

Hood said there is a certain clout that follows the offense wherever the team goes. With returning starters such as Daniel, Tony Temple, Will Franklin, Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman, Hood expects records to fall this year.

“We should have the best offense in the Big 12,” Hood said. “It’s hard to go against them every day, but it’s good for us. We won’t face an offense like them in the season, and when we do go against a high scoring team, we’ll be ready. It’ll be a better game, you know?”

Junior Brock Christopher, the middle linebacker and one of the unquestioned leaders of the defense, said the offense casts a shadow over the defense at times.

“We try to not pay attention to what people say about the offense, though,” Christopher said after the scrimmage. “We’re fortunate to be able to compete against them in practice. They’ve got a lot of great athletes, but we’ve got great athletes on our side of the ball, too.”

Christopher said that even though the defense made mistakes that ended in big gains for the offense, he was happy with the level of competition.

“It gets pretty heated out there,” Christopher said, sweat still pouring down his face even though practice had been over for nearly half an hour.

“The offense has got a lot of swagger, confidence, and we try to stop that.”

That swagger is evident at any practice. From Daniel’s familiar strut on the sideline, to Greg Bracey’s constant talking, the offensive unit clearly knows the talent it possesses.

“It gets intense, but it’s lots of fun,” Christopher added.

Coach Gary Pinkel said he was pleased with the defense’s showing in Monday’s scrimmage.

“They gave up some big plays early, but they responded to adversity well,” Pinkel said. “The defense has a lot of depth. We’ve got some real good athletes there.”

Patton lead the offense in passing, with 216 yards and two touchdowns while completing 12 of 21 attempts. Daniel went for 182 yards on 9 of 12 passing. Jimmy Jackson gained 30 yards and one touchdown on the ground on 12 carries, and Marcus Woods finished with 41 yards on four carries. Cornerback Paul Simpson had an interception for the defense.'


• Woods was carted off the field in the first hour of practice after being tackled awkwardly. Pinkel said the injury appears to be a high-ankle sprain. “If it is that, we’ll put a cast or a boot on his ankle,” Pinkel said. Pinkel also said that Temple, who has been out with a bruised knee, may return next week.

• Kicker Jeff Wolfert appears to be in the running for the kickoff job, as well as placekicking duties. Wolfert, a 2006 Lou Groza Award semifinalist, has been adding leg strength in the past months, Pinkel said. Last year, Adam Crossett handled kickoff duties.

• MU coaches had tentatively planned to release a spring depth chart Monday, but decided to spend the evening looking at film before finalizing it. Check ColumbiaMissourian.com for a depth chart later today.

• The Tigers will practice at 8:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. today.


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