August 6, 2007

Practice report: Defense fights back

The Tigers were back on the practice field after media day on Sunday (though we understand there was a closed practice held yesterday morning). Monday morning brought the final day in shorts and shoulder pads. There was more contact than on Saturday, ramping up to full pads coming this week. Here are the big notes from Monday morning:

I watched the punters closely early on and I will have a full story tomorrow. But the great competition we were all expecting isn't happening right now. Adam Crossett has been better than Jake Harry and it really hasn't been close. Harry told me he is battling nerves right now and Gary Pinkel said it is an adjustment for a punter to speed things up to meet the timing requirements Missouri has.

*There were a number of dropped passes today. Will Franklin, Martin Rucker, Jeremy Maclin and Tony Temple all dropped balls at times. Pinkel said after practice he thought the first- and second-team defenses "dominated."

"I don't know if we got dominated," Saunders laughed. "I don't know about all that."

Maybe not dominated, but the defense was clearly much better.

*I really like Justin Garrett. In one-on-one drills with receivers, he showed a great instinct on when to break at the ball. Garrett replaces Brock Christopher when Mizzou goes to its nickel defense. And, he's a hitter--more on that later.

*Pinkel called this, athletically, the best group of linebackers he has ever had. The leader of that is clearly Sean Weatherspoon who just continues to make play after play.

*Play of the Day: I mentioned Justin Garrett earlier. As Danario Alexander went over the middle, Garrett simply crushed him on a perfect tackle. To his credit, Alexander did hang on the ball for a short gain.

The Tigers practice again at 8:15 on Tuesday morning.

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