Campus Corner

Pinkel challenges Franklin, praises freshmen

Updated: 2012-08-17T18:25:34Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

— Missouri’s defense dominated the second scrimmage of fall camp Thursday – you can read more about that here and here – but Missouri coach Gary Pinkel also spent some time talking about the offense, which lost 18-4 to the defense at Memorial Stadium.

Things started out shaky from the get go, as center Mitch Morse and quarterback James Franklin fumbled the exchange on the very first play from scrimmage, allowing the defense to recover.

Franklin continued to struggle early, throwing an interception to safety Ian Simon and misfiring on several passes on the No. 1 offense’s first two drives. But he eventually warmed up, finishing the scrimmage 16 of 25 for 177 yards and a touchdown.

His touchdown pass – which came to Liberty High School grad Marcus Lucas – punctuated a dynamite three-play stretch where Franklin couldn’t miss. It began with a sideline strike to Lucas, continued with a deep bomb down the right side to Bud Sasser and concluded with a touchdown over the middle to Lucas.

“It was a little bit like Kansas State last year, or Kansas last year, where he wasn't playing very well and all of a sudden he looks like he's going to be first team all-SEC,” said Pinkel. “That's disappointing. We'll talk to James about that.”

Pinkel said Franklin, who accumulated almost 4,000 yards and 36 touchdowns last season, is capable of being even better – he just needs more consistency.

“We have to get that cleared up,” Pinkel said. “That's his responsibility as the Missouri quarterback to do that.”

Dorial Green-Beckham shines again
Like I wrote here, here and here, it appears star recruit Dorial Green-Beckham is starting to turn it on. After dropping the first pass thrown his way, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound receiver turned in a strong performance, catching a team-high six balls for 68 yards.

“We’ve got to get the right guys the football,” said receivers coach Andy Hill, who said Green-Beckham has done a good job learning the playbook. “And I think Dorial, with the ball in his hands, can be a difference-maker.”

Indeed. In addition to making a ridiculous one-handed catch late in practice – where he reached out with his right hand and pulled it to his body on a short route – Green-Beckham is also looking like a run-after-the-catch threat, as he racked up a bunch of his yards on screen passes Thursday.

Pinkel praised Green-Beckham and redshirt freshman running back Russell Hansbrough, who rushed the ball six times for 39 yards, tied for tops among all running backs. Though Hansbrough missed several contact drills with an ankle injury this fall, he has impressed observers with his speed, quickness and moves and also showed toughness Thursday when bulled his way up the middle for a short touchdown. Hansbrough and fellow freshman Morgan Steward are competing for the No. 3 job behind starter Kendial Lawrence (seven carries, 39 yards) and versatile speedster Marcus Murphy (seven carries, 13 yards).

“Anytime you're a freshman, the most difficult thing is to not be thinking out there,” Pinkel said. “You're out there, you've got to know your what your formation is, what the play is, the defense (that's being played), so generally you don't play your speed. I remember J-Mac (Jeremy Maclin), we were constantly on him to play 4.3. Don't play 4.6, play 4.3. It's typical of young guys, so that's what we're trying to get those guys to understand."

Pinkel waiting for starting kicker to emerge
Lee’s Summit North grad Andrew Baggett struggled some today, missing four of his seven field-goal attempts while his competition, starting punter Trey Barrow, made all six of his.

Baggett, who missed from 48, 44, 34 and 24 yards, had been winning the placekicking battle with Barrow, but Pinkel said afterward that the battle for the job could go right down to the start of the season.

“We’ve got some time left, a couple weeks left, but there will be a sense of urgency (and a) competition to see who wants it"  Pinkel said. “Somebody better jump up and grab it.”

Both Barrow and Baggett were perfect in Missouri’s first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, each going 5-for-5 from the same distances.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send e-mail to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

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