COLUMBIA — Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Henson held court in front of a small gaggle of reporters Friday after Missouri's second preseason practice, which took place on an overcast, rainy morning.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Among the topics of discussion was the improvement of sophomore receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2012.
“Assignment wise, he’s been a lot better,” Henson said. “In two practices, I can only remember one thing he’s missed. But I think he’s still a work in progress, just like a lot of us are. We’re two days in. We’ve still got a lot of work to do and we’ve got to get better and execute more consistently.
Henson said inconsistency was a big reason Missouri's offense could never seem to get untracked last season.
“That’s why we couldn’t put drives together,” Henson said. “”So one of our themes on offense is to have consistent execution over and over and over again and get really good at the little things. So if we get good at the little things, we execute well and we’re great technicians, we’ll be a better offense and win more games.”
Of course, it would certainly help if Green-Beckham, who caught 28 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns last season, started showing the consistency Henson is talking about.
“Right now, we’re using him the same way we used him in the spring," Henson said. "After he masters that, then we’ll move him around. At the same time, here’s what I told the guys: 'You want touches? You come out here and make plays and prove it...and you need more than one guy, you need other guys. Every great offense I’ve been on, there was more than one guy. There was a tailback, there was a quarterback, there was a tight end, there were two or three wideouts that all made big plays at certain times of the season and helped you win games.
"Do I think Dorial is improving? I do. Do I think can be a special player? I do. I think he’s got work to do to get there. I think the better everybody gets, the better the offense will be.”
Henson was also asked about redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk, who is trying to beat out incumbent starter James Franklin.
“I saw the kid in here all summer long," Henson said. Whenever I came in the office in was in here watching film, studying and learning plays and looking at reads and different defenses. So I think the kid has committed himself to the mental part of the game.
"So far, what it looked like to me in the first couple days - (while) he hasn’t been perfect - but it looks like his eyes are in the right places a lot more than there were in the spring. That was one of our things with Maty in the spring. He made a lot of plays with his feet, scrambling around, but his eyes weren’t always in the right spot on things that should be easy. It looks like he’s looking to the right places more than he was in the spring. So it looks like all that film study has paid off.”
Henson was then asked if he was comfortable with Mauk's low delivery, which could pose a problem with tipped passes and such due to his listed height of 6 feet.
“I’ve been around a lot of different quarterbacks, and they throw the ball differently," Henson said. "I think at the end of the day, it’s effectiveness. I think the way he drops the ball sometimes is dangerous, I do. I think it can cause the ball to float. I think you get tipped passes at the line of scrimmage, especially for a guy that’s not 6-4. But at the same time, I’ve seen guys that play like that, that were his size and they find a way to make plays, they learn how to throw around people rather than over the top of them. So I think that’s part of what Maty does that’s kind of natural. I think hes just got a feel for doing it that way because he's done it that way for a long time.”
Henson compared him to two quarterbacks who used to play at his alma mater, Al Pena and Josh Fields.
“It wasn’t necessarily your classic throwing motion," Henson said of Pena. "He was a pretty good quarterback for us. He just had a guy named Josh Fields in front of him...Josh Fields is that way, too, he would drop his arm. He was a baseball player, that’s probably a better example. Josh Fields was a 6-foot tall baseball player. He was Aguy that dropped his arm a lot and threw it like a baseball, kind of like Maty does. The kid is a great player.”
News and notes
•Henson said he's noticed some improvement since the spring in junior running back Henry Josey, who missed all of last season while recovering from a devastating knee injury.
“Even in the spring, I would kind of notice Henry a little bit, like watch him run," Henson said. "And maybe it's because I was watching him more, but I kind of thought 'Oh, he’s not quite (there)…but I haven’t noticed it one time out here in the last couple of days. he's looked good to me, so hopefully for our team and for Henry, we can keep him healthy."
•Henson said Harneet Gill and his fellow freshmen offensive linemen Alec Abeln and Clay Rhodes will likely need to redshirt before they’re ready to contribute.
“They probably all need a year for strength and size, but that’s what we’ve done most of the time here, we develop guys,” Henson said. “Very rarely do we get Evan Boehm, who walks right in and can play, physically. It would be nice to get some of those guys.”
In the past, Henson has mentioned Rhodes, a Blue Valley graduate who is listed at 6 feet 5 and 290 pounds, as a possible candidate to play as a freshman. Rhodes is currently listed at third-team left tackle behind senior Justin Britt and junior Anthony Gatti, while Abeln and Gill are both fourth team at their respective positions.
• Receiver Jimmie Hunt confirmed he had surgery on his shoulder during the offseason.
"I'm getting better everyday," Hunt said. "I'm getting stronger, I'm getting my speed back, cutting weight and just getting ready for the season."
• When asked about Duron Singleton, a three-star junior college safety who will not enroll at Missouri as planned (link), safeties coach Alex Grinch gave an interesting answer that was equally vague, yet biting.
“Like anything, there’s high standards and sometimes guys disappoint you,” Grinch said.
• Players now pass a new sign every time they walk from the practice fields to the locker room. It says "Leave Nothing, Take Everything." Check it out here (link).
“I love it,” said senior cornerback E.J. Gaines. "Max (Copeland) came up with it.”
Gaines said he immediately liked the slogan after Copeland further explained its meaning, but good luck trying to draw it out of the affable senior guard.
“I’d like to tell you, but I’d rather show ya," Copeland said with a grin. "Just stay tuned, man."
• At the end of practice, I got a chance to watch the Tigers finishing up an intense conditioning drill that called for players in each position group to race alongside the four corners of the field.
Granted, it's hard to take much from that, but I'll relay a few thoughts. On one occasion, I saw freshman Trent Hosick and sophomore Corbin Berkstresser leading the quarterback group. Marcus Murphy led the running backs at one point, while I spotted Kony Ealy, Shane Ray and Brayden Burnett (I think) leading the defensive linemen.
One player who seemed to struggle was freshman defensive tackle Josh Augusta, who had to stop and catch his breath toward the end of the drill. After plenty of encouragement from his teammates, however, he continued to push through.
• Freshman cornerback Anthony Sherrils was no longer wearing a red non-contact jersey, while freshman defensive tackle A.J. Logan was still wearing his. Sherrils has been recovering from a car accident since mid-June, while Logan is recovering from meniscus surgery.
• Freshman offensive lineman Harneet Gill was also wearing a red non-contact jersey. Henson said he is experiencing some swelling in his foot from a past injury, presumably the same one that caused him to miss his entire senior season of high school.
“The foot (injury), I think it’s just swelling on him a little,” Henson said, “but I don’t think it’s anything (serious)…hopefully it will clear up in the next day or two and we’ll get him back out there.”
Videos of the day