COLUMBIA — Missouri’s coaching staff shuffled players in and out throughout the Tigers’ second preseason scrimmage Thursday, so it was hard to tell which unit — be it the starters, second team, etc. — was out there, but I took a crack at it anyway.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
So here are my thoughts on that, plus a few other standouts.
• Perhaps lost in the “battle” between Maty Mauk and James Franklin for the starting job is the slight improvement sophomore Corbin Berkstresser has shown since last season, when he was thrown into the fire as a redshirt freshman and completed only 88 of 177 passes (49.7 percent) for 1,059 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
On Thursday, Berkstresser completed eight of 14 passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns while working mainly with the third team. When combined with the stats from his first scrimmage, he’s completed 18-of-35 passes (51.7 percent) for 173 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
• After an impressive 15-for-16 effort in Missouri’s first scrimmage, true freshman quarterback Eddie Printz got a chance to compete with the second and third teams Thursday. He completed nine of 16 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns, but also had an interception.
• Last thing on the quarterbacks: Thursday’s aerial circus is an indication of a potentially high-powered offense, a dreadful pass defense or a combination of both. Hard to base anything off a scrimmage, but yes, nine touchdowns passes is a lot, especially when the quarterbacks only had three in the first scrimmage.
• Junior receiver Darius White flashed the kind of ability that made him a highly-touted prep recruit on Thursday, when he soared between two defenders — I think it was junior cornerback Xavier Smith and sophomore safety Ian Simon — to high-point a ball and pull it down inbounds for a 30-yard reception near the right sideline. White also had some drops, but still finished with three catches for 60 yards.
• Sophomore safety Ian Simon — who had an interception — got the nod with the first team alongside Braylon Webb, though senior Matt White got a number of snaps, too. Senior Randy Ponder, redshirt freshman John Gibson, sophomore Ernest Payton, junior Xavier Smith and sophomore David Johnson all got a number of first-team reps at corner, too.
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Harold Brantley also got a handful of snaps with the first-string defense.
• Junior safety Duron Singleton spent most of his day with the third-team defense. He didn’t log a pass breakup or interception, and on the plays I watched him it seemed like he was a tad slow to diagnose. I’m sure his head is swimming, though — he’s nearly a week behind in his teammates in terms of preparation — and he’s still someone to keep and eye on moving forward.
• There’s a battle going on for the starting weakside linebacker position between sophomore Kentrell Brothers and junior Darvin Ruise, but it looks like Brothers has grabbed hold of the job. I didn’t see Ruise with the first-team defense at all, while Brothers had his second interception in two scrimmages.
• Sophomore Andrew Baggett had a bit of a rough scrimmage, making only three of his six field-goal attempts. He made kicks from 23, 37 and 36 yards but missed from 36, 37 and 37 yards.
He also missed an important kick at the end of the two-minute drill session, a miss that caused senior guard Max Copeland to erupt in frustration by himself near the sideline. But like a good teammate, I spotted Copeland encouraging Baggett away from teammates a few minutes later.
• Through two scrimmages, sophomore receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has caught a total of three passes for 37 yards. It’s way too early to read anything into that, but it bears watching in the third scrimmage. He let one easy pass from quarterback James Franklin go right through his hands Thursday, so I’ll try to keep an eye on how many targets he gets in the Tigers’ final scrimmage of the preseason on Aug. 22.