Three of Missouri’s most important players sat out the Tigers’ third and final scrimmage of the preseason on Thursday.
Two of them — senior cornerback E.J. Gaines (strained patellar tendon) and junior defensive tackle Matt Hoch (strained triceps tendon) – were no surprise, as both have missed recent practices because of their injuries. But after practicing Wednesday, sophomore center Evan Boehm showed up to the scrimmage with a boot on his left foot.
"He strained his foot, it’s just precautionary," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. "We decided not to play him for that reason. That’s all. So we expect him to be 100 percent ready to go for Saturday’s morning practice."
With Boehm out, sophomore Brad McNulty took the first-team reps at center. Sophomore cornerback Ernest Payton took the reps on the first-team defense for Gaines, while redshirt freshman Harold Brantley stepped in for Hoch on the first-team defense.
Pinkel said Hoch and Gaines will likely heal in time for Missouri’s season opener against Murray State on Aug. 31.
"The good news right now is we didn’t get anybody hurt today and I think we can get everybody back," Pinkel said.
Pinkel said senior defensive end Michael Sam, who appeared to injure his lower leg at one point during the scrimmage and needed assistance getting off the field, is fine as well.
"He’s okay," Pinkel said. "He’s a little Hollywood."Augusta to make impact
Pinkel said he expects defensive tackle Josh Augusta, who got some snaps with the No. 2 defense Thursday, to be one of a handful of freshmen that contribute this season.
"He’s very athletic, a good kid," Pinkel said. "He’s got a ways to go in terms of playing the way we want him to play play-after-play but that’s typical. He’ll help us as a freshman. I really don’t want to comment on anybody else because I’m not positive about anybody else, but I’m almost certain he will, for sure."
Tight end Jason Reese and cornerback Aarion Penton are among the freshmen who saw action with the top backups Thursday and remain in contention for early playing time.