Missouri’s fall camp reaches a significant milestone Saturday with its first scrimmage, which is set for 7:30 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers, who have won the SEC East division the last two seasons, have plenty of questions to address at wide receiver, defensive line and running back.
But coach Gary Pinkel said no specific positions will garner additional attention from his staff during the scrimmage.
“There’s stuff going on all over that field and that’s kind of the fun thing,” Pinkel said. “I love doing this. … Different years present different challenges based on attrition or injuries.”
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Pinkel mentioned junior defensive tackle Harold Brantley’s injury as an example. Brantley is out for the season after suffering significant injuries during a June car wreck.
“When he’s gone, all the sudden that whole thing has changed,” Pinkel said. “But that’s what we do and try to do a good job of, and that’s why we analyze every day about it, so we’re on top of it. Everything’s thought out very thoroughly.”
Pinkel and his staff evaluate players during staff meetings on a daily basis after each fall-camp practice.
“We watch all the videos as a staff and go over every players on the board — where he’s at, where he ranks, is he going to be able to help us, can he beat this guy out, can we put him over here,” he said. “It’s a constant analysis of personnel.”
Of course, the scrimmage is critical, because that’s as close to a game simulation as camp affords. It’s also a chance for players to prove that they are grasping the lessons taught in practice and are ready to translate them to making plays on the field.
Pinkel said Missouri shortened practice Friday in preparation for the first scrimmage.
“We have a big scrimmage Saturday, probably one of the biggest ones we’ve had the entire year counting spring football of getting reps and numbers in,” Pinkel said.
The Tigers plan to give 45-50 reps to the ones and twos, which will significantly alter the team’s depth chart as fall camp rolls on next week.
“The depth will change, without a question, next Monday, and that’s OK,” Pinkel said. “That’ll be good. Those that deserve to go up, we’ll say, ‘Keep your job.’ And those that go down, we say, ‘Get your job back.’”
Expect several true freshmen to rocket up the depth chart after the scrimmage.
“Right now, we’ve already identified a couple guys probably already that we know are going to play …” Pinkel said. “There will be some players that will play. I don’t want to speculate on numbers-wise, because that’s not fair or right. We don’t do it like that, but we’ve got a really good class.”
A player’s maturity, his capacity to learn, his physical and mental readiness to play, his emotional ability to handle playing in packed stadiums and the team’s depth situation all factor into Missouri’s decision regarding incoming freshmen.
Physicality is more important for linemen and other players, including linebackers and tight ends. There is more leeway physically for perimeter players, like defensive backs and wide receivers.
“Every position is a little bit different, but the bottom line is you’re getting it,” Pinkel said. “We’ll see, and it will go down really for some to our last scrimmage.”