Monday, March 19, 2012
SEC weekend practice notes
By Edward Aschoff
Missouri was one of the first SEC schools to get football practice started this spring, so Saturday counted as a big step for the Tigers, as they went through their first spring scrimmage Saturday.
Led by seven takeaways, Missouri's defense won the scrimmage 19-7. Sophomore defensive end Kony Ealy forced two fumbles, recovering one, broke up two passes and registered a quarterback hurry. Junior linebacker Andrew Wilson also recorded an interception and recovered a fumble. Sophomore cornerback Xavier Smith and redshirt freshman corner Ernest Payton each grabbed an interception as well.
While the defense dominated Saturday's session, the offense was without a number of key players, including starting quarterback James Franklin, who is dealing with a shoulder injury, left tackle Elvis Fisher (knee), running back Henry Josey (knee), and wide receiver L'Damian Washington (hamstring).
That didn't stop the offense from getting a couple of scores, though. Junior quarterback Ashton Glaser recorded the first score of the day when he connected with senior receiver Rolandis Woodland on a fade in traffic for a 6-yard touchdown pass. Senior running back Kendial Lawrence came up with the second score with a 19-yard run. Lawrence finished the day with 12 rushes for a team-best 61 yards.
Senior Gahn McGaffie led all receivers with eight catches and 75 receiving yards, while senior T.J. Moe had five catches for 54 yards.
With Franklin out, redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser got the start and completed 10 of 25 passes for 105 yards. Berkstresser didn't turn the ball over and closed the day when he led the No. 1 offense down field against the No. 1 nickel defense for a field goal in two-minute drill work. He capped the drive with a nice 24-yard scramble to get out of bounds with less than 5 seconds left. That play set up Trey Barrow for a 33-yard field goal to close the series.
You can check out the scrimmage stats on Missouri's official website.
Florida also went through its first practice weekend. Michael DiRocco of ESPN's GatorNation has a slew of info on the Gators' first practice in pads.
One thing that sticks out in DiRocco's observation is that the quarterbacks didn't have much success throwing the ball downfield.
"[Jeff] Driskel, Jacoby Brissett and [Tyler] Murphy had a lot of success completing passes in the 10- to 15-yard range, but were unable to get the ball down the field. Each quarterback did complete deep balls over the two days, but it was rare to see any completions of 20 or more yards that weren't sideline or seam patters. No deep ins or outs. It's understandable that they would struggle, though, because it is only the first week of practice, and the Gators' secondary is pretty good."
Obviously, that will come with more practice, but it's something to keep an eye on as the Gators progress through the spring.
Vanderbilt also went through its first weekend of spring practice. Coach James Franklin praised his players for the energy and attitude they brought to Friday's opening practice.
"I thought our energy was much better," Franklin said. "I think we’re obviously in much better shape. We had a hard time practicing like that last year. We’ve come a long way. I still have much higher expectations and I think our guys do, too. For the first day, I thought it was pretty good."
After a lengthy 11-on-11 team drill, Franklin ended practice with a series of competitive 1-on-1 tire pulls.
With depth issues at running back, wide receiver Wesley Tate got work out of the backfield Friday. He started off his career as a running back at Vandy, and will continue to work there throughout the spring.
Three quarterbacks also took snaps for the Commodores, as last year's starter Jordan Rodgers, Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels and early enrollee Patton Robinette all shared reps. This is expected to be an intense battle for the Commodores this spring and will receive a ton of attention from Franklin.
"The area I talked to the guys about after practice is we have to do a better job throwing the ball during competitive periods," he said. "That’s something we have to talk to them about in the offseason. I don’t think we’re doing a very good job of that."