Saturday, March 24, 2007

Deep thoughts on Spring Football

I figured I should take the time to share some thoughts about the injury-fest that is Spring Football, but first I wanted to highlight a fantastic Kyle Riggs story by Gabe over at PowerMizzou.

"I was so far behind, I put that into consideration with weights, my weight, having experience," Kyle said. "Taking so long to come back and be ready and thinking about if I give my scholarship back and get a hardship, that will be maybe another person that can come in and maybe contribute more."


After Riggs told his parents, he informed Pinkel of his decision to give up football.

"He'll have never played here, but he's a player that, it's like a parent, when my kids here get hurt, it's like my own kid," Pinkel said. "I really respect him, how he fought back to do it, competed through it."Pinkel then made good on a promise he had made to Riggs' dad more than three years before.


"When we went back up so Kyle could commit, coach Pinkel asked if we had any questions. I told him there was one thing I want to understand: if he gets hurt and can't play football anymore does he still have a scholarship? He looked at Kyle and said. 'You're making a commitment to me, I'm making a commitment to you. As long as I don't kick you off the team, as long as you don't get in any trouble, you'll always have that scholarship."

Over the summer, I was talking to coach Pinkel and he said it was getting close to time Kyle has to make a decision. He told me Kyle's decision, if he decides he doesn't want to play football, he still has that scholarship."

Due to a medical hardship waiver, Riggs' scholarship does not count against Missouri's limit of 85. But it will get him through college."

He cares about everybody that's here, we're part of his family. Everybody here is family," Kyle Riggs says of Pinkel. "He'll take care of us."
I realize this isn’t all there is to being a successful athletic program by any means, but...our set of coaches—for all sports, really...Pinkel, Anderson, the Kreklows...on down the line—has to be the best set of human beings in the conference, Pinkel in particular. I really do wish Mike Alden had some semblance of PR skills because he’s made some pretty damn strong hires in the field of character, and that should be recognized.

Now that set of coaches just has to keep improving in the win column. Because I like Pinkel so much as a person, I’m willing to cut him a lot of slack, but he’s built expectations up high enough now that it wouldn’t behoove him to have another ’04-like step backwards. are some Spring Football thoughts based totally on what other people have seen and written...

  • While nobody’s had a Kurt Propst type of injury yet (SOMEBODY KNOCK ON WOOD, STAT), there has been an absolute rash of injuries lately. I can’t remember a practice being cancelled due to lack of healthy bodies before. Impressive. If it’s going to happen, it’s good that it’s happening now instead of August or later.

  • I’m really liking what I’m reading about Sean Weatherspoon so far. Between Weatherspoon and Van Alexander (and maybe others), we should have more attitude on the LB corps this year than I can remember, which is good. Harrington, Bacon, Ming, etc. were pretty good players, but the corps as a whole has never seemed to be as good as it was supposed to be. They seemed to be missing something, I think it’s that they really mean enough. We need a streak of mean on defense, particularly at LB, and hopefully this is a good sign.

  • It’s pretty much unanimous that Tony Temple is running like he did in the Sun Bowl in every practice. Can’t say I mind that. I’m really curious what’s going to shake down with the #2 RB spot. Counting possibly true frosh Derrick Washington, you could say that there are 5 guys worthy of PT behind Temple—Marcus Woods, Earl Goldsmith, Jimmy Jackson, Connell Davis, and Washington. And while there will be injuries I’m sure, you can’t imagine that all those guys will get the touches they probably deserve. And poor Connell Davis just can’t stop frickin’ fumbling the ball.

  • I don’t know what to think or say about Chase Patton at this point. It looks like his biggest contribution as a Tiger might end up being the role he played in Mizzou’s strong in-state recruiting haul in ’04. His accuracy and consistency just aren’t what they need for him to be a big-time QB. If Daniel gets hurt (I’ll bite my tongue just for thinking that), I’d almost prefer to see possibly Dominic Grooms get some PT instead of Patton.

  • I’ve seen a lot of articles/notes on the Defensive Tackle position so far this spring, but I must say, the only position I’m truly worried about on defense isn’t DT, but DE. Stryker Sulak disappeared for long stretches last season, and while Tommy Chavis made a great 4th down stop against K-State, I don’t remember his name being called much other than that. We really need a decent pass rush this season. Our secondary is less experienced than last year, but they’re much faster and more athletic. They’ll be fine as long as they don’t have to cover people for long periods of time.

    As we saw against Oregon State and others last season, when a good QB has time to find a receiver, he’ll find one no matter how good or bad the secondary is. And the one thing we’re sure to face this season is good QB play—Illinois, Ole Miss, K-State, Iowa State, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M will all have at least above average QB’s to throw at us, as well as possibly Colorado and OU (and maybe Kansas). If we’re on their asses, we’ll be just fine in all of those games. If they have time to think and throw, we’ll find ourselves in a shootout.

  • I’m really thinking we’ll have a strong Special Teams unit this year. Who knows, I probably think that every spring, but...Jeff Wolfert is one of the top 2-3 kickers in the conference, and Adam Crossett will see a pretty strong challenge (hopefully) from JUCO transfer Jake Harry.

    Our kick return game was pretty bad last year, but we have more athletes to trot out there—I’m thinking of Derrick Washington, Tremane Vaughns, Jared Perry, maybe Jeremy Maclin—so hopefully we’ll find a deep threat. At punt return, Tommy Saunders isn’t a burner, but he’s such a smart runner. He did well last year, and he’ll possibly get a pretty strong challenge from guys like Vaughns and Perry and maybe Trenile Washington. In all, this could be a strong unit, but I guess I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

  • I came to the realization the other day that, due to a friend’s wedding, I will be missing my first Black & Gold game since 1998. And I’ll be missing the Mizzou-Illinois game due to a, yes, friend’s wedding in Minnesota. My friends really need to start running their wedding dates by me first—don’t they know I have a blog to run???