Day 2 of spring practice for the Missouri football team was just a bit warmer for the team than Day 1. On Thursday, the Tigers held their second spring practice inside the Devine Pavilion instead of on Faurot Field in the chilly March air.
What’s different on Day 2?
Other than the warmer conditions, not a lot changed. Coaches added a few extra reps in drills, and much of the practice looked the same, but coach Barry Odom said he still saw improvement from Tuesday’s first practice.
“The overall movement of practice and the way we move drill to drill, the urgency our guys had, we were a lot better today than we were on Tuesday,” Odom said. “We’re going to take this and make sure that on Saturday, we’re even better.
“We’ve got a good start here, and spring ball, before you know it, is over,” he added. “You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you have and teach your kids and get them in position to be successful.”
The spring football season ends in just a little more than a month, when Missouri holds its annual Black & Gold Game on April 14 on Faurot Field. Until then, the Tigers will be holding practices and looking to answer some questions that remain from last season.
Frazier among losses on defensive front
The Tigers have had a history of standout defensive ends, and it was carried on last season by senior All-SEC second-teamer Marcell Frazier. With his departure, the team will be looking to fill those spots with players such as rising senior Nate Anderson, who spent his first two years at New Mexico Military Institute before coming to Missouri in 2017. He recorded 12 tackles in 12 games last season, including his first sack, against Missouri State in his first game.
Anderson is the lone senior listed at defensive end amid a slew of sophomores and juniors who will look to prove themselves.
“We do feel like we’ve got some young guys that can step in and help in that area,” Odom said, “but also as coaches we have to do a great job schematically to bring pressure from where we need to.”
One of those young guys is Rock Bridge graduate and rising sophomore Tre Williams, who had a standout redshirt freshman season last year, playing in 11 games and recording 20 tackles, three of them sacks. Rising sophomore Chris Turner has been noted as having a chance to be a top contributor at the position. Missouri inked two defensive ends — Blue Springs’ Daniel Parker and Trajan Jeffcoat from Irmo High School in Columbia, South Carolina — during the signing period.
Odom ‘leaning on’ linebacking corps
The quarterback positon has been, yes, locked up, but what about the quarterback of the defense?
Odom praised upperclassmen Brandon Lee, Terez Hall and Cale Garrett for their work and the leadership they bring to the defense at linebacker.
“Those three guys have been in the battles; they understand there’s things that happen fast on the field that it doesn’t faze them much,” Odom said. “That comes with experience, so we’re leaning on those guys.”
Lee and Hall are rising seniors looking to lead the Tigers with the same dynamic play seen from players past, such as Sean Witherspoon, Kentrell Brothers and Michael Scherer.
Lee, who took over a starting linebacker role in the fifth game last season, finished with 42 tackles and made one of the biggest plays of the year against Vanderbilt with a pick-six to help the Tigers win their sixth game of the season and become bowl-eligible. Hall was named to the All-SEC second team by Pro Football Focus in 2017. He finished the year with 85 tackles.
Garrett stood out from Day 1 as a true freshman, playing in all 12 games in 2016 and earning a spot as a starter in 2017. He notched double-digit tackles in five games last season.
Odom will be watching the men’s basketball team in St. Louis
Noticeably fewer reporters came out for the second day of spring practice, and Odom took notice.
“I think there’s some guy playing over today in St. Louis, right?” he joked, referencing the Missouri basketball game taking place Thursday against Georgia in the SEC Tournament. News that Michael Porter Jr. had been slated to play was released Wednesday.
“I’m so proud of (coach) Cuonzo (Martin) and the team,” he added. “I know they’re going to go out and play their tails off as a team. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.”