Mizzou spring football begins
COLUMBIA - Evan Boehm joked about how it feels like the team just got back from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. But believe it or not, Spring football has arrived. Here are a few of the big storylines after Day 1.
Mizzou Introduces Mack Rhoades as AD
Mack Rhoades attended practice today. Gary Pinkel said he has met with Rhoades a few times and likes the hire.
"We had to replace a great athletic director in Mike Alden but we got a guy who can continue improving University of Missouri athletics," Pinkel said. "We got the right guy without question."
At his introductory press conference, Rhoades said he likes to be "active" with his head coaches.
"I believe in this day in age, the athletic director and head football coach have to be tied to the hip," Rhoades said. "Coach Pinkel and I need to have a great relationship. Am I going to meddle in his business? Absolutely not. He's the winningest coach at the University of Missouri. He knows what he's doing."
After losing just 6 coaches in his first 14 years at MU, Pinkel had to replace 2 coaches this past offseason. Barry Odom replaced Dave Steckel at Defensive Coordinator, while Ryan Walters replaced Alex Grinch as the Safeties coach. So far the players say they're getting alone with Coach Odom.
"He's very calm at least right now," senior linebacker Kentrell Brothers said. "He's doing a great job teaching and staying in contact with us. He's serious about what he's doing and he's making great relationships with all of us."
Pinkel said Odom's transition has been easy since he knows the system as a former MU player and coach. However, Pinkel explained it may take Walters some time to get adjusted.
"He'll do fine but anyone who comes in that doesn't have a background with us, it just takes a while because we do things a certain way. At a lot of places, you just coach how you want to coach and the bottom line is to get your guys playing well. But we coach a certain way, teach a certain way and handle players a certain way."
Walters just turned 29 years old and was the Safeties coach under Odom at Memphis.
Who's Going to Play Wide Receiver?
If you thought the drop off at receiver was rough last year, this year's receiving corp combined to catch just 10 passes last season.
"Our receiving corp is young. That's certainly an area we want to look at to see where that is. But we don't talk about being young. We don't do that. We dont' care. That's not an excuse. Bottom line is you have to go out and play," Pinkel said.
Wesley Leftwich, Nate Brown and J'Mon Moore are listed as the starting wide receivers. Brown was moved inside to the slot receiver role.
Evan Boehm says not yet. But Mizzou offensive lineman have caught the attention of NFL teams. Justin Britt started for the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, Mitch Morse is projected to be a late-round selection in the upcoming NFL Draft and Boehm will likely be drafted in 2016.
"The Mizzou offensive line gets overlooked a little bit," Boehm said. "It shows we have some players out here with Connor McGovern, Mitch Hall, Taylor Chappell and myself. We're excited to play. We believe in what Coach (A.J.) Ricker is doing and we believe in the offense that Coach (Josh) Henson has put together. It's up to us now to go out there and and show everyone what's going on."
On the topic of offensive lineman, Boehm said he's seen Coach Ricker settle down in his 2nd year as MU's offensive line coach.
"He kind of said I didn't know what was going on a little bit last year but now I'm going to coach you guys like I'm going to coach you guys. He said if I get on to you a little more, don't take it personal. And I like to see that side of Coach Ricker." Boehm said.
Here are the offensive line starters listed on the Pre-Spring depth chart.
LT - Taylor Chappell
LG - Mitch Hall
C - Evan Boehm
RG - Connor McGovern
RT - Clay Rhodes
What's The Motivation?
In 2013, it was proving Missouri belongs in the SEC. In 2014, it was proving that 2013 wasn't a fluke. How about now?
Brothers says he's still motivated because he's among those who remembers the 5-7 season in 2012. He said the key is explaining that to the younger players.
"I think about it all the time. It's not necessarily embarassing. It was just bad. We didn't play with any intensity or any heart. We just want out there and thought people were going to hand to us. In our first year in the SEC, we just thought we were big because we were in the SEC. Now we realize it takes work to win and it's not easy," Brothers said.
Here's a couple injury notes from today's practice.
- Redshirt freshman safety Tavon Ross tore his ACL during conditioning a coulpe weeks ago. He will have surgery next Thursday. Pinkel wouldn't comment further.
- Redshirt junior running back Morgan Steward will not be available for Spring practices but Pinkel hopes to get him back by June 1. Steward missed all of last season but is not elegible for a medical redshirt.