The Missouri Tigers have finished up the first week of camp and have Sunday off to recharge for the all-important first scrimmage of fall practice. No one has covered camp like PowerMizzou.com. In case you missed it, we've got all the pertinent camp news right here.
First, we start off with our camp awards from week one:
Best Offensive Player
This one has to go to Danario Alexander. One year ago, Alexander arrived as a little-known wideout from Marlin, Texas. In those 12 months, he has become a starter on one of the nation's most high-powered offenses, set the school record with a 46-inch vertical jump and a guy that looks like he'll be making a paycheck on Sundays down the road. Alexander has shown the ability to be a prime-time red zone target for Mizzou. He also should benefit greatly from the fact that opposing defenses will likely look at him as the fifth or sixth most dangerous Tiger in those situations--at least until he changes their minds with his play. Nearly every day, Alexander has done something to turn heads of those of us watching practice.
Best Defensive Player
Like Alexander, this one goes to the same guy we'd have given it to in the spring. If there is a big play made on defense, odds are pretty high that Sean Weatherspoon was involved. And, if you miss it, a loud scream to fire up the defense from Spoon will let you know. The kid is simply all over the field every single day and his enthusiasm spreads to the rest of the defense. He's got a chance to be Missouri's best linebacker in a long time.
Best Offensive Rookie
This one was no surprise, but it has to be Derrick Washington. The freshman tailback from Ray-Pec has shown off good hands and some impressive shiftiness for a guy his size. He also looks like he might be a pretty decent return man pretty quickly. At this point, we would say it is 50-50 whether Washington plays or not, but if he has two more weeks like this one, it might be pretty hard to keep him off the field.
Best Defensive Rookie
This one is a no-brainer. Carl Gettis is already on the two-deep. Yes, injuries have played a part in that, but Gettis was headed toward immediate playing time even if Hardy Ricks did not get hurt. He is probably the fourth corner right now, behind Ricks, Darnell Terrell and Paul Simpson.
Offensive Player to Watch
Colin Brown has been rotating in with the number one line a fair amount in camp. Brown made a big splash when he made an appearance on the two-deep as a true freshman walk-on. While he did not play that season, his name has been on the radar ever since. As, by far, the biggest lineman on the team, could this be the year he really makes a major impact? It will be if he continues to turn heads like he has so far.
Defensive Player to Watch
No Missouri linebacker is as athletic as Connell Davis. The former tailback made the switch in the spring and survived on pure athleticism during spring ball. With a few months at the position under his belt, he has cracked the two-deep after the injury to Van Alexander. Davis is certainly going to see some time. And if he has come far enough, he just might allow Missouri the luxury of redshirting either Michael Keck or Luke Lambert, particularly if Alexander's injury is as minor as Mizzou seems to think it is.
With our awards for the best of last week out of the way, we now turn our attention to what will happen in the week to come. The Tigers will scrimmage both on Monday and Saturday and after that second scrimmage, we should have a pretty good handle on what the depth chart will look like when the Tigers get into game preparation for Illinois. So, over the next seven days, here are five things to watch that will shape the Tiger team headed into the opener:
1. Who returns punts?
Gary Pinkel has already said that Tony Temple, assuming he is healthy, will be the kickoff return man. But Missouri is steadily auditioning four or five players to return punts. Tommy Saunders and Jeremy Maclin could be the leading contenders, though Washington would jump into the discussion if he earns playing time at tailback. Which leads us to
2. Can Washington earn playing time at tailback?
If he is the No. 2 tailback, there is no doubt Washington will play. However, Marcus Woods has had a very, very good camp so far and has taken over that spot. Pinkel said he prefers not to burn a redshirt for a player that will only play on special teams. So what will the Tigers do if Washington is No. 3? I still think they'll play him, but it would be a tough decision. If he can't pass both Jimmy Jackson and Earl Goldsmith in the next two weeks, the point is moot.
3. How soon can Darnell Terrell go full speed?
I have made the argument that Terrell does not need to be cleared for contact until game week, and I believe that. However, with Ricks out, it would put a whole lot of minds at ease if Terrell can get on the field this week and start doing a little bit more. Opening the season with your starting corners on the shelf is a scary proposition. Are the Tigers just being careful or could Terrell's hamstring be a legitimate concern? We will get closer to knowing that answer this week.
4. Who will be the fourth safety?
You need four guys ready to go at this position at a minimum, particularly because the Tigers employ so many three-safety looks in the nickel package. The top three are set with Pig Brown, William Moore and Justin Garrett. The fourth spot seems to be a battle between Mack Breed and converted corner Del Howard. Moore was complimentary of Howard in an interview on Saturday, but he is going to have to prove it on the field in the two scrimmages this week. If Howard cannot beat out Breed, I wonder if the possibility of a redshirt enters the picture.
5. Is the offensive line set?
We mentioned Brown moving in quite a bit, but Monte Wyrick is also rotating in for Ryan Madison on a lot of snaps. We may not know which five will line up against the Illini after this week, but we should have a far better indication than we do right now.
Finally, in case you missed it, catch up on all the happenings from camp through these links: