August 21, 2008

On to the Illini

Derrick Washington had to feel like a freshman again. The undisputed starter at tailback, Washington found himself surrounded by second-stringers and unproven youngsters in Missouri's final scrimmage of fall camp on Thursday morning.

"Just a little bit," said the sophomore from Ray-Pec. "A lot of people didn't have to play today because they already proved themselves and earned their spot last year. We were running with different players to see what they can do."

That was all part of the plan as Missouri works toward the season opener.

"We got most of our experienced players out. In our practice plan we have a list of how many plays certain players got," Gary Pinkel said. "Some got none, some got 15, 20, 25 and others got the entire scrimmage. It was all planned based on the experience level that they have."

The result was just three projected starters taking a single snap in the 90-minute scrimmage. While it was part of the plan, it could also be an indication of how the coaching staff feels about the front line players on both sides of the football.

The Tigers have tomorrow off, but have already spent a few days watching film in preparation for the August 30th opener against No. 20 (Associated Press poll) Illinois.

"I can't believe it's already here," Brock Christopher said. "It seems like yesterday we got back from the Cotton Bowl. We're excited about it, we've just got to put our work in."

While fans continue to debate the wisdom of opening the season on a neutral field against a consensus top 25 team, there is no doubt about how the Tiger players feel about the game.

"It's a great game to schedule I think. You get to get out there the first week and show what you can do against a team that finished in the Rose Bowl," Weatherspoon said. "That's a pretty good football team that finished in the Rose Bowl playing against USC. That says a lot about them and if we can get a victory against them, that will say a lot about Mizzou."

Kickoff is just nine days away.

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