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August 10, 2005

Practice extra: The season starts now


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Now, it's football season. Yes, Missouri opened camp on Monday. But due to NCAA rules, the Tigers practiced in helmets and shorts for the first two days. You don't play football in helmets and shorts. You play it in pads. And you hit.

The Tigers put on shoulder pads for the Wednesday morning workout and they did plenty of hitting.

"I thought we had great enthusiasm and I thought we finished well," said head coach Gary Pinkel. "I was very pleased with the effort."

That enthusiasm came largely from the ability to put some hits on each other. There was plenty of that going on. Late in practice, it escalated into the first full-fledged fight of fall camp.

Marcus Woods took a handoff and sprinted downfield. Some 15 yards behind the play, tight end Martin Rucker was locked up blocking safety David Overstreet. The pair pulled each other to the ground and a couple of punches were even thrown. Teammates Jason Simpson and DeQuincy Howard jumped in the fray as well.

"Our defense is intense," Overstreet said. "We go out there and you start making plays and they start making plays and the fire gets going. All it takes is one play, one person and that's it."

It is more of a defense versus offense issue than anything else. Simpson, who often in the past has called the offense "my enemy" during practice, barks at the Tiger offense all day long. Not even Brad Smith is off limits-Simpson tossed a ball at Smith after intercepting him early in the day.

"If their jersey's not matching ours then that's how it is," Overstreet said. "In the game, when they're on the field and they got on white and we have on black, they're not our teammates. We know we're a team, but it's like a game. You've got to get that mindframe."

That mindframe has never been a problem for either of Missouri's starting safeties.

"Oh, no," Overstreet said with a loud laugh when asked if there was a louder pair of safeties in the league. "I'm pretty loud myself and Simpson, he can do it too."

Asked if he had the same dislike for the defense during practice, Rucker said: ""I dont know if Simpson's got hate or he's just nuts. I think he's on a different level than everybody."

For the most part, that competitive mindframe pleases Missouri's coach.

"A little spirit's good, but at the same token, you play like you practice," Pinkel said. "If you take a swing at a guy in practice, if you let that go, eventually he's going to take a swing in a game. We certainly look at that. I think if it's controlled, every once in a while, it's not bad."

The Tiger players insist they know where that line is.

"Yeah, everybody really understands that line," Rucker said before pausing to laugh. "I think Simpson does too, but sometimes he just crosses it."

"When you walk off the field, it's all camaraderie and everything like that," added Overstreet. "We know those are our guys. We're not going to try to hurt them or take them out. We know we're going to need those guys once season time comes around."

Just a little fun between friends. Welcome to football season.

Also make sure to see Wednesday's practice report.

PowerMizzou.com will be your most complete source for news throughout fall camp. We will be at every practice and update you on the day's happenings live. Stay tuned for a photo gallery and interviews from each day of camp. To talk about it with other Tiger fans, visit our premium forum, The Tigers' Lair.


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