August 14, 2008

The Time is Now

Kurtis Gregory has been called the jack-of-all-trades of the Missouri offensive line. Coaches and teammates insist the 305-pound Gregory could play every position on the line. Good thing. At this rate, he might do so before the season opener.

Tuesday's first fall scrimmage led to a shuffling of the offensive line for the Tigers. Gregory moved from the starter at left tackle back to the starter at right guard, where he spent all of spring football. Up the depth chart slid Elvis Fisher to take Gregory's spot at left tackle. True freshman Dan Hoch moved from third-string to second. And Dain Wise<, who was displaced by Gregory's move back to guard, slid all the way down to third team at right tackle behind Colin Brown and Mike Prince.

"Really pleased overall with the offensive line. Elvis Fisher's really come along and that's kind of why we made that move," Gary Pinkel said. "What we will do is we're going to put our best players in their best spots and that's the way they are right now."

Gregory and Brown form a standout tandem on the right side of the line. Brown is a pre-season first-team all-Big 12 pick and Gregory is a season veteran. But at left tackle, protecting the blindside of Chase Daniel, the Tigers now have a redshirt freshman in Fisher backed by a true freshman in Hoch.

"Of course everyone's going to feel a little pressure, but I feel honestly I'm ready to do the job," Fisher said. "I'll do whatever I can to keep him safe so we can win."

"I'm just going out there every day and trying to do better and show them what I got. They're just evaluating me," Hoch said. "If they can use me, they'll use me. If they feel like I need to improve and redshirt, then I guess they'll do that."

Two players who have never set foot on the field in a live game are charged with protecting the blindside of a returning Heisman Trophy finalist on a consensus top ten team. It will surely raise some eyebrows. Just not those of their teammates.

"If the coaches think they're ready," Gregory said, "They're ready. Bottom line."


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