In 2010, Missouri's tailbacks combined for 1557 yards, and 19 TDs, on 270 carries (5.8 yards/carry). Additionally, they combined for 14 receptions for another 87 yards through the air. Missouri utilized four TBs last season, and it looks like we could see a similar approach this year.
2011 Projected Pre-Season Depth Chart
At the close of spring practice, junior TB Kendial Lawrence 5'9" 190 and senior TB Devion Moore 5'9" 195 were listed as the co-starters on the depth chart. After each of these veteran TBs had played very well a year ago, they both really stepped it up in the spring. In addition to being the Tigers' premier short yardage back a year ago, Moore is also Missouri's best blocking back. Lawrence has home run potential, especially on the cut-back, and has developed into a quality receiver out of the back field.
Moore also provides tremendous leadership, and is as hard-working as anyone on the team. Lawrence has really matured over the past year or so. He's poised to increase his offensive production this season.
Sophomore TB Henry Josey 5'10" 185 burst onto the scene in a big way last season. Most would have expected Josey to take over the starting TB position this year, and that may yet occur. We'll be watching the speedster during fall camp, and expecting even bigger things from him for 2011. He's the most explosive of the Tigers' backs, and he also does a nice job of catching the football.
The term, speedster, may well apply to sophomore TB Marcus Murphy 5'9" 185, as well. There have been reports from the off-season workouts that the elusive Murphy has improved upon his 4.48 speed. Murphy, who is a strong candidate to return kicks and punts this season, is an outstanding receiver, who can also get to the outside in the running game. Look for an increased role this season for this exciting young player.
RSF TB Greg White 6'1" 215 was making a good impression in March, when he was injured, and missed the rest of spring ball. I'm looking forward to getting an extended view of White during fall camp, and I expect that we'll see him on the field this year, as well.
Walk-on TB Jared Culver 5'11" 250 adds depth to the tailback position, but the junior has earned his black and gold stripes on special teams.
While the TB position is deep, and may appear to be pretty well set, fall camp is going to be very competitive. Any of the five scholarship backs are capable of coming out on top in this competition, which seems sure to be very closely contested.
This is Coach Pinkel's most talented group of TBs during his Missouri tenure. And, I expect that we'll see the Tigers utilize their TBs a little more this year. In fact, we could be looking at Missouri's most effective running game in years.
Pre-Season Analysis: The Missouri Tigers enter the 2011 football season with it's most talented and deepest running back corps since the 1970's. The thought is that they go a legitimate 5 deep at tailback, with any of the 5 being capable of leading this team's rushing attack.
Despite 4 of the 5 being of similar size, each player brings something different to the table and allows the staff to utilize their skills in different situations. The real challenge will be keeping all of them happy and distributing the carries to maximize their effectiveness.
In this group you have speed, power, quickness and receiving ability. You will also have the chance to play more two back sets then before.
With a new quarterback at the helm and such a talented stable of running backs at their disposal it is safe to say that the running game will likely play an even bigger role in the Tiger offense for the coming 2011 season.