Last season, Missouri featured one of the more prolific rushing attacks in the country, as the Tigers rushed for 3,172 yards on 589 attempts, an average of 5.4 yards/carry, and 244 yards/game, while scoring 30 TDs on the ground.
This year however, Missouri will likely open the season with last year's leading ground gainer on the sidelines. Despite suffering a season-ending knee injury in Missouri's 10th game of his sophomore season, TB Henry Josey rushed for 1168 yards and 9 TDs on 145 carries (8.06 yards/carry) in 2011, and earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors. Josey displayed great vision and acceleration, and he was a tough finisher. Since his injury, Josey has undergone two surgeries, one in the fall to repair a torn patellar tendon, and another one in the spring to repair a torn ACL. It is not known for certain exactly when he will return, but it appears likely that he will miss some, if not all, of the 2012 season.
Still, as Missouri heads into fall camp, the Tigers appear to be in good shape at the tailback position.
Projected TB Depth:
Russell Hansbrough 5'8" 185 (F)
Tyler Hunt 5'10" 205 (RSF)
Jordan Wade 5'10" 190 (So)
Miles Drummond 6'0" 210 (F)
Dan Carpenter 6'0" 220 (J) (injured)
Henry Josey 5'10" 185 (So) (injured)
Coming out of spring ball, Coach Pinkel was pleased with the performance of his tailbacks.
"I think the tailbacks did a really good job," explained Coach Pinkel, following Spring Football. "We got Marcus Murphy back. I think that was really good. Kendial Lawrence has played well, and he's a senior. So I think overall, the other guys did a good job, too."
Heading into fall camp, senior Kendial Lawrence sits atop the depth chart at the tailback position. In 2011, Lawrence rushed for 566 yards and 5 TDs on 119 carries (4.8 yards/carry). Lawrence, who is bigger, stronger, and faster than ever, did a better job of finishing runs this spring, and he is looking to have his best year as a senior.
Sophomore Marcus Murphy enters fall camp as the number two TB. Murphy's an exciting, versatile back with big play ability, who could just as easily end up being the starter, or we could see Lawrence and Murphy as co-starters. In 2010, Murphy played in 12 games as a true freshman, and he carried the football 22 times for 181 yards (8.2 yards/carry) and 2 TDs. He also returned 24 kicks for 475 yards (19.8 yards/return). Last year, Murphy suffered a preseason shoulder injury and he took a red-shirt. He's now fully recovered and is coming off of an impressive spring. For more than a year, I've been hearing how Marcus Murphy has gotten bigger, stronger, and especially faster, since his freshman year. He did look faster in the spring, and he was harder to bring down. He's very elusive, even in tight spaces, and he's an excellent receiver out of the backfield.
I expect one or both of the true freshmen, Morgan Steward and/or Russell Hansbrough, to quickly move up the Depth Chart once fall camp ensues. By the time that September arrives and the games begin, I think we'll see Steward getting carries. Maybe Hansbrough, too.
Although he's listed as a TB, senior Jared McGriff-Culver's primary role in the Missouri offense is that of the fullback, or H-back.
Sophomore Greg White is still trying to find his role in the Missouri offense.
Rotating three or four TBs has worked well for the Tigers the last couple of years, and I think we'll see Mizzou utilize a TB rotation again this year, at least to begin the season.
RB Position Outlook: There is no question that Kendial Lawrence is the lead dog at running back with the injury keeping Josey sidelined and after the spring he had.
Lawrence earned it appearing bigger,stronger and faster. He also finished plays and you noticed the all important yards after contact improve.
Marcus Murphy looks to break out this pre-season camp. Even T.J Moe mentioned Murphy and how people will be surprised at what he can do at the SEC Media Day.
Morgan Steward provides something completely different then the Tigers have with their other backs. He is a combination of size,speed and elusiveness that hasn't been seen in the Tiger backfield in awhile. I would not be surprised to see him rise to the level of #3 on the depth chart by the end of camp.
Hansbrough has impressed people with his athleticism, wiggle and potential since arriving. He provides another smaller, but fast back with some quickness that should stand out during camp.