After a record-setting performance that included a pair of punt returns for TDs and 180 total punt return yards in Missouri's 62-10 season-opening win over Southeastern Louisiana, sophomore TB Marcus Murphy was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week. Earlier this week, Murphy visited with ShowMeMizzou.com, and he talked about getting off to a great start.
"You know, I like the (SEC Special Teams Player of the Week) honor," explained Murphy. "You know, but I feel that we got that as a team. It's a personal honor, but I feel that we earned that as a team. You know, we all came out and worked hard together. And it wasn't just me, you know. I had to focus on catching the ball, but they had to come out and block hard like they did, which got me to the end zone. So you know, I celebrate that with the team."
With his 180 total punt return yards, Murphy surpassed the Missouri single game record of 156 set on October 21, 1967 by NFL and College Football Hall of Famer, Roger Wehrli. Of course, Murphy didn't know much about Wehrli, whose playing career was completed before Murphy was born.
"I really didn't know about the record until after the game," said Murphy. "I went and looked into the Tiger manual, you know the weekly book, and I (saw) the records and the stats. So, I was real excited! You know, I would love to, I would enjoy to talk to (Wehrli) about that record."
Coach Pinkel talked about his punt returner.
"He has great speed and acceleration," began Coach Pinkel, talking about Marcus Murphy. "He is also small, so it kind of hides him. Then all of a sudden, you shoot him outside, then you get him out in space, and that is when he is at his best."
"(On Saturday), I think his teammates gave him some space," explained Coach Pinkel, talking about Murphy's historic punt returns. "When you give him some space, with his speed and acceleration, he can do some damage. I'm not really that surprised. I think he is very capable……………………………………….. I'm very proud of him for that, and also being named player of the week in the SEC. Hopefully, he can do it more. Certainly, those kind of plays change football games, especially in close games."
"I'm excited about him," Coach Pinkel continued. "And, what happens to your football team is now they know they have a guy back there, and so all of them, you block a little different. We got a guy back there that if we block for him can change football games. That lends itself in a real positive way, a very motivating way for your team."
As a freshman, Murphy returned kickoffs. But so far this season, the Missouri staff has selected T.J. Moe to handle the kickoffs. With the new rules in place, a big part of the kickoff return job is deciding whether or not to bring the ball out, since touchbacks are spotted at the 25-yard line.
"That's another thing added to the kickoff return," said Murphy. "You know, I think that'll take away from the kickoff returns, a little. My personal opinion, you know, I think that'll take away from the amount of kickoff returns, since they did scoot up the yardage where we kick it off."
Against Southeastern Louisiana, Murphy also gained 32 rushing yards on 5 carries. But it was another play during the game that Murphy wanted to talk about. On a pass play, Murphy stepped up and picked up a blitz.
"I did (pick up the blitz)," said Murphy. "You know, that's what we've been working on a lot throughout two-a-days and the beginning of the season. We've just been working on our pass protections and improving our blocking. So, that was a part of the blocking scheme that we've been working on. So we're just coming out and trying to get better each week."
It's obvious that Murphy takes pride in his blocking.
"I do take a lot of pride (in blocking)," said Murphy. "Because I know in going to the next level, you have to be able to block. That's a big part of the running back position. So, I'm improving my blocking now, and just trying to help out our quarterback any way I can."