Midway through the 3rd quarter on Saturday at Central Florida, Marcus Murphy returned a punt 66 yards to erase a 10-7 Missouri deficit, and put Missouri ahead to stay. For Murphy, it was his third punt return for a TD this season, which leads the nation, and is a single-season school record. It also ties him with Jeremy Maclin on Missouri's career list.
Murphy's 281 punt return yards is second in the country, and his 20.07 yards/punt return ranks 1st in the SEC and 7th in the NCAA. This week, the sophomore TB was named by the Southeastern Conference as Co-Special Teams Player of the Week.
"I was waiting on a good punt," said Murphy, talking about his TD return. "He had a lot of hang time on his punts. You know, he'd kick it up high, and that allowed his coverage to get down. But on that one, he kind of outkicked his coverage. And, we did a good job of blocking it."
"I was just focused on making the catch," continued Murphy. "Once I caught it, I saw that a couple of guys picked up their blocks. There was a lane to the left. I had to make a couple of guys miss, but once I made those guys miss, it was pretty easy………………………………………………. I saw the punter coming, but we got a good block on the punter. After that, it was nothing but green."
"Once I got past the first wave, I pretty much knew that I had to score," explained Murphy. "That's the exciting part on the punt return, where you see the punter, or you see the last couple of guys. You know, they think they can make the play, but you just have to make them miss. That's the best part you know, making them miss, and going ahead to score."
Murphy said that he gets excited when he sees the end zone.
"I get excited when I see it's just the punter between me and the end zone," explained Murphy. "Because I pretty much think that no kicker can tackle me. I don't know if you saw it, but on the kickoff return, I got real close, and the kicker actually tackled me. So, I was killing myself. You know that! It's been bothering me for a couple of days."
Murphy went on to explain the difference between returning punts and returning kicks.
"It's a big difference," said Murphy. "On the punt return, they're running down, and you just have to focus on catching the ball, and just following your blocks, and just making anybody miss that you can."
"On the kick return, it's more of a set play, of an offensive play, I would say," explained Murphy. "You have to follow your blocks. It might be the hole that we're looking for all week that we know will be there."
Murphy just wants to get his hands on the football and do what he can to help his team win.<\p>
"With the punt return, I just try to come out and contribute any way that I can," said Murphy. "Just coming to Mizzou, I knew that I'd be able to get the ball in my hands a lot of different ways……………………………………… I just want to be able to get the ball in my hands, and do something with it."