As Missouri prepares to face #1 Alabama this Saturday, red-shirt freshman center Brad McNulty prepares to make his second start of the season. McNulty was forced into action against Vanderbilt when starting center Mitch Morse went out with a knee injury, and he started against Arizona State earlier this year, so he's seen some action.
McNulty came to Missouri in 2011 out of perennial football power Allen (TX), where he was named 1st-Team Class 5A All-State after playing center and guard for a team that won three straight district championships. He's an experienced center, and is experienced with the shotgun snaps.
McNulty, who is about 6'2" tall, came to Missouri a little more than a year ago weighing about 275 pounds. He told me earlier this week that he's now up to 295 pounds, and that his personal best in the bench press is 370 pounds. McNulty is considered to be a pretty good technician as an offensive lineman, and he's worked hard to try to increase his size, and especially his strength. He'll continue to get stronger during his time at Missouri.
Against Alabama, McNulty will be tasked with taking on senior nose guard, Jesse Williams, 6'4" 320, out of Brisbane, Australia, who McNulty told me "benches 600 pounds".
McNulty is a very good student, and when he talks football, he sounds a lot like Missouri assistant coach, Josh Henson. I asked him about his approach to blocking such a powerful opponent.
"The plan is to go out there, play hard, do my assignment, and be fundamentally sound," explained McNulty. "It's all about leverage point, and who's more fundamentally sound."
McNulty also talked about the importance of varying the timing of the snap, explaining that it's similar to a pitcher trying to hold a runner on first base, while maintaining a consistent delivery to the plate. McNulty said that he had trouble with that in the past, but that he has since learned how to repeat his delivery while varying its timing.
"I feel like I'm prepared," said McNulty, who went on to say that playing with increased intensity is the biggest challenge at this level for a young offensive lineman. "A lot of times, you're blocking a guy one-on-one. And, it's all about who wants to win the block more, and who wants to drive their guy down the field, and win the block. That's what it's all about. Whoever's got it dialed up more and is ready to go will win the game."
McNulty said that he feels that his teammates have done a good job of beginning games with optimal intensity. But he admitted that at times, they haven't sustained optimal intensity and focus for four full quarters.
"We've started off strong in a lot of our games," explained McNulty. "It's just a matter of we‘ve got to keep it, and we've got to finish the game off."
McNulty said that he had played the #1 team in the nation in high school. And, he's looking forward to playing #1 Alabama. He also talked about having faith in his teammates to get the job done.
"I believe we're ready for the game," said McNulty. "We're going to go out there this week and practice, and focus on our fundamentals, and come out with some intensity."