ShowMeMizzou.com takes a post-spring look at Missouri’s TB position.
All-American return man Marcus Murphy held on to the starting TB position throughout the spring. In the three spring scrimmages, Murphy had 19 carries for 85 yards (4.5 yards/carry) and 1 TD. The junior also had 1 reception for 6 yards. Perhaps most importantly, Murphy and the rest of Missouri’s top TBs came through spring ball in good health.
The Most-Improved TB Award this spring went to Russell Hansbrough. I thought that the sophomore was Missouri’s best TB during the spring. During the three scrimmages, Hansbrough carried the football 9 times total for 64 yards (7.1 yards/carry) and 1 TD. He also averaged 12 yards on 4 receptions. Hansbrough was effective running inside and outside. He’s an excellent receiver, and he improved significantly this spring in blitz pick-up.
Amid the spring-long QB competition, Missouri’s TBs didn’t get as much work running the football as they might have liked. And, by the time the carries were spread out among a number of quality backs, no one really had more than 8 carries during a single scrimmage.
One TB had 8 carries in each of two scrimmages. That was junior Henry Josey, who in the three scrimmages carried the football 20 times for 68 yards (3.4 yards/carry) and 1 TD. Not only did he get the most carries, but more importantly, Josey appeared healthy throughout the spring, and he was able to show flashes of his pre-injury explosion and change of direction.
Overall, the running game this spring was probably limited by the lack of continuity up front along the offensive line. Still, it was apparent to this observer that Missouri has the ingredients to be able to run the football. I also think that this fall, we’ll see Missouri run the football more than they did this spring. I think the staff emphasized working on the passing game this spring to accommodate the QB competition, and because the offense, especially the offensive line, needed more work on the passing game.
Barring injury, I think we’ll see Murphy, Hansbrough, and Josey enter fall camp and the season in position to carry most of the load at the TB position.
In the three spring scrimmages, White showed very well, with 16 carries for 117 yards (7.3 yards/carry) and 1 TD. This spring, White was the best that I’ve seen him during his time at Missouri. Although White doesn’t possess the speed and explosiveness of Missouri’s other scholarship TBs, this spring he showed dramatically improved vision, and he just appeared to know where to run. He didn’t hesitate, which made him effectively faster, and he did a good job of setting up his blocks and finishing his runs.
I thought that Steward really got better during the spring. About midway through the spring, he appeared to take a considerable step forward in his development, and the way that he finished the spring appears to me to have him positioned to compete this fall for inclusion in the TB picture. In the three spring scrimmages, Steward had 14 carries for 72 yards (5.1 yards/carry).
White and Steward each provide more size at the TB position, although beyond their relatively comparable size, the two of them are not really similar in running style. Steward is as fast as any of Missouri’s TBs. About midway through the spring, I noticed that he was hesitating less, and playing faster. He’s probably already Missouri’s best blocking back. It’s exciting to see this talented young player develop! But coming out of the spring, the red-shirt freshman still has some work to do to continue to climb the depth chart.
In keeping with the quality that Missouri displays at the TB position, a trio of walk-on TBs each showed well this spring, including Tyler Hunt, Miles Drummond, and Andrew Stevens.
6 Marcus Murphy 5’9” 185 (J)
32 Russell Hansbrough 5’9” 185 (So) 20 Henry Josey 5’10” 190 (J)
24 Greg White 6’1” 215 (J) 36 Morgan Steward 6’0” 215 (RSF)
35 Tyler Hunt 5’11” 210 (J)
39 Miles Drummond 5’11” 215 (RSF) 41 Andrew Stevens 5’9” 195 (RSF)