On Monday, ShowMeMizzou.com spoke with Missouri junior TB Marcus Murphy, who is coming off of an 8-carry, 56 yard, 1 TD performance against Toledo. Through two games this season, Murphy is averaging 7.5 yards/carry. He talked about taking advantage of the opportunities to make plays.
“I know I’m going to be used in the backfield a lot,” said Murphy. “We’re playmakers, you know, and we rotate a lot. We rotate backs. We keep fresh legs on the field, so I’m just ready for whenever they call my name to go in the backfield and make a play.”
I asked Murphy if the way that Toledo stacked the box led to his getting more touches as the Tigers went more to a run game that attacked the edges.
“I just think I was in the game at the right time,” explained Murphy. “They were crowding the box. We just thought that we could stretch the defense by running outside. You know, it worked! I just think I was in the game at the right time. We were able to make plays.”
Murphy gave a lot of credit to his quarterback.
“James (Franklin), he’s an all-around quarterback,” said Murphy. “You know, he can run the ball. He can throw the ball, too. So he’s a big threat. In the option, when he gets ready to run, he can keep it just as he did on one of those plays in the drive. They’ve got to look out for him, so it leaves me open. It’s always a big play with him!”
Murphy is listed third on Missouri’s Depth Chart at tailback, behind Henry Josey and Russell Hansbrough. The Tigers are currently utilizing a three-man rotation at tailback. And all three are getting their touches.
“We feel like all three of those guys at some point, in some way, some shape, some fashion, are starting running backs for us,” said Missouri Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson, who explained that Coach Brian Jones handles the in-game substitution at the running back position. “Coach Jones rotates those guys through there. He has a feel for that in-game, how he wants to rotate them. We’re just trying to get guys touches.”
“We’ve always rotated running backs just to keep fresh legs on the field,” explained Murphy. “I just think that’s how it’ll be. It’s going good so far this year.”
Murphy’s reputation as a return man precedes him. As a result, teams are executing strategies designed to keep the ball out of his hands in the return game. On the season, the All-American return man has averaged 21 yards/kick return on 3 kick-offs, and 5.3 yards/punt return on 7 punts.
“I’m waiting, you know,” said Murphy in anticipation of an opportunity to break a return. “I’m waiting for, you know, to catch a clean punt, and just be able to go ahead and take it the distance. We’re working every day picking up the blocks and just creating an alley. So, I’m just waiting.”
I asked Murphy about the respect that other teams are showing him by trying to keep the ball away from him?
“I mean, it feels good,” explained Murphy. “But, I mean, at the same time, I would like to get some opportunities to return. I know they’re going to come. I do kind of like the respect (that they’re showing me). But I think, you know, that eventually they’ll kick me the ball. You know, eventually we’ll be able to make a breaking play. So, I’m just waiting on the chance.”
I asked Murphy what Coach Pinkel said to him about fielding ground ball punts?
“He just told me to be smart about it,” replied Murphy. “You know, it can be dangerous at times. You can take an unnecessary hit. The ball can bounce the wrong way. Something bad can happen. So, he just told me to be smart about it. You know, don’t take a chance that I don’t need to take.”
The 5’9” 195-pound Murphy reported having made considerable gains in his conditioning this off-season. He’s down to “about 6%” body fat, and posted a personal best 4.43-second forty-yard dash this spring, to go along with a personal best 36” vertical jump, and a 3.91-second 5-10-5 shuttle. This spring, he dealt with a shoulder injury, but he still managed to put up15 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press.
“I put on a lot of muscle in the off-season,” explained Murphy.