COLUMBIA, Mo. – To the victor go the spoils, and the University of Missouri football team has collected two-fold from its 42-13 road win at Florida last Saturday, as senior TB/KR Marcus Murphy and junior DE Shane Ray were named the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week and Defensive Lineman of the Week, respectively, as announced on the SEC Network tonight.
Murphy was spectacular against the Gators, as he became the first player in Mizzou history to score a touchdown via kickoff return, punt return and rushing as he keyed the big Tiger victory. Murphy electrified the Swamp crowd with a 96-yard kickoff return to open the game, marking only the third time in Tiger history that MU has run back the game-opening kick for a score (Gahn McGaffie in 2010 vs. Oklahoma and Roger Wehrli in 1967 vs. Iowa State were the others). Murphy would later score on a 5-yard run to stake the Tigers to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, and he followed with an 82-yard punt return score on a punt safe formation (where MU had its normal defense in to guard against a fake punt, instead of having the punt return unit on the field) for a 28-0 lead.
Murphy ended the night with a career-high 224 all-purpose yards, and he currently leads the SEC and ranks 15th nationally with his 149.14 all-purpose yards per game average. The kick return scores were the sixth and seventh of his career, which gives him the MU career combined kick return record to himself, breaking the tie he held with former two-time All-American, Jeremy Maclin.
Not to be outdone, Ray was just as impactful on the defensive front in helping the Tigers improve to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in SEC play. He notched his fourth two-sack game of the season, including a sack/strip play in the 3rd quarter which resulted in teammate Markus Golden’s 21-yard scoop-and-score touchdown return to give Mizzou a 35-0 lead. Ray ended the night with six tackles, and also added a quarterback pressure.
Ray enters Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt with 10.0 sacks and 14.0 tackles for loss – both figures which lead the SEC and rank 3rd nationally. He stands just 1.5 sacks away from the MU single-season record of 11.5, set in 2009 by Aldon Smith, and equaled in 2013 by Michael Sam. This is the third time that Ray has been a weekly honoree by the SEC. He won the Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against UCF (7 tackles, 4 TFLs, 2 sacks, forced fumble) and was named the Defensive Lineman of the Week against South Carolina (8 tackles, 2 sacks).
This marks the fifth time in 2014 a Tiger has won a weekly conference award. Earlier in the season, sophomore QB Maty Mauk won the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on September 8th for his play in MU’s win at Toledo (5 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD, 325 passing yards).