Missouri Backup QB Marvin Zanders Impresses in Tigers' Season Opener

Missouri redshirt sophomore quarterback Marvin Zanders showed what he was capable of with his running ability against West Virginia.

Missouri redshirt sophomore quarterback Marvin Zanders saw how Texas backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was able to use his legs to help the Longhorns pull out a 50-47 two-overtime win over Notre Dame on Sunday night. 

Swoopes attempted just one pass in relief of starter Shane Buechele, but he ran for 53 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. He scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime. 

“Swoopes came in and made some great plays, had a great time,” Zanders said. “He’s a guy that’s been at Texas for, I think, four years now. He’s a senior. I used to Google him on Youtube and stuff when I was in high school. He was a pretty good player. He played a great role. I want to do something similar to that, maybe a little bit more. But we’ll see how it goes down the line.”

Zanders served in a similar role for the Tigers in their season-opening 26-11 loss at West Virginia. He attempted just two passes — completing one for two yards — but gave Mizzou a boost on the ground with 47 yards rushing on seven carries.

A 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Jacksonville, Zanders appeared in just one game during his debut season a year ago. Saturday’s performance in relief of sophomore starter Drew Lock showed a glimpse into what Zanders is capable of when he gets opportunities.

“It felt good,” Zanders said. “It’s been a long time coming. It felt good to get out there, let my hair down a little bit and run around. So it was cool.” 

How did Zanders assess his performance?

“I think I did OK,” he said. “There were a couple times, about two times, where I thought I was about to take it to the crib but they got me with some shoestring tackles. But I felt pretty good about it. It felt good to get out there and actually get some live action again.”

Asked if he was comfortable with the amount of reps he got, Zanders smiled.

“It was more than I got last year, so I’m happy about that,” Zanders said. “I think moving forward maybe try to get in there a little bit more. We had 100 snaps. So try to just see if I can get in there a little bit more.” 

Missouri coach Barry Odom was pleased with what Zanders was able to do against the Mountaineers and said the Tigers will continue to use two quarterbacks going forward.

“He did some good things,” Odom said. “He’s got the ability to run our offense as it is and then he has some abilities also running to help us out. As long as both of the quarterbacks are practicing the way that they are practice, we feel like they both give us the opportunity to move the football. 

“Ultimately, we have got to get into the red zone and then score points. I think both quarterbacks can do that. Moving forward, we have got to make sure that within the plan on using both guys that we do it strategically, but also if they have earned the right that they are going to go help us, which both have at this point, they are going to keep playing.”

Junior wide receiver J'Mon Moore enjoyed seeing Zanders do his thing at West Virginia. He knows what the quarterback has gone through to get to this point. 

“When I see Marvin back there, I just see him running like a chicken with his head cut off,” Moore said. “He just be running, just be scootin’. I like seeing him back there. Marvin’s grown. When you talk about players and growing into their position, he has really grown a lot and Coach (Josh) Heupel has worked with him a lot. He actually was able to embrace the new coach that he had, with Coach Heupel, and it was for the better of him. 

“Seeing him out there and knowing last year that he wanted to be out there a lot, I’m really happy for him. I’m glad to see him out there because he’s a good player.”

Marvin Zanders (Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

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