A hot, sunny day at Faurot Field saw Mizzou football finish up its round of fall scrimmages as the team prepares for the 2014 season opener on Aug. 30 against South Dakota State.
Senior tailback Marcus Murphy was impressive coming out of the backfield, as was Mizzou’s run game overall.
“The run game’s looking good,” Murphy said. “In this offense, we rely a lot on the run game. Each week we just come out and focus on getting better and we’ve improved overall a lot, I think.”
Murphy also gave a nod to his offensive line for his impressive day. The right side of the line – senior right tackle Mitch Morse and junior right guard Connor McGovern – was able to open up holes throughout the scrimmage, allowing Murphy and others to break for some long gains.
“(Morse and McGovern) are some of the best in the nation,” Murphy said. “They’ve really helped develop our run game.”
Murphy, who in Missouri’s prior two scrimmages had been limited to playing strictly as a wide receiver in one scrimmage and solely as a running back in the other, saw time at both spots today, perhaps hinting at his role during the season. Murphy said his position, if he had to name one, is “playmaker.”
“I think it’ll just go with the game plan for that weekend, depending on the situation during the game,” Murphy said.
Murphy splitting time between receiver and tailback also gives way to junior Russell Hansbrough to be the team’s primary back. Hansbrough rushed for 685 yards and four touchdowns last season.
“Russ is looking real good,” Murphy said. “He’s improved a lot since last year, in leadership, too. He can carry the load with the other backs helping him out, so I think we’ll be good with the rotation.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel emphasized consistency on both sides of the ball.
“It’s very difficult to be a real good football team if you don’t get the consistent play out of all 11 offensive players and all 11 defensive players,” Pinkel said. “It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being a consistent player.”
– Sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk struggled in the passing game for a second straight time following an 8-for-20 performance in the second scrimmage. Mauk was under heavy pressure most of the day, and he completed less than half of his pass attempts.
– Junior placekicker Andrew Baggett converted all three of his field goal attempts.
– Junior Corbin Berkstresser and redshirt freshman Eddie Printz continued to battle for the backup spot at quarterback. Although Berkstresser is believed to be the favorite, Printz had a solid day and showed good command of the offense.
– Freshman tailback Ish Witter nearly scored on a 35-yard burst up the middle, splitting a couple tackles along the way. Trevon Walters, also a freshman tailback, reached the end zone two plays later on a two-yard run.
– Freshman receiver Lawrence Lee replaced senior Jimmie Hunt as Hunt continues to recover from a hamstring injury.