The coaching staff and players of the Missouri football team can say all the right things, like how confident they are in De’Vion Moore, Kendial Lawrence, and any other running with Derrick Washington suspended.
Ultimately, these running backs may replace or even exceed Washington’s running production. But, for now, none of them are Derrick Washington.
Lawrence spoke to media Monday about replacing Washington and his role going forward:
Some combination of Lawrence and Moore likely will lead Missouri’s rushing attack early on in the season. Lawrence, a sophomore, rushed 52 times for 219 yards (4.2 yards/carry) in 2000, although over a third of his yards (77) came against FBS opponent Furman.
Lawrence is relatively untested, only seeing double-digit carries once in 2009—that being against Furman. He’s a small, quick back listed at 5-foot-9, 190 pounds who has breakaway speed and fantastic acceleration, but he’s not going to be a between-the-tackles rusher.
That’s where Moore fits in to Missouri’s offensive plan. While Moore is just as tall as Lawrence and only five pounds heavier, he’s a stronger back who could be used on more up-the-middle running plays. He has deceiving speed, too, and also brings the experience of a redshirt junior to the table.
Moore had 63 carries for 258 yards (4.1 yards/carry) and a touchdown in 2009 serving as Missouri’s primary No. 2 back once conference play began. While he does have more experience than Lawrence, he only had one double-digit carry game in 2009 as well—that being a 15-carry, 51-yard effort against Iowa State.
In 2008, Moore rushed 40 times for 256 yards and a touchdown.
Freshman Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy are also listed on the team’s running back depth chart and could see some playing time in blowouts or if Lawrence and Moore falter.
Josey, a 5-foot-10, 180 pound back from Angleton, Texas, was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals and is No. 3 on the team’s depth chart. As a high school senior, Josey rushed for 1,369 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2009.
Like Josey, Murphy came to Missouri as a three-star recruit from DeSoto, Texas. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Murphy ran for 1,410 yards and 19 touchdowns in his high school senior year of 2009.
Both Josey and Murphy are quick backs who also have deceptive power in their running styles. But that evaluation should be taken with a grain of salt because, as freshman, Josey and Murphy are still unknowns in terms of production until they each get a good amount of carries.
Coach Gary Pinkel told reporters Monday that he expects his group of backs to slide up and replace Washington without any excuses. We’ll get an early taste of how ready this corps is Saturday against Illinois, but the real test(s) will come when Big 12 play begins in October.