Missouri RB Josey well-rested after 263-yard game
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP)
The sophomore tailback happily settled for 263 yards on only 14 carries Saturday night. And now he's got fresh legs for top-ranked Oklahoma.
The Tigers will be counting on the lone healthy component of their three-man rotation to shoulder as much of the load as possible against the Sooners. Coach Gary Pinkel has been wary of overexposing the 190-pound Josey, who has 400 yards in the first three games but is averaging fewer than 10 carries a game.
''He's a strong guy and he can run tough,'' Pinkel said. ''Real good running backs don't take a lot of hits, either; they know how to stay out of trouble. But we've got to watch that, though, there's no question about it.''
Given the chance, Josey believes he can be an every-down back, noting that though he's on the smaller side he's had a knack for avoiding direct hits. He's hoping Pinkel was just saving him for the Big 12.
''My running style helps a lot, knowing when to get down and be smart,'' Josey said. ''You take that big blow, you could be done for a while.''
Pinkel also didn't want Devin West's school record of 319 yards rushing against Kansas in 1998 falling against a lower division school, noting on his weekly radio show Monday that even during games he's aware of statistical endeavors that could have meaning.
Josey leads the Big 12 and is sixth in the nation in rushing, averaging a whopping 13.3 yards per carry and 133 yards per game.
Quarterback James Franklin has a lot more carries, but has just 157 yards on 47 attempts for a 3.3-yard average.
''They lost a couple guys but their running back's pretty good,'' Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson said. ''He's a quick, speedy guy, kind of shifty. But I feel like they're more focused on the quarterback running the ball and getting those passes out - little, quick passes out and stretching the field.''
Even with Josey shut down, Missouri (2-1) set a school record with 744 total yards and tied the scoring mark in Saturday's 69-0 victory.
Josey, a sophomore from Angleton, Texas, averaged 18.8 yards per carry in the best college performance this year through games of Sept. 17, and the fourth-best in school history, trailing only West, Brad Smith (291 in 2003) and Tony Temple (281 in 2008). He scored from 6, 21 and 68 yards, the final score coming in the last minute before halftime to put Missouri up 42-0.
He was named Big 12 co-offensive player of the week, the first Missouri tailback honored since West on Oct. 10, 1998, against Iowa State.
''I didn't ever know how many yards I had,'' Josey said. ''I was just running, that's all I was doing. I didn't know how many yards I had in the first quarter nor did I know how many I had in the second quarter, and I wasn't worried about it at all.
''Uh, I was hoping it was a lot.''
Coming off that dream game, Josey says he's ready for heavy duty at Oklahoma. Good thing, since Pinkel has ruled out both De'Vion Moore (ankle) and Kendial Lawrence (leg), who was the starter entering the season.
That leaves junior walk-on Jared Culver, who had 86 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown after entering with one career carry for 2 yards. Redshirt freshman Greg White saw his first college action Saturday and had 36 yards on 10 carries.
So Josey appears to be the primary back.
''If they feel I can be an every-down guy, I will be it,'' Josey said. ''This is it for us, this is what we've always been waiting for.''
Chuckling, he added, ''Just give me the ball.''