RB Steward shines in Missouri’s first scrimmage
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Morgan Steward knows he needs a few seconds to reach full speed.
But if the Missouri running back can slip a tackle or two, there’s a decent chance he could wind up in the end zone.
Steward finished the Tigers’ first scrimmage atop the shoulders of offensive linemen Evan Boehm and Connor McGovern after going 58 yards for a touchdown to give the offense a 19-11 win over the defense Saturday.
”He’s a bigger running back, so it’s going to take two of us this year to lift Morgan up when he scores,” Boehm said. ”But that’s all right.”
A 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore, Steward rushed 13 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns. He’s about 3 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy, who incurred shoulder and ankle sprains, respectively, during the scrimmage.
”I think today I took it up another level,” Steward said. ”I finally got the opportunity out there to go and show it. When you get opportunities, you’ve got to take full advantage of it.”
Coach Gary Pinkel wouldn’t comment on the severity of the injuries to Hansbrough and Murphy, who walked off the field under their own power.
The two are listed first and second, respectively, on the depth chart after gaining a combined 1,286 yards on 206 carries last year in relief of Henry Josey.
Steward added 84 yards on 21 attempts.
”With Henry leaving, I think that for him, he knows he’s going to play even more now,” Pinkel said. ”I think all three of those guys know that. But he’s talented. I think he’s the fastest of the three.”
Missouri’s defense finished with six sacks and two interceptions, mostly against reserve offensive players. Defensive tackle Matt Hoch broke up a pass, but tweeted that he ”severely broke the bone in my ankle at the scrimmage. Surgery tomorrow.”
The 6-foot-5, 295-pound senior is listed atop the depth chart after having three sacks and one fumble recovery in 13 games last season.
”If you’re going to get guys hurt, this is a good time to get them hurt so you can get them healed up,” Pinkel said.
Maty Mauk completed 14 of 23 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown. He worked with the first-team offense after Pinkel said last month that Mauk is the starter over Corbin Berkstresser as of this spring. The 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore started three games last season, completing 51.1 percent of his passes for 1,071 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Mauk said Missouri’s three scrimmages during spring camp, concluding with the annual Black and Gold Game on April 19, allow the offense to feel more comfortable in situations it might face this upcoming season. The quarterback also appears to feel more comfortable personally after last season, sporting a growing red beard to match that of Boehm’s.
”It’s a fun time to be out here and then popping each other,” Boehm said. ”Sometimes you forget that you’re on the same team as the other person. But then you remember and then you kind of hold up again. We’ve just got to get better.”