COLUMBIA — Wide receiver Wes Kemp appeared to have his breakout game Saturday in the team’s game against Miami of Ohio. The junior had three receptions for 43 yards and his first touchdown of the season.
But numbers aren’t the most accurate way to evaluate Kemp’s performance.
As an outside receiver, Kemp is used primarily for his blocking skills. At 6 feet 4 inches and 220 pounds, he is a force downfield.
Missouri’s offensive scheme uses short passes to the inside receivers called bubble screens. The coaches consider the play the equivalent to a run. It’s the outside receiver’s job to clear out the cornerback and make room to run.
“He’s the focal point for our bubble game,” junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert said. “He’s got to get the perimeter blocked. He’s probably our most physical receiver.”
Most of the screen passes go to tight end Michael Egnew, who has 33 receptions compared to Kemp’s nine.
“It’s part of being a complete receiver,” Kemp said. “I’m just happy to see when Egnew breaks a big bubble, just like last year I was happy to see when Danario (Alexander) broke a bubble. It’s the position I’m put in, so I just try to make the most of whatever job I have.”
On Saturday, the Tigers took advantage of the success they had been having on the bubble screen. They faked the quick pass and sent Kemp deep down the sideline. He caught the pass for a 33-yard touchdown, and there wasn’t a defensive player within 15 yards of him.
“It was just a play off the bubble,” Kemp said. “They kind of bit on the bubble. That’s something we anticipated especially since we had early success with the bubble on the outside. Blaine just threw a good ball, so it was an easy score.”
Although Gabbert tries to spread the ball around, he understands that not every receiver will have an equal number of receptions, so he was happy Kemp had an opportunity to score.
“He’s done a great job all year,” Gabbert said. “He’s focused on what he’s got to do to make this team successful. Today he got some love and scored a touchdown.”
And yes, Kemp was thrilled after Saturday’s game, but he said he’s had that same feeling after making a crucial block.
“I had one for Danario against Iowa State (last season),” Kemp said. “I blocked it off. I think it was like 60 or 70 yards. It felt pretty good. It felt like I scored. It was just like when he got to the outside, I had the corner, and I was able to seal him in.”