COLUMBIA — De’Vion Moore was noticeably upset by the season-ending injury to Henry Josey.
"That's my brother," Moore said Monday. "The simple fact that it happened is hard for me to see, just knowing what type of person Henry is and knowing what he deserves. He didn’t deserve that."
Josey has been a standout running back for the Missouri football team this season, and while he lay in a hospital bed recovering from surgery after tears to his patellar tendon, his MCL and his ACL in his left knee, teammates answered questions about his absence and how the Tigers will move forward without him.
The responsibility to pick up where Josey left off belongs to Moore, a senior, and junior Kendial Lawrence. Both running backs were listed ahead of Josey on preseason depth charts, but their own injuries forced Josey into a primary role, where he quickly established himself as one of the nation’s top backs.
"Injuries happen throughout the sport," Moore said. "I got injured early. Kendial got injured early. And Henry went out and did exactly what we expected him to do. And he took control over it, and that's exactly what we expected."
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has plenty of confidence that Lawrence and Moore will be able to continue the success Missouri has had on the ground this season. Even after losing Josey in the third quarter of Saturday's win over Texas, the Tigers remain the Big 12 Conference's top rushing team.
"Without question, those guys are good football players," Pinkel said of Lawrence and Moore. "They're experienced players. And we're fortunate to have guys like that behind Henry and that the three backs that we have are so experienced. Our depth is paying off a little bit there, and I think they'll embrace (an expanded role). And I think they're excited about helping the team win."
The loss of Josey is a huge one for the Tigers. The sophomore running back not only led the team, but also the Big 12 Conference in rushing, and still does — even after being ruled out for the rest of the season.
But, if there is good news going forward for the Tigers, it's that the two opponents left on the schedule have not shown an ability to slow down the running game. Saturday, the Tigers will host Texas Tech, the second-worst rush defense in the Big 12, and the following weekend they will head to Kansas City to play Kansas, the worst rush defense in the conference. Missouri boasts the conference's most prolific run game, averaging more than 234 yards per game as a team.
With an offensive weapon as effective as Josey out, one might expect the game plan to be tweaked slightly, but no one gave any indication Monday that changes would be made. Pinkel said the Tigers would continue to run the ball despite the loss of their primary running threat, and quarterback James Franklin said the game plan would remain as it has unless it becomes ineffective during the game.
"Going into this Texas Tech game, we're still going to game plan the same and try to run the ball and do everything the same," Franklin said. "We'll kind of game plan during the game, or even after depending on what happens, if it's going to work or not going to. And if it needs to come to that, I probably will do a little bit more running. Or I'll do a little less running if Kendial and De'Vion step up."
Josey's teammates have been to see him in the hospital or plan to visit soon. The ones who had already been to visit him said Josey appeared groggy when they visited him in the hospital, revealing the effects of surgery.
No timetable has been given for the sophomore's recovery, but Moore thinks Josey will return to being the same player and person that he was before.
"Injuries are a tough thing to deal with," Moore said. "But knowing Henry and the type of spirit that he has and possesses within himself, he'll be upbeat and the happy Henry that we know."