COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team closed preseason camp Thursday with a full scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. Here are five takeaways before the Tigers prepare for their season opener:
1. The running game is alive and well
Although last year's starting tailback, Henry Josey, left for the NFL, Missouri's current running backs look as if they can put up similar numbers to last year's team that finished second in the Southeastern Conference in rushing yards. Russell Hansbrough had a shifty touchdown run for 55 yards, Marcus Murphy made an impact at both receiver and tailback, and the backup running backs provided consistency to an otherwise inconsistent offensive performance.
"I feel like the running game was pretty strong," center Evan Boehm said after the scrimmage. "Russell and Murphy did a good job of finding the holes and taking off."
2. The right side of the offensive line is a strength
Most of the big runs came off good blocking on the right side of the offensive line, including Hansbrough's touchdown.
Right tackle Connor McGovern, back off an injury that limited him during the first two weeks of camp, combined well with guards Mitch L. Hall and Taylor Chappell to make holes for Hansbrough, Murphy and the other Missouri running backs. Chappell, listed as a tackle on the team's depth chart, has seen increased time at guard during camp.
3. Eric Beisel makes a name for himself
The redshirt freshman who goes by "Zeus" said he's trying to earn a starting spot as a middle linebacker. Although Michael Scherer is listed higher on the depth chart, Beisel showed his ability Thursday. He recovered a fumble against the first team offense and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. The fumble recovery was the only defensive touchdown of the day.
4. Andrew Baggett continues to have success from distance
The kicker made all three of his field goal attempts, including one from 47 yards and one from 43 yards. The 47-yarder beat Baggett's career long field goal of 46 yards.
5. Tight ends will have multiple roles
Tight end Sean Culkin played as a blocker, a lone tight end and as a slot receiver Thursday. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel stressed during camp the importance of having versatile tight ends, especially given the team's loss at the receiver position.
Culkin's lone catch of the day came from the slot. Further use of the tight ends as receivers could provide mismatches for opposing defenses.