Tigers’ backfield will have new look

Friday, March 5, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:14 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]

Calling Marcus Woods quick is like calling Bill Gates rich.

Woods put on a show as one of the return men on a punt coverage drill during the Missouri football team’s first spring practice Thursday at Dan Devine Pavilion.

With no blocking and four players defending him, Woods’ cuts and speed often left defenders flailing and teammates cheering.

Woods hopeful for upcoming season

Woods, a redshirt freshman running back, said he hopes Tigers fans will get a chance to see him return punts this season.

“I love doing that,” Woods said.

With Woods and junior Damien Nash in the backfield, Missouri has a different look from last year. Zack Abron, whose eligibility expired at the end of last season, relied on his strength to gain yards. Nash and Woods feature much more speed.

Although Nash, 219 pounds, and Woods, 180, are not as big as Abron was at 229, coach Gary Pinkel said they are capable of producing similarly large results.

“The one-two punch of (Woods) and Damien Nash is pretty good right now,” Pinkel said. “It will be pretty interesting to see how they develop.”

Freshmen Tony Temple and Jimmy Jackson also join the backfield in the fall. rated Temple the No. 2 high school running back in the country last season. Jackson ran for 2,642 yards and 26 touchdowns his senior year at Caruthersville High.

Nash, who is listed as No. 1 on the depth chart, developed into the Tigers’ No. 2 tailback last season, rushing for 425 yards and five touchdowns.

Pinkel said no player should mistake their place on the depth chart as final.

Woods and Nash will vie for starting spot

Nash said he is not taking the starting job for granted and is committed to earning it.

“I’ve just got to keep working hard everyday,” Nash said.

Woods is No. 2 on the depth chart, but said his goal is to win the starting spot.

Nash said his competition with Woods would not keep him from being a leader.

“It’s a competitive game and we’re going to compete,” Nash said. “But if he needs help, I’m going to be there to support him.”

Woods said he has seen much of what he needs to work on from observing Abron and Nash last year.

“It was tough watching last year, but I really had a lot to learn,” Woods said.

Seniors Beau Viehmann and Tyrone Roberson will also play running back for the Tigers this season.

Viehmann played mostly at fullback last season and carried the ball three times for 7 yards.

Roberson hurt his anterior cruciate ligament preparing for the Independence Bowl. An athletic department spokesman said Roberson will miss all of spring practice but should be available in the fall.

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