Missouri suspended running back Damien Nash indefinitely for disciplinary reasons, coach Gary Pinkelsaid Monday.
Pinkel would not elaborate further on Nash’s suspension.
Nash, though, questioned the play calling in the second half of the Tigers 20-17 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday in a story published in Sunday’s edition of the Kansas City Star.
“I wish I had the headphones on to hear what’s going on,” Nash told the Star. “I wish I could call the offense. I didn’t understand a lot of the plays.”
As a result of Nash’s absence when the Tigers play at Nebraska on Saturday, heralded freshman Tony Temple will make his debut. The weekly depth chart lists him second, behind redshirt freshman Marcus Woods.
Pinkel spoke generally about his philosophy about suspending players, saying he puts the interests of the individual before the success of the team.
“I don’t ever base (these decisions) on the effect on the team as far as win-loss,” he said. “I don’t do that. I do it purely on what I think is the right thing for the individual and the right thing for the program.”
Nash ran for 89 yards on 18 carries but had only seven carries in the second half.
Temple missed much of preseason practice because of eligibility issues with the NCAA Clearinghouse and a shoulder injury. The missed time prevented him from picking up the details of the offense.
“We talked to Tony last night, and I gave Tony the option of what he wanted to do,” Pinkel said. “About a game or two ago, he was getting to a point where he thought he could start playing. I asked Tony, and his quote to me was, ‘I want to do it for the team, and I’m dying to play.’ So we will play Tony Temple.”
Even though Nash and Temple have different running styles, offensive coordinator Dave Christensen said the lack of Nash’s power running style will not change the play calling.
“(Temple has) made a lot of progress in the last few weeks,” Christensen said. “Everyday he’s been here he’s gotten better. He’s done a good job of preparing himself, and he’ll be ready to go.”
In his only preseason scrimmage, Temple, 5 feet 10, 195 pounds, showed off his tremendous quickness. On four carries, he amassed 28 yards, unofficially.
Woods will start his second game in three weeks. He started and gained 53 yards at Texas because of soreness and swelling in Nash’s surgically repaired right knee.
Nash becomes the second starter to miss time because of suspension. Strongside linebacker David Richard did not play against Colorado because of a one-game suspension after he was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana. Richard has returned to the lineup and is listed as the starter for Saturday’s game.
Nash ranks seventh in the Big 12 with 87.1 yards per game rushing and leads the team with seven touchdowns.
“I think it’s going to be tough to replace a guy like that as far as yardage-wise goes,” quarterback Brad Smith said.