As Missouri football transitions away from the prolific Drew Lock era, it’s clear that offensive coordinator Derek Dooley’s offensive philosophy will center around a potentially devastating ground game. The bulk of the load will likely fall on junior running back Larry Rountree III, the team’s leading rusher from a season ago.
It’s no secret that the trajectory of Missouri’s 2019 football campaign soared upwards back in December of 2019 when transfer QB Kelly Bryant became a Tiger. His skillset should be tailor-made for the Mizzou offense, which desperately needed a bridge from Drew Lock to Connor Bazelak/ Shawn Robinson. His running ability should give the Tigers yet another dynamic option on the ground, while Rountree and a stable of capable backs (including Sophomore Tyler Badie) should be more than ready to carry the offensive workload.
“I think Kelly’s going to be very good.” Rountree said in an interview with GASN Sports after the Mizzou spring game. “I think with his versatility, the way he can run and throw, that’s going to add more versatility to our offense.”
A loaded backfield
Despite sharing time with incumbent and recently departed back Damarea Crockett in 2018, Larry Rountree had a breakout season. He led the team with 1,216 yards and 11 touchdowns including 204 against Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl. Roundtree became the face of a physical running game that exerted itself late in the season especially in blowout wins over Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Despite the early departure of Crockett, Rountree will still be in good company in the Tiger backfield. Sophomore Tyler Badie showed flashes of brilliance as a true freshman in 2018 rushing for 437 yards and 2 scores while Semi Bakare looks ready to contribute at a high level in 2019.
“Our whole running back group, all of us are trying to get better. Regardless of who is in there, we’re going to get the job done” Rountree said.
Mizzou’s offensive future was certainly on full display late in 2018 and became solidified after the signing of Bryant. This is going to be a physical, run-heavy offense that will feature a lot of run-pass-option and a controlled passing game. It’s an identity and mindset that Barry Odom has been building towards for four years now. While it was fantastic to see what Drew Lock was able to accomplish in the passing game, this could be a recipe that leads Missouri to a lot of wins in 2019.
2018 rushing stats (returning players only)
|Larry Rountree III||225||1,216||5.4||11|
|Kelly Bryant |
*played in only
4 games at Clemson