The Missouri Tigers had a very balanced running game in 2011.
With running backs Henry Josey, Kendial Lawrence and De’Vion Moore teaming up with quarterback James Franklin, Mizzou led the Big 12 with 244 rushing yards per game.
Times have changed, however, as Josey is hurt and Moore has since graduated, leaving Lawrence as the lone back with experience.
Lawrence and Franklin are going to have their hands full trying to keep this running attack potent, but they are definitely up to the task.
Franklin is a known commodity, but many people don’t know much about Lawrence. So, here are five things you need to know about the Tigers’ top running back.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that Lawrence is not going to be as dynamic as Josey was.
Lawrence is more about plugging away at defenses with four or five-yard runs.
Josey (pictured here) was a threat to take it to the end zone every time he touched it.
With that being said, Mizzou fans need to keep in mind that it would be unfair to compare the two backs. They just aren’t that similar.
Lawrence only had 14 catches for 77 yards in 2011.
He’ll need to step up his production in that area of the game to help out his quarterback.
He won’t be needed as a big-time receiving threat, but he’ll need to be available as a safety valve.
Mizzou runs a lot of shotgun spread offensive sets.
It takes a special type of back to be able to take the ball seven yards in the backfield without a running start and still get positive yardage more often than not.
Lawrence is good at taking a handoff while standing still or moving laterally and turning it into a decent gain.
He averaged 4.8 yards per carry with most of his attempts coming from the shotgun.
That kind of production is hard to find from shotgun running backs.
When Lawrence gets behind the defense, he’s gone. Not very many defenders are fast enough to catch him in the open field.
He may not break very many long runs, but when he does, he’s tough to stop.
He’s also helped out by the fact that he sometimes gets hand-offs while he’s running laterally at full speed. That helps him get around the edge quicker.
Lawrence’s biggest asset is his strength.
When he gets a full head of steam, he’s a tough back to bring down.
He’s not afraid to take on a defender, something he’ll be doing a lot of against the strong defenses in the SEC.
His ability to bounce off defenders and run people over will lead him to success in Missouri’s new conference.