COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri coach Barry Odom said that Damarea Crockett had a scope on his right shoulder this weekend and the Tigers are making plans to go the rest of the season without him.
“It’s fingers crossed that he might be able to make it back later on in the season, but we’ve also got to make sure that we prepare like he’s not going to be available,” Odom said. “Ish (Witter) and Larry Rountree (III) have got to do a great job, as well as the rest of the offense, at picking up that until he can get back.”
Crockett injured his shoulder in the second half of the game against Georgia on Oct. 14. He did not play last week against Idaho and Odom said he will not play this weekend at Connecticut.
The sophomore leads the team with 481 rushing yards on 80 carries this season. He also has two touchdowns. It’s been an up-and-down season for Crockett after a monster freshman campaign last year in which he racked up 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns on 153 carries.
Crockett had 202 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against Missouri State, but hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing game or a score since. His average yards per carry in the five games after the opener was 4.5, down from 6.9 in his freshman season.
Odom said that it wasn’t an injury the team felt comfortable letting Crockett play through, especially at a position as physical as running back.
“We looked at it at that position, what’s best for the kid, what’s best for him long-term,” Odom said. “Playing that position, we needed to get it done. So I look at it like it’s my own kid. In that position, it’d be very difficult to carry the load like he needs to.”
Witter, a four-year letterwinner, will likely have the starting role in Crockett’s absence. He’s rushed 65 times this season for 348 yards and two touchdowns and had one of his best games ever against Kentucky in Week 5, taking 17 carries for 139 yards.
Rountree’s role is also likely to grow. He’s been impressive as a freshman, rushing 43 times for 226 yards and a touchdown. Last week – 12 carries, 97 yards – was the most prolific performance of his young career.
“I don’t think he’s going to run out of bounds,” Odom said of Rountree, a punishing runner at just 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds. His highlight last week was a 53-yard run at the end of the first quarter that left two Idaho defenders sprawled on the turf.
“He’s got to understand also, once he starts carrying the ball 20-plus times a game, that may change a little bit,” Odom continued. “He’s a physical player. He was running really well behind his pads, and that’s his style right now.”
Dawson Downing, a walk-on from Mission, Kan., will be the third string running back while Crockett is out.
LOCK, OKWUEGBUNAM HONORED: Drew Lock earned national honors for the second time this season after his strong showing against Idaho. He was one of eight quarterbacks named as Manning Award Stars of the Week after completing 23 of 33 passes – his highest completion rate of the season – for 467 yards, six touchdowns and one interception.
Lock earned a number of national honors after his opening week performance against Missouri State, when he threw for 521 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns.
Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was named the Southeastern Conference’s co-freshman of the week (along with Auburn defensive lineman Nick Coe) after catching four passes for 57 yards and three touchdowns. That tied the school record for touchdown catches in one game by a tight end, a record he now shares with Chase Coffman and Swayne Blakley.
“One of the best games by a tight end in Mizzou’s history,” Odom said of Okwuegbunam’s performance. “He’s going to continue to have a great career.”
KEEP IT ALIVE: Before closing his press conference, Odom brought up Sunday’s basketball scrimmage between Missouri and Kansas which saw 18,951 fans from both schools pack the Sprint Center and raise more than $1.75 million for hurricane relief.
“To see how that went down in Kansas City, there’s a lot of people that lose sight on the opportunity that we have to provide student-athletes with great experiences. That’s going to be one, for those guys that got to participate in that yesterday, that is unbelievable and remembered forever,” Odom said. “Then, even maybe more importantly than that is the money raised to help people that really are in need. That’s one of the great things about college athletics.”
In his last words to reporters, he voiced his opinion on the future of the Border War.
“They’re not asking me, but I think Missouri and that other team should play every year in every sport,” Odom said. “Maybe we can continue that. I was excited and happy for Mizzou and all the people that benefited from that.”