Slow and steady wins the race, and I’m not sure there’s a better way to describe Bence Polgar than “steady.”
Sometimes you watch offensive line tape and the player you’re watching jumps off the screen - both in good and bad ways. The opposite is true of Polgar. He’s a guy who consistently did his job and did it well. He’s not going to blow a defensive tackle off the ball and drive him 10 yards down the field. You’re not often going to see him pancake a defensive linemen while he’s in pass protection.
Polgar is a blue collar center. He punches the clock and he goes to work.
There is going to be a good amount of carry-over from Polgar’s time at Buffalo where his offense was primarily a zone-based running game with a good amount of RPO plays built in.
Where he fits: It would be quite the surprise if Polgar isn’t the natural replacement as Missouri’s starting center. Polgar is a natural fit for the Tigers zone-based running game. He does a good job of turning a defender’s shoulders just enough to open up a lane for his running back. His best skill might be resetting after taking initial punch in pass protection. He made all the calls up front for Buffalo, and that ability to make the calls up front is crucial for any center in the SEC.
When he’ll play: Right away, you would think. Polgar is a junior with two years of eligibility remaining. He didn’t transfer to Missouri after starting at Buffalo last season to sit and watch someone else.
Missouri has an opening at center after Michael Maietti’s departure due to graduation. The Tigers have plenty of options up front, but very few have experience at center. Drake Heismeyer was listed as the backup last season, but he finished with just two snaps on the season. Connor Tollison might be able to transition to center if needed. Maybe the Tigers could try Luke Griffin or Connor Wood, as well. The truth is Polgar was brought in for a reason, and that reason is to plug an obvious hole up front as the starting center in 2022.
What it all means: The Tigers are suddenly very deep along the offensive line. My latest count has them with 17 scholarship players along the offensive line as we enter spring football. It feels like they can be broken down into three main groups:
- Starting Options: Hyrin White, Javon Foster, Xavier Delgado, Connor Wood, Luke Griffin, Bence Polgar
- Likely Depth for 2022: Connor Tollison, EJ Ndoma-Ogar, Richard Taylor, Drake Heismeyer, Bobby Lawrence, Dylan Spencer, Mitchell Walters
- Developing for 2022: Valen Erickson, Armand Membou, Tristan Wilson
It shouldn’t surprise anyone if a few of these options end up transferring after spring ball. The only starting opportunities expected to open up after this season are the tackle spots. There are already three or four players battling for two spots at guard. The writing will be on the wall for some of these players, and they’ll have to decide if they want to bide their time at Mizzou, or if they would rather test their abilities elsewhere.
Regardless where spring ball takes us, one thing appears to be true: Missouri filled its hole at center with a capable starter in Bence Polgar.