On Thursday, Missouri backup quarterback Marvin Zanders announced his intention to transfer.
In a quarterback role that never gained much traction, Zanders was Missouri’s third-leading rusher this season with 198 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. Missouri coaches insisted Zanders could handle the same parts of the playbook designed for Lock but showed a reluctance to call passes when Zanders entered the game. For the season, Zanders completed 10 of 12 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. He got his most extensive work in the fourth quarter of MU’s 79-0 win over Delaware State and a late series at Florida, where he led the Tigers on a 99-yard touchdown drive against the Gators’ backups.
Early in the season, offensive coordinator Josh Heupel attempted to create a change-of-pace role for Zanders, but for one reason or another, it didn’t stick. Heupel seemed frustrated with the predictability of the arrangement — Drew Lock passes, then Zanders runs — and didn’t appear to like the idea of Zanders coming into the game in a non-specialty role.
After rushing six times and throwing once late in a loss to Kentucky, Zanders only rushed twice the rest of the season. The writing was pretty clearly on the wall: Lock was the full-time guy moving forward. (And in Lock’s defense, his production stabilized over the last five or so games of the season.)
With Zanders gone, the backup QB race will be interesting to track this spring: Two 2016 signees — JUCO Jack Lowary and freshman Micah Wilson — are currently the only other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.
Zanders leaves Mizzou in search of opportunity, and I can’t blame him. He has by all accounts been a strong representative of the University of Missouri, and I wish him luck.