Larry Rountree III was such a pivotal piece of the Missouri offense for years. Rushing for over 3,700 yards and 40 touchdowns on 5.0 yards per carry, it is clear to see why based upon statistics alone.
Tyler Badie had been the lightning to Rountree’s thunder for most of his career. That changed Saturday. The running back room is now led by Tyler Badie, and the senior showed why on Saturday.
Badie touched the ball 29 times against Central Michigan, far and away the most he has ever had in a single game. And man, did he make the most of his touches.
It was a career day for the New Orleans product, rushing for 203 yards to go along with 40 receiving yards and two total touchdowns. What is perhaps the most impressive stat from Badie is the fact that he averaged a whopping 8.1 yards per carry, as nearly every one of his runs was going for chunk yardage and propelling drives forward.
Outside of the box score, Badie was truly impressive to watch. The strengths he had shown for years; his vision, speed, and ability to make people miss in space, were on full display all game long. Badie exhibited great patience in waiting on his blocks, but he hit the available holes hard right after.
What was not seen before was Badie’s strength and durability. He was running strong out on the field, proving he could withstand running between the tackles consistently. Even late in the fourth quarter, Badie was still fresh enough to break off a 69-yard run to put the game away.
Badie attributes his offseason work for allowing him to handle the load he did on Saturday.
“Really, it’s just stretching,” Badie said when asked how he is able to stay fresh and durable during the game.
“He’s done a great job taking care of his body, not taking every rep in camp,” his quarterback Connor Bazelak said. “He knew we would have to rely on him this year.”
After missing some action during fall camp last week, Badie even revealed that he was not 100% healthy in the postgame press conference, which is perhaps why he cramped up late in the second half.
“I’m very confident in myself and what I can do,” Badie stated, “But I wasn’t really used to that (29 touches), it was good to get my feet wet.”
While Elijah Young and other backs did see some playing time, it was clear that Eli Drinkwitz is perfectly content with letting Badie touch the ball as many times as he can handle, to an extent.
“He had 5 more touches than what I expected,” Drinkwitz said, “I should’ve subbed him late. Still very proud of how he played.”
This was a breakout game for Badie, a player who many were counting on to be one of the faces of this Mizzou team but wondered if he was capable of being the lead guy in the backfield. He proved those doubters wrong for now, but it will remain to be seen if he can handle this workload when SEC play comes around. 25+ touches on a week-to-week basis against SEC defenses is something not many can handle, so managing Badie’s workload and keeping him healthy will be a key for this team. With his skillset and playmaking ability, he needs to be on the field in pivotal situations for the Tigers this season.
For now, Badie has a lot to be proud of with how he played against the Chippewas, and he has earned the respect of every SEC fan and opposing coaching staff. Still, he knows there is room for improvement, especially on that final 69-yard scamper.
“I was so tired,” Badie explained when asked about not being able to score on that run. “It’s one of the plays I’m gonna regret for a long time, but it happens when you get tired.”
Mr. Badie, you have earned a week of rest. Mizzou might need 30 more touches to take down Kentucky in Lexington next week.