Maybe Damarea Crockett should get the ball 51 times per game.
The freshman explained last Monday at media day that 51 carries was his career-high in high school. Crockett would run six, maybe seven times in a row before his coach called a pass. Once the pass was thrown, he got the ball six or seven times again.
He didn’t quite reach that mark on Saturday, but perhaps he should have. He ran the ball 29 times during Missouri’s loss Saturday to Middle Tennessee State for 156 yards and four touchdowns, but Mizzou’s offense still derailed itself towards the end of the game in a 51-45 defeat.
Crockett’s four touchdowns were the most for a Tiger running back since Tony Temple ran for four in the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas in 2008. He has impressive speed in the open-field, but he understands what he’s best at: power and balance.
On one of his 29 carries on Saturday, Crockett’s talents were on full-display. He appeared to be stopped by multiple Middle Tennessee State defenders. Crockett sprang off each defender, broke arm tackles and eventually muscled his way past the goal line for a touchdown.
With Crockett playing to the best of his abilities by wearing down the Blue Raiders defense, fellow running back Ish Witter had himself a quality game as well. Witter ran the ball 19 times for 121 yards.
Both running backs showed their toughness as well. Witter took a vicious shot in the first half, but was able to return and perform impressively. Crockett fell to the ground after a tough run late in the game, and, like Witter, came back and continued to run hard. If Barry Odom was looking for an example for his mantra #ToughnessWins, he ought to look no further than those two.
If Witter is a known commodity, Crockett is becoming one. After a fumble on a crucial drive against West Virginia in the season-opener, he has gotten stronger as the season has gone on. He’s now had three games with over 100 yards rushing. He’s looked like a potential star over the past two games.
Despite the coming-out party for the true freshman, the Tigers fell to 2-5 on the season. With the dream of bowl eligibility fading each game, it’s time for Barry Odom to look to the future turn his younger players loose, which means allowing Crockett to be the focal point moving forward.
The more repetitions he gets, the better off he’s going to be in his sophomore and junior years.
Through the cloudy, dreary football play on an otherwise beautiful Homecoming afternoon in Columbia on Saturday, Tiger fans that stayed caught a bright glimpse of the future. The future is a 5-foot-11 bowling ball of a running back who is capable of running past, around or through defenders in his way.