If anything about Missouri’s relatively easy season-opening win could be considered alarming, it was a run game that produced 98 yards in 33 carries.
Senior Russell Hansbrough needs to stay healthy, but a return to health for junior Morgan Steward wouldn’t hurt.
Traditionally, MU uses two or more running backs in its rotation. It helps safeguard against injury and also provides different looks for defenses, but there isn’t a Marcus Murphy on the roster this season.
Steward, a Staley graduate, was poised to be a breakout player for the Tigers last year before a hip injury in fall camp sidelined him for the entire 2014 season and all the way through spring practice.
He said he’s in the 90-percent range as far as health and got a taste of game action with five carries for 14 yards in a 34-3 win against Southeast Missouri State last Saturday.
It wasn’t great, but the longest journey begins with a single step.
“At one point, I was excited to be out there,” Steward said. “But at another point, I was thinking that my performance was OK, but there’s so much more in store. … The more and more I play and practice, the more I think will show up even stronger out on the field. It translates over. There’s a lot more in store, and I’m excited to be able to show that.”
Steward is a battering ram at 6 feet, 210 pounds, but he also possessed breakaway speed before the injury. He hasn’t tried running a 40-yard dash to see if his burst has returned, but he’s beginning to see positive signs.
“I’m always watching film and comparing it where I’m at with my quickness and all that kind of stuff,” Steward said. “I think my quickness is getting back and I’m starting to do things just like my old self in practice. Now, it’s time to translate all that to the field.”