When Missouri head coach Barry Odom took over the program after last season, he knew he wanted his team to get more physical in the run game.
Odom said on Wednesday’s teleconference that teams have to be able to run the ball effectively in the SEC. But as the Tigers have transitioned to a more run-heavy system on offense, Odom was faced with a problem.
“In the last 12 to 15 years, there hasn’t been really a fullback-type body recruited to Missouri,” Odom said.
Under former head coach Gary Pinkel, the Tigers had a more pass-heavy spread offense that didn’t require hulking lead blockers very much. So to make up for that personnel issue, Odom and offensive coordinator came up with a solution.
They started handing the ball to DT Josh Augusta.
Augusta, listed at 6-foot-4 and 355 pounds, got the ball at the goal line and rumbled in for a 1-yard touchdown against Kentucky last week. It was his second touchdown of the season.
The lineman has carried the ball eight times for 13 yards out of Missouri’s short-yardage package. He’s also served as a lead blocker. Odom said that big formation with Augusta in the backfield has served the Tigers well, and that the senior has a “willingness to help us out in any way that he can.”
“I think we’ve been pretty effective in 3rd-and-short, our offense has,” Odom said. “And it’s been because we’ve been able to use the skills that certain guys have on our roster. And I think that’s important as coaches.”
Augusta has “really good feet and pretty good body position,” Odom said. The defensive tackle was apparently very excited about the chance to get some touches on offense.
“Any time you look at a defensive guy and put him over on offense, they get an opportunity to carry the ball, they’re going to light up a little bit,” Odom said.
Missouri goes on the road to face South Carolina this weekend. Augusta has scored in each of the Tigers’ last two SEC games. If Missouri gets down inside the 5-yard line, the Gamecocks should not be shocked to see a fullback-type body in the backfield. A really big one.