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MU's Washington busting big plays

"We sittin' here, I'm s'posed to be a five-star recruit, and we in here talkin' bout scrimmages. Not the game. Not, not, not the game. Scrimmages. I mean, how silly is that?" -- Former Big 12 running back Allex Iversonn


Plenty has been written, said and asked about Missouri running back Derrick Washington's offseason weight loss, and he's repeatedly raved about the increased speed and quickness that have inevitably come with it.

In the Tigers' first scrimmage, Washington looks like he's traded his favorite fried pork chops for the ability to break 70-yard runs. From his own 1-yard line on the first play of the scrimmage, he broke through for a 74-yard run and finished with 133 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. He also caught three passes -- one for 47 yards -- for 59 yards and another touchdown.

That's a fantastic sign for Missouri's offense, which didn't have a run longer than 42 yards -- against Nevada -- last season.

Washington gave his offensive line some heavy credit after his big day, but once he gets past the defense's first line, Washington is the guy who makes those runs happen. For teams who run out of the shotgun as often as Missouri does, I've always believed shiftier scat backs -- similar to the guys behind Washington on the depth chart, Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore -- are better suited for that role, as opposed to Washington, who tends to be a rumbler. He's down to 215 pounds from 225 and stands 6-foot, and if he can keep that explosiveness throughout next season, the Tigers will be better for it.

Playing on a healthy knee -- a luxury he didn't enjoy in 2009 -- definitely helps, too, but the reason isn't quite as important as the results. And Saturday, they were good ones.

As in any scrimmage, the flip side of anyone's big day is worrying about the opposite side, Missouri's run defense. That's probably legitimate now, but Washington proving he has big-play ability after an underwhelming 2009 season is a welcome sign, even at the expense of a rush defense that ranked a respectable sixth in the Big 12 last season.