Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA — When Brad McNulty took over as Missouri’s left guard against Indiana, it didn’t go exactly as planned.
The Tigers’ offensive line consistently struggled against the Hoosiers throughout a 31-27 loss Saturday at Faurot Field. What’s more, McNulty lost his shoe.
He tried to play in his right sock, but Jordan Williams replaced him as he got readjusted. McNulty’s not expecting any similar shoelace issues Saturday as he takes over as starting left guard for Anthony Gatti, who tore his ACL against Indiana.
“I’m going to triple tie them this time,” he said.
Luckily for McNulty, the loss to Indiana wasn’t his first experience on Missouri’s line. He logged time during 2012, when the Tigers shuffled their linemen due to injuries.
During the Tigers’ success in 2013, however, McNulty didn’t get to put his experience to use, as he reverted to a backup role.
“It was a little hard, and I realized that that’s what my team needed,” he said. “They needed or me to just sit down and be the positive coach on the bench, and I was more than willing to do that for my team.”
The McNulty taking the field in 2014 isn’t quite the same one from two years ago. The junior from Allen, Texas, said he’s up about 10 pounds from his 2012 mark of 290. He has improved his physicality — upping his personal bests in bench presses and squats among others.
He has also put in time in less tangible ways.
“I feel like I’ve developed extremely well and that’s all our coaching staff and our strength staff,” McNulty said. “They’re all very supportive. They look for the best guys to put on the field. They look for guys that work hard and do the right thing. They really nurture you (and) grow you as men.”
McNulty said he was a little nervous when he first took the field Saturday, but he’s happy to make his return.
“I’m very excited to be back playing with my brothers,” he said.
The offensive line will be a focus for many after quarterback Maty Mauk spent much of the loss scrambling away from a collapsed pocket. McNulty said he is ready for his new role.
“I would never wish what happened to Anthony on anybody,” he said, “(but) right now my team needs me to step up and deliver for them.”