Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA, Mo. — When Missouri punter Corey Fatony first got to campus, senior linebacker Kentrell Brothers thought he was a running back.
“He’s a pretty jacked little kid. He’s a little short and stocky,” Brothers said. “I didn’t know he was a punter, but he can kick the mess out of that ball.”
Brothers shouldn’t have any trouble remembering Fatony’s position now. The true freshman punted nine times Saturday against Florida, averaging 47.8 yards per attempt.
Tuesday, he was named the Ray Guy Player of the Week, given to the nation’s top punter from the previous weekend.
Fatony set a career long with his 61-yarder in the second quarter Saturday. Four times he pinned Florida inside its own red zone.
“That boy is amazing,” Brothers said. “And he’s a freshman, too. That’s crazy. I’ll never have to worry about bad field position when he’s punting the ball.”
Fatony has averaged 43.7 yards per punt this season, good for 31st nationally. He has punted 38 times this season, tied for eighth-most in the country. Sixteen of his punts have resulted in fair catches, and 15 have left the receiving team inside its own 20-yard line.
The honor is awarded by the Augusta Sports Council and recognized by the National College Football Awards Association. Guy was a punter for Southern Mississippi, and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2014 for his play with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders.
Russell Hansbrough has been limited this year because of a sprained ankle. So Saturday, he decided he needed to use his mouth.
The typically laconic tailback challenged his offense on the sideline in the second half of Saturday’s loss to Florida, center Evan Boehm said Monday.
“He never speaks up that much, and when he did on Saturday, that’s when you looked around the circle and everybody kind of woke up a little bit,” Boehm said. “Like, if Rus is saying something, then it must mean something.”
Hansbrough was not made available to media Monday.
“Rus isn’t necessarily a real vocal guy,” freshman quarterback Drew Lock said. “He’ll demonstrate it on the field, as you guys have seen, but Rus kind of got us in there and fired up. We tried to do some stuff for him, but we obviously went out there and gave him our best. It just didn’t work out for us.”
Noteworthy as they were, Hansbrough’s words didn’t do much to help the Tigers’ offense. Missouri gained just 257 yards total and punted nine times.
Hansbrough, however, was able to run for a season-high 74 yards on nine carries (8.2 average), including a season-long run of 26 yards.
Coach Gary Pinkel said Hansbrough wore down some in the fourth quarter but is nearing 100 percent health.
“It’s awesome to see,” Boehm said. “Rus did a great job. … I think we saw a lot of Rus that we’re used to seeing.”
Coming off a 1,000-yard season, Hansbrough injured his ankle on his first run of the season, a 20-yarder. The team captain missed Missouri’s game against Connecticut, and has carried the ball fewer than 10 times in every game but one.
“I think it upsets him a little bit, just not being able to do the things that he wants to do,” Boehm said. “Rus is a leader for a reason, and he’s done a great job of helping to support the younger guys.”
Note: Quarterback Maty Mauk remains suspended for violation of team rules, per Monday’s depth chart. Lock will get his third collegiate start Saturday at Georgia.