Last Saturday when Elvis Fisher went down with a sprained knee that will keep him sidelined for weeks, red-shirt freshman center Brad McNulty 6'4" 295 was called upon to step in and perform like a veteran against one of the best defenses in the country. It was McNulty's first extended action since his arrival at Missouri. He had gotten into the season-opener against Southeastern Louisiana during the fourth quarter, but this was against the SEC east division favorite with the game on the line.
"Elvis is one of my roommates. He's a very close friend of mine," explained McNulty, recalling his surprise entry into the game. "When he went down I just thought, oh no, he's worked his butt off all last year and all summer to get back in there. And, then this happens! And then, snap back! Coach Walker says, "Brad get in there! You're in." It was a quick turn around. You can't really think about it. You've just got to get in there and perform, because the team is counting on me."
"I took a deep breath, and cleared my head," said McNulty. "It was just like, all right! Here we go!"
I asked McNulty to evaluate his performance?
"I feel like I played well," said McNulty. "Obviously, I still have things to improve on. There's always room for improvement."
"I've blocked some big guys," McNulty said of trying to block Georgia's massive 358-pound defensive tackle, John Jenkins, who is being touted as the top interior defensive line prospect in next spring's NFL Draft. "But, he's probably by far the biggest………………………………………….. And, he's got some quick feet."
"I feel like the offensive line unit as a whole, I feel like we handled it very well," said McNulty. "We were a little jittery at the beginning. But we calmed down, let the ice cold water run through your veins, and then you've got to get down and get to the nitty-gritty and get to work............................................................ My first series, I had a few minor mistakes, but my teammates helped calmed me down a little bit. After that it was just like old times."
McNulty talked about playing at optimal arousal, not being too high or too low.
"That's exactly one of the things that Coach Ivey talks about in the summer, is optimal arousal," said McNulty. "You don't want to be too high when you go out there, banging your head on the wall, and you don't want to be too low. You don't want to be dead out there. You want to be just right in the middle."
McNulty went on to say that different guys do different things to achieve their optimal arousal prior to the game.
"It comes with routine and practice," explained McNulty, who also cited experience as being a part of finding that optimal arousal as well. "You've just got to find what works for you."
McNulty talked about his mental preparation for the game.
"I went into (the Georgia) game thinking I have to be prepared for anything, so I have to get my head on straight, and I got to know my assignments," explained McNulty. "And I count on everybody else out there that everybody knows what they're doing."
The Tigers could get senior offensive lineman Jack Meiners back for this week, but at mid-week, it appeared that Meiners' role against Arizona State will be limited at best.
It looks like McNulty may very well start the game against the Sun Devils. He said that his approach will be very similar to his preparation for last week.
"I'm not one of those guys that gets up and jumps around," explained McNulty, talking about his mental preparation for the Arizona State game. "I usually just sit in my locker, and visualize making plays, doing good out there, and dominating the guy in front of me."
McNulty isn't the biggest or the strongest of Missouri's offensive linemen, but I think he'll be able to get the job done against Arizona State. McNulty is an experienced center, having played center in high school in an offense that utilized a lot of shotgun snaps. Over the past year in practice, he's shown himself to be quite capable. He's reliable with the snapping, and like most of Missouri's offensive linemen, he's a very intelligent student-athlete. He just needs experience, and to get stronger. And, he's getting the experience now.