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Diving the Missouri depth chart: What substitution patterns can we expect?

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I’ve got 2016 snap counts, and I’m not afraid to use them.

Arkansas v Missouri
J’Mon Moore played 89.3 percent of the Tigers’ meaningful offensive snaps last year. Is 2017 setting up for a repeat?
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The start of Missouri’s college football season is nearly upon us. Praise Saint Gary Pinkel, patron saint of mammoths, visors and doing what we do.

And with the start of Missouri State game week on Monday also came the most exciting event of the season...

...THE RELEASE OF THE FIRST OFFICIAL 2017 DEPTH CHART!!!!!!!!!!

Oh yes. I hyperventilated until I almost passed out when I saw that sweet, sweet list of names and positions hit my Twitter feed.

Oscar and Tramel already did a thorough rundown of the ins and outs of that season-opening depth chart. I’m not here for that.

What I am here for is using my 2016 snap counts to check out the substitution patterns Missouri used at each position and see if that can give us an idea of what sort of playing time these depth chart denizens are in for if they maintain their positions throughout the season.

But I also decided to make things harder on myself. So as to not let garbage time snaps harm my study, I took Bill Connelly’s measure for garbage time (explained in here) — not within 28 points in the first quarter, 24 in the second, 21 in the third, 16 in the fourth — and factored those snaps out of my counts.

Some games — Georgia, Middle Tennessee, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Arkansas — spent the whole duration in quality time. All the other ones had at least a few “garbage” snaps and some — Delaware State, Eastern Michigan, LSU, Florida — basically lived there.

So it was important to make a distinction.

Anyway, what you’ll see is the 2016 depth, with snaps and percent of the total non-garbage snaps included, then the 2017 depth and what last year’s substitution patterns could mean for this year.

Because sometimes, third-string just doesn’t mean the same thing from position to position.

(Oh, and for your information, Missouri enjoyed 735 quality snaps on offense, about 78 percent of its plays, and 788 quality snaps on defense, about 83 percent of its total plays.)


Offense

Quarterback

2016

Drew Lock – 714 (97.0)
Marvin Zanders -- 22 (2.99)

2017

Drew Lock (6’4, 225, Junior)
Jack Lowary (6’4, 225, Redshirt Sophomore)
OR Micah Wilson (6’3, 215, Redshirt Freshman)

What Does it Mean?

Much like last year, unless something goes wrong with Lock, the backup will be a glorified clipboard-holder. Zanders only got those 22 quality snaps, really, because of his running ability, so that might actually open an intriguing pathway for Wilson (and his mobility) to get the inside track on that other 3 percent...if it’s even up for grabs this year.

—————

2016

Ish Witter – 363 (49.3)
Damarea Crockett -- 271 (36.8)
Alex Ross -- 49 (6.66)
Nate Strong -- 44 (5.98)

2017

Damarea Crockett (5’11, 225, Sophomore)
Ish Witter (5’10, 200, Senior)

What Does it Mean?

It’d be interesting to see Crockett with the upper hand of a 49-37 split on Witter this year because that would mean, if we take each rusher’s carry-per-snap ratio and extrapolate it out for, let’s say, 950 snaps this year, that would mean about 213 carries for Crockett and 128 for Witter. Think of all the damage...anyway, that leaves Strong and probably Larry Rountree to pick up the other 12-13 percent of the snaps. Even though, this year, that third-stringer proportion could be even slimmer, as Ross entered as the starter last year before being marginalized and Strong saw most of his meaningful snaps against Arkansas, when Crockett was suspended and Witter hurt.

—————

Outside WR

2016

J’Mon Moore — 657 (89.3)
Eric Laurent -- 34 (4.62)
Keyon Dilosa — 14 (1.90)
Dominic Collins -- 4 (0.54)

2017

J’Mon Moore (6’3, 205, Redshirt Senior)
Dominic Collins (6’2, 185, Senior)

Outside WR

2016

Dimetrios Mason – 397 (53.9)
Emanuel Hall – 313 (42.5)
Justin Smith — 6 (0.82)

2017

Dimetrios Mason (6’0, 185, Sophomore)
Emanuel Hall (6’3, 200, Junior)

Slot

2016

Johnathon Johnson -- 328 (44.6)
Chris Black – 154 (20.9)
Richaud Floyd – 135 (18.3)
Ray Wingo -- 63 (8.56)

2017

Johnathon Johnson (5’10, 185, Redshirt Sophomore)
Richaud Floyd (5’11, 190, Redshirt Sophomore)

What Does it Mean?

So, 11 receivers saw quality time snaps over the course of last season, even though only seven did so on at least 5 percent of said snaps. So who will be the seven this year? Moore is probably going to take up around 90 percent again, and Collins will get the crumbs (though probably play a little more than Laurent). Mason and Hall should continue to split fairly equitably, though Mason may get a little more out of that 54-43 split than he had last year.

Johnson may play more than that 44 percent in the slot if he can keep from getting banged up (and hold onto the ball), and I can see Floyd duplicating that 20-percent range in the slot as well. So who’s the seventh? Nate Brown? And can he clean up those extraneous snaps in the slot as well as on the outside? Might not be the worst idea to wean a formerly starting-caliber player back into the lineup on about 9-10 snaps a game, with the potential of more if he can handle it.

—————

Tight End

2016

Sean Culkin — 388 (52.7)
Kendall Blanton — 280 (38.0)
Jason Reese -- 123 (16.7)
Tyler Hanneke — 28 (3.80)
Josh Augusta — 11 (1.49)

2017

Jason Reese (6’5, 250, Redshirt Senior)
Kendall Blanton (6’6, 260, Reshirt Junior)
OR Albert Okwuegbunam (6’5, 260, Redshirt Freshman)

What Does It Mean?

Right now, Reese is ahead of Blanton on the depth, but I can’t see him enjoying as much of a rep advantage as Culkin did over Blanton. I recognize Okwuegbunam is an “OR” with Blanton right now, but what we’ll see is a probably more equitable split of that upper 90 percent, like maybe 49-44?

Reese could be the Culkin-like utility piece, Blanton maintains his role as the mostly H-back, attached-to-the-line player, and Okwuegbunam can be the disproportionately split-out option. Who will be the new Hanneke? One of those three? Brendan Scales? And who will be the new JUGGERNAUT? Or is he irreplaceable?

—————

Tackle

2016

Paul Adams — 736 (100.0)

2017

Paul Adams (6’6, 315, Redshirt Junior)
Samson Bailey (6’4, 295, Redshirt Junior)

Tackle

2016

Tyler Howell – 689 (93.6)
Tre’Vour Simms -- 46 (6.25)

2017

Tyler Howell (6’8, 330, Senior)
Yasir Durant (6’7, 340, Sophomore)

Guard

2016

Kevin Pendleton — 736 (100.0)

2017

Kevin Pendleton (6’4, 330, Reshirt Junior)
Adam Ploudre (6’4, 315, Redshirt Senior)

Guard

2016

Adam Ploudre – 485 (65.9)
Alec Abeln – 327 (44.4)

2017

Tre’Vour Simms (6’5, 340, Sophomore)
AJ Harris (6’4, 310, Redshirt Sophomore)

Center

2016

Samson Bailey – 501 (68.1)
Jonah Dubinski -- 157 (21.3)

2017

Trystan Castillo (6’4, 315, Redshirt Freshman)
Jonah Dubinski (6’2, 295, Redshirt Sophomore)

What Does it Mean?

Some of the positions are a little wonky with all the switching around that happened on the inside of the line last year.

Here’s the takeaway: while coaches always want 11 linemen ready to go every game, Missouri only used eight in snaps that mattered last year. And two of those backups got their chances because of injury. If Glen Elarbee finds a combination of five he likes at the beginning of the year, will all five end up playing 94-100 percent of the meaningful snaps this season? Or will Elarbee want (or be forced) to mix and match, and we’ll see some of those 66-68 percent ranges? Out of these 10, who are the two least likely backups to see significant action, if we’re taking the rotation last year as any indication?

Based on last year’s performance, you’d think it was the backups for Adams (Bailey) and Pendleton (Ploudre). Though what complicates that is both played extensively last year and can pinch hit at other spots. Judging by (lack of) experience, you’d say Harris and Durant. And whither, Alec Abeln? Going with my gut, I’d say the Castillo-Simms spots are still more open to interpretation than the other three. Though that’s not exactly a revolutionary stance to take.


Defense

End

2016

Charles Harris — 655 (83.1)
Jordan Harold — 211 (26.8)

2017

Marcell Frazier (6’5, 265, Redshirt Senior)
Chris Turner (6’4, 250, Freshman)

End

2016

Marcell Frazier — 380 (48.2)
Spencer Williams — 337 (42.8)
Nate Howard — 30 (3.81)

2017

Jordan Harold (6’2, 255, Redshirt Senior)
Nate Anderson (6’0, 265, Junior)

Tackle

2016

Rickey Hatley — 521 (66.1)
Terry Beckner — 182 (23.1)
Markell Utsey — 58 (7.36)

2017

Terry Beckner (6’4, 305, Junior)
Rashad Brandon (6’3, 300, Junior)
Walter Palmore (6’4, 320, Junior)

Tackle

2016

A.J. Logan — 436 (55.3)
Josh Augusta -- 292 (37.1)
Josh Moore — 24 (3.05)

2017

Markell Utsey (6’4, 305, Sophomore)
A.J. Logan (6’2, 300, Redshirt Senior)
Kobie Whiteside (6’1, 300, Freshman)

What Does it Mean?

What to do with this mess of big bodies? Let’s start on the ends. Frazier, as the only exhaustively experienced guy in the group, should inch closer to Harris’ 83 percent of the snaps than the 48 he put up last year. Though he’s probably not hitting 83 percent. For that is insane. Let’s say he enjoys a 67-33 split over Turner. I think you could end up seeing Harold and Anderson flirting with duplicating that 48-43 split on the other side, though I also think you could see someone like a Franklin Agbasimere or Tre Williams stepping in and taking more than Howard’s 4-percent share from last year.

Now to the ends. I can see Beckner maintaining about a 66-23-7 split over his junior-college cohorts at one spot (if he stays healthy), and Utsey and Logan trading off around that 55-37 split at the other tackle spot, with Whiteside playing sparingly as Utsey did last year before gaining more snaps with Beckner’s injury.

How would Beckner and Frazier fare as disruptors if they each played about 23 of the Tigers’ defensive snaps this year? Given their plays per tackle for loss over the past two years (and assuming around 950 total defensive snaps like last year), it would mean about 11 tackles for loss for Beckner and 11.5 for Frazier. Not too bad, right?

—————

Outside LB

2016

Joey Burkett — 374 (47.5)
Brandon Lee — 209 (26.5)
Terez Hall -- 120 (15.2)

2017

Terez Hall (6’2, 230, Junior)
OR Joey Burkett (6’2, 230, Redshirt Senior)

Middle LB

2016

Michael Scherer – 334 (42.4)
Eric Beisel -- 292 (37.1)
Cale Garrett -- 270 (34.3)

2017

Eric Beisel (6’3, 245, Redshirt Senior)
OR Cale Garrett (6’3, 235, Sophomore)

Outside LB/Nickel

2016

Donavin Newsom -- 551 (69.9)
T.J. Warren — 210 (26.6)

2017

Kaleb Prewett (6’1, 210, Junior)
OR Brandon Lee (6’2, 225, Redshirt Junior)

What Does it Mean?

Like the offensive line, the individual numbers are a little bit wonky because of guys playing at different positions throughout the course of the season. And Michael Scherer’s share would have been much larger if not for injury.

But I kind of like these ratios because, with all these “ORs” floating around, there’s really no telling how things are going to shake out. I would venture to say the Sam linebacker situation has a pretty good shot of being switched this season, with the nickelback (Prewett) getting about 70 percent of the snaps and the linebacker (Lee) getting about 30.

Hall and Burkett’s share should be more equitable than 48-27 (or 64-36, if we’re going up to 100 percent) on the other side, and I can see Garrett and Beisel maybe splitting about 55-45 in the middle. Where does freshman Jamal Brooks fit in? Or does he? Hall played about 10 meaningful snaps a game last year at both outside spots, and I think that’d be a good place for Brooks to start.

—————

Corner

2016

Aarion Penton — 731 (92.8)
DeMarkus Acy — 99 (12.6)

2017

DeMarkus Acy (6’2, 185, Sophomore)
Finis Stribling (5’11, 195, Redshirt Junior)

Corner

2016

John Gibson — 592 (75.1)
Logan Cheadle — 167 (21.2)

2017

Logan Cheadle (5’10, 185, Senior)
Adam Sparks (6’0, 175, Freshman)
OR Anthony Hines (6’1, 200, Senior)

Safety

2016

Anthony Sherrils -- 422 (53.6)
Ronnell Perkins — 356 (45.2)

2017

Anthony Sherrils (6’0, 190, Redshirt Senior)
Ronnell Perkins (6’0, 200, Redshirt Sophomore)

Safety

2016

Thomas Wilson — 425 (53.9)
Cam Hilton — 418 (53.0)

2017

Jordan Ulmer (6’2, 195, Freshman)
Cam Hilton (6’0, 185, Junior)

What Does it Mean?

This is a bit tricky. Penton and Gibson ruled the corner positions like fiefdoms last year. I don’t really see any of these players hogging 93 percent of the snaps at one spot like Penton did last year. That said, I could see Acy enjoying a 75-25ish split over Stribling, with Cheadle taking about 70 percent of the snaps over Sparks and Hines serving as the backup at both spots, as well as possibly a Dime corner or backup nickelback to Prewett.

As you can see in the safety splits, nobody seized his position last year, the coaches begged someone to come in and take a spot, and Ulmer obliged. It would do Missouri well if the Tigers could find two standout starters and not split 50-50 all season for a second straight year, but I don’t know if I see it in this group. One gets the sense that Wilson could get a chance to work his way back into the safety (and perhaps nickelback) rotation as well.