Mizzou beat Tennessee on Saturday. I’m sorry, let me rephrase that:
Mizzou kicked Tennessee’s ass on Saturday. It wasn’t just on defense, Coach. Mizzou lifted Tennessee up by their shorts and planted a firm foot on their collective ass for 60 straight minutes.
It’s good to beat any team. I enjoy beating Vanderbilt. I really enjoy beating Kentucky. Hell, I enjoy beating Arkansas so much!
But beating Tennessee? In such resounding fashion? I don’t know what it is, but there’s something special about it.
Mizzou doesn’t have a historical rival in the SEC. There will always be quibbling about who their true rival is. But it certainly feels, at this point, like Mizzou fans love to hate Tennessee the most. So any day we get to enjoy a Volunteer ass-kicking, it’s a good day.
I’m not going to get into the politics of the Punisher, sufficed to say that if you’re the type of person who likes to celebrate him as a totem, you probably missed the point.
In fact, this game didn’t really remind me of The Punisher’s story at all. Am I breaking any sort of rules by admitting that? I’ll consult the commissioner of this column (hint: it’s me.) The only thing that brought it to mind was the sheer brutality of Cody Schrader’s performance. We briefly mentioned this on Before the Box Score, but Schrader’s performance was evocative of Danario Alexander’s heyday — the defense knew what was coming and could do absolutely nothing to stop it. That’s dominance.
Much like the Punisher’s penchant for brutality and collateral damage, Schrader left no prisoners on Saturday. Tennessee was hobbling off left and right, Schrader’s unique blend of strength and burst keeping them wrong-footed. So Tennessee fans were complaining about the Faurot playing surface? I don’t know, Cody Schrader seemed to be running fine!
I don’t want to overdo the comparison here. As I said, it’s mostly Schrader’s total destruction of the Tennessee defense that brought the comparison forward (and the fact that his eye black sort of reminded me of the streaky blacks of the Punisher’s get-up.) I’m just hoping I have more reasons to think it over during Mizzou’s final two games of the season.
★★★★★ for the win over Tennessee, ★★☆☆☆ for pretty much any screen version of Punisher, which doesn’t translate well to screen (save for the cameo in Netflix’s Daredevil)
I, like many other living, breathing, bleeding human beings, share concerns about the ethical and existential implications of artificial intelligence. I understand that the corporations that are designing these super-computers do not have our collective best interests at heart. They do not care about our future. If a race of AI super soldiers takes over in 20 years, these people will not care so long as they made a buck before then.
That being said, I do think AI’s creative potential is both intriguing and hilarious.
The general public does not see the best examples of AI capabilities. We get the castoffs, the layabouts. If the overachieving AI’s are the ones who will go on to govern the new world order, the ones we’re seeing now will be the grunts. They are capable of much but motivated by little.
I point all that out as a precursor to the image you see below, which pictures a line of five near perfectly rendered hamsters holding what appears to be a line of very poorly designed footballs. Apparently, this is what you get when you plug “hamster playing football” into an AI machine. It’s not perfect, but it is funny (in my opinion).
This has been a lot of preamble to say that I really enjoyed watching Mizzou pound the snot out of Tennessee, so I’m awarding them five out of five “muscle hamsters” (just go with it, OK?) in honor of Cody Schrader. Very watchable. Would recommend doing again.
Disrespectful Play Index
One of the things I find particularly endearing about Cody Schrader is his substance-over-style approach. Sure, Schrader is prone to the on-field celebration and isn’t shy to let his emotions spill over onto the turf. But for the most part he’s a meat-and-potatoes type of player. Do the job, get the win, profit.
Unfortunately, that makes him a notably poor candidate for weekly Disrespectful Play Indexes. We’ve made a killing off of Luther Burden plays this year, but given that he’s playing hurt, we’re less likely to get those explosive open-field highlights.
Thank god for Brady Cook! Cook, unlike Schrader, is not at all shy about playing with some god-given swagger. Cook has been through hell and back as Mizzou’s starting quarterback, and it just now feels like he’s fully embraced the role as his own in play and in spirit. That makes his big plays a special brand of disrespectful, especially when he’s got a special chip for the opponent. Tennessee, in this case.
As a reminder, here are the criteria from which we’ll judge Mr. Cook.
Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play? (0-20)
Category 2: How hard did the defense try? (0-20)
Category 3: How much did his teammates help? (0-5)
Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward? (0-20)
Category 5: How did everyone not involved react? (0-15)
Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider? (0-20)
And here’s the play in question.
- Category 1: How difficult/impressive was the play?
I’m not going to sit here and pretend Brady Cook’s fake-pitch-and-run was the most difficult play in the world. When you’re on the two-yard line, nothing should be overly difficult. But Mizzou did have some trouble converting inside the red zone in this game, with Tennessee taking away the outside receivers and selling out to stop Cody Schrader. It’s a beautifully drawn play from Kirby Moore, and Cook sells it really well. 12/20
- Category 2: How hard did the defense try?
It’s hard to say. When you get faked out this drastically, any amount of effort you give to recovery looks lackadaisical. You need to watch the video to get the full effect of this play, because nearly every Tennessee player jolts right when Cook fakes the pitch. Credit to a few of them; they tried to get back into it. That can’t be said for our friend on the bottom left, however, who looks like he’s running through wet cement to catch up. 14/20
- Category 3: How much did his teammates help?
I feel for Nathaniel Peat, man. He came to Mizzou to be the hometown hero at a time when Eli Drinkwitz really needed a Tyler Badie replacement. Peat felt like the natural fit, combining the same agility and pass-game acumen that made Badie such a dangerous player. It felt right that he’d come in, assume the mantle, and add “power-rusher” to his skill set. As we now know, there was a god ascendant behind him on the depth chart.
But credit to the Columbia native, he plays his role well. And in this case, his role involved a whole lot of acting. Watch the way Peat sells this play by exaggerating the catch and sticking it like he’s bringing the ball back into his gut. Amazing stuff. Maybe he’s been taking some acting classes at Mizzou? I could see it. 3/5
- Category 4: What did the player do immediately afterward?
Let’s talk about Brady Cook’s gastronomical skills for a second.
I get that an actor needs something tangible to envision when they’re doing mime work. It gives your muscles a frame of reference for the movement they’re about to perform. And while whisking isn’t even in the top 10 most important skills to have as a chef, perhaps no other sign is as clear an indicator to the watching world that you are, indeed, cooking (though I’d love to see his knife skills if he wants to mime those out next time).
But, Brady. Come on, man. What’s going on with that whisking technique? You’re cooking up eggs and you’ve got that wide of movement? What sort of bowl are you using man, you’re going to slosh those eggs all over the place. That’s a ton of egg whites all over the kitchen counter that now require a sanitizing agent and you’re missing the cleanest part of the egg in the first place. Get a firmer grip on the handle of that whisk and create smaller movements with the wrist!
Cool celebration, though! 20/20
- Category 5: How did everyone not involved react?
Not to step on Category 6 here, but this warmed my heart. To see Cook vibing with the home crowd in this moment, when it was starting to become clear that Mizzou was going to waltz away with this game in their back pocket, gave me some goosebumps. Brady Cook is the last person on this team who should be running to embrace the crowd considering the garbage he’s been put through. That he still feels able to is indicative of his dedication to the black and gold. 13/15
- Category 6: Is there a backstory/context to consider?
As I mentioned before, Cook has really been through the ringer as the starting QB at his dream school, and it just now feels like he’s starting to feel the embrace of the fan base in a meaningful way. He’s fired up, he’s engaging with the crowd and he seems to really love playing as a Tiger. That swagger was missing all of last season, and you can see how it makes a difference in the way he plays. It’s part of the reason he was able to rebound from a tough-luck interception so early in this game. It’s unfathomable to think that just a few weeks ago there were fans who wanted anyone else but Cook in this spot. Now it’s unthinkable that he’d be anywhere but Mizzou through next season. 19/20
Brady Cook’s fake pitch and score was 81 percent disrespectful to Tennessee.
Superlatives and Awards
Best Prospective NIL Deal
Brady Cook doesn’t need any more NIL deals. After all, he’s got some sweet gigs already with Imo’s and Sugarfire. But do you think we could get my man signed up for some cooking classes? I hear the Kitchen Conservatory in St. Louis does a lovely Italian night!
The Himothy Award for Most “Him” Performance
We’ve celebrated Cody Schrader enough (well, no we haven’t, but still), and I think it’s high time we give someone else some love. How about Darius Robinson, who is playing himself high onto NFL draft board during the second half of this season?