Within the game of football, it’s the little things that make a team elite, things that you might not even pay attention to or notice at first glance. On Black Friday, Missouri dished out its second-biggest beating against Arkansas by roasting the Razorbacks 48-14 in Fayetteville. Behind the Tigers 34-point victory, the offense generated 258 of 370 total yards through its rushing attack. To find a game where Mizzou rushed for more yards, you have to go back to 2022’s season opener, where a committee of Tigers tallied 323 yards against Louisiana tech.
While a majority of the credit is due to Cody Schrader, the offensive and offensive coordinator Kirby Moore, and offensive line coach Brandon Jones, it still takes a complete effort to get the running game going. This means we cannot leave out wide receiver coach Jacob Peeler’s group as well.
Ever since a gritty victory at Kentucky, where the Mizzou rushed for just 118 yards, the Tigers ground game has churned out 150-plus yards in the following games against South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida, which concluded with Schrader rushing for a personal career-high 219 yards at the FBS level against Arkansas. He ran for 278 against Missouri S&T in 2021 while at Truman State.
Schrader is arguably the most humble individual in college football and will always be quick to credit his fellow teammates following a fantastic performance.
“It goes out to the o-line, and tight ends, and even receivers. I mean Mookie Cooper had a ton of blocks.” — Cody Schrader following Mizzou’s 48-14 win over Arkansas.
Schrader was absolutely right about including the skill position in crediting his historic performance on Friday.
He produced three runs of 30-plus yards, and along with him kicking it into high gear, it took a whole team effort from everyone to make sure it was possible.
Early in the first quarter, with Mizzou a couple of yards away from crossing Arkansas territory, the Tigers ran an outside zone play to the right side of the formation. First of all, Armand Membou and Cam’Ron John do an excellent job cleaning up their blocks, allowing Schrader to get to the next level. Once he’s past the line of scrimmage, two defenders are preventing him from bursting down the sideline. Fortunately, Cooper and Theo Wease get their hands on both Lorando Johnson and Dwight McGlothern, freeing up enough room for Schrader to gain an extra 25 yards down the sideline for a 36-yard gain.
Gotta love downfield blocking by the wide receivers. pic.twitter.com/G7aIuo87wa— Jaden Lewis (@Jaden_Lewis29) November 26, 2023
Early in the second quarter, Mizzou, again just outside of Arkansas territory, runs another outside zone, this time in a trips/tre formation with Brett Norfleet lined up to the short side of the field. The o-line once again does a phenomenal job, including Norfleet and Javon Foster doubling Chris Paul Jr. On the perimeter, though, Luther Burden II takes Jayden Johnson out of the play. At the same time, Cooper once again holds up his block long enough on Jaheim Singletary, allowing Schrader to burst down the sideline for 43 more yards.
Luther Burden III makes sure the defender doesn’t make a play, Mookie Cooper stays on his block long enough. Cody Schrader gets 43 yards. pic.twitter.com/tyI1pqqxJR— Jaden Lewis (@Jaden_Lewis29) November 26, 2023
On the previous play, Cooper again got the best of Singletary as Schrader picked up 14 more.
Cody Schrader: “I mean Mookie Cooper had a ton of blocks.” pic.twitter.com/XPqEOJhlIO— Jaden Lewis (@Jaden_Lewis29) November 26, 2023
On Schrader’s last big run on Friday, it’s Deja Vu. Outside zone call, Foster seals off the edge, but this time with Cooper, it’s Mekhi Miller picking up a key block, allowing Schrader to break free for 49 yards down to Arkansas’s three-yard line.
Mekhi Miller got in there as well. pic.twitter.com/5AmSdRRM8x— Jaden Lewis (@Jaden_Lewis29) November 26, 2023
Those are just four plays, but they totaled 142 of Schrader’s 219 against Arkansas. Missouri’s perimeter blocking has come a long way from where it stood at the beginning of fall camp, as it was something Eli Drinkwitz heavily criticized the wide receiving room for not achieving. Here’s what Drinwkitz said prior to fall camp opening up:
“We did not do nearly good enough last year; wathc the tape,” Drinkwitz said. “We were poor blockers on the perimeter so we got to be able to run the ball, block the perimeter, (and) block for each other.” — Eli Drinwkitz on July 30, 2023.
Six days later, he still wasn’t pleased about it.
“It’s embarrassing for me right now, to be honest, that room has got to be better, and take more pride in blocking on the perimeter and no block, no rock. It’s not near what the standard should be and I’m not pleased with it at all in any shape, form, or fashion.” — Eli Drinkwitz on Aug. 5, 2023.
But the group began to take some steps forward a week later.
“I think they’ve responded really well. You can either take B.C.D, blame, complain and defend poor performance or you can respond and focus on the process of improvement, and I’ve really felt like they done that...but by no means are we a finished product.” — Eli Drinkwitz on Aug. 12, 2023.
A complete product is something that is like the number infinity. You won’t ever 100% reach it because there is always improvement to be had, but the perimeter blocking by Missouri’s wide receivers against the Razorbacks for Schrader was beautiful to watch. It was also beautiful to see Burden and Cooper on Wease’s 77-yard touchdown against Florida on senior night.
You block, you get the rock. Simple as that.