For Part 1 - Nathaniel Peat, click here.
By now we all know that Eli Drinkwitz loves running the football. Probably too much, but he is what he is.
We also know that a pretty good ground game kept Missouri offenses alive in 2020 and 2021, when injured/limited quarterbacks struggled to move the ball through the air.
And, of course, we know the 2022 Missouri rushing offense was very bad.
When I’ve discussed Missouri’s bad ground game previously, it’s mostly been centered around “yes, both the offensive line and running backs deserve blame” but never really delved any further than that to explain it.
Today, I dive deeper to explain it.
For the entire 2022 season, three gentlemen carried the ball more than 20 times: Nate Peat (100), Brady Cook (118), and Cody Schrader (168). I’ll break down each of their performances to try and get a better idea of what the numbers say was going on*.
*as a reminder, I score each game myself so my stats might differ from what you see in other places. Whereas I have the benefit of rewinding multiple times to get the right yard line and player, NCAA “blessed” stats are just a dude with some binoculars sitting in the press box yelling to some other dude to write it down in real time with no review.
Before we dive into the stats, here’s a refresher on what some of these stats mean:
- Yards Per Carry (YPC): You should know this one. Take total yards, divide by total carries. Antiquated way of viewing the effectiveness of a rusher but a metric everyone understands.
- Line Yards Per Carry (LYPC): An attempt to credit the offensive line with some of the rushing yards. If a run is hit in the backfield that’s the line’s fault and it gets weighted at 120%. The first four yards gained are credited 100% to the line. Yards 5-10 on a rush is credited to the line at 50%. And any yard over those first 10 yards gained on the ground is 100% credited to the running back. Take that total yards run, multiply it by the appropriate percentages, and divide by total carries.
- Success Rate (SR): A common tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50% of necessary yardage on first down, 70% on second down, and 100% on third and fourth down. Take the number of runs that were successful and divide it by the total carries. The national median rushing success rate in 2022 was 44.5%.
- Opportunity Rate (OR): A metric to determine an offensive line’s ability to “do their job”. Take the number of runs that gain at least 4 yards and divide it by total rushes. The national median opportunity rate in 2022 was 48.2%.
- Highlight Yards Per Opportunity (HYPO): A metric to determine a running back’s effectiveness of creating yardage for himself. Simply put, if an offensive line did its job and got the running back 4 yards, how far did the running back go after that (on average)?
Today, we look at Cody Schrader.
Cody Schrader - Redshirt Senior
Advanced Stat Breakdown
- Number of Runs on 1st-Down: 93
- Number of Runs on 2nd-Down: 55
- Number of Runs on 3rd-Down: 19
- Number of Runs on 4th-Down: 1
- Percentage of Rushes that Gained a 1st-Down: 18.2% (that’s below the national average)
- Average Yards Gained Running Outside: 5.0
- Average Yards Gained Running Inside: 3.9
- Average Yards Gained Against a 7+ Man Box: 3.9
- Average Yards Gained Before Contact: 1.5
- Average Yards Gained After Contact: 2.9
Cody Schrader entered the 2022 season as a feel good story; the former Truman State Bulldog had led all of college football in rushing for 2021 and decided to walk-on at Missouri to see what he could do at a higher level. And then, by the end of the year, he was Missouri’s #1 rusher.
He ended up being a better rusher than Nate Peat on the outside (5.0 to 4.3), and a less-productive rusher than Peat on the inside (3.9 to 4.5), mainly because he ran to contact and didn’t really ever make dudes miss. His YBC and YAC were similar to Peat’s but his real strength was his average yards against a 7+ man box (3.9), by far the best on the team but worse than even the national average. And that, in my mind, is the problem.
Beyond the good stories and excellent work ethic, the point of the matter is that Schrader was the most consistent Missouri runner of ‘22 but still not a very good SEC running back. Schrader ranked well below the median SEC rusher in Yards After Contact (2.9), Broken Tackle Rate (23.5%), and Success Rate (41.7%). To further dampen the mood, Schrader was the second worst SEC rusher in Explosive Run Rate (7.1%) and First Down/Touchdown Rate (21.8%). He got yards, yeah, but nothing big and rarely consequential. The problem, then, is that there was no other Tiger rusher that was so clearly more talented to siphon snaps away from Schrader, nor was there any other running back that the staff trusted down the stretch. That fact pushed Elijah Young away, and I’m curious if Michael Cox, B.J. Harris, Taj Butts, and Tavorus Jones can develop enough over the offseason to earn that trust (or be that explosive) for the staff to roll out 10-12 carries per game. Think of him as Ryan Rosburg on that woebegone ‘15-’16 Mizzou basketball team: it’s cool that he’s “the guy” but it would be great if he didn’t have to be “the guy”.
Best Game - Week 8 vs. Vanderbilt
- Defensive SP+ Ranking: 94th
- Defensive Season Rushing Success Rate: 39.7%
- Missouri’s Offensive Line: Foster - Delgado - Tollison - Walters - Wood
- Raw Rushing Stats: 14 rushes, 83 yards, 5.9 ypc, 0 TD
- Advanced Rushing Stats: 3.1 line yards per carry, 57.1% success rate, 57.1% opportunity rate, 5.0 highlight yards per opportunity
Last week I highlighted this game as Nathaniel Peat’s worst in ‘22, and it coincided with Cody Schrader’s best. Like most Schrader performances it didn’t feature multiple touchdowns or big breakaway runs, it was simply a performance that reliably gained enough yards to keep up with the sticks and bleed the clock in a game Missouri was desperate to escape from. That consistency and reliability sealed the fate on Peat’s chances of being the main guy and permanently promoted Schrader to prime running back status in ‘22.
Worst Game - Week 11 at Tennessee
- Defensive SP+ Ranking: 30th
- Defensive Rushing Success Rate: 38.9%
- Missouri’s Offensive Line: Foster - Delgado - Tollison - Wood - Membou
- Raw Rushing Stats: 10 rushes, 25 yards, 2.5 ypc
- Advanced Rushing Stats: 1.8 line yards per carry, 20.0% success rate, 40.0% opportunity rate, 1.8 highlight yards per opportunity
There really isn’t a corollary between “Schrader does well and the team wins”. He played well against bad defenses and good defenses. He also stunk up the joint against bad defenses and good defenses. I almost chose the Wake Forest game (due to caliber of opponent), but I went with Tennessee for this simple fact: Missouri’s offense was actually pretty good against Tennessee unless Cody was running the ball. Schrader was hit at or behind the line three times and only managed a carry over five yards twice. Missouri needed another weapon to step up in that game and they didn’t have it.
Number of Games Schrader’s Rushing Success Rate Exceeded Opponent’s Defensive Rushing Success Rate
Five...Kansas State (66.7%), Georgia (50.0%), Vanderbilt (57.1%), South Carolina (54.5%), New Mexico State (55.6%)
Number of Games Schrader’s Rushing Success Rate Exceeded National Median Rushing Success Rate of 44.5%
Seven...Kansas State (66.7%), Abilene Christian (55.6%), Auburn (50%), Georgia (50%), Vanderbilt (57.1%), South Carolina (54.5%), New Mexico State (55.6%)
Number of Games the Offensive Line’s Opportunity Rate for Schrader Exceeded National Median Opportunity Rate of 48.2%
Six...Abilene Christian (55.6%), Auburn (50.0%), Georgia (50.0%), Vanderbilt (57.1%), South Carolina (54.5%), New Mexico State (50.0%)
Way back in the halcyon days of Gary Pinkel’s 2002-2005 teams with Dave Christensen as offensive coordinator, the folks I’d sit with in Section NN would constantly complain about the screen pass. I believe the phrase - which has been used to describe many other frustrating offenses - was “The Dave Christensen screen pass: If you need two yards it’ll get you two yards. If you need eight yards it’ll get you two yards”. And I think that best describes Cody Schrader’s game.
Of the running backs, he had the best success rate... by far. It also ranked 4% below the national median, which isn’t great. But the line was consistent in blocking for him and Peat (both enjoyed an opportunity rate of 44%) and Schrader was able to be more successful for the season. Explosive? Absolutely not. Outside the Georgia run and a handful of other scampers, Schrader was steady and consistent, getting four yards and that’s it.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with that! Every team needs a guy who can grind out tough yards and run through contact falling forward. But that can’t be your only guy. You need someone who can effectively be a big play threat (hopefully that can be Peat!) and a guy who can run, catch, block, and be an all-around weapon.
No one will work harder than Schrader and I love his story and that he plays for my team. He also needs to some help and to refine his big play ability to be a viable threat in his second go around in the SEC.