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What Was Wrong with Mizzou’s Running Game? Part 1 - Nathaniel Peat

Using numbers to attempt to explain what the heck happened to Mizzou’s 2022 rushing offense

Vanderbilt v Missouri Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

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 be 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 start with Nathaniel Peat.

Nathaniel Peat - Senior

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Georgia at Missouri
Nathaniel Peat Career Stats
Nathaniel Peat 2022 Season Stats

Advanced Stat Breakdown

  • Number of Runs on 1st-Down: 59
  • Number of Runs on 2nd-Down: 35
  • Number of Runs on 3rd-Down: 7
  • Number of Runs on 4th-Down: 0
  • Percentage of Rushes that Gained a 1st-Down: 19.0% (that’s below the national average)
  • Average Yards Gained Running Outside: 4.3
  • Average Yards Gained Running Inside: 4.5
  • Average Yards Gained Against a 7+ Man Box: 2.5
  • Average Yards Gained Before Contact: 1.4
  • Average Yards Gained After Contact: 3.0

Peat began the season at the primary running back - if not in title, certainly in usage - but suffered some soul crushing turnovers and bad decisions in the front half of the season. He received 11 carries in the first game after the Bye Week against Vanderbilt and then ran the ball a combined 13 more times over the next six games, missing the South Carolina and Kentucky games completely.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Missouri at Florida Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Best Game - Week 6 at Florida

  • Defensive SP+ Ranking: 69th
  • Defensive Season Rushing Success Rate: 46.7%
  • Missouri’s Offensive Line: Foster - Delgado - Tollison - Walters - Wood
  • Raw Rushing Stats: 20 rushes, 116 yards, 5.8 ypc, 1 TD
  • Advanced Rushing Stats: 2.2 line yards per carry, 45.0% success rate, 45.0% opportunity rate, 7.8 highlight yards per opportunity

Coming off of a terrible game against Georgia (with an 11% rushing success rate!), Peat had his best game of the year on the road against the Gators, logging his second 100+ yard game in a three-week span and averaging 5.8 yards per carry. The line did a decent job of getting him holes and he went off for an average of 7.8 yards after the line busted him free.

Vanderbilt v Missouri Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

Worst Game - Week 8 vs. Vanderbilt

  • Defensive SP+ Ranking: 94th
  • Defensive Rushing Success Rate: 39.7%
  • Missouri’s Offensive Line: Foster - Delgado - Tollison - Walters - Wood
  • Raw Rushing Stats: 11 rushes, 7 yards, 0.6 ypc
  • Advanced Rushing Stats: 0.4 line yards per carry, 0.0% success rate, 27.3% opportunity rate, 0.7 highlight yards per opportunity

Yeah...this was, seemingly, the nail in the coffin for Peat’s usage in 2022. Vanderbilt ended up being a Top 30 rushing defense you just cannot rush the ball 11 times and wind up with a 0% success rate, no matter the caliber of opponent. He didn’t get many holes, sure, but this was the week when Cody Schrader’s steady performance essentially stole the mantle of RB1 away from Peat and relegated him to rotational duty.

Number of Games Peat’s Rushing Success Rate Exceeded Opponent’s Defensive Rushing Success Rate

Twice...once against Tennessee (3 rushes, 12 yards, 66.7% success rate) and then again versus Wake Forest (5 rushes, 38 yards, 60.0% success rate).

Number of Games Peat’s Rushing Success Rate Exceeded National Median Rushing Success Rate of 44.5%

Three times...Florida (45.0%), Tennessee (66.7%), Wake Forest (60.0%)

Number of Games the Offensive Line’s Opportunity Rate for Peat Exceeded National Median Opportunity Rate of 48.2%

Four times...Louisiana Tech (77.8%), Auburn (60.0%), Tennessee (66.7%), Wake Forest (60.0%)


Nathaniel Peat was a low efficiency, high explosion back that was wildly inconsistent. Of the three guys who carried the ball more than 20 times he had the highest highlight yards per opportunity - 5.8, a full yard better than Schrader or Cook - but also had a success rate that was 12 points lower than an average college running back in 2022.

I believe Eli Drinkwitz mentioned this in a press conference vaguely about running backs running too much side to side and less up the field and he was, in my opinion, 100% talking about Peat. If you have any of the games (or at least Vanderbilt) on DVR, go back and watch Peat’s carries specifically; in an effort to make a big play he would stay too long in the backfield, try to reverse field, or not be patient enough to let the play develop, often times getting smacked behind the line of scrimmage. It’s one of the reasons why his yards per carry running outside (4.3) is lower than his yards per carry running inside (4.5). That vision and patience is what Drink values - regardless of big play ability - and it’s something that he’ll need to perfect in his bonus year in Columbia.

I fully believe Nate Peat is a good running back. And I absolutely believe he can be a good running back at Mizzou. I’m hoping ‘22 was an “initiation” of playing in the SEC and he’ll be better prepared for the ‘23 campaign.