clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Did Mizzou’s offseason upgrades do enough to solidify the offensive line?

The Tigers’ performance in week one portends good things for the revamped unit.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG. 31 South Dakota at Missouri

Running the ball isn’t just something teams in the SEC want to do. It’s a way of life. It’s a piece of who you are. Not being able to pick up short yardage situations by running it down the opposition’s throat is a sure-fire way to a disappointing season in this conference.

Missouri found that out the hard way a year ago.

The Tigers finished 11th out of 14 teams in the SEC last year in yards per carry. The Tigers’ running game would have been even worse if not for the work Brady Cook did down the stretch on designed quarterback carries. It was a far cry from the 2021 offense that featured Tyler Badie and an offensive line that featured Michael Maetti, Hyrin White and Javon Foster.

Mizzou’s coaching staff recognized in the offseason that there was work to be done. They added Cam’Ron Johnson and Marcellus Johnson via the transfer portal. They put in work to get Armand Membou and Connor Tollison up to speed. They signed a four star offensive guard in Logan Reichert. The goal was to add depth and competition to a unit that failed to pave the way for the running game.

Early returns are encouraging. In the first game of the season, Missouri’s offensive line looked as impressive as it could against an overmatched South Dakota defensive line. Mizzou’s running backs averaged a robust 3.8 yards per carry before contact, according to Pro Football Focus. That was close to their per carry average a year ago. Most importantly, though, Missouri’s running backs mostly avoided the negative plays. Nate Peat was stopped behind the line of scrimmage on three of his runs. The other 31 running back carries went for positive yardage.

Let’s break this down a bit further, shall we? Let’s take a look at Missouri’s performance in the ground game against this year’s FCS opponent compared to how the Tigers performed in the most comparable game in the previous two seasons.

Mizzou RBs vs South Dakota:

  • 34 carries for 192 yards and two touchdowns
  • 62% success rate
  • 131 yards before contact (68.2%)

Mizzou RBs in 2022 vs Abilene Christian:

  • 32 carries for 140 yards
  • 40% success rate
  • 72 yards before contact (51.4%)

Mizzou RBs in 2021 vs SEMO:

  • 31 carries for 217 yards and three touchdowns
  • 59% success rate
  • 149 yards before contact (68.6%)

Missouri’s running game against South Dakota last week looked a whole lot more similar to what it did in 2021 than the disastrous performance in 2022 against Abilene Christian. That could be a great sign for what is to come.

It’s hard to learn much of anything meaningful against an FCS opponent. The main goal is to come away from the game with a big win and a healthy roster. The Tigers accomplished both of those primary goals, but they also learned they might be able to run the ball again this season. The next test will be sustaining this performance against the more talented teams coming up on the schedule.