Of all the games you’ve watched as a Missouri fan that were dominated by a single player, which one stands out the most?
We remember Drew Lock’s evisceration of Missouri State negatively because, while the number of yards and touchdowns he threw for was impressive, it was also against an FCS team that was hanging way longer than it should, forcing Drew to stay out there and throw bombs. Henry Josey’s 263-yard romp through Western Illinois was fun and unforced but, again, it was against an FCS team.
What about standout performances in losses? Blaine Gabbert threw for the third-most passing yards in school history in 2009 but inevitably lost to a Baylor team that was a year away from fully actualizing under Art Briles. Or maybe Gabbert’s swan song 434 yards in the tight bowl loss against Iowa stands out in your mind? Or Justin Gage’s desperate 236 receiving yards in an upset loss to Bowling Green?
No, I think the most impressive singular performances have to come in wins for us to fondly remember them. Danario Alexander’s 233 yards against kansas in ‘09...or, really, any of his performances from that November. Drew Lock’s 448 yards against Arkansas or Chase Daniel’s 439 against Buffalo. Or, if you’re an old like me, Devin West’s 319 yards against kansas in 1998. Or, for the slightly younger crowd, Tony Temple’s domination of Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl conclusion to the ‘07 season.
And, thus, we arrive back to Saturday night. Mizzou had a dominating team performance against a highly-ranked Tennessee squad that had actual goals that they were trying to achieve and the Tigers snuffed them out completely. The defense was incredible and the offense was Cody Schrader.
Our little muscle hamster (as I affectionately refer to him) put together his best game as a Tiger and maybe the best game of his career, running for 204 yards on the ground and adding 116 yards through the air. When I put this tweet up...
5-star, 3-star, 4-star, 5-star, 4-star, and unranked D-2 transfer walk-on pic.twitter.com/UegLm5Cban— Nate Edwards (@NateGEdwards) November 11, 2023
...the 4th quarter had just started. 15 minutes later, Schrader had become the fifth player in the last 25 years to rush for 200+ yards and have 100+ yards receiving in the same game and the first player from the SEC to do so.
But how does Schrader’s performance stack up against the other four? GLAD YOU ASKED. Here they are, in order from fewest combined yards to most:
Christian McCaffrey - 2015 Pac 12 Championship Game Stanford vs. #20 USC (W 41-22)
-32 rushes, 207 yards, 1 TD
-4 recs, 105 yards, 1 TD
-TOTAL: 36 touches, 312 yards, 2 TDs
Cody Schrader - 2023 Missouri vs. #14 Tennessee (W 36-7)
-35 rushes, 205 yards, 1 TD
-5 recs, 116 yards, 0 TDs
-TOTAL: 40 touches, 321 yards, 1 TD
Devin Neal - 2022 kansas vs. #18 Oklahoma State (W 37-16)
-32 rushes, 224 yards, 1 TD
-6 recs, 110 yards, 0 TDs
-TOTAL: 38 touches, 334 yards, 1 TD
Steve Slaton - 2006 West Virginia at Pittsburgh (W 45-27)
-23 rushes, 215 yards, 2 TDs
-6 recs, 130 yards, 2 TDs
-TOTAL: 29 touches, 345 yards, 4 TDs
Joe Mixon - 2016 Oklahoma at Texas Tech (W 66-59)
-31 rushes, 263 yards, 2 TDs
-4 recs, 114 yards, 3 TDs
-TOTAL: 35 touches, 357 yards, 5 TDs
Schrader’s effort ranks 4th of this elite fraternity of single-game offensive production.
But we can go further.
Christian McCaffrey was a consensus 4-star recruit coming out of high school. Devin Neal and Steve Slaton were solid 3-stars and Joe Mixon was an elite 5-star blue chipper. As we all know, Schrader was an overlooked unranked prospect coming out of high school.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.
The 2015 USC defense that McCaffrey tore through ranked 41st at the conclusion of the year. Devin Neal abused Oklahoma State’s defense but it ranked 64th at the end of 2022. That Pittsburgh defense that Steve Slaton couldn’t bother to be slowed down by? Ranked 37th among its 2006 peers. And, of course, Joe Mixon benefited from Kliff “What the heck is a defense” Kingsbury’s Texas Tech defense that ranked...wait for it...114th in the country.
Heading into this game Tennessee's defense ranked 20th in the country, currently ranks 29th after Saturday’s shellacking, and will probably finish in the Top 25 of SP+ defenses for 2023.
So, if we’re keeping track: yes, Cody Schrader’s yardage output is 4th among this elite group but he was the lowest-ranked prospect coming out of high school and did it against a better defense than any of the other four guys went up against.
Cody Schrader is incredible. Let the muscle hamster eat.
Here’s the advanced box score:
In a welcome addition to these articles this year, I can once against proudly play the “pick a stat, any stat” game and (other than field position this week) gleefully tell you that Missouri beat the shit out of Tennessee is the chosen stat.
Again, this wasn’t Missouri against some G5 team or Vanderbilt. Tennessee is good! They have thoroughly dominated opponents in five of their seven wins and managed 100% win expectancies! With a win, they could have challenged for the East crown! They had a four-game winning streak against Mizzou! They were averaging nearly 200 yards on the ground and 20+ points per game! And they got buzz sawed in half and sent home with disgusting Imo’s pizza, courtesy of Chef Brady Cook! Incredible. (Editor’s note: I kindly ask that you stop slandering delicious Imo’s Pizza)
When Missouri Has the Ball
Missouri ran 74 plays. Cody Schrader was the intended target on 54% of those plays and represented 60.4% of Mizzou’s total yardage on the day. Lmao.
I set the goal at eight (8) explosive plays; we got...
- Q1 - 38-yard pass from Cook to Schrader
- Q1 - 12-yard run by Cook
- Q2 - 42-yard pass from Cook to Schrader
- Q2 - 22-yard pass from Cook to Miller
- Q2 - 35-yard run by Schrader
- Q3 - 48-yard pass from Cook to Johnson
- Q3 - 18-yard run by Schrader
- Q3 - 17-yard run by Cook
- Q3 - 23-yard pass from Cook to Schrader
- Q4 - 24-yard run by Cook
- Q4 - 31-yard run by Schrader
- Q4 - 14-yard run by Schrader
- Q4 - 21-yard pass from Cook to Burden III for a touchdown
Thirteen explosive plays for 345 yards! Thirteen is way more than eight!
Convert on Third Downs
The goal was a stretch goal to be sure as I was looking for at least a 55% success rate on 3rd-downs. Missouri proceeded to go 11-17 on 3rd-down which is a 64.7% conversion rate.
Finish your dang drives
6 scoring opportunities and at least 5 points per scoring opportunity was the ask; Missouri finished with 8 scoring opportunities and average 4.5 points per opportunity. Yeah, that’s close enough.
When Tennessee Has the Ball
For most of the game Missouri played in a three down lineman front, with Darius Robinson at one end, Jayden Jernigan/Realus George rotating on the inside, and Kristian Williams/Josh Landry rotating on the other side. Occasionally they’d have Johnny Walker come in as a pure pass rusher but it was a look that we hadn’t seen much of all year and it absolutely flummoxed Tennessee, to the point that Josh Heupel admitted it postgame. Blake Baker apparently told the broadcasting crew that he was too aggressive last year and so he played more shell defense and let the plays come to his players to have them stop it immediately. It clearly worked.
Bottle up the run
I thought I was being borderline unreasonable to set the goal at a sub-40% success rate on the ground but Mizzou went out and held them to a 38.1% success rate and 75 yards on 21 carries. Incredible.
End their dang drives
I anticipated Tennessee would create plenty of scoring opportunities and probably finish with touchdowns. Reader, that is not what happened. I set the goal at at 4.0 or lower per scoring opportunity and Tennessee finished with 2.3 per opportunity and 7 total points.
The Little Things
Outgaining your opponent by 1.1 yards per play is impressive enough on its own, let alone when you add the context that Missouri ran 18 more plays than Tennessee did. This game could have, somehow, even gotten more out of hand if it wasn’t for the wild disparity in average starting field position. The Vols, on average, started on their 27-yard line whereas Mizzou averaged a start on their own 19. Mizzou needed to go much farther than a Tennessee team that benefited from a +80-yard cushion and still put up 36 points and held the Vols to 7 points. That’s good complimentary football.
Looking at demerits, Mizzou had the weekly false start and holds called on the usual lineman but avoided the rash of unexpected snaps that plagued the Tigers last week. No drops, either, for the good guys! Tennessee, however, played an aggressive and sloppy game while throwing in two drops for good measure.
- Missouri’s defense effectively held Tennessee’s offense to success rates far lower than they were accustomed to on the year, with the Vols cracking over the “national average” success rate in a single quarter. Mizzou, on the other hand, not only held on to the ball for extended periods of time but ripped off successful plays at an elite level for the first half. Once the second half started they were content with being merely “fine” as they slowly padded the lead.
- You’ll notice at the top bar of the Success Rate by Quarter graphic a point total indicating when “garbage time” hits as a certain point advantage at a specific point of time in the game. This is only the second time this year that Mizzou was far enough ahead to operate in garbage time in the 4th quarter. The only previous game that phenomenon has happened in 2023? Against FCS foe, South Dakota.
- A scoring opportunity is defined as, a.) a play where points are scored (duh), or b.) an offense crossing the opponent’s 40-yard line. Entering Saturday’s game, Tennessee’s offense ranked 22nd in the country. They weren’t great at finishing drives but did a pretty good job of at least creating scoring opportunities throughout the game. Against Missouri, Tennessee had three scoring opportunities: the 46-yard touchdown bomb thrown on their second drive of the game, a trip inside the 40 on their seventh drive of the game that ended in a punt, and then their last drive of the game when they missed the field goal.
- Put another way: a Top 25 offense managed to cross Missouri’s 40-yard line twice in a single game.
- Put yet another way: a Top 25 offense ran 13 plays inside Missouri’s 40-yard line for the entire game.
- They were rightfully criticized last year and at times this year so it's fair that we also give them credit: this offensive line has been excellent as the year has gone on. Heading into this game Tennessee boasted the 7th-best rushing defense in the country with a 31.9% success rate allowed, the 5th-best defense in opportunity rate (the percentage of rushing plays that gain at least four yards), 2nd in short-yardage situations, and 9th in stuffing runs at or behind the line. Mizzou’s offense line apparently thought that wasn’t a big deal as they helped Cody Schrader go off for a 51.4% success rate, 51.4% opportunity rate, and a run stuff rate of 2%. In fact, even with Nathaniel Peat going for negative yardage and Luther Burden gaining 0 yards on his single run, on the day the ground attack ran with a 48.9% success rate, averaged 6.7 yards once they got the first 4 yards, and managed an 8.5% stuff rate on the day. This is the second straight week against the second-straight Top 20 defense that this offensive line has exceeded what the opposing defenses average on the year.
Your Tigers are really freaking good and now have to beat Florida and Arkansas to achieve a 10-win regular season. Bask in the glow, friends; this is a special year.