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Let’s Preview: Mizzou Football Running Backs in 2023

Time to look at Missouri’s 2023 stable of running backs.

Arkansas v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

It’s fall camp time! As your Missouri football Tigers begin their fall practices to get ready for the season, Rock M Nation will begin going through each position to take stock of the depth and project the position for the season.

Today we look at the running backs.

The Returning Starter

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 23 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Cody Schrader Stats

Last year’s surprise “walk-on-does-good” story, Truman State transfer Cody Schrader slowly earned starter-level reps as the year went on, specifically after the Auburn game.

The Returning Backups

Nate Peat, Michael Cox, and Tavorus Jones stats

Nathaniel Peat transferred in from Stanford last year and received the majority of snaps for the running back position until the disastrous Auburn game.

Michael Cox was a walk-on who had a tantalizing few runs in ‘21 but only received nine snaps in ‘22.

Tavorus Jones is a 4-star recruit out of El Paso who saw some usage late in the year but could never crack the regular rotation.

The Freshman

Columbia Daily Tribune

Another local recruiting victory in a long list of Eli Drinkwitz’s “Stay Home” recruiting strategy, Jamal Roberts was a standout running back out of St. Mary’s High School (St. Louis). Although he only had nine catches his senior year, he turned two of them into touchdowns and finished with nearly 1.900 yards on the ground over his 167 carries.

BK’s Breakdown:

Missouri’s running game felt stale for the vast majority of the 2022 season. Everyone deserves a bit of blame for that. The zone runs were predictable, the offensive line was inconsistent and the running backs either lacked juice or lacked a consistent ability to create yards after contact. The end result was a rushing offense that averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in SEC play.

That should be improved in 2023. Let’s go through the reasons as to why that will (or won’t?) be the case, shall we?

First of all, Missouri’s offensive line should be vastly improved. We’ll dive deeper into the line at a later date, but it’s impossible to talk about the running game without mentioning the big guys up front opening up holes. That’s great news for Schrader, in particular. Schrader is a classic ‘pick up as many yards as are blocked’ type of runner. That’s no shade at him, I promise. It’s just the truth. If three yards are available, he’s going to pick up every yard. If the line opens up a big hole, he’s going to hit it and that’s where the explosives come from. He doesn’t cost his team yards by trying to make something out of nothing, but he’s also not the type of back that adds a whole lot of extra yardage, either.

That’s where Peat and Jones enter the conversation. Peat looked like Missouri’s most talented running back early in the season, but he lost his confidence and fumbles became a real issue. Peat was an explosive back, and he might have the best ability to create yards after contact of this group. That is... unless Jones is as good as was advertised. The former 4-star recruit barely saw the field as a freshman, but he was a highly skilled receiving back in college with the ability to make defenders miss in space.

The combination of Schrader’s consistency, Peat’s explosiveness and Jones’ passing game prowess has the potential to create a solid backfield for the Tigers in 2023. Potential is one thing, though. It’s time to translate that potential into some production.