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Mizzou football snapshots: PFF grades, snap counts for Tigers’ win over ACU

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Abilene Christian Missouri Football

Missouri's Brady Cook throws a 13-yard touchdown pass to Dominic Lovett, over Abilene Christian's Jordan Paup, in the third quarter on Sept. 17, 2022, in Columbia.

Mizzou football coach Eli Drinkwitz and player Dominic Lovett gave a press conference after the team's win over Abilene Christian. Video by Mizzou Network, used with permission of Mizzou Athletics

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The snaps and grades are in for Mizzou’s 34-17 victory over Abilene Christian.

As we’ve done the last couple years, every week using Pro Football Focus’ data, we’ll take a closer look at the Tigers’ game, starting with complete snap counts for every player on offense and defense, then a deeper dive into their production and ratings. Reminder, PFF grades on the following scale using NFL terms: 90-100, elite; 85-89, Pro Bowl; 70-84, starter; 60-69, backup; 0-59, replaceable. Keep in mind, these are just one set of metrics and don’t necessarily reflect the coaching staff’s grades.

Here’s the most telling number of this game: Only 54 players saw the field on offense and defense, which tells you it was far more competitive than most games against FCS teams. The unstated goal for games like this is to empty the bench and get as many players snaps as possible. That didn’t happen Saturday. Here’s how that number compares to Mizzou’s past three games against FSC teams:

2022 vs. Abilene Christian: 25 offensive players, 29 defensive players, 54 total

2021 vs. SEMO: 36 offense, 35 defense, 71 total

2019 vs. SEMO: 40 offense, 33 defense, 73 total

2018 vs. Tennessee-Martin: 32 offense, 33 defense, 65 total

Here are the snap counts and some grades of notes:

OFFENSE

The highest-graded players were quarterback Brady Cook (88.1), slot receiver Dominic Lovett (81.8), tailback Cody Schrader (74.8) and outside receiver Luther Burden III (74.5).

Offensive line

Offensive line

Player Position Snaps Offensive grade
Javon Foster left tackle 57 76.4
Mitchell Walters right guard 57 64.8
Connor Tollison center 57 61.0
Xavier Delgado left guard 57 59.7
Connor Wood right tackle 57 50.1
Armand Membou extra tackle/tight end 12 82.4

The Tigers played without injured left guard Xavier Delgado and started Griffin in his place. The two tackles and Tollison played the entire game, but the backup guards came in for the final couple possessions. That’s something to watch next week at Auburn as Eli Drinkwitz said the staff needs to figure out the best starting five moving forward.

The run-blocking grades were poor across the board, with no linemen earning a grade over 70.0.

The pass-blocking grades were much better with Foster leading the way at 83.3, followed by Wood at 80.2. Powell was tagged for three pressures allowed, while Griffin allowed two.

And then there were the penalties. Linemen accounted for six total: two each for Powell and Wood, one for Tollison and Ndoma-Ogar.

Quarterback

Quarterback

Player Snaps Offensive grade
Brady Cook 57 61.3

Nice-bounce back game for Cook, who posted career-high numbers for passing yards (292), TD passes (three), yards per attempt (9.7) and passing efficiency rating (184.8). Per PFF, ACU didn’t blitz him one time on 36 drop-back passes. He was 2 of 6 for 104 yards on passes targeted 20 yards or farther and an impressive 8 of 12 for 204 yards on passes 10 yards or farther. He was responsible for 11 first downs and threw under pressure eight times. Here’s an interesting number: 17 of Cook’s 22 completions were over the middle of the field at various depths.

Per PFF’s grading system, Cook’s total offensive grade (88.1) was the highest for a Mizzou starting QB since Kelly Bryant against Troy in 2019 (89.0).

Running backs

Running backs

Player Snaps Offensive grade
Nathaniel Peat 31 66.9
Cody Schrader 20 64.6
B.J. Harris 2 60.0

For the first time this season, Young got the most playing time in the backfield. Peat started but seems like he’s on a pitch count with his hamstring — and didn’t do much in the game. We saw the debut of freshman Jones, who had some promising runs late. Might he work his way into the rotation?  Schrader was the top-graded running back by far. He had the team’s most yards after contact (47), forced the most missed tackles (three) and had the longest reception (25) among the running backs.

Receivers

Receivers

Player Snaps Offensive grade
Barrett Banister 47 63.0
Luther Burden III 44 49.8
Tauskie Dove 42 52.4
Dominic Lovett 26 78.4
Mookie Cooper 24 65.7
Mekhi Miller 12 56.3

Less is more, right? Lovett and Burden were the best playmakers on the field but had limited snaps compared to others at their position. Burden spent most of the second quarter getting looked at by the training staff, but with punt returns added to his plate, his workload at receiver was lighter — but his touches and production were increased. Also, he scored the team’s highest grade for run blocking at 88.7. Banister shared the team lead in targets, but we saw him commit an incredibly rare drop. Still a positive day for the sixth-year senior who made his 100th career reception, putting him at 25th place all-time at Mizzou. Dove had a chance for a touchdown catch on a well-thrown back-shoulder fade in the end zone but couldn’t get a foot inbounds.

Tight ends

Tight end

Player Snaps Offensive grade
Kibet Chapyator 16 42.8
Tyler Stephens 9 80.5

Just one total target for the tight ends for the second straight week. They’re almost exclusively run-blockers at this point. The Tigers used more four- and five-receiver sets without a tight end on the field for nearly half the game. Chepyator played 41 snaps, 27 as a run-blocker and 14 running routes on a pass play. Neither of the two regulars, Stephens or Chepyator, graded higher than 60 in run blocking. Is that a one-week schematic wrinkle or a sign of things to come?

DEFENSE

Missouri’s top-graded defenders who played significant snaps: linebacker Chad Bailey (78.7), tackle Josh Landry (77.8), tackle Kristian Williams (76.5) and linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper (76.1).

Defensive line

Defensive line

Player Position Snaps Offensive grade
Isaiah McGuire edge 55 55.6
Trajan Jeffcoat edge 55 57.0
Kristian Williams tackle 44 64.8
Jayden Jernigan tackle 40 54.7
Darius Robinson tackle 34 69.0
DJ Coleman edge 34 64.2
Realus George Jr. tackle 30 68.6
Josh Landry tackle 18 48.7
Tyrone Hopper edge 10 43.0
Arden Walker edge 9 49.8

Where’s the pressure? For the second week in a row, Mizzou’s D-line rarely caused disruption in the backfield. Only one D-lineman was credited with multiple pressures, Walker with two off the bench. He had the only hit on the quarterback. The D-line supplied five hurries all day. Several lineman earned grades of 70 or better against the run: Williams, George, Landry and McGuire. Only Landry and Jernigan earned pass-rush grades better than 70.

Linebacker

Linebackers

Player Snaps Offensive grade
Ty'Ron Hopper 81 60.1
Dameon Wilson 47 66.1
Devin Nicholson 23 38.7

Not the cleanest day for the linebackers either. Hopper had two of Mizzou’s nine missed tackles and posted a low tackling grade overall at 39.8. Norris spelled Hopper for a series early in the game and played well off the bench in his limited action. Bailey scored the team’s highest coverage grade at 90.8.

Secondary

Secondary

Player Position Snaps Offensive grade
Ennis Rakestraw Jr. cornerback 77 57.5
Joseph Charleston safety 77 74.0
Jaylon Carlies safety 75 69.7
Kris Abrams-Draine cornerback 53 62.7
Martez Manuel safety 50 59.2
Dreyden Norwood cornerback 42 59.5
Daylan Carnell safety 28 66.0
Jalani Williams safety 8 41.7

ACU tried something most opponents don’t: Challenge Abrams-Draine. The Wildcats targeted him seven times, more than any other defender in coverage,  but the damage was limited to just three completions for 37 yards, including a remarkable 30-yard catch along the sideline. Abrams-Draine also saved a touchdown pass with tight coverage in the end zone. Rakestraw notched his first career interception and was targeted six times for four completions for 47 yards. PFF tagged Jackson for the 49-yard deep ball. Otherwise, solid night in coverage for the secondary.

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