Cotton Bowl: Beyond the Box Score

Sniff...last BTBS game wrap-up for quite a while...moment of silence, please.

As always, here is the BTBS glossary (still soon-to-be-updated) and as always, let’s recap the Game Keys from last week’s BTBS preview to see how well (or not so well) I pinpointed what to watch for.

Game Key #1: the Second Quarter.  Across the board, Arkansas is infinitely better in Q2 than the rest of the game.  That leads one to believe that if Mizzou is up at halftime, they’re in very good shape.  If they can weather the storm and get to Q3, their best quarter (for the first 2/3 of the season, anyway), they will be forcing Arkansas out of their comfort zone.  Even in the Hogs’ best game—at LSU—they only managed a 38.7% success rate in the second half (here are that game’s splits...Q1: 25.0%, Q2: 47.4%, Q3: 38.5%, Q4: 38.9%).

Q2 Success Rates: Mizzou 50.0%, Arkansas 25.0%.  It was only 14-0 at halftime, but the flow of the game was established in Q2, it was Mizzou who established it, and it was Arkansas who had blown their best chances to make this a game.

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Game Key #2: the Redzone.  Arkansas’ three biggest weapons are their tailback (McFadden), their other tailback (Felix Jones), and their fullback (Hillis).  In other words, they’re built for the redzone.  Meanwhile, Mizzou thrived in the redzone all year until the Big 12 Championship, when the combination of OU’s strong defense and Chase Coffman’s absence doomed them.  Both teams will get opportunities to score—what they do with the opportunities will completely and totally dictate the game.  FGs = victory for the Arkansas defense (and the Mizzou defense too, for that matter).

Redzone Success Rates: Mizzou 50.0%, Arkansas 41.2%.  Arkansas might have been built for the redzone, but Mizzou made the plays.

Game Key #3: Passing Downs.  Mizzou must force them, and Arkansas must stop them.  Mizzou is the only team I’ve come across so far with a Passing Down success rate of more than 40.0% for the season.  Nothing demoralizes a defense faster than giving up a first down on 3rd-and-9 (or so), and Mizzou was just about the most demoralizing offense in the country in this regard.  Meanwhile, Arkansas was extremely average in these situations.  When they get into a rhythm with McFadden and Jones running the ball, they’re frightening.  But force them into uncomfortable situations, and bad things start to happen.

Passing Down Success Rates: Mizzou 39.1%, Arkansas 22.2%.  Arkansas did well in holding Mizzou (barely) under its season average, but Mizzou rarely let the Hogs off the hook when the Hog offense was in vulnerable situations.

Game Key #4: Third Downs.  Pretty sure I mention this one every time, but...well...it’s that important.  Mizzou has one of the best third-down offenses in the country, while Arkansas’ third-down D is pretty top-notch as well.  If, as I mentioned above, FG’s = Victory for the Arkansas D, punts = uhh...victory cubed?  Quick offensive possessions (that lead to punts) for Mizzou would not only serve to keep points off the board, but it would also get Mizzou’s D back on the field sooner than they would like and would put Arkansas’ physical offense in a position to wear Mizzou down.  We don’t want that.

Third Down Success Rates: Mizzou 46.2%, Arkansas 27.8%.  Ditto to everything I just said about Passing Downs.

Game Key #5: Peyton Hillis.  Arkansas’ fullback is not only a dangerous runner, but he’s got almost twice as many catches as the Hogs’ top two WRs.  That’s crazy.  When Arkansas needs to convert a third down, they go to Hillis more often than not.  In passing situations, I would prefer Mizzou shadow Hillis to the tailbacks...he’s that dangerous.  Just ask LSU.

Peyton Hillis: 10 touches (5 carries, 5 catches), 50.0% success rate (not bad), 0.45 PPP (bad).  He still led the Hogs in receiving, but was far from productive.

Game Key #6: Felix Jones.  McFadden gets the press, but Hillis and Felix Jones are as or more important to the Hog offense.  Stop them, and McFadden’s job gets much tougher.  While Hillis is the chain-mover, Jones is the homerun hitter.  He has a better success rate than McFadden, and his PPP average is much higher as well.  I’m not saying he’s better by any means—if McFadden weren’t so scary, teams would be able to key on Jones and slow him down—but if you take away McFadden’s options in the WildHog, you shut Arkansas down.

Felix Jones: 13 touches (10 carries, 3 catches), 61.5% success rate (quite good), 0.42 PPP (quite bad).  In other words, for Hillis and Jones, they had some decent plays and gains, but it was usually when Arkansas was deep in their own territory or in positions to do little damage.  Mizzou controlled them both (aside from Jones’ 41-yard reception...which ended in a fumble), and therefore dominated the Hog offense despite McFadden’s 100+ yards.

Game Key #7: Arkansas’ DB success rate.  Arkansas hasn’t really faced a spread offense all year—really, the only SEC offense that remotely resembles Mizzou’s is Florida, and the Hogs didn’t play UF...Troy’s offense is the closest thing they’ve faced—and they’ve made it clear that they don’t plan on straying from the scheme that took them to the Cotton Bowl.  They’re covering the TEs with DBs, and they’re not going out of their way to show any respect to Mizzou’s weapons.  That’s fine.  Nobody’s asking them to.  But if their DBs don’t make quite a few successful plays—pass breakups, INTs, or most importantly, immediate tackles after short passes—their aggression will backfire on them.  If Mizzou has a high Yards After Catch (YAC) total, Arkansas is going to need 600 yards rushing to keep up with the Tigers.  Plus, successful short routes will open up the deep routes.

UA's defense is better than Colorado's, but if their aggression backfires, they're going to get torched.

Arkansas DB success rate: 20.0% (20 tackles, 4 successful).  Quite poor.  And since they made 48.8% of the Hogs’ tackles...yeah...bad.

Alright, on to the stats...

Success Rates by Quarter

ALL PLAYS

Q1: Mizzou 57.1%, Arkansas 38.1%
Q2: Mizzou 50.0%, Arkansas 25.0%
Q3: Arkansas 55.0%, Mizzou 52.2%
Q4: Arkansas 39.1%, Mizzou 35.3%
TOTAL: Mizzou 48.6%, Arkansas 39.3%

CLOSE GAME ONLY

Q1: Mizzou 57.1%, Arkansas 38.1%
Q2: Mizzou 50.0%, Arkansas 25.0%
Q3: Mizzou 66.7%, Arkansas N/A
Q4: N/A
TOTAL: Mizzou 55.3%, Arkansas 31.7%

Complete domination.

RUSHING

Q1: Mizzou 50.0%, Arkansas 33.3%
Q2: Mizzou 66.7%, Arkansas 33.3%
Q3: Mizzou 66.7%, Arkansas 64.3%
Q4: Mizzou 54.5%, Arkansas 30.0%
TOTAL: Mizzou 61.0%, Arkansas 41.7%
(CLOSE GAME: Mizzou 63.6%, Arkansas 33.3%)

Yeah, this was every bit as lopsided as you would think it was.  To hold the AU attack to these numbers is staggering.  Well done to the Mizzou front seven.  Oh, and Mizzou picked a good time to put up their best offensive rushing numbers as well.

PASSING

Q1: Mizzou 62.5%, Arkansas 50.0%
Q2: Arkansas 18.2%, Mizzou 16.7%
Q3: Mizzou 36.4%, Arkansas 33.3%
Q4: Arkansas 46.2%, Mizzou 0.0%
TOTAL: Arkansas 39.3%, Mizzou 32.3%
(CLOSE GAME: Mizzou 43.8%, Arkansas 29.4%)

By far Mizzou’s worst passing numbers of the year, and power to Arkansas to that, but the price was Tony Temple’s record-setting day.  Damned if you do...

NON-PASSING DOWNS

Q1: Mizzou 66.7%, Arkansas 40.0%
Q2: Mizzou 61.5%, Arkansas 40.0%
Q3: Arkansas 62.5%, Mizzou 41.7%
Q4: Arkansas 43.8%, Mizzou 41.7%
TOTAL: Mizzou 53.1%, Arkansas 47.4%

PASSING DOWNS

Q1: Arkansas 33.3%, Mizzou 0.0%
Q2: Mizzou 20.0%, Arkansas 10.0%
Q3: Mizzou 63.6%, Arkansas 25.0%
Q4: Arkansas 28.6%, Mizzou 20.0%
TOTAL: Mizzou 39.1%, Arkansas 22.2%

Success Rates by Down

1st: Mizzou 48.6%, Arkansas 44.1%
2nd: Mizzou 50.0%, Arkansas 37.0%
3rd: Mizzou 46.2%, Arkansas 27.8%
4th: Arkansas 60.0%, Mizzou N/A

Mizzou’s offense was steady on each down, while Arkansas got periodically worse.  If they failed on 1st down, chances are they were failing on 2nd...and really failing on 3rd.  That’s the major difference between having Chase Daniel as your QB and having Casey Dick.

Rushing Success Rates and PPP (and S&P)

Mizzou
Tony Temple: 24 carries, 18.46 EqPts, 0.77 PPP, 70.8% success rate (!!!), 1.48 S&P
Jimmy Jackson: 5 carries, 1.66 EqPts, 0.33 PPP, 40.0%, 0.73 S&P
Jeremy Maclin: 5 carries, 1.55 EqPts, 0.31 PPP, 60.0%, 0.91 S&P
Chase Daniel: 3 carries, 1.06 EqPts, 0.35 PPP, 33.3%, 0.69 S&P
Marcus Woods: 2 carries, 0.66 EqPts, 0.33 PPP, 100.0%, 1.33 S&P
Derrick Washington: 1 carry, minus-1.99 EqPts, 0.0%, -1.99 S&P (ouch)
TOTAL: 40 carries, 21.40 EqPts, 0.54 PPP, 62.5%, 1.16 S&P

Arkansas
Darren McFadden: 21 carries, 3.86 EqPts, 0.18 PPP (!!!), 52.4%, 0.71 S&P (really, really bad)
Felix Jones: 10 carries, 3.20 EqPts, 0.32 PPP, 50.0%, 0.82 S&P
Peyton Hillis: 5 carries, 1.47 EqPts, 0.29 PPP, 20.0%, 0.49 S&P
Michael Smith: 7 carries, 0.59 EqPts, 0.08 PPP, 14.3%, 0.23 S&P
Farod Jackson: 4 carries, minus-1.49 EqPts, minus-0.37 PPP, 50.0%, 0.13 S&P
TOTAL: 47 carries, 7.63 EqPts, 0.16 PPP, 42.6%, 0.59 S&P

As I’ve mentioned before, S&P is a rough equivalent to baseball’s OPS figure.  Mizzou’s rushing game put up A-Rod numbers.  Arkansas’ touted rushing game put up Cesar Izturis numbers.

Receiving Success Rates and PPP (and S&P)

Mizzou
Will Franklin: 5 catches, 7.14 EqPts, 1.43 PPP, 100.0%, 2.43 S&P (great, aside from the three heinous drops)
Jeremy Maclin: 3 catches, 2.16 EqPts, 0.72 PPP, 66.7%, 1.39 S&P
Martin Rucker: 3 catches, 1.56 EqPts, 0.52 PPP, 66.7%, 1.19 S&P
Chase Coffman: 1 catch, 0.30 EqPts, 100.0%, 1.30 S&P
TOTAL: 12 catches, 11.16 EqPts, 0.93 PPP, 83.3%, 1.76 S&P

When receivers were open, Daniel actually threw an accurate pass, and the receivers actually caught the ball, good things happened.  Too bad those three variables only came together a handful of times.  Thankfully, Daniel also handed the ball off.

Arkansas
Peyton Hillis: 5 catches, 3.06 EqPts, 0.61 PPP, 80.0%, 1.41 S&P
Marcus Monk: 4 catches, 3.05 EqPts, 0.76 PPP, 75.0%, 1.51 S&P
Felix Jones: 3 catches, 2.23 EqPts, 0.74 PPP, 100.0%, 1.74 S&P
Lucas Miller: 2 catches, 1.64 EqPts, 0.82 PPP, 50.0%, 1.32 S&P
Andrew Davie: 3 catches, 0.56 EqPts, 0.19 PPP, 33.3%, 0.52 S&P
Reggie Fish: 1 catch, 0.23 EqPts, 100.0%, 1.23 S&P
Farod Jackson: 1 catch, minus-0.01 EqPts, 0.0%, minus-0.01 S&P
TOTAL: 19 catches, 10.76 EqPts, 0.57 PPP, 68.4%, 1.25 S&P

On average, teams usually end up with a success rate of 80%-90% on caught balls.  68.4% is pretty poor.  And Marcus Monk wasn’t even remotely a factor like I thought he might be.

Line Yards and Sack Rates

Mizzou
Line Yards: 41 rushes, 163.6 line yards, 3.99 LY/carry (season high)
Sack Rate (non-passing downs): 20 attempts, 1 sack, 5.0%
Sack Rate (passing downs): 11 attempts, 1 sack, 9.1%

Arkansas
Line Yards: 48 rushes, 131.3 line yards, 2.74 LY/carry
Sack Rate (non-passing downs): 18 attempts, 0 sacks, 0.0%
Sack Rate (passing downs): 13 attempts, 3 sacks, 16.7%

Mizzou’s third down blitzes were timely and quite effective.

Defensive Success Rates

Defensive Line
Ziggy Hood: 5.5 tackles, 4.5 successful (81.8%)
Stryker Sulak: 5.5 tackles, 4.5 successful (81.8%)
Tommy Chavis: 5.5 tackles, 3.0 successful (54.5%)
Lorenzo Williams: 1.5 tackles, 1.5 successful (100.0%)
Jaron Baston: 1.0 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
TOTAL: 19.0 tackles, 13.5 successful (71.1%)

Linebackers
Brock Christopher: 7.0 tackles, 4.5 successful (64.3%)
Luke Lambert: 6.5 tackles, 3.5 successful (53.8%)
Sean Weatherspoon: 5.0 tackles, 3.0 successful (60.0%)
Van Alexander: 2.5 tackles, 2.5 successful (100.0%)
TOTAL: 21.0 tackles, 13.5 successful (64.3%)

Defensive Backs
William Moore: 9.5 tackles, 2.5 successful (26.3%)
Justin Garrett: 7.5 tackles, 2.0 successful (26.7%)
Paul Simpson: 1.5 tackles, 1.5 successful (100.0%)
Carl Gettis: 3.5 tackles, 1.0 successful (28.6%)
Del Howard: 1.0 tackles, 1.0 successful (100.0%)
Castine Bridges: 2.5 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
Darnell Terrell: 0.5 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
TOTAL: 24.0 tackles, 8.0 successful (33.3%)

% of plays made by...
Defensive Line: 29.7% (very high %)
Linebackers: 32.8%
Defensive Backs: 37.5%

Not only did the D-Line engage the Arkansas O-Line enough to free up the LBs to make plays...they made all sorts of plays themselves.

Turnover Costliness
Arkansas1: Felix Jones fumble (FF: Moore, FR: Lo Williams) – 1.66 ‘costliness points’
Mizzou1: Temple fumble (FR: Shavers) – 2.98 points
Arkansas2: William Moore Pick Six – 5.58 points
Mizzou2: Adrian Davis INT – 2.99 points
Arkansas3: ...Adrian Davis Fumbling the INT (FF: Daniel, FR: Colin Brown) – 2.24 points
Mizzou3: Washington fumble (FR: Adrian Davis...busy boy) – 3.04 points
Arkansas4: Peyton Hillis fumble (FF: Lambert, FR: Terrell) – 1.91 points
Arkansas5: Botched Punt Return (FR: Connell Davis) – 3.95 points

Mizzou total: 3 turnovers, 9.01 points (3.00 avg)
Arkansas total: 5 turnovers, 15.34 points (3.07 avg)

Statistical MVPs

Offense: Um, let me think about this for a second.  Whether you look at the box score, beyond the box score, or you just watch the games and tune out all numbers, this could be the easiest call all year.  Arkansas dared Tony Temple to beat them, and to put it mildly, he obliged.

Defense: By all means, William Moore was the statistical standout of the game.  He had 2.5 successful tackles, a pick six (and almost had another), and a forced fumble.  He had a sickeningly effective day.  But this game was won in the trenches.  Against Arkansas’ All-American O-line, Mizzou’s D-line dominated, from DEs Sulak and Chavis to DTs Hood and Williams.  Williams was the symbolic MVP, the senior leader, the captain; but I’m going to give my last Defensive MVP of the season to Stryker Sulak.  He tied with Ziggy and Brock Christopher for most successful tackles on the team, and the play where he caught McFadden from behind on a run to the opposite side of the field and made a gorgeous diving tackle symbolized everything that Mizzou did right all game.

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