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Can't imagine we'll spend quite as much time on this one, being that it was the easiest win Missouri will have this year. Then again, every time I say that, I still manage to wring 2,000 words out of nothing...
|Field Position %
|Close Success Rate||32.1%||48.2%|
|Close Success Rate||30.8%||40.0%|
|Close Success Rate||33.3%||52.9%|
|SD/PD Sack Rate
||5.9% / 0.0%||0.0% / 7.1%|
|Turnover Pts Margin
|1st Down S&P||0.786||1.115|
|2nd Down S&P||0.763||1.059|
|3rd Down S&P||0.762||1.155|
|Projected Pt. Margin
|Actual Pt. Margin
- If you look up "junk time yardage" in the dictionary, there will be a picture of a Missouri backup trying to tackle a Furman receiver in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game. After a first half that saw Missouri go up 42-0 with an S&P margin of roughly 1.400 to 0.510, the second half saw Furman plow through the backups to the tune of nearly 300 second half yards. Congrats, Paladins. You got some yards and a big check. Now go win the Southern Conference.
- As expected, explosiveness made the difference in the battle between a solid FCS team and the team with the most wins in the country over the last 2+ years (you had to know I was going to bring that up again). Missouri clearly had the advantage in terms of success rates, but it was the PPP difference that led to the quick, decisive lead.
- One concern: Missouri should have managed more than 2.88 line yards per carry during close-game circumstances here. It improved as the game wore on, as Kendial Lawrence clearly outperformed Derrick Washington for at least one week (that said, let's shut up already--D-Wash is the best back on the team), but while Blaine Gabbert was untouched all game (even when he was running down the field), the run-blocking could have been better.
- Per-down figures: strangely consistent, down-to-down for both teams.
- Mizzou made the most of their two turnovers, to say the least. A pick six and a goalline fumble made those Turnover Points add up in a hurry.
More after the jump.
Mizzou put this one away quickly. Against a team that is good at simply hanging around against FBS teams, it was nice to Mizzou do what it needed to do to get the backups in and the starters out. The offense struggled with penalties and drops over the first two drives, but they owned the last 25 minutes of the first half, and it allowed them to get plenty of second-half rest for the short week ahead.
Mizzou's performance on Passing Downs is improving. Furman damaged Mizzou's defensive numbers in this regard with a nice second half against the scrubs, but Blaine Gabbert made infinitely better decisions in the pocket on Saturday. Clearly this was Furman, so apply all necessary grains of salt, but we needed to see improvement after the Bowling Green debacle, and we did.
No turnovers. Revisited below, the only way Furman was going to have a chance here is if Mizzou handed them the ball with prime opportunities. Didn't happen.
- As mentioned above, run blocking has been inconsistent this year. It was great against Bowling Green, iffy against a stacked Illinois front, and only okay early against Furman. One of FU's known strengths was their defensive line, particularly at DT, but you still would want at least 3 line yards/carry here.
- I've been very satisfied with the defensive line play as a whole, but we really do need more sacks, I think. There was enough pressure that Furman's Jordan Sorrells didn't have much time to find receivers, and Aldon Smith does still make his presence felt at least a couple of times a game, but as a whole, I'd have liked to have seen a 3-4 sack game, and it didn't happen.
Our backups weren't good enough to stop Furman. Yeah, that's about all I've got. Kind of a reach.
Three Keys Revisited
This is an over-simplification, but there are three main ways you score points: 1) break off a big play or two to get down the field, 2) dink-and-dunk for 3-4 yards at a time, or 3) utilize turnovers and special teams to start deep in the opponent's territory. For the Furman offense, (1) is not really an option unless Missouri misses some tackles. The Paladins will try to get away with (2), but again, without a deep threat this is hard to accomplish. You have to go mistake-free for the better part of 10-15 plays, and that's not easy. So, uhh, TACKLE.
Furman averaged a nonexistant 0.10 PPP while the game was competitive. Mission accomplished, I would say.
Turnovers are always important, but they're even more important when you're dealing with an extreme underdog. Missouri handed Bowling Green two field goals last week (they were only field goals thanks to great defensive effort) due to fumbles in their own territory. Make Furman drive the length of the field, and they probably won't beat you, but hand them free points, they'll stick around a while and make you clam up.
As mentioned above, turnovers gave Mizzou two touchdowns' worth of projected points. Knock on wood, but Blaine Gabbert hasn't thrown an interception yet. Again, mission accomplished.
The biggest thing I'll be watching in this game is simply Blaine Gabbert's pocket presence. Bowling Green got into his head, and it took him the better part of 2.5 quarters to get over it. Furman will likely drop into the same soft coverage that BGSU did, and Gabbert must make his reads, trust his line, and make whatever throws are available. You figure Mizzou will be able to beat Furman over the top at some point, but you have to respect your opponent, and if they're making a concerted effort to take away the deep ball, just give your faster-than-their-DBs receivers the ball underneath in space and let them make guys miss.
It's probably pretty easy to relax against an FCS opponent, but Gabbert did what was asked of him. He wasted a couple of third downs on the opening two possessions by throwing the ball uselessly deep, but he was relaxed in the pocket, stepped up and made some ridiculously pretty throws. Three-for-three for Mizzou on game keys this week.
It was a yawner, and at the end of the season we'll probably only remember a handful of plays from the game, but that's exactly what you want from a game like this. The more memorable, the worse for Mizzou. Mizzou TCB'd, and they're undefeated heading to Reno.