Photo via Bill Carter.
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I've fallen behind this week already, so we'll make this short. I said most of what I wanted to say in yesterday's diary anyway.
Mizzou 38, Kansas State 28
|Close %||87.1%||STANDARD DOWNS|
|Field Position %||53.2%||40.0%||Success Rate||42.1%||35.0%|
|Close Success Rate||49.1%||38.3%||Success Rate||51.2%||46.0%|
|Close Success Rate||51.6%||38.2%||Turnover Pts||4.8||15.0|
|Close PPP||0.49||0.24||Turnover Pts Margin||+10.2||-10.2|
|Line Yards/carry||4.34||2.84||Q1 S&P||0.905||0.740|
|Close Success Rate||45.8%||38.5%|
|Close PPP||0.41||0.36||1st Down S&P||0.815||0.695|
|Close S&P||0.865||0.742||2nd Down S&P||1.065||0.526|
|SD/PD Sack Rate||5.6% / 10.0%||13.3%/13.3%||3rd Down S&P||1.153||1.065|
|Projected Pt. Margin: Mizzou +16.0 | Actual Pt. Margin: Mizzou +10
Missouri outgained Kansas State by 6.2 EqPts on the ground, and Kansas State outgained Mizzou by 0.3 EqPts through the air. Just what everybody expected, right? Tell me again why I spend so much time previewing these games?
The Offense Bounces Back
As I somewhat expected, the Mizzou offense bounced back on Saturday. It truly does appear that the bigger chip Blaine Gabbert carries on his shoulder, the better he plays. Mizzou was steady and well-rounded in the passing game, with over a 40% success rate and greater than 0.40 PPP, but they won this game on the ground.
For the most part, Mizzou is clearly a team that wins and loses based on its quarterback's right arm, but there is no denying how much the Mizzou running game has steadily improved since the Colorado game. Here are the numbers for Mizzou's four-headed running back platoon in conference play:
- vs Colorado: 18 carries, 51 yards
- vs Texas A&M: 20 carries, 77 yards, 1 TD
- vs Oklahoma: 30 carries, 149 yards, 1 TD
- vs Nebraska: 12 carries, 68 yards, 1 TD
- vs Texas Tech: 21 carries, 227 yards, 2 TD
- vs Kansas State: 16 carries, 83 yards
Mix in a healthy amount of Gabbert and jet sweeps to the receivers, and by the end of the game, Mizzou had taken complete and total advantage of the weak Kansas State run defense. Blaine Gabbert missed a 200-100 game by just 11 passing yards.
Stop Proving Me Wrong, Mizzou
I have staked a good portion of my Football Outsiders reputation on the idea that the concept of standard downs and passing downs (and Leverage%) gives us what we think we get from third down conversions. And to an extent, Mizzou has proven me correct -- at times in 2010, Mizzou has been terrible on third downs (on both sides of the ball, really), yet here they stand at 8-2. But still ... this game was a blowout waiting to happen, but the Mizzou defense continuously let K-State off the hook on third downs. Passing downs too, to an extent, but mostly just third downs of all shapes and sizes. In the end, I guess it doesn't really matter -- both the Mizzou offense (ninth) and the Mizzou defense (26th and fading) still rate well in the S&P+ measure, and Mizzou remains ranked 12th in overall S&P+ because of it.
Targets and Catches
Here is the target-and-catch data from Saturday. It's nice seeing these numbers in the 60+% range again, isn't it?
|Player||Targets||Catches||Catch%||Target%||Rec. Yds.||Yds. Per Target|
I will cut Wes Kemp some slack here -- one of the passes "targeting" him was the double-covered, overthrown pass T.J. Moe shouldn't have thrown. The other was a dart thrown behind him. He made a tough over-the-middle catch to boot. In all, the nine passes thrown at Kemp, Jerrell Jackson and Rolandis Woodland went for six completions and 113 yards, continuing a season-long trend: when these three (mostly two, really) guys produce, Mizzou simply does not lose. I was hoping to see more work for Marcus Lucas, obviously, but since Woodland caught the bomb, I won't grouse too much about that.
I'll just use this space to echo something The Beef said on Sunday. (I know how shocking it is that we would agree on something.)
I am still of the opinion that our biggest concern as a program is THAT we win a game. However, there seems to be (and this is from exposure to other MU sites this morning) a growing number of people who appear to on another step (and I can only assume it is the "next" step, but maybe not even), and have moved on to being primarily concerned about HOW we win. For me, this leads to the possibility you dwell on two losses while neither enjoying nor giving credit for the eight wins, but I can see the other (potential) side of this argument with its relation to our program taking the next step.
There was certainly a lot of negative sentiment around the Internets on Sunday, complaining that we didn't win this game by enough, or ... you know ... all but challenging our defense's and defensive coordinator's manhood. But look around the country. Oregon almost lost to California. TCU almost lost to San Diego State. Stanford almost lost to Arizona State. Nebraska beat Kansas by 17, which is like almost losing to them. Iffy results happen everywhere.
There's a reason why the locker room celebration after every win -- any win -- is so joyous and intense. Every win is a blessing and should be celebrated as such. Mizzou completely lost focus in the fourth quarter, and the defense is clearly starting to show some leaks (which is what you would expect considering the injuries). At this point, just keep winning. If Mizzou beats Iowa State by 1, Kansas by 1 and Random Bowl Opponent by 1, you know what? I'll be thrilled. Stressed, but thrilled. You should be too. Don't nitpick the good moments -- and seasons -- to death until they're not good anymore. Be happy when you can, because you're not guaranteed more happy moments in the future.