Texas Tech: Beyond the Box Score

Confused?  Catch up with the BTBS Primer.

Time to do what we do and move on to K-State.

Texas Tech 24, Mizzou 17

Mizzou Tech Mizzou Tech
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 21.7% 47.5% Success Rate 46.2% 47.9%
Leverage % 65.0% 71.7% PPP 0.37 0.24
S&P 0.835 0.714
EqPts 18.4 25.2 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 35.0% 43.4% Success Rate 14.3% 32.1%
Close PPP 0.31 0.25 PPP 0.18 0.30
Close S&P 0.656 0.689 S&P 0.325 0.624
EqPts 14.6 8.9 Number 1 2
Close Success Rate 41.4% 40.4% Turnover Pts 4.3 10.4
Close PPP 0.50 0.19 Turnover Pts Margin +6.1 -6.1
Close S&P 0.917 0.594
Line Yards/carry 3.75 3.59 Q1 S&P 1.146 0.426
Q2 S&P 0.794 0.597
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.260 1.090
EqPts 3.8 16.3 Q4 S&P 0.219 0.543
Close Success Rate 29.0% 46.2%
Close PPP 0.12 0.31 1st Down S&P 0.721 0.627
Close S&P 0.413 0.775 2nd Down S&P 0.905 0.714
SD/PD Sack Rate 7.7% / 0.0% 6.3% / 0.0% 3rd Down S&P 0.190 0.734
Projected Pt. Margin: Tech +0.7 | Actual Pt. Margin: Tech +7

You could feel it early on, and the numbers backed it up: if you want to understand how Tech won by seven points instead of the projected margin of 0.7 despite the fact that Mizzou blocked a field goal and Tech had some great kickoff returns (special teams often explain the difference between projected and actual margins), look in the top left corner of the above table.  Mizzou ran only 22% of their plays in Texas Tech territory.

Here was the starting field position for each of Mizzou's drives: 20, 8, 20, 20, 44, 22, 29, 7, 38, 19, 8, 12, 27, 37 and 52.  Only one of 15 drives started in Tech field position (the last one), and only four started beyond Mizzou's 29.  When your offense is clicking, that might not matter.  But when you need some breaks, poor field position can be a silent killer of sorts.  And when you are as inefficient as Mizzou was on Saturday ... well, we see what happened.  Both teams managed three length-of-the-field scoring drives, and the field goal Tech managed with a drive that started at their 44 helped make the difference in the game.

Also: Ugh ... just look at the per-quarter splits.  Tech officially had one good quarter of offense, and it got the job done against Mizzou and their significantly diminishing returns.

How Does This Happen on Third Downs?

Here are Mizzou's third- and fourth-down attempts from Saturday night, including penalties:

  • 3rd-and-8, MU 10: Blaine Gabbert incomplete to Michael Egnew
  • 3rd-and-2, MU 38: De'Vion Moore rush for 1 yard
  • 3rd-and-8, Tech 36: Gabbert rush for 6 yards
  • 4th-and-2, Tech 30: Gabbert rush for 1 yard
  • 3rd-and-2, MU 44: Jerrell Jackson commits offensive pass interference penalty
  • 3rd-and-17, MU 29: Gabbert incomplete to T.J. Moe
  • 3rd-and-2, Tech 9: Gabbert incomplete to Jackson
  • 3rd-and-11, MU 18: Gabbert incomplete under pressure
  • 3rd-and-9, MU 9: Gabbert incomplete to Moe
  • 3rd-and-10, MU 12: Gabbert complete to Michael Egnew for 11 yards
  • 3rd-and-10, MU 34: Gabbert incomplete to Kemp
  • 3rd-and-7, MU 30: Gabbert complete to Moe for 6 yards
  • 3rd-and-9, MU 38: Gabbert incomplete to Moe
  • 3rd-and-8, Tech 46: Gabbert complete to Moe for 10 yards
  • 3rd-and-7, Tech 33: Gabbert incomplete to Kemp
  • 4th-and-7, Tech 33: Gabbert incomplete to Jackson

This is just the damnedest thing.  Missouri ranks 12th in First Down S&P+ (14th rushing, 28th passing), 15th in Second Down S&P+ (9th rushing, 33rd passing) ... and 51st in Third Down S&P+ (33rd rushing, 57th passing).  A couple of thoughts:

1. The fact that they rank 51st in Third Down S&P+ and 100th in raw Third Down Conversion rate shows that a good portion of their struggles have to do with the opponents they're facing.  Some defenses are great on third downs, and many of Mizzou's opponents -- Texas A&M (4th in Third Down Def. S&P+), Nebraska (21st), Texas Tech (29th), Oklahoma (30th), Illinois (33rd), and Colorado (37th) -- are just that.

2. Mizzou's problem this past Saturday was pretty obvious.  Yes, they were stopped twice on third-and-2 (and were flagged for Offensive P.I. once ... and Mizzou's coaches were apparently a little ticked at those calls) and once on 4th-and-1, but the average yards-to-go on the other 11 plays above were 9.2 yards.  No offense is consistently good on third-and-9.  Mizzou's success rate was horrible on Saturday, and it caught up to them on third downs.  Again ... Leverage Rate gives us what we think we get from third downs.  Mizzou has struggled all season on third downs, but it hasn't caught up to them until the last two weeks because they just weren't facing that many third downs.  Their leverage rate was good, and they were generating plenty of yardage on first and second downs.

Did Mizzou Give Up on the Run?

It really is funny how reliable some people are.  Missouri torches two very good defenses (Texas A&M and Oklahoma), and everybody screaming for David Yost's head conspicuously disappears from the Internet for two weeks.  Mizzou struggles, and they come right back.  Some people aren't happy unless they are angry, and it gets really, really exhausting after a while.  Regardless, it's time to take on the latest claim from the Yost haters: did Mizzou give up on the run?  The answer: not really.

Here are Mizzou's rushing stats per quarter:

Q1 Rushing S&P: 1.343 (6 "successful" rushes in 14, a 42.8% success rate)
Q2 Rushing S&P: 0.848 (5 for 7, 71.4%)
Q3 Rushing S&P: 0.448 (1 for 3, 33.3%)
Q4 Rushing S&P: 0.100 (0 for 5, 0.0%)

Mizzou was 11 for 21 rushing in the first half, a 52.4% success rate.  In the second half: 1 for 8 (12.5%).  Yes, they only rushed eight times, but as Yost pointed out yesterday, a lot of that was because Mizzou was facing so damn many passing downs (in part because the run was awful).

Here is another way of looking at things:

Standard Downs Run-Pass Split

Season: 46.9% Run (113th in the country)
vs Texas Tech: 66.7% Run

Mizzou emphasized the run more on Saturday than they had for most of the season.  They ran 20% more on standard downs, in fact.  But their leverage rate in the second half was 37% (remember: being that you always start a series of downs with a standard down on 1st-and-10, it is almost impossible to have a leverage rate lower than 33%) ... and anybody is going to be passing a lot in those circumstances.

Now, if you want to complain, there is one small area where you can do so:

Passing Downs Run-Pass Split

Season: 27.8% Run (89th)
vs Texas Tech: 14.3% Run

Mizzou ran half as much on passing downs than they normally do, meaning when they did inevitably fall into 2nd-and-9 circumstances, they were almost definitely throwing the ball.  As I have said before, there are few good play-calls to be made on passing downs, but Mizzou did fall into quite a bit of predictability here.  Still ... "They didn't run enough on 2nd-and-9!!!!" doesn't make for a very good hater battle cry, does it?

Targets and Catches

Here's where I wish I had film to review (okay, film for RPT to review, ahem) so we can go back and see a) how Michael Egnew was only targeted four times and b) how much receivers like Rolandis Woodland, Brandon Gerau and Marcus Lucas were actually on the field and eligible for passes.  I never know when watching a game in real-time (especially on TV), how much Gabbert is zeroing in on the wrong guys and how much the right guys just aren't open.  Regardless, Jerrell Jackson was targeted over twice as much as Egnew, and Wes Kemp and Woodland were targeted five times more than Lucas or Gerau, and ... it is what it is, I guess.

Mizzou Targets and Catches Versus Texas Tech

Player Targets Catches Catch% Target% Rec. Yds. Yds. Per Target
T.J. Moe 10 7 70.0% 33.3% 62 6.2
Jerrell Jackson 9 1 11.1% 30.0% 11 1.2
Michael Egnew 4 3 75.0% 13.3% 16 4.0
Wes Kemp 3 0 0.0% 10.0% 0 0.0
Rolandis Woodland 2 0 0.0% 6.7% 0 0.0
Marcus Lucas 1 1 100.0% 3.3% 6 6.0
N/A 1 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
TOTAL 30 12 40.0% 100.0% 95 3.2
TOTAL (WR) 26 9 34.6% 86.7% 79 3.0
TOTAL (RB) 0 0 N/A 0.0% 0 N/A
TOTAL (TE) 4 3 75.0% 13.3% 16 4.0

As we saw above, all three of the incompletions to Moe were on third downs, which means Gabbert was 6-for-6 for 52 yards throwing to Moe on first and second downs.  Earlier in the year, we were talking about the need for Gabbert to find some go-to options on third down, and he has found one -- Moe.  Unfortunately, defenses seem to have caught onto this.  Gabbert probably needs to go to Moe more early on in sets of downs, even on shorter, quicker routes; if nothing else, it could limit the number of third downs Mizzou faces, no?

Now for today's most amazing (to me) tidbit: in Mizzou's two losses and near-loss to San Diego State, passes to Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson are 8-for-28 for 96 yards.  That's a completion rate of 28.6% and 3.4 yards per pass.  In Mizzou's six other games, passes to Kemp and Jackson 51-for-80 for 534 yards.  That's 63.8% and 6.8 yards per pass.  Clearly there is a lot that goes into these numbers -- as Yost discussed yesterday, teams are throwing more man coverage at Mizzou and Moe and Egnew aren't able to simply camp out in gaps six yards up the field, then that means more downfield passing and more low-percentage passes, particularly in the direction of Jackson and Kemp.  Plus, Gabbert was just plain off this last week; whereas much of the Nebraska struggle had nothing to do with Gabbert, much in Lubbock did.  But still ... the difference here is staggering, and it's not like only San Diego State, Nebraska and Texas Tech have played man coverage.  Mizzou needs their leaders to make plays ... immediately.

Mizzou Targets and Catches, 2010

Player Targets Catches Catch% Target% Rec. Yds. Yds. Per Target
Michael Egnew 94 66 70.2% 27.2% 531 5.6
T.J. Moe 94 65 69.1% 27.2% 758 8.1
Jerrell Jackson 60 30 50.0% 17.3% 415 6.9
Wes Kemp
48 29 60.4% 13.9% 215 4.5
Brandon Gerau 8 6 75.0% 2.3% 110 13.8
L'Damian Washington 7 5 71.4% 2.0% 35 5.0
Rolandis Woodland 7 3 42.9% 2.0% 20 2.9
Gahn McGaffie 6 5 83.3% 1.7% 31 5.2
Marcus Murphy 5 2 40.0% 1.4% 5 1.0
De'Vion Moore 5 2 40.0% 1.4% 3 0.6
Kendial Lawrence 4 3 75.0% 1.2% 23 5.8
Marcus Lucas 4 3 75.0% 1.2% 23 5.8
Henry Josey 2 2 100.0% 0.6% 17 8.5
Andrew Jones 2 1 50.0% 0.6% 7 3.5
N/A 9 0 N/A 2.9% N/A N/A
TOTAL 346 222 64.2% 100.0% 2,193 6.3
TOTAL (WR) 234 146 62.4% 67.6% 1,607 6.9
TOTAL (RB) 16 9 56.3% 4.6% 48 3.0
TOTAL (TE) 96 67 69.8% 27.7% 538 5.6

In today's Tuesday Tiger Notebook, Gabe at PowerMizzou had a quote from Pinkel saying that Marcus Lucas is seeing the field more and could be targeted more in upcoming games.  Not a moment too soon.  You of course can't look at the numbers of, say, the Lucas-Gerau-Washington-McGaffie combination (76% completion rate, 8.0 yards per target) and compare them equally with Kemp-Jackson-Woodland (54%, 5.7 yards per target) because they're not all playing exactly the same position, they're not getting covered by the same level of defensive backs, and they're not seeing as many high-impact snaps ... but I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I'd like to definitely know what their current level is and how much they could be contributing.  They seem to have done everything that is asked of them -- it might be time to ask a little more (a little, not a ton) and see what their limits are.

Stop the Run, Win the Game

Granted, the defense had just one bad quarter on Saturday, but there is still a defensive trend developing that needs to be addressed:

Missouri Run Defense, 2010
Category Yds./
Line Yds/
PPP 3rdPPP* % of Carries
10+ Yds
OVERALL 5.15 40.5% 2.87 2.28 0.26 0.11 10.0%
WINS (sans SDSU) 3.90 39.2% 2.57 1.33 0.15 0.02 9.4%
LOSSES (and SDSU) 6.93 42.5% 3.30 3.63 0.41 0.25 10.8%

Highlight Yards: The yards in a given carry not associated with the offensive line (i.e. what the running back generates himself).

3rdPPP: A situational PPP measure that takes into account down and distance.

In losses and near-losses this year, Missouri's run defense has been so much more vulnerable to the big play.  They are allowing similar success rates in both wins and losses, and strangely enough, opponents really aren't putting together a lot more 10+ yard carries, but the "successful" runs are going for much greater distances and the 10+ yard runs are going for 20+ instead of 10-15.  Plus, according to down and distance, the successes are coming at much more key times.

This was obviously the case with Ronnie Hillman and Roy Helu in previous games, but even without 60+ yard gains, Tech's successes were getting 6-9 yards instead of 4-6 on Saturday.  Next up on the schedule comes a Kansas State offense that will run Daniel Thomas as much as they possibly can -- even in a 26-point loss to Missouri last year, they still handed him the ball 23 times.  Thomas is not a major "highlight yards" threat -- his big runs typically come once defenses have been sufficiently softened up, or on short-yardage situations where most of the defense is tight on the line of scrimmage -- but if the KSU line is getting a good push (a much easier task since the loss of Dominique Hamilton), the run defense could be an issue.  We got a false sense of security when the defense stepped up in Hamilton's absence for the final three quarters of the Oklahoma game.  We clearly miss him a great deal, and while Jimmy Burge and Brendan Donaldson (and to a lesser extent, Marvin Foster) have played well at times, they are not experienced enough to put together the consistent performance Hamilton was delivering.  It will take a team effort to make up for his absence.

KSU would like nothing more than to control the ball and wear down a thinned-by-injuries Missouri defense, and it is up to both the Missouri defensive line to step up and the Missouri offense to not put together too many three-and-out drives that give KSU the kind of momentum and wear down the Missouri defense the way things unfolded on Saturday.


As frustrating as Saturday was, this is still the same team that beat Oklahoma and Texas A&M and found themselves 7-0 and ranked in the Top 10 (by the way, that's three of the last four seasons with Top 10 rankings ... in case you hadn't noticed or had forgotten).  Missouri is still a good team -- they're just not good enough to be 8-1 or 9-0.  They will win on Saturday if they execute, and if leaders like Gabbert, Kemp and Jackson provide the spark they are clearly capable of providing.  This game was awful, and now it's over.  On to Kansas State.

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