Photo via Bill Carter.
Confused? Catch up with the BTBS Primer.
As we will see, there is a theme through most of Mizzou's offensive and defensive numbers from last Saturday: the Tigers treated Miami-OH, a team that challenged Florida and was 2-1 heading into the game, like an FCS team. We can't even glean too much from performances against non-conference teams like this (they are the weakest team Mizzou will face the rest of the season), but the degree of Mizzou's dominance was still impressive, and hopefully it is a sign of things to come.
|Field Position %
|Close Success Rate||40.7%||82.4%|
|Close Success Rate||36.4%||81.8%|
|Close Success Rate||43.8%||83.3%|
|6.3% / 9.5%||0.0% / 5.6%|
|Turnover Pts Margin
|1st Down S&P||0.316||1.351|
|2nd Down S&P||0.557||1.292|
|3rd Down S&P||0.923||0.766|
|Projected Pt. Margin
|Actual Pt. Margin
I love it when the actual and projected point margins occasionally fall perfectly in line.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the "% Close" measure is perhaps the best way to determine how well a team took care of business against a supposed cupcake. And for the second time in three weeks, Mizzou blew out a cupcake to an extreme degree. The elephant in the room, of course, is that Mizzou also damn near lost to San Diego State in between these two games, but a) Mizzou didn't lose, b) San Diego State might actually be pretty solid (that helps a little), c) over the early part of the season, you end up getting a decent definition of a team's ceiling and a team's floor. Last week we saw the floor (slightly inaccurate passing and/or dropped passes lead to a funk, defense vulnerable to big plays); this week we saw the ceiling (potentially dominant running game, efficient passing game, efficient defense). In a week and a half, we'll begin to learn which extreme -- ceiling or floor -- we are more likely to see from this team on a week-to-week basis.
There's Efficient, and There's EFFICIENT
Typically, we learn to take all non-conference efforts with a grain of salt. So when Mizzou posts an 80%+ success rate for the second time this season, we figure it doesn't mean much. And maybe it doesn't. But Mizzou's efforts against Miami and McNeese State were two of the three most efficient performances since the start of the 2005 season (where my play-by-play data begins). That means ... something, right?
Best Single-Game Mizzou Success Rates, Last 5+ Seasons
1. vs SEMO (9/6/2008): 84.0%
2. vs Miami-OH (9/25/2010): 82.4%
3. vs McNeese State (9/11/2010): 75.0%
4. vs Buffalo (9/20/2008): 69.7%
5. vs Colorado (10/28/2008): 66.7%
6. vs Murray State (9/2/2006): 64.5%
7. vs Nevada (9/13/2008): 64.5%
8. vs Baylor (11/1/2008): 64.5%
9. vs Iowa State (10/27/2007): 63.0%
10. vs Texas Tech (10/20/2007): 60.9%
(Five of the top ten came from the 2008 season; damn, that offense was a machine.)
Mizzou has played a couple of cupcakes each season, and their performances against Miami and McNeese State this year were more offensively effective than all but one game in the last 5+ seasons. Does that mean they're truly more efficient (notice I said "efficient" and not "explosive") than some of the great offenses in their recent history? Are they simply more capable of dominating inferior opponents while falling apart against superior opponents? We'll see. But playing at this level is never a truly bad thing.
Where Did This Running Game Come From?
Mizzou runners were consistently aggressive, consistently making the right cuts, and consistently making great plays in the open field. They were also getting into the open field more. Rarely will you see an offensive line blowing its opponent off the line better than what Mizzou did against Miami on Saturday. All in all, it was a dominant performance, and while we have yet to see what this means for both Mizzou's play-calling and rushing performance the rest of the season ... again, this level of dominance cannot be a bad thing.
Most Single-Game Rushing EqPts, Last 5+ Seasons
1. vs Arkansas (1/1/2008): 25.3
2. vs Western Michigan (9/15/2007): 24.9
3. vs Miami-OH (9/25/2010): 22.8
4. vs Troy (9/17/2005): 22.6
5. vs Nebraska (10/22/2005): 22.2
6. vs Oklahoma State (10/8/2005): 22.1
7. vs SEMO (9/6/2008): 19.4
8. vs Arkansas State (9/3/2005): 19.0
9. vs Kansas (11/28/2009): 19.0
10. vs New Mexico (9/10/2005): 18.1
Best Single-Game Rushing S&P+, Last 5+ Seasons
1. vs McNeese State (9/11/2010): 2.082
2. vs Miami-OH (9/25/2010): 2.004
3. vs Western Michigan (9/15/2007): 1.779
4. vs SEMO (9/6/2008): 1.470
5. vs Arkansas (1/1/2008): 1.323
6. vs Murray State (9/2/2006): 1.256
7. vs Arkansas State (9/3/2005): 1.209
8. vs Iowa State (11/15/2008): 1.160
9. vs Kansas (11/28/2009): 1.066
10. vs Texas Tech (10/20/2007): 1.062
Best Single-Game Line Yards/Carry, Last 5+ Seasons
1. vs SEMO (9/6/2008): 5.65
2. vs Miami-OH (9/25/2010): 5.27
3. vs Murray State (9/2/2006): 4.71
4. vs McNeese State (9/11/2010): 4.68
5. vs Western Michigan (9/15/2007): 4.57
6. vs Arkansas State (9/3/2005): 4.26
7. vs Oklahoma State (10/8/2005): 3.96
8. vs Kansas State (11/14/2009): 3.94
9. vs Illinois State (9/22/2007): 3.84
10. vs Texas Tech (10/20/2007): 3.76
Mizzou's rushing performance against Miami was, 2008 Cotton Bowl aside, at a level they have only accomplished against FCS opponents in recent history. Again, Miami had allowed 166 rushing yards all season, and Mizzou swallowed them whole. Very impressive.
Targets and Catches
With the running game clicking at such a high rate, the passing game took a backseat. Despite the backups getting a solid amount of playing time, only five receivers were targeted on Saturday.
|Player||Targets||Catches||Catch%||Target%||Rec. Yds.||Yds. Per Target|
We can look at these numbers and make the assumption that Miami was targeting Michael Egnew as a potential "must stop" player. And for the most part, they did stop him. Eight passes to Egnew only found their target four times, and one was intercepted in the end zone. The problem for Miami, of course, was that passes to everybody else were completed at an 87% rate, and for 12.8 yards per pass. The play action worked to perfection in the long pass to Wes Kemp, and T.J. (pregnant pause) MOE was as effective as ever. The running game was too strong for Miami, and when they adjusted, Mizzou's receivers killed them. It was nice seeing this effort from the WRs, especially considering Jerrell Jackson was sidelined. If I have a complaint here, it's that we still aren't seeing much from L'Damian Washington or Marcus Lucas. I was hoping to get a much better idea for their capabilities by the time non-conference play ended.
(Meanwhile, Blaine Gabbert and James Franklin have thrown a combined three passes at Brandon Gerau this year; all three have been completed, and they have gone for a combined 67 yards. Just thought I'd throw that out there.)
Intrepid Rock M Nation member rg643 charted most plays from Saturday's games (during the game, no less!), and here are some of the interesting results for Mizzou's offense. (Again, if anybody still has the replay shows from McNeese State or SDSU recorded and wants to do some charting, let me know.)
Mizzou Rushing Per Formation
Under Center: 6 carries, 9 yards (1.5 per carry)
Five Wide, RB Motions to Backfield: 17 carries, 114 yards (8.4 per carry)
Four Wide, RB Starts in Backfield: 11 carries, 116 yards (10.5 per carry)
Three Wide, 2 RBs in Backfield: 1 carry, 2 yards (2.0 per carry)
The conclusion: clearly lining up under center doesn't work, and we should never do it again.
(Four of the six "under center" carries were the oh-so-controversial James Franklin sneaks, and the other two came from the 1-yard line, so...not many opportunities for yards there. Clearly a fullback was needed as well.)
Mizzou Rushing Per Direction
Runs to the left: 8 for 98 yards (12.3 per carry)
Runs up the middle: 23 for 85 yards (3.7 per carry)
Runs to the right: 9 for 118 yards (13.1 per carry)
With the size and speed of this RB corps, it makes sense that most of the success would come to the outside. That becomes disconcerting when playing the faster defenses on the schedule (Nebraska, Oklahoma, maybe Texas Tech or Texas A&M), but if they're just successful enough up the middle, the outside could still open up at times.
Mizzou Passing Per Formation
Out of Five Wide formation: 13-for-18, 166 yards, 1 INT
Out of Four Wide, One Back formation: 4-for-5, 71 yards, 1 TD
Everything worked for the most part, but (here's your Commander Obvious statement of the day) this does show that the threat of the run might help in setting up the pass.
Mizzou Passing Per Length of Pass
0 yards or less: 3-for-3, 28 yards (9.3 per pass) (31 YAC, 10.3 per completion)
1-5 yards: 4-for-5, 40 yards (9.0 per pass) (24 YAC, 6.0 per completion)
6-10 yards: 6-for-9, 82 yards (9.1 per pass) (32 YAC, 5.3 per completion)
11-20 yards: 2-for-4, 22 yards (5.5 per pass), 1 INT (0 YAC)
21 yards or more: 2-for-2, 60 yards (30.0 per pass), 1 TD (12 YAC, 6.0 per completion)
It's difficult to reach deep conclusions when everything worked. Mizzou set up the long passes perfectly, and they worked ... once from Gabbert to Kemp, and once from Franklin to Gerau. When the run is clicking, everything is clicking.
The Makings of a Strong Rushing Defense
I realize it's funny to talk about a potentially great rushing defense a game after they gave up 225+ rushing yards to a freshman, but we've covered how that played out and why that game didn't reflect as poorly on Mizzou as the raw numbers may suggest. In 16 quarters now, Mizzou has looked iffy against the run for two quarters (the first half against Illinois) and two plays (against Ronnie Hillman and San Diego State). They have allowed an infinitesimal amount on the ground in two of the last three games.
Fewest Rushing EqPts Allowed, Last 5+ Seasons
1. vs Miami-OH (9/25/2010): 1.0
2. vs Texas Tech (10/20/2007): 1.0
3. vs New Mexico (9/16/2006): 1.2
4. vs McNeese State (9/11/2010): 1.3
5. vs Ohio (9/23/2006): 1.5
6. vs Murray State (9/2/2006): 2.0
7. vs Ole Miss (9/9/2006): 2.4
8. vs Colorado (10/25/2008): 2.9
9. vs Colorado (10/31/2009): 3.1
10. vs Troy (9/17/2005): 3.3
Two questions: 1) How good will this run defense be when they face an overall solid ground game? 2) Are they well-equipped to handle the extreme, speed backs like Ronnie Hillman? Hillman was shut down for all but two runs against San Diego State ... and those two runs went for 168 yards. Players like Christine Michael and Taylor Martinez will be more than happy to 'only' have two good runs that go for ridiculously long touchdowns. The Miami game made certain that if you don't have a home run threat (and Miami very much did not), you will not move the ball very well against Missouri. They are tackling well (Hillman's run aside, clearly) and containing the pass. But ... if you do have serious speed threats? We'll see. Hillman and last year's Baylor game still give me the shivers. The trip to College Station is coming up soon enough.
Miami Rushing Per Formation
One-Back: 16 carries, 43 yards (2.7 per carry)
One-Back Shotgun: 3 carries, 4 yards (1.3 per carry)
I-Formation: 7 carries, 36 yards (5.1 per carry)
Tight: 3 carries, 8 yards (2.7 per carry)
Miami Rushing Per Direction
To the Left: 7 carries, 15 yards (2.1 per carry)
Up the Middle: 17 carries, 54 yards (3.2 per carry)
To the Right: 6 carries, 16 yards (2.7 per carry)
Nothing worked to a significant degree, but Miami had the most luck between the tackles, where Mizzou's speed advantage was less pronounced.
Miami Passing Per Length of Pass (First Three Quarters, while Mizzou's starters were in)
0 yards or less: 8-for-8, 2 sacks, 34 yards (4.3 per pass) (51 YAC, 6.4 per completion)
1-5 yards: 5-for-8, 38 yards (4.8 per pass) (21 YAC, 4.3 per completion)
6-10 yards: 5-for-6, 81 yards (13.5 per pass) (45 YAC, 9.0 per completion -- this includes the tipped pass that went for 45 yards)
11-20 yards: 1-for-4, 11 yards (2.8 per pass) (0 YAC)
Miami's short, quick passing game looked rather crisp at times, but aside from the one big play, Mizzou tackled wonderfully and allowed almost no YAC whatsoever. Meanwhile, the downfield passes were completely swallowed up.
(It does, I think, warrant noting that the one big play Miami managed came off of a deflected pass.)
(I should also mention that ... THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR DOING THIS, RG643.)
One more time...
No home run threat, no chance against Mizzou. Miami averaged 0.04 PPP while the game was 'close'; at that rate, it would take 175 plays to 'generate' seven points of offense. They were pretty efficient early on, getting four yards here, five yards there. But Mizzou's pass rush is just good enough (against the Miami's of the world, anyway) that, with one disruptive play setting up one passing down, the drive was over.
Mizzou ran beautifully, blocked beautifully, passed beautifully (aside from 1-2 forced passes to Egnew), tackled beautifully ... not much more you could ask for in this one. In fact, the win was so near-perfect that it bumped Mizzou's S&P+ ranking to 10th in the country. They probably aren't the tenth-best team in the country, but this does further emphasize that while Mizzou struggled mightily against San Diego State, almost every single team in the country has had at least one struggle to date. Texas A&M legitimately should have lost to Florida International, Nebraska came close to seeing the same status against South Dakota State, of all teams. Almost every team in the country has had either a near-miss or a miss. Survive and advance, right?
Now it's time to see what Mizzou can do against another major conference opponent. Dominating lesser teams can get you early-season love in the "+" rankings (and the polls, for that matter), but while Colorado probably isn't as good as San Diego State (at least not at the moment), they will offer more of a challenge than Miami did. If Mizzou can execute at as high a level again next Saturday, they will likely continue to see rankings love.