Time to take a look back at the game that gave Mizzou its first losing record in October since 2002.
Kansas State 24, Missouri 17
|Close %||91.2%||STANDARD DOWNS|
|Field Position %||52.9%||56.1%||Success Rate||46.9%||54.4%|
|Close Success Rate||37.1%||42.6%||Success Rate||14.3%||25.0%|
|Close Success Rate||39.2%||50.0%||Turnover Pts||4.3||5.1|
|Close PPP||0.29||0.25||Turnover Pts Margin||+0.8||-0.8|
|Line Yards/carry||2.49||2.50||Q1 S&P||0.687||-0.173|
|Close Success Rate||31.6%||35.7%|
|Close PPP||0.22||0.23||1st Down S&P||0.688||0.721|
|Close S&P||0.540||0.588||2nd Down S&P||0.438||0.772|
|SD/PD Sack Rate||0.0% / 27.3%||4.8% / 6.3%||3rd Down S&P||0.738||0.501|
|Projected Pt. Margin: Kansas State +1.4 | Actual Pt. Margin: Kansas State +7|
A Win On A Per-Play Basis
This is a perfect good-news, bad-news tidbit.
The good news: On a per-play basis, Missouri was the better team on Saturday. They ran the ball better, passed the ball better (though neither passed particularly well), played better on standard downs and played better on passing downs. That they were able to do this versus K-State, just like they did against both Oklahoma and Arizona State, proves a strong, inherent level of quality in this team.
The bad news: Just as they did versus Oklahoma and Arizona State, they still lost, primarily because a) the teams didn't run an equal number of plays (KSU ran 20 plays in the first quarter to Mizzou's seven, built a 10-0 lead, then didn't really care if Mizzou won the box score for three quarters) and b) games aren't played in HTML tables. Inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Mizzou won the box score and lost the actual game score because they couldn't stop committing stupid penalties, because they missed two more field goals, and because they were unable to avoid drive-crippling mistakes.
Basically, this game affirmed that Missouri is a pretty good football team. They have now hung tight with three ranked teams on the road, and they are still pretty easily a Top 40 team from a statistical standpoint. But at some point, if you are not careful, you become your record. That is the biggest danger moving forward. You can look fine on paper, but you still have to translate it to wins before you forget how. Arizona is also still a Top 40 team statistically (that's how tough their schedule has been so far), but that didn't stop them from losing to Oregon State last week. Good chemistry and good leadership will still get Mizzou to bowl eligibility, but anything less won't.
For the game as a whole, Missouri was pretty strong on standard downs. Their standard downs success rate, in fact, was the highest it's been this season, even slightly higher than it was against Western Illinois. But Kansas State's strategy was to form an umbrella and avoid big plays in the hopes that Mizzou would screw up before they reached the end zone. As often as not, that was a rock solid strategy.
- In Mizzou's first solid drive of the game, Austin Wuebbels committed a false start on second-and-goal, resulting in a second-and-long that killed the drive and forced Mizzou to settle for a field goal.
- The next possession, Mizzou advanced to the 27, but Kendial Lawrence committed an awful error in either failing to see David Garrett had the angle on him eight yards in the backfield or seeing Garrett and assuming he could outrun Garrett anyway without making a move. Regardless of the reasons (and regardless of whoever missed the block that got Garrett into the backfield), Garrett stopped Lawrence for a loss of eight, and Mizzou ended up punting.
- The final possession of the half saw a relatively effective, 57-yard, two-minute drill. But it began with Andrew Wilson getting called for holding on a punt that was fair caught, and those ten yards cost Mizzou dearly when Grant Ressel missed a 43-yard field goal. (Of course, he would have probably missed it from 33 yards, too.)
- The second half began with Kip Edwards picking off a pass intended for Brodrick Smith, and Mizzou started at the 36. They picked up a first down, but Henry Josey was cut down for a loss of two on second-and-6 from the KSU 17, and Mizzou ended up settling for another field goal that Ressel missed.
Mizzou finally got rolling when KSU was up 21 points, but ... well, by then, KSU was up 21 points. Failing to make big plays and eventually falling into passing downs ended three drives prematurely and cost Mizzou anywhere between about six and 18 points because Mizzou was so ineffective on passing downs. It looked for a little while as if Mizzou might have some passing downs magic this year -- their S&P was 0.830 versus Arizona State and 1.217 versus Western Illinois -- but against the aforementioned KSU umbrella, James Franklin was indecisive, and his receivers didn't necessarily do him many favors.
The Script, It Failed
Allow me to defend against one complaint and register another. The Internet/Twittersphere predictably went crazy when Henry Josey went the entire first quarter without a carry. MIZZOU IS REFUSING TO RUN THE BALL, etc. But what we witnessed in the first quarter was not a failure of play-calling in general; it was, however, a failure of The Script. As we all know by now, Mizzou scripts the first chunk of plays. This has reaped huge dividends through the years, and it worked out quite well for Mizzou against Oklahoma two weeks ago. However, the script quite clearly failed against Kansas State. Mizzou evidently thought they had run the ball effectively enough to pull KSU's attention toward Josey and the run game, so they scripted quite a few play-action passes to move the ball right out of the gates. KSU, however, appeared to be gunning to stop the pass, and it played right into their hands. The Script works more often than it doesn't, but it was certainly a colossal failure, magnified by the fact that the first quarter ended with Mizzou having run just seven plays, just four on standard downs.
An All Points Bulletin
L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas are still on the team, right? Just wondering, because on a per-target basis, they have been Mizzou's two most productive receivers in 2011. And in the last two games, they have been targeted by two of 68 passes, one of which went for 45 yards and a touchdown. I understand that they might not be the best blockers, and with Mizzou's higher emphasis on the run (and yes, for whatever may have happened in the first quarter in Manhattan, Mizzou has indeed seen a higher emphasis on the run), that matters. But with Mizzou down in the second half, I'd have liked them to be on the field more than they were.
|Missouri||Targets||Catches||Catch%||Target%||Rec. Yds.||Yds. Per
Michael Egnew (TE)
T.J. Moe (WR)
Jerrell Jackson (WR)
Brandon Gerau (WR)
Wes Kemp (WR)
|Henry Josey (RB)
That said, the receivers Washington and Lucas would probably have been replacing on the field (Jerrell Jackson, Wes Kemp, Brandon Gerau) certainly weren't terrible. Passes targeting Jackson and Gerau in particular averaged 11.0 yards each; but for one portion of the game in particular, Mizzou could have used more weapons than they had on the field. And the two most productive receivers would have been, uh, useful.
First 11 Pass Attempts: 4-for-9, 48 yards, 1 INT, 2 sacks for 18 yards (2.7 yards per pass attempt).
-- Passes to Egnew: 2-for-3, 24 yards, 1 INT
-- Passes to Kemp: 1-for-3, 16 yards
-- Passes to others: 1-for-3, 8 yards
Next 12 Pass Attempts: 5-for-12, 55 yards
-- Passes to Jackson: 2-for-2, 31 yards
-- Passes to Moe: 1-for-5, 12 yards
-- Passes to Egnew: 1-for-2, 3 yards
-- Passes to Gerau: 1-for-2, 9 yards
-- one throwaway
Next 14 Pass Attempts: 10-for-14, 111 yards
-- Passes to Egnew: 5-for-5, 56 yards
-- Passes to Jackson: 2-for-3, 33 yards
-- Passes to Moe: 2-for-3, 14 yards
-- Passes to others: 1-for-1, 18 yards
-- two throwaways
The first of three portions I isolated here is basically what happened during the first, "scripted" portion of the game. Mizzou absolutely wanted to get Egnew involved, and they did. Franklin had no idea where to go with the ball in his other eight pass attempts -- he was sacked twice (once after holding the ball for approximately 26 seconds), threw some off-target passes at Wes Kemp, and just couldn't get into a rhythm. I'd wager that even if Lucas and Washington were on the field, he'd have struggled to find them as he adapted to the KSU Umbrella.
The second portion, however, was ripe for somebody getting an opportunity. KSU's gameplan did not change significantly, but other than finding Jackson for a couple of nice gains on Mizzou's pre-haltime two-minute drill, Franklin still didn't know where to go with the ball and quite ineffectively leaned on Moe. This was when the game was officially lost -- Mizzou missed two field goals, then went three-and-out twice while KSU (with help from Darvin Ruise's awful roughing penalty) scored twice to go up 21 points -- and this is absolutely when Lucas and Washington could have become viable options. Either they weren't on the field (I know I saw Lucas a couple of times, but I'm not sure I ever saw Washington; I assume he was out there, but I have no proof), or Franklin never looked their way. Either way, that needs to change. Washington has produced nicely on standard downs, and Lucas was a passing downs goldmine versus Arizona State. They need to become a clear part of the gameplan. Quickly.
||Targets||Catches||Catch%||Target%||Rec. Yds.||Yds. Per
|Chris Harper (WR)||4||2||50.0%||25.0%||37||9.3|
|Sheldon Smith (WR)||4||4||100.0%||25.0%||29||7.3|
|Andre McDonald (TE)||2||1||50.0%||12.5%||18||9.0|
|Braden Wilson (FB)||2||2||100.0%||12.5%||14||7.0|
|Travis Tannahill (TE)||2||1||50.0%||12.5%||6||3.0|
|Tramaine Thompson (WR)||1||1||100.0%||6.3%||8||8.0|
It is hard to complain too much about Mizzou's pass defense in this one. Despite keying on the run, they recovered pretty well on play-action attempts. In the end, one play killed them. (Another could have, but a Klein bomb was too long for Harper in the second quarter.) Facing third-and-4 from their 38 as the third quarter began to wind down, Klein found Harper downfield for 32 yards to the Mizzou 30. KSU didn't end up scoring -- they got backed up seven yards afterward -- but they were able to pin Mizzou at the one-yard line with their punt, forced Mizzou to all but abandon hope on the ensuing possession. After two short runs and an incomplete pass, the third quarter ended with Tramaine Thompson returning a punt back inside Mizzou's 40. KSU would score early in the fourth quarter, and that effectively ended the game.
It was only one pass, however. The defense held KSU's run game to minimal success, and the Wildcats only managed a 32% success rate passing. That should have been enough to win the game if they cut out other mistakes. But between offensive ineffectiveness and stupid penalties, Mizzou was unable to get out of its way.
As mentioned last week, a loss versus Kansas State would define the narrative for the rest of the season. Sure, Mizzou could make a run through the final six games and finish 9-3, but the primary goal now simply becomes bowl eligibility. Mizzou must beat Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas to get to five wins, then win at least one of the following: Oklahoma State, @Texas A&M, @Baylor, Texas. The odds of them winning at least one are obviously pretty good, but it isn't a given. Luckily, one of the more likely (note: "more likely" is not "guaranteed") wins comes up this weekend. A nice Homecoming performance versus Paul Rhoads and the Cyclones will be good for the soul (and the Homecoming crowd). Let's make that happen, huh?