Florida 14, Missouri 7: Beyond the box score

Sam Greenwood

The trip to Gainesville, and how it might inform the trip to Knoxville.

First, as always, a mini-Numerical.

340. Yards gained by Tennessee against Florida's defense. Texas A&M gained 334. Georgia gained 273. LSU gained 200. South Carolina gained 191.

335. Yards gained by Missouri against Florida's defense. Yes, Mizzou was still mediocre on a per-play basis (3.9 yards per play), but the Tigers moved the ball on the Gators as well as any team this year. And that was with James Franklin being almost completely incapable of controlling his passes.

64. Pre-sack rushing yards for James Franklin on seven carries. Mizzou coaches were hesitant to call any designed run plays for the still-gimpy Franklin, but a runner's going to run. Franklin picked his spots beautifully and showed off some old-man craftiness on a couple of carries (particularly the one where he Brad Smith'd Florida defenders, acting like he was running out of bounds and cutting upfield to steal more yards), and he gave us a nice reminder of what a fully healthy, accurate Franklin is capable of doing.

56. Total Florida plays. The Gators move at a very slow pace and shouldn't be expected to attempt 90 plays by any means, but Mizzou's ability to move the chains (23 first downs) also assured the Tigers of a fresh defense. UCF ran almost 56 plays in the first half alone versus Mizzou. Florida barely got enough snaps to score even 14 points.

15. Passes targeting Dorial Green-Beckham in the last two weeks. Beware, future opponents: DGB is starting to figure things out.

9. Missouri trips into Florida territory. That these trips resulted in just seven points is simultaneously amazing, mystifying, and f***ing maddening.

5.6. Via Mizzou historian Tom Orf, the percentage of Marcus Murphy's career carries that have gone for a loss. Two of his 32 carries this year (6.3 percent) have lost ground, even despite serious line troubles in front of him. How impressive is that? Last year, Henry Josey lost ground on 10 percent of his carries, and Henry Josey was awesome in 2011. Kendial Lawrence was at 16 percent in 2011, 13 percent in 2012. Derrick Washington in 2009: 11 percent. Murphy is still learning how to be a running back, but he has showed more and more potential in recent weeks. Mizzou will have to replace Lawrence after this season, but even if Henry Josey isn't full-speed from the start of 2013, the position seems to be in damn good hands with Murphy and Russell Hansbrough.

4. Fourth-quarter catches for T.J. Moe in 2012. Also per Tom Orf, that was his first such catch in six games. He has a grand total of four fourth-quarter receptions this year. He had 12 in 2011, 20 in 2010. This season simply hasn't turned out as the senior receiver (and captain) probably intended, has it?

4, again. Passes broken up by Kony Ealy and Matt Hoch, who have both been fantastic over the last two weeks. Obviously Sheldon Richardson is the engine of the defensive line, and he will continue to be so over the final three games of the regular season. But against Kentucky and Florida, Ealy had 5.0 tackles, a tackle for loss, two passes broken up and a quarterback hurry, while Hoch had 6.5 tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack and three passes broken up. According (once again) to Tom Orf, Ealy is now third in the country among defensive linemen with six passes broken up with six. Getting your hands up and obstructing passing lanes is such a "little things" thing, and it can be so valuable. That Ealy and Hoch are doing this, and making other box score contributions, is fantastic.

2.3. Yards per target averaged by Florida's top receiving threat, tight end Jordan Reed. Reed caught just three of seven passes for all of 16 yards. Hell, other than the perfectly-called screen pass to Mike Gillislee, passes not to Reed went just 8-for-13 for 45 yards, 3.5 per target. Florida won because, in part, they called and executed two absolutely perfect plays: the screen to Gillislee and the jet sweep to Omarius Hines. Otherwise, as we'll see below, Mizzou almost completely negated any sort of hope the Gator offense had of moving the ball consistently.

Florida 14, Missouri 7

Florida Missouri Florida Missouri
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 25.0% 43.0% Success Rate 34.2% 34.6%
Leverage % 0.732 0.605 PPP 0.25 0.11
S&P 0.592 0.461
TOTAL
EqPts 14.5 11.1 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 32.1% 36.1% Success Rate 26.7% 38.2%
Close PPP 0.26 0.13 PPP 0.28 0.15
Close S&P 0.580 0.489 S&P 0.546 0.534
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts 8.0 7.3 Number 1 4
Close Success Rate 36.4% 45.2% Turnover Pts 4.9 20.5
Close PPP 0.24 0.24 Turnover Pts Margin +15.6 -15.6
Close S&P 0.606 0.688
Line Yards/carry 2.89 2.41 Q1 S&P 0.532 0.456
Q2 S&P 0.137 0.574
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.958 0.529
EqPts 6.5 3.8 Q4 S&P 0.741 0.395
Close Success Rate 26.1% 30.9%
Close PPP 0.28 0.07 1st Down S&P 0.431 0.310
Close S&P 0.542 0.378 2nd Down S&P 0.966 0.750
SD/PD Sack Rate 0.0% / 0.0% 3.2% / 12.5% 3rd Down S&P 0.245 0.549
Projected Pt. Margin: Florida +19.0 | Actual Pt. Margin: Florida +7

Five Notable Items From This Table:

  1. Big plays were the difference. Florida basically had two. Mizzou had none. Florida's PPP average (0.26) was well below-average, and Mizzou's was non-existent. Mizzou moved the ball because of efficiency and a surprisingly solid passing downs success rate. But Florida tackled pretty well (away from the line, anyway), prevented any hope for easy points, and was eventually able to either stall drives or end them with interceptions.

  2. Look at Mizzou's Passing PPP. 0.07. That's ... that's not good. Mizzou turned a serious corner in Gainesville when it comes to efficiency. Now they need to figure out that "easy points" thing in Knoxville.

  3. Mizzou was basically one play from taking the No. 8 team in the country to overtime, on the road, despite losing the turnover points battle by more than two touchdowns. That does not compute.

  4. Mizzou averaged 2.41 Line Yards per carry. Honestly, I expected under 2.0. But Mizzou did experience some early success on the ground before Justin Britt went down. Britt's injury, and the subsequent move of Mitch Morse from center to right tackle, changed the complexion of the MU OL vs. UF DL battle.

  5. What you tend to see with these stats is that teams with superior athleticism derive bigger overall advantages as a half progresses. That Florida's offense fell apart in both the second and fourth quarters was very, very encouraging to me.
Player Targets Catches Catch% Target% Rec. Yds.
Yds. Per
Target
L'Damian Washington (WR) 10 2 20.0% 19.6% 23 2.3
Dorial Green-Beckham (WR) 8 6 75.0% 15.7% 73 9.1
Gahn McGaffie (WR) 7 4 57.1% 13.7% 47 6.7
Bud Sasser (WR) 6 2 33.3% 11.8% 26 4.3
Marcus Lucas (WR) 5 2 40.0% 9.8% 28 5.6
T.J. Moe (WR) 5 3 60.0% 9.8% 12 2.4
Marcus Murphy (RB) 4 3 75.0% 7.8% 20 5.0
Kendial Lawrence (RB) 2 1 50.0% 3.9% 2 1.0
Jared McGriff-Culver (RB) 1 1 100.0% 2.0% 5 5.0
N/A 3 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
TOTAL 51 24 47.1% 100.0% 236 4.6
TOTAL (WR) 41 19 46.3% 80.4% 209 5.1
TOTAL (RB) 7 5 71.4% 13.7% 27 3.9
TOTAL (TE) 0 0 N/A 0.0% 0 N/A

Poor L'Damian Washington. Washington was either the target of third-and-long desperation passes or the "thrown away in the general direction of this guy" target. Of the eight incomplete (or intercepted) passes targeting Washington, two came on first-and-10, but the other six came on 2nd-and-22, third-and-4, third-and-6, third-and-10, third-and-13 and third-and-19. Those are the lowest of low-percentage passes, and unfortunately they wrecked his catch rate. (It's a little bit of the same story for Marcus Lucas and Bud Sasser. Lucas made two lovely catches and gave us a boost of optimism about him, even though his catch rate was still just 40 percent.)

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure both of the incomplete passes targeting T.J. Moe were about 11 feet over his head. Just a frustrating game for Mizzou receivers considering they actually played pretty well.

Player Targets Catches Catch% Target% Rec. Yds.
Yds. Per
Target
Jordan Reed (TE) 7 3 42.9% 30.4% 16 2.3
Frankie Hammond, Jr. (WR-X) 3 2 66.7% 13.0% 10 3.3
Omarius Hines (WR-F) 3 1 33.3% 13.0% 0 0.0
Mike Gillislee (RB) 2 1 50.0% 8.7% 45 22.5
Trey Burton (WR-F) 2 2 100.0% 8.7% 29 14.5
Quinton Dunbar (WR-Z) 2 2 100.0% 8.7% 13 6.5
Raphael Andrades (WR-Z) 1 0 0.0% 4.3% 0 0.0
Mack Brown (RB) 1 1 100.0% 4.3% -7 -7.0
N/A 2 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
TOTAL 23 12 52.2% 100.0% 106 4.6
TOTAL (WR) 11 7 63.6% 47.8% 52 4.7
TOTAL (RB) 3 2 66.7% 13.0% 38 12.7
TOTAL (TE) 7 3 42.9% 30.4% 16 2.3

Mizzou's wideouts still outperformed Florida's despite James Franklin's general inaccuracy. So there's that.

(Seriously, what a great performance by Mizzou's defense.)

Summary

It is amazing to think about how different this coming game in Knoxville will be compared to Mizzou-Florida. Against Florida, Mizzou dominated defensively, fought to a draw in the field position battle, and quite possibly could have won the game with only three turnovers. But Florida has a decent offense and a great defense. Tennessee has a great offense and a downright poor defense. Florida runs as much as possible, while Tennessee puts the game in the hands of quarterback Tyler Bray and star receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson (a one-time Mizzou target). Florida's defensive line is fantastic; Tennessee's has struggled terribly. Entering the Florida game, we figured the Mizzou defense was going to be under pressure to stop Florida enough to potentially win a 14-10 (or 14-7) game. Against Tennessee, Mizzou's offense is going to be under pressure to score enough to potentially win a 38-34 game. Mizzou absolutely can beat Tennessee. If nothing else, the Tigers showed that their ceiling is not only higher than some may have thought, but that it could be even higher if James Franklin gets more accurate as he gets more healthy.

Tennessee is basically a must-win game for Mizzou's postseason hopes. Florida proved that Mizzou not only has a solid chance of winning in Knoxville, but a solid chance. The matchups are completely different, and Tennessee's offense really is outstanding, but through incredible fourth-quarter disappointment in Gainesville, we found reason for optimism for the rest of 2012. Hopefully we are still talking about 2012 next Sunday morning.

**********

A Quick Glossary

F/+ Rankings: The official rankings for the college portion of Football Outsiders. They combine my own S&P+ rankings (based on play-by-play data) with Brian Fremeau's drives-based FEI rankings.

Field Position %: The percentage of a team's plays run in their opponent's field position. National average: 43%.

Leverage Rate: A team's ratio of standard downs to passing downs. National average: 68%. Anything over 68% means a team did a good job of avoiding being leveraged into passing downs.

Passing Downs: Second-and-7 or more, third-and-5 or more.

PPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game. National average: 0.32.

S&P: Think of this as an OPS (the "On-Base Plus Slugging" baseball measure) for football. The 'S' stands for success rate. The 'P' stands for PPP, an explosiveness measure that stands for EqPts Per Play. S&P is measured for all non-garbage time plays in a given college football game. Plays are counted within the following criteria: when the score is within 28 points in the first quarter, within 24 points in the second quarter, within 21 points in the third quarter, and within 16 points (i.e. two possession) in the fourth quarter. For more about this measure, visit the main S&P+ page at Football Outsiders. National average: 0.747. Standard downs S&P average: 0.787. Passing downs S&P average: 0.636.

Standard Downs: First downs, second-and-6 or less, third-and-4 or less.

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down. National Average: 42%.

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