Mizzou 38, Toledo 23: Beyond the Box Score

Bill Carter

Mizzou won by the projected amount, but the Tigers relied a little too much on turnovers to get there.

Confused? Visit the Advanced Stats glossary here. Or just skip to the words. I won't be offended. (Okay, I'll only be a little offended.)

Expectations and experience differ sometimes. Mizzou was projected to beat Toledo by between 14-17 points and won by 15, so in the end the result matched the expectation. But when you actually experience such a win, and you don't get the 28-point blowout you're secretly hoping for, you end up disappointed even if what happened was basically what was supposed to happen.

That said, while Mizzou won by the expected amount and moved to 2-0 in the process, there were certainly red flags here. The Tigers won primarily because of turnovers -- on a play-for-play basis, they only outgunned the Rockets by a point or two and crafted a larger margin because of a dramatic win in the turnovers department. Turnovers are part-skill, but they're also part-luck.

Still, I said I feared a 3-1 start was more likely than a 4-0 start, so I'm firmly in the "win at whatever cost" camp here. Let's look at the stats to see what we can learn about this team moving forward.

Missouri 38, Toledo 23

Toledo Missouri Toledo Missouri
Close % 100.0% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 48.4% 52.8% Success Rate 56.8% 49.0%
Leverage % 68.8% 68.1% PPP 0.53 0.43
S&P 1.098 0.921
TOTAL
EqPts 36.5 37.8 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 48.4% 48.6% Success Rate 30.0% 47.8%
Close PPP 0.57 0.52 PPP 0.66 0.72
Close S&P 1.055 1.011 S&P 0.961 1.202
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts 11.5 19.7 Number 3 1
Close Success Rate 47.8% 51.2% Turnover Pts 21.3 2.7
Close PPP 0.50 0.46 Turnover Pts Margin -18.6 +18.6
Close S&P 0.980 0.969
Line Yards/carry 3.43 3.48 Q1 S&P 0.802 0.912
Q2 S&P 0.964 1.048
PASSING Q3 S&P 1.647 1.307
EqPts 25.0 18.1 Q4 S&P 0.595 0.903
Close Success Rate 48.8% 44.8%
Close PPP 0.61 0.63 1st Down S&P 0.841 0.745
Close S&P 1.098 1.074 2nd Down S&P 1.266 1.061
SD/PD Sack Rate 6.3% / 23.1% 0.0% / 0.0% 3rd Down S&P 1.122 1.458
Projected Pt. Margin: Missouri +19.8 | Actual Pt. Margin: Missouri +15

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Five Thoughts

  1. Mizzou really was a little lucky here. Generally speaking, a team is going to pick off one pass for every four it breaks up. Of all your passes defensed (INTs + PBUs), about 21 percent will be INTs on average. So since Mizzou defensed seven passes on Saturday, the Tigers should have ended up with between one and two picks, not three. (Of course, Toledo defensed only one pass all game, and it was a pick, so the Rockets also came out ahead.)

    Still, the end-of-half pick by Matt White was a particularly skills- and decisions-based turnover. Terrance Owens made an enormous mistake by throwing that ball in the first place, and he paid for it. That wasn't simply luck, even if a deflection was involved.

    In all, though, both Ian Simon and Randy Ponder did well in terms of passes defensed. Simon had a pick and two PBUs, while Ponder chipped in with two more PBUs. There were certainly some missed tackles here and there, but for Mizzou to get a hand on seven of Owens' 41 passes, considering how many were pitch-and-catch screens, that's pretty good. It's a sign that Mizzou had the athleticism to cover Toledo receivers downfield, and Toledo has the most athletic team in the MAC, so that's not very faint praise.

  2. Aside from turnovers, passing downs probably made the biggest difference. James Franklin was 7-for-8 for 79 yards on second-and-long in particular, which caught Mizzou up quite a bit after poor first-down gains. (This was important because Franklin was sacked twice in four pass attempts on third-and-long.) Meanwhile, Owens was 8-for-15 for 82 yards on passing downs -- pretty good, but not nearly as good.

  3. Always be closing. Mizzou's S&P advantage was minimal after three quarters, but the Tigers clearly pulled away in the fourth. Eyeballs and stats often agree.

  4. Mizzou lost the battle in the trenches. The two teams had almost the same average in line yardage, but the Rockets were able to generate a pass rush, and Mizzou was not. For the game, both teams had five tackles for loss (Michael Sam had two), but the pass rush was costly for the Tigers in the first half.

    It's safe to say that Kony Ealy and Shane Ray have not had the start to the season we hoped they would have. Through two games, they have combined for just 5.0 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. That's pretty mediocre for a starting end, much less a starting end (who's supposed to have a breakout year) and a top backup. They do also have three quarterback hurries and two passes broken up, so perhaps they're close to making some plays. But they haven't yet.

  5. Targets and catches through two weeks:

    Standard Downs (at least two targets)
    Dorial Green-Beckham: 8 targets, 6 catches, 105 yards (13.1/target)
    L'Damian Washington: 5 targets, 4 catches, 54 yards (10.8)
    Bud Sasser: 4 targets, 3 catches, 30 yards (7.5)
    Jaleel Clark: 4 targets, 4 catches, 30 yards (7.5)
    Jimmie Hunt: 3 targets, 2 catches, 26 yards (8.7)
    Darius White: 3 targets, 3 catches, 44 yards (14.7)
    Marcus Lucas: 2 targets, 2 catches, 26 yards (13.0)

    Passing Downs (at least two targets)
    Marcus Lucas: 5 targets, 4 catches, 25 yards (5.0)
    L'Damian Washington: 3 targets, 3 catches, 52 yards (17.3)
    Dorial Green-Beckham: 3 targets, 3 catches, 29 yards (9.7)
    Bud Sasser: 2 targets, 2 catches, 15 yards (7.5)

    Marcus Lucas had a pretty awful game overall (seven targets, three catches, 28 yards), but the train kept a-rolling for everybody else. Franklin completed 13 of 18 passes for 184 yards to players not named Lucas, DGB made an underthrown fade route look all sorts of easy, L'Damian Washington had a great first half, Levi Copelin tracked down a bomb to set up an early score. I still want, and will always want, to see more of Jimmie Hunt, but I can live with that when the overall averages are this good.
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