Arkansas State at Missouri: Beyond the box score preview

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri is coming off of its best performance since 2011; Arkansas State, meanwhile, is coming off of one of its worst. How will both teams respond on a potentially wet track Saturday night in Columbia?

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.)

No, Arkansas State is not as bad as it showed last week in getting romped by Memphis.

No, Arkansas State is not as good as it was when it won the Sun Belt in each of the last two years. At least, not yet. (The Red Wolves weren't very good last September, either.)

Arkansas State (after 4 games)

ASU Opp. ASU Opp.
Close % 73.8% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 38.4% 38.0% Success Rate 51.4% 51.0%
Leverage % 66.4% 70.3% PPP 0.61 0.66
S&P 1.126 1.175
TOTAL
EqPts/Game 43.4 40.9 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 45.5% 45.3% Success Rate 33.8% 31.8%
Close PPP 0.56 0.61 PPP 0.46 0.46
Close S&P 1.017 1.058 S&P 0.801 0.781
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts/Game 23.9 19.2 Number/Game 1.0 1.5
Close Success Rate 49.1% 50.0% Turnover Pts/Game 4.3 6.5
Close PPP 0.55 0.56 Turnover Pts Margin +2.2 -2.2
Close S&P 1.039 1.058
Line Yards/carry 3.12 3.46 Q1 S&P 1.217 1.119
Q2 S&P 1.056 1.038
PASSING Q3 S&P 1.044 0.832
EqPts/Game 19.5 21.8 Q4 S&P 0.774 0.947
Close Success Rate 41.7% 40.6%
Close PPP 0.58 0.65 1st Down S&P 1.112 1.226
Close S&P 0.993 1.058 2nd Down S&P 1.071 0.833
SD/PD Sack Rate 5.3% / 13.7% 6.7% / 2.2% 3rd Down S&P 0.965 0.768
Projected Pt. Margin: ASU +4.7 | Actual Pt. Margin: ASU +1.3

Full-season stats can be a little misleading sometimes. In the above table, it looks like ASU has fought its collective opponent to a draw after four weeks, and that's technically true. ASU's scoring margin is plus-1.3 points per game. Those four games: a 51-point romp of UA-Pine Bluff, a 29-point loss to Auburn, a seven-point win over Troy, and a 24-point loss to Memphis. Only one game has been even marginally close.

In all, ASU needed some serious turnovers help to beat Troy and was beaten soundly by its other two FBS opponents. This isn't a great team, but it is still pretty deep and athletic for a Sun Belt squad; Mizzou will need to play well to prevent ASU from keeping things close for at least a while.

Quarterback

Adam Kennedy (6'5, 224, Sr.) | 78-for-124 (63%), 869 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 11 sacks (6.1 yards/attempt) | 23 carries, 162 yards
Phillip Butterfield (6'2, 216, Sr.) | 1-for-1, 14 yards | 1 carry, 0 yards
Fredi Knighten (5'11, 189, So.) | 2-for-2, 15 yards, 1 TD | 11 carries, 145 yards, 3 TD

Adam Kennedy was beaten out for the starting job at Utah State by Chuckie Keeton, and there is no shame in that. He was chased all over creation by Memphis, but it bears mentioning that against Auburn, he completed 29 of 41 passes (71 percent) for 272 yards and two sacks (yards per attempt: 6.0) while rushing 10 times for 88 yards. He's not bad. And Fredi Knighten is a solid Wildcat guy. ASU is incredibly efficiency-based, but the Red Wolves can move the chains on you pretty well if you don't take advantage of passing downs.

Running Back

David Oku (5'10, 202, Sr.) | 65 carries, 291 yards (4.5), 4 TD | 15 targets, 9 catches (60%), 93 yards (6.2/target)
Sirgregory Thornton (5'11, 215, Sr.) | 12 carries, 114 yards (9.5), 2 TD | 1 target, 1 catch, 7 yards
Michael Gordon (5'8, 187, So.) | 18 carries, 219 yards (12.2), 3 TD | 4 targets, 4 catches, 77 yards (19.3/target)

Missouri fans might remember David Oku from his recruitment, in which the four-star Midwest City (OK) product mentioned about 114 different schools as a leader at some point (including Mizzou) and eventually settled on Tennessee a month after Signing Day. He got spot time there before transferring.

Oku is a quick, elusive back who doesn't really get anywhere. He averaged just 3.6 highlight yards per opportunity last year (highlight yards are what come after the line gets you five yards downfield), and he's averaging just 3.0 so far this year. As with most of ASU's weapons, he is more efficiency than explosiveness. His backups, however, have shown some fire -- Michael Gordon scored on a 91-yard run in the second quarter versus UAPB.

Receiving Corps

H: J.D. McKissic (5'11, 193, So.) | 17 targets, 10 catches (59%), 99 yards (5.8/target), 1 TD | 5 carries, 36 yards (7.2), 1 TD
R.J. Fleming (5'9, 180, Sr.) | 8 targets, 5 catches (63%), 51 yards (6.4/target)

Z: Allen Muse (6'4, 226, Sr.) | 14 targets, 11 catches (79%), 207 yards (14.8/target), 1 TD
Carlos McCants (5'11, 198, Sr.)

X: Julian Jones (6'0, 202, Sr.) | 29 targets, 23 catches (79%), 198 yards (6.8/target), 1 TD
Tres Houston (6'2, 188, So.) | 7 targets, 4 catches (57%), 21 yards (3.0/target)

TE: Darion Griswold (6'4, 264, So.) | 13 targets, 9 catches (69%), 120 yards (9.2/target)
Kenneth Rains (6'4, 260, Jr.) | 6 targets, 5 catches (83%), 58 yards (9.7/target)

J.D. McKissic was by far the No. 1 target for Ryan Aplin last year, averaging nearly 10 targets per game as a freshman; his load has been scaled back considerably by new head coach Bryan Harsin and offensive co-coordinators Bush Hamdan and Eliah Drinkwitz, while Julian Jones, a bit of an all-or-nothing threat in 2012, has become the go-to efficiency guy. Allen Muse is a decent vertical threat, and in all, this is a deep enough receiving corps to punish teams with a thin secondary. Mizzou's secondary proved a lot last week, but it will be asked to prove itself again, at least if Kennedy actually has time to throw passes.

Offensive Line

LT: Aaron Williams (6'5, 320, Sr.) -- 17 career starts
Jemar Clark (6'6, 304, RSFr.)

LG: Steven Haunga (6'3, 317, Sr.) -- 17 career starts
Devin Mondie (6'5, 291, RSFr.)

C: Bryce Giddens (6'0, 300, So.) -- 16 career starts
Tyler Greve (6'4, 301, Jr.)

RG: Cliff Mitchell (6'5, 284, Sr.) -- 21 career starts
Alan Wright (6'2, 307, Jr.) -- 7 career starts

RT: Colton Jackson (6'4, 276, RSFr.) -- 4 career starts
Jacob Campbell (6'6, 331, Sr.) -- 2 career starts

Memphis sacked Kennedy seven times, and whatever Memphis was doing, Missouri will probably understand pretty well -- UM's defensive coordinator is former Mizzou assistant Barry Odom. Before last week's dreadful performance, this line was at least reasonably successful, and it does a decent job of open holes for the bouncy Oku. Still, one has to like Missouri's chances of winning this battle, especially after the push it got last week against Indiana.

Defensive Line

DE: Eddie Porter (6'2, 252, Sr.) | 9.0 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FR, 2 PBU, 1 QB hurry
Chris Odom (6'3, 234, Fr.) | 3.0 tackles, 1 TFL (1 sack)

NT: Ryan Carrethers (6'2, 330, Sr.) | 22.0 tackles, 4 TFL (3 sacks)
Dexter Blackmon (6'4, 268, Sr.) | 8.5 tackles, 1 TFL (1 sack)
Markel Owens (6'2, 303, Jr.) | 0.5 tackles

DT: Amos Draper (6'3, 266, Sr.) | 9.0 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 FF, 1 INT, 1 PBU
Darius Dunaway (6'6, 259, Sr.) | 4.5 tackles, 1.5 TFL (1.5 sacks) (3 games)
Darrius Rosser (6'3, 284, RSFr.) | 1.0 tackles

DE: Chris Stone (6'3, 252, So.) | 7.5 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 FF, 1 PBU, 1 QB hurry
John Gandy (6'0, 260, Sr.) | 4.0 tackles, 3 TFL (1 sack)

You will rarely see a more active giant than Ryan Carrethers, who is the third-leading tackler on the team despite being 6'2, 330 pounds. But even with the man-mountain at nose, opponents have found room to run against ASU. Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne and Tre Mason combined for 201 yards on 33 carries (6.1 per carry), and Memphis backs Marquis Warford and Brandon Hayes combined for 287 on 29 (9.9).

Carrethers is active and interesting ... but that's pretty much it. The other three starters have barely combined for more tackles than Carrethers. If Mizzou's offensive line performs as well as it did last week, Mizzou's running backs trio will have room to run, and James Franklin will have time to go through his reads.

Linebackers

STINGER: Kyle Coleman (6'1, 228, Jr.) | 11.5 tackles
Quanterio Heath (6'1, 210, RSFr.) | 6.0 tackles, 1.5 TFL (1 sack)
Xavier Woodson (6'1, 214, Fr.) | 8.5 tackles

MIKE: Qushaun Lee (5'11, 247, Jr.) | 24.5 tackles, 2 TFL (1 sack), 2 FF, 1 PBU, 1 QB hurry
LaAngelo Albright (5'11, 218, Sr.) | 3.0 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 PBU
Darius Buckley (5'10, 224, Jr.) | 1.0 tackles

ASU basically runs a 4-2-5 scheme, and in this type of defense, the linebackers' job is often to simply clean up the messes that the rest of the defense sends toward the middle of the field. In that sense, Qushaun Lee is just fine at MLB. But you'd still like a little more play-making than what this unit is delivering.

Secondary

CB: Artez Brown (6'0, 180, Jr.) | 6.0 tackles, 1 FR, 1 PBU
Jemaris Hart (5'9, 163, Fr.) | 1.0 tackle

CB: Rocky Hayes (5'11, 177, So.) | 12.0 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBU
Andrew Tryon (5'10, 180, Jr.) | 7.5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU (2 games)
TeDarius Turner (5'8, 166, So.) | 4.0 tackles

WOLF: Frankie Jackson (5'9, 198, Jr.) | 3.5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU
Charleston Girley (6'0, 196, So.) | 6.0 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 PBU
DeKeathan Williams (6'1, 212, RSFr.) | 2.0 tackles

ROVER: Chris Humes (6'0, 207, So.) | 24.5 tackles, 3 TFL (1 sack), 1 FF, 1 PBU
Money Hunter (6'1, 193, Fr.) | 6.0 tackles (3 games)

FS: Sterling Young (6'2, 193, Jr.) | 19.5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR
Raziel Valgis (6'0, 203, So.) | 1.0 tackle
Jeremy Fulcher (5'11, 178, Fr.)

Chris Humes is a big, intriguing presence at Rover, and Rocky Hayes is a good enough athlete to have averaged 9.3 yards per carry as a part-time running back last year. Hayes has made some plays on the ball and might be able to handle his own against a lot of pretty good receivers. I'm curious, however, to see how he matches up with Dorial Green-Beckham, to whom he's giving up seven inches and 48 pounds. I actually felt that Indiana's Tim Bennett, another aggressive cornerback, did a lovely job of holding his own most of the time against DGB, but Mizzou did a lovely job of putting DGB in position to succeed regardless. We'll see what Hayes has to offer. We'll also see if the rest of the ASU secondary can hold up against a deep set of Mizzou skill positioners. Josh Henson showed last week that he's all about even ball distribution; ASU will have to cover a lot of weapons.

And yes, ASU has a safety named Money Hunter.

EDIT:

Special Teams

PK: Brian Davis (5'11, 186, Sr.) | 14-for-15 PAT, 3-for-3 FG (long: 42)

Kickoffs: Brian Davis (5'11, 186, Sr.) | 22 kickoffs, 61.9 average, 8 touchbacks (36.4%)

P: Luke Ferguson (6'0, 210, So.) | 11 punts, 46.9 average, 1 FC, 3 I20
Paul Jones (6'2, 205, Fr.) | 10 punts, 36.2 average, 3 FC, 2 I20

KR: J.D. McKissic (5'11, 193, So.) | 7 KR, 22.6 average (long: 38)

PR: R.J. Fleming (5'9, 180, Sr.) | 2 PR, 4.0 average (long: 8)
J.D. McKissic (5'11, 193, So.) | 3 PR, 8.7 average (long: 16)

Marcus Murphy should get return opportunities. That's a very good thing.

Summary

As I mentioned up top, ASU isn't as bad as it showed last week. I'm pretty confident in saying that. If last week's version of each team shows up, then this will be a Mizzou romp; but that's far from a given. ASU is athletic enough to hang around for a while, and it will be a nice test for Missouri to see how the Tigers respond to their first really good week of back-patting in a long time. Mizzou played its best game since 2011 last Saturday; what happens this Saturday evening?

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