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Mizzou-Colorado: Beyond the Box Score PREVIEW

Lots of interesting matchups here.  The rolling Mizzou offense versus the stingy Colorado defense.  The young, inconsistent Colorado offense versus the suddenly identity-less Mizzou defense.  Mizzou versus Folsom Field.  Most previews I've seen favor Mizzou by 5-10 points, and that's about what I have, so let's see if the BTBS numbers support that...I've bolded the keys to the game so that, even if you don't care about the numbers, you can skim through to what the numbers are saying.

And as always, consult the BTBS Glossary for all your BTBS needs.

Success Rate by Quarter

ALL PLAYS

Mizzou
Q1: Mizzou 54.5%, Opponents 43.6%
Q2: Mizzou 48.7%, Opponents 45.8%
Q3: Mizzou 57.5%, Opponents 44.3%
Q4: Mizzou 49.7%, Opponents 46.8%
TOTAL: Mizzou 52.7%, Opponents 45.3%

Colorado
Q1: Colorado 38.7%, Opponents 37.1%
Q2: Colorado 41.9%, Opponents 39.6%
Q3: Opponents 48.9%, Colorado 44.3%
Q4: Opponents 34.2%, Colorado 33.3%
TOTAL: Opponents 39.7%, Colorado 39.4%

Click 'Full Story' for more.

CLOSE GAMES ONLY

Mizzou
Q1: Mizzou 54.5%, Opponents 43.6%
Q2: Mizzou 50.0%, Opponents 42.4%
Q3: Mizzou 61.6%, Opponents 40.7%
Q4: Opponents 44.4%, Mizzou 38.0%
TOTAL: Mizzou 52.2%, Opponents 42.8%

Colorado
Q1: Colorado 38.7%, Opponents 37.1%
Q2: Colorado 40.5%, Opponents 39.4%
Q3: Opponents 50.0%, Colorado 40.4%
Q4: Colorado 30.1%, Opponents 29.9%
TOTAL: Opponents 38.7%, Colorado 37.8%

What this is telling me so far is, in the second half, when experience and/or athleticism start to take over, Mizzou starts to thrive and Colorado falters (offensively, at least).  This makes sense considering Colorado's QB and two top WRs are all freshmen.

CONFERENCE GAMES ONLY

Mizzou
Q1: Mizzou 65.3%, Opponents 49.2%
Q2: Mizzou 47.8%, Opponents 44.8%
Q3: Mizzou 62.5%, Opponents 35.5%
Q4: Mizzou 50.7%, Opponents 45.8%
TOTAL: Mizzou 55.9%, Opponents 43.6%

Colorado
Q1: Colorado 41.6%, Opponents 38.0%
Q2: Opponents 45.1%, Colorado 41.1%
Q3: Opponents 50.7%, Colorado 47.1%
Q4: Opponents 40.7%, Colorado 31.8%
TOTAL: Opponents 43.4%, Colorado 40.7%

CONFERENCE GAMES & CLOSE PLAYS ONLY

Mizzou
Q1: Mizzou 65.3%, Opponents 49.2%
Q2: Mizzou 47.8%, Opponents 44.8%
Q3: Mizzou 61.2%, Opponents 36.7%
Q4: Opponents 51.2%, Mizzou 37.0%
TOTAL: Mizzou 54.5%, Opponents 44.9%

Colorado
Q1: Colorado 41.6%, Opponents 38.0%
Q2: Opponents 43.5%, Colorado 41.1%
Q3: Opponents 50.0%, Colorado 46.3%
Q4: Opponents 36.5%, Colorado 30.2%
TOTAL: Opponents 41.1%, Colorado 40.5%

ESTIMATED SUCCESS RATE (based on Conference SR's)
Q1: Mizzou 51.7%, Colorado 45.4%
Q2: Mizzou 46.5%, Colorado 43.0%
Q3: Mizzou 56.6%, Colorado 41.3%
Q4: Mizzou 45.7%, Colorado 38.8%
TOTAL: Mizzou 49.7%, Colorado 42.2%

Really, this sets up to flow like the typical Mizzou game--Mizzou holds a slight advantage in Q1, things even out in Q2, Mizzou lands a series of haymakers in Q3, things even out in Q4.

GAME KEY #1: Colorado needs to score first.  Do whatever it takes to do so.  If you win the toss, elect to receive and take your chances.  If you kick off, think about an on-side kick (and no, I don't seriously think they would do this).  They need something to go their way early do keep Mizzou from establishing themselves early.  Only once all year has Mizzou failed to score first.  They won that game, but barely.

GAME KEY #2: Everything I just said?  It goes double for the third quarter.  Save a trick play for the first possession of the second half...maybe two.

Success Rate by Down

Mizzou
1st: Mizzou 50.3%, Opponents 47.4%
2nd: Mizzou 52.8%, Opponents 42.6%
3rd: Mizzou 56.9%, Opponents 44.5%
4th: Mizzou 100.0%, Opponents 50.0%
TOTAL: Mizzou 52.7%, Opponents 45.3%

Colorado
1st: Opponents 45.1%, Colorado 39.4%
2nd: Colorado 41.0%, Opponents 36.0%
3rd: Colorado 35.6%, Opponents 32.3%
4th: Opponents 53.8%, Colorado 47.8%
TOTAL: Opponents 39.7%, Colorado 39.4%

While Iowa State's 3rd-down success last Saturday reminded folks of Tiger Defenses of old, third down success definitely hasn't been the trend this year.  In fact, from a success rate standpoint, the Mizzou defense has been relatively equally successful on any given down.  The Mizzou offense, on the other hand, improves with each successive down.

In Colorado games, the yards come on first down.  You'll see that both Colorado and their opponents tend to get worse with each down.  Colorado does a particularly good job stopping their foes on 3rd down...which should be interesting since Mizzou is so good at converting third downs (there's a reason Mizzou only goes 3-and-out about once a game).

GAME KEY #3: Mizzou 3rd downs are going to be huge.  They're a strength for both teams.  If CU comes out on top in this battle early, it could be telling.

QB Success Rates

Chase Daniel
Run: 50.3%
Pass: 54.5%
Overall: 52.8%

Cody Hawkins
Run: 35.6%
Pass: 40.6%
Overall: 38.2%

Run Success Rate and Points Per Play

Mizzou (players with >5 pts only)
Tony Temple: 22-for-58 (37.9%) / 79 carries, 26.02 pts / 0.33 PPP
Chase Daniel: 24-for-42 (57.1%) / 52 carries, 23.47 pts / 0.45 PPP
Jeremy Maclin: 15-for-23 (65.2%) / 28 carries, 19.69 pts / 0.70 PPP
Jimmy Jackson: 17-for-31 (54.8%) / 37 carries, 16.39 pts / 0.44 PPP
Derrick Washington: 7-for-13 (53.7%) / 21 carries, 5.98 pts / 0.28 PPP
Martin Rucker: 6-for-11 (54.4%) / 12 carries, 5.06 pts / 0.42 PPP
TOTAL: 98-for-196 (50.0%) / 265 carries, 103.41 pts / 0.39 PPP

Colorado (players with >5 pts only)
Hugh Charles: 33-for-88 (37.5%) / 118 carries, 41.13 pts / 0.35 PPP
Demetrius Sumler: 24-for-73 (32.9%) / 95 carries, 21.60 pts / 0.23 PPP
Brian Lockridge: 7-for-18 (38.9%) / 30 carries, 9.82 pts / 0.33 PPP
TOTAL: 89-for-247 (36.0%) / 320 carries, 86.61 pts / 0.27 PPP

Hugh Charles' numbers are very similar to Tony Temple's.  Charles is much quicker than TT, but he has a tendency to dance and lose ground when the blocking's not there.  His slightly higher PPP total shows that he's a bit more of a big-play threat, but it's big play or nothing for him.

GAME KEY #4: Hugh Charles is by far the Buffs' biggest threat.  Make him dance and don't allow him in the open field.

Receiver Success Rate and Points Per Play

Mizzou (players with >5 pts only)
Martin Rucker: 34-for-42 (81.0%) / 54 catches, 37.62 pts / 0.70 PPP
Jeremy Maclin: 28-for-32 (87.5%) / 39 catches, 31.26 pts / 0.80 PPP
Will Franklin: 22-for-26 (84.6%) / 30 catches, 28.55 pts / 0.95 PPP
Chase Coffman: 26-for-29 (89.7%) / 40 catches, 23.86 pts / 0.60 PPP
Danario Alexander: 11-for-19 (57.9%) / 22 catches, 12.37 pts / 0.56 PPP
Tommy Saunders: 13-for-15 (86.7%) / 19 catches, 10.18 pts / 0.54 PPP
TOTAL: 150-for-188 (79.8%) / 237 catches, 162.07 pts / 0.68 PPP
TOTAL, WR: 80-for-102 (78.4%) / 127 catches, 93.04 pts / 0.73 PPP
TOTAL, TE: 60-for-71 (84.5%) / 94 catches, 61.48 pts / 0.65 PPP
TOTAL, RB: 10-for-15 (66.7%) / 16 catches, 7.55 pts / 0.47 PPP

Colorado (players with >5 pts only)
Scotty McKnight: 21-for-28 (75.0%) / 34 catches, 22.12 pts / 0.65 PPP
Josh Smith: 11-for-12 (91.7%) / 18 catches, 21.19 pts / 1.18 PPP
Tyson DeVree: 17-for-19 (89.5%) / 21 catches, 21.11 pts / 1.01 PPP
Dusty Sprague: 11-for-14 (78.6%) / 18 catches, 12.21 pts / 0.68 PPP
Patrick Williams: 15-for-21 (71.4%) / 24 catches, 10.45 pts / 0.44 PPP
Hugh Charles: 13-for-19 (68.4%) / 20 catches, 9.60 pts / 0.48 PPP
Kendrick Celestine: 5-for-7 (71.4%) / 8 catches, 6.42 pts / 0.80 PPP
TOTAL: 110-for-152 (72.4%) / 188 catches, 127.76 pts / 0.68 PPP
TOTAL, WR: 69-for-92 (75.0%) / 118 catches, 80.78 pts / 0.68 PPP
TOTAL, TE: 25-for-32 (78.1%) / 38 catches, 32.24 pts / 0.85 PPP
TOTAL, RB: 16-for-28 (57.1%) / 32 catches, 14.74 pts / 0.46 PPP

Game Key #5: Don't sleep on Tyson DeVree, Riar Geer, and the Colorado TE's.  They catch about one of every five Cody Hawkins passes, and they're really the big-play/sneak-attack threat.  DeVree is putting up Daniel Graham like numbers (in proficiency, anyway...not overall quantity), and they could easily take advantage of an inexperienced safety if given the opportunity.

Line Yards and Sack Rate (Offense)

Missouri

ALL GAMES
Line Yards: 273 carries, 883.7 line yards (3.24/carry)
1st-2nd Down Sack Rate: 3.0%
3rd-4th Down Sack Rate: 3.4%

CONFERENCE ONLY
Line Yards: 138 carries, 431 line yards (3.12/carry)
1st-2nd Down Sack Rate: 3.3%
3rd-4th Down Sack Rate: 5.0%

Colorado

ALL GAMES
Line Yards: 331 carries, 829.9 line yards (2.51/carry)
1st-2nd Down Sack Rate: 4.0%
3rd-4th Down Sack Rate: 3.2%

CONFERENCE ONLY
Line Yards: 193 carries, 510.5 line yards (2.65/carry)
1st-2nd Down Sack Rate: 4.5%
3rd-4th Down Sack Rate: 4.2%

Line Yards and Sack Rate (Defense)

Missouri

ALL GAMES
Line Yards: 245 carries, 695.3 line yards (2.84/carry)
1st-2nd Down Sack Rate: 4.0%
3rd-4th Down Sack Rate: 5.9%

CONFERENCE ONLY
Line Yards: 103 carries, 254.1 line yards (2.47/carry)
1st-2nd Down Sack Rate: 3.0%
3rd-4th Down Sack Rate: 7.5%

Colorado

ALL GAMES
Line Yards: 267 carries, 701.4 line yards (2.63/carry)
1st-2nd Down Sack Rate: 4.5%
3rd-4th Down Sack Rate: 4.0%

CONFERENCE ONLY
Line Yards: 123 carries, 342.6 line yards (2.79/carry)
1st-2nd Down Sack Rate: 2.7%
3rd-4th Down Sack Rate: 1.9%

Two observations here: 1) Need further proof that the Mizzou D-line has taken a quantum leap upward since Big 12 play began?  Despite the improved level of competition, they're giving up fewer line yards, and their overall sack rate has improved slightly.  Plus they're getting a lot more QB hurries and forcing QBs to make quick decisions.  Against a RSFr QB who's still prone to brainfarts, I like the sound of that.  2) CU's got the better LB corps of the two teams, but Mizzou's front four has been better in conference play.  CU's strengths are in the speed category, but if you avoid mistakes, you will score on them.

Game Key #6: If Mizzou can get pressure on Cody Hawkins, bad things will happen.

Defensive Success Rates (Mizzou)

Defensive Line (in order of most 'successful' plays)
Ziggy Hood: 21.5 tackles, 15.5 successful (72.1%)
Stryker Sulak: 21.5 tackles, 14.5 successful (67.4%)
Lorenzo Williams: 14.5 tackles, 13.0 successful (89.7%)
Tommy Chavis: 19.0 tackles, 12.0 successful (63.2%)
Charles Gaines: 7.0 tackles, 5.0 successful (71.4%)
Jaron Baston: 4.5 tackles, 2.5 successful (55.6%)
John Stull: 2.0 tackles, 1.5 successful (75.0%)
Jaysen Corbett: 2.0 tackles, 1.5 successful (75.0%)
Tyler Crane: 1.5 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
TOTAL: 93.5 tackles, 65.5 successful (70.1%)

The line continues to improve game-by-game, and Hood and Sulak are the major reasons why.

Linebackers
Sean Weatherspoon: 56.0 tackles, 28.5 successful (50.9%)
Brock Christopher: 53.0 tackles, 28.0 successful (52.8%)
Van Alexander: 21 tackles, 12.0 successful (57.1%)
Luke Lambert: 5.0 tackles, 2.5 successful (50.0%)
Steve Redmond: 1.5 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
TOTAL: 136.5 tackles, 71.0 successful (52.0%)

Time for Brock Christopher to step it up.  The LBs' success rates as a whole have gone down the last couple weeks--against Tech, it was understandable...against ISU, not so much--but not only has Christopher's gone down, but he's lost his "successful plays" lead to Weatherspoon.  If the LB corps has a good game, I'm extremely confident that Mizzou will win...but it's Christopher in particular who needs to play well.

Defensive Backs
Pig Brown (inj.): 56.0 tackles, 19.5 successful (34.8%)
William Moore: 43.0 tackles, 16.0 successful (37.2%)
Castine Bridges: 21.5 tackles, 8.0 successful (37.2%...very good for a CB)
Hardy Ricks: 16.0 tackles, 4.5 successful (28.1%...this rate will go up with PT at safety)
Del Howard: 13.5 tackles, 4.0 successful (29.6%)
Carl Gettis: 17.5 tackles, 3.0 successful (17.1%)
Justin Garrett: 9.5 tackles, 2.5 successful (26.3%)
Darnell Terrell: 22.0 tackles, 2.5 successful (11.4%)
Paul Simpson: 6.0 tackles, 1.5 successful (25.0%)
TOTAL: 205.0 tackles, 61.5 successful (30.0%)

I tried to quantify the Pig Brown loss yesterday...no matter how you measure it, there's no question it hurts.

% of plays made by...
Defensive Line: 93.5 of 435.0 (21.5%)
Linebackers: 136.5 of 435.0 (31.4%)
Defensive Backs: 205.0 of 435.0 (47.1%)

For the style of defense Missouri plays, I think the LBs' % of plays needs to come up a smidge to be successful...especially since the secondary's biggest tackler is down and out.

Defensive Success Rates (Colorado)

Defensive Line
Brandon Nicolas: 25.0 tackles, 21.5 successful (86.0%)
George Hypolite: 21.5 tackles, 19.0 successful (88.4%)
Alonzo Barrett: 18.5 tackles, 14.5 successful (78.4%)
Maurice Lucas: 15.5 tackles, 12.0 successful (77.4%)
Christopher Perri: 5.5 tackles, 4.0 successful (72.7%)
Marquez Herrod: 1.5 tackles, 1.5 successful (100.0%)
Eric Lawson: 0.5 tackles, 0.5 successful (100.0%)
Jason Brace: 2.0 tackles, 0.5 successful (25.0%)
Taj Kaynor: 0.5 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
TOTAL: 90.5 tackles, 73.5 successful (81.2%)

Linebackers
Jordan Dizon: 79.5 tackles, 53.0 successful (66.7%)
Jeff Smart: 40.0 tackles, 25.5 successful (63.8%)
Brad Jones: 35.5 tackles, 17.5 successful (49.3%)
R.J. Brown (inj.): 6.5 tackles, 4.0 successful (61.5%)
Jake Duren: 7.0 tackles, 3.5 successful (50.0%)
TOTAL: 168.5 tackles, 103.5 successful (61.4%)

Game Key #7: Jordan Dizon's success rate.  You know he'll get his tackles.  Let's just try to make sure that most of them come after 7- or 12-yard gains...not 2-yarders.

Defensive Backs
Daniel Dykes: 41.0 tackles, 12.0 successful (29.3%)
Terrence Wheatley: 25.5 tackles, 8.0 successful (31.4%)
Cha'pelle Brown: 16.5 tackles, 7.5 successful (45.5%)
Ben Burney: 34.5 tackles, 7.5 successful (21.7%)
Ryan Walters: 26.5 tackles, 5.0 successful (18.9%)
Lionel Harris: 4.0 tackles, 1.5 successful (37.5%)
Gardner McKay: 11.0 tackles, 1.5 successful (13.6%)
Jimmy Smith: 1.0 tackles, 0.0 successful (0.0%)
TOTAL: 160.0 tackles, 43.0 successful (26.9%)

% of plays made by...
Defensive Line: 90.5 of 419.0 (21.6%)
Linebackers: 168.5 of 419.0 (40.2%)
Defensive Backs: 160.0 of 419.0 (38.2%)

The main reason why CU's defense is better than MU's (assuming it is at all...the VOA discussion here has called that into question) is the difference in % of plays made by LB's.  Jordan Dizon has single-handedly turned an average defense into a pretty strong one.  Dude doesn't miss tackles.

Turnover Costliness

Missouri Offense
Fumbles: 3 for 12.27 'costliness points' (4.09 avg)
INTs: 10 for 36.12 'costliness points' (3.61 avg)
TOTAL: 13 for 48.39 (3.72 avg)

Missouri Defense
Fumbles: 8 for 30.63 'costliness points' (3.83 avg)
INTs: 10 for 36.58 'costliness points' (3.66 avg)
TOTAL: 18 for 67.21 (3.73 avg)

So Mizzou is +5 on turnovers and +18.82 on costliness (+2.35/game).

Colorado Offense
Fumbles: 6 for 17.82 'costliness points' (2.97 avg)
INTs: 13 for 39.09 'costliness points' (3.01 avg)
TOTAL: 19 for 56.91 (3.00 avg)

Colorado Defense
Fumbles: 5 for 14.37 'costliness points' (2.87 avg)
INTs: 10 for 34.87 'costliness points' (3.49 avg)
TOTAL: 15 for 49.24 (3.28 avg)

Colorado is minus-4 on turnovers and minus-7.67 on costliness (minus-0.85/game).  This obviously favors Mizzou.  CU's main problem comes from INTs.  If I'm reading my own pivot tables right, nobody's lost more than one fumble, but Cody Hawkins' double-digit INT total is slowing them down...especially in conference play.  They also get most of their takeaways from INTs, a total aided by the 4 they picked from Graham Harrell last week (three by 19th-year senior Terrence Wheatley, who has 5 on the year, and a pick six by Dizon).

Statistical MIPs

Mizzou Offense: Martin Rucker.  Colorado's LB's are great sideline-to-sideline, and they don't miss opportunities to make big plays.  Game Key #8: Rucker is important for two reasons: 1) in theory, he'll be matched up a lot with them when he lines up wide, and his (and Chase Coffman's) ability to catch the ball, draw the LBs out wide, and maybe draw some double-teams, will be key; 2) Rucker is also the de facto fullback in run situations, and his ability to get a hat on Dizon Et Al and clear some space for Temple/Jackson/Washington could make the difference between a neck-and-neck game and a blowout.  If Mizzou has the running AND passing games rolling, they won't lose any of the next four games, Pig Brown or no Pig Brown; against CU, Rucker might hold the key to both.

Mizzou Defense: Brock Christopher.  The defensive line played wonderfully against Iowa State last week, but at the end of the game ISU had 28 points on the scoreboard.  The LBs had arguably their worst game of the season that day, and that cannot be duplicated.  Hugh Charles is solid, and he will get his rushing yards, and that will result in the same sort of mid-range 3rd downs (3rd-and-4, 5, or 6) that ISU converted last week.  It will be up to the LBs to make plays on those downs AND make plays to set up the 3rd-and-long situations that could get Cody Hawkins lit up.  Brock Christopher has been the steadiest guy in the LB corps all year (and a good part of last year), and he need to come to play.

Colorado Offense: Tyson DeVree.  Back in the late-'90s and early-'00s, Tracey Wistrom was the most annoying TE on the planet.  You'd get distracted by the option, your attention would wander, and suddenly Wistrom would be running unabated 30 yards downfield for a big gain.  I haven't seen a ton of Colorado this year, but looking at his statistical profile, DeVree is a poor man's Wistrom.  He only catches 2-3 balls a game, but he makes them count, averaging over a point per catch.  

Now, Hugh Charles is good, but the CU rushing game doesn't strike fear in your heart like the old NU rushing game did.  However, it was Pig Brown that would prowl the back line and make sure the long bomb didn't happen.  He was good at it too.  His replacement--Garrett or Howard--will be making his first start in the secondary, and things won't come quite as naturally to him.  A big play or two from DeVree could significantly help a Colorado offense that will need some huge gains to keep up with Mizzou on the scoreboard.

Colorado Defense: I was trying to get creative, but instead I'll go with the second-most obvious choice, Terrence Wheatley.  Needless to say, if he has another three picks Saturday, Colorado will probably win.  I don't see that happening, but he could swing the game with a big pick and return, preferrably one that gives CU the ball in Mizzou territory.  OU gave Cody Hawkins a short field a couple times, and they paid for it.  If, when the CU defense makes a stop, Mizzou can pin the Buffs deep with a punt, I'll take my chances; however, a couple costly TO's could swing the game, and Wheatley's been the best turnover machine CU's had to offer so far.