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Texas A&M 59, Missouri 29: Beyond the box score

And with that, it is officially 2013 in the Mizzou universe.

Scott Halleran

Last one of these for a while, eh?

2. Def. S&P+ spots that Missouri's defense rose after this game. Now, I am probably going to scale back opponent adjustments in S&P+ in the offseason, but that still enforces a certain point: Missouri's defense got roasted by Texas A&M, but in a way that every defense has been roasted by Texas A&M through much of the season. That doesn't mean Missouri performed well, but it is indeed a reminder that A&M does this to most teams.

3.5. Tackles made by Sheldon Richardson in what will almost certainly be his final game as a Missouri Tiger. (He was put in the awkward role of shadowing Johnny Manziel, and while the tactic was a miserable failure ... well, can you think of a better approach? It was creative, at least.) Richardson's 2012 stat line -- 57.0 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, three passes broken up, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, seven quarterback hurries and a blocked kick -- was incredible for a defensive tackle, but one specific stat will probably ding his reputation a good amount considering the circumstances and consequences. Games played: 11.

4. Fumbles recovered by Texas A&M. They fell on all four of the game's loose balls, including three of their own. Considering "Force at least two, preferably three turnovers" was one of the keys to the game, that was a bit of an unlucky break for Mizzou.

5. Mizzou completions of 69 yards or more in 2012. Per Mizzou historian Tom Orf, that's tied with 2009 for the most in Mizzou's history. (That's funny, since 2009 was also the last time Mizzou fielded a truly iffy offense.)

7. Consecutive A&M drives that ended with a touchdown. My second key to the game was "Weather an early storm." Between a completely inept first-quarter offensive performance (15 plays, 30 yards) and the fact that A&M's "early storm" on offense lasted well into the third quarter, Mizzou just never gave itself a chance in this one.

13. Consecutive third downs converted by A&M to start the game. A&M has the best passing downs offense in the country; they force you to make plays to stop them because they simply aren't going to stop themselves. Mizzou just couldn't do it.

46.7. Mizzou's Net Yards per punt. A&M averaged just 29.7. My fourth key to the game was "Win special teams." Mizzou didn't lose them, necessarily, but the game just wasn't close enough for it to matter. Mizzou did punt twice as many times as A&M, after all. Plus, A&M did bang in a 50-yard field goal.

269. Receiving yards gained by Mizzou wideouts. My third key to the game was "Dominate with your receivers," and honestly, Mizzou's receivers did just fine. Unfortunately, a) they didn't dominate, and b) they were unable to do any damage until Mizzou was already down by quite a few touchdowns.

309. Points scored by Missouri in 2012. To the surprise of no one, that's the lowest point total since 2004 and third lowest of the Pinkel era (behind 2004 and 2001).

2,232. Career rushing yards for Kendial Lawrence. He gained 1,025 of those, and scored 12 touchdowns, in his senior season, despite a mix-and-match offensive line, quarterback issues and a hit-or-miss receiving corps. He will not be remembered as one of Missouri's all-time greats, but he carried this offense as much as he possibly could this season and deserves serious kudos for it.

Texas A&M 59, Missouri 29

Missouri Texas A&M Missouri Texas A&M
Close % 31.3% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 33.8% 51.1% Success Rate 50.0% 48.5%
Leverage % 67.6% 71.7% PPP 0.29 0.48
S&P 0.786 0.963
EqPts 26.3 46.2 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 13.3% 64.9% Success Rate 29.2% 46.2%
Close PPP 0.05 0.63 PPP 0.50 0.57
Close S&P 0.187 1.279 S&P 0.790 1.027
EqPts 12.4 20.4 Number 2 1
Close Success Rate 0.0% 68.8% Turnover Pts 9.8 3.7
Close PPP -0.01 0.65 Turnover Pts Margin -6.1 +6.1
Close S&P -0.014 1.342
Line Yards/carry 0.53 3.55 Q1 S&P 0.187 1.287
Q2 S&P 0.758 1.037
PASSING Q3 S&P 1.075 0.692
EqPts 13.9 25.9 Q4 S&P 1.006 0.692
Close Success Rate 22.2% 61.9%
Close PPP 0.10 0.61 1st Down S&P 0.591 0.731
Close S&P 0.321 1.232 2nd Down S&P 1.116 1.082
SD/PD Sack Rate 0.0% / 5.6% 3.0% / 0.0% 3rd Down S&P 0.557 1.465
Projected Pt. Margin: Texas A&M +26.0 | Actual Pt. Margin: Texas A&M +30

It is hard to get away with saying three factors decided a game that was at one point 42-0, but you can certainly see three stats that made an enormous difference. (You also have to basically ignore the stats on the left side, since the game wasn't "close" for long enough to tell us much other than "A&M was great at first, and Mizzou was terrible."

1. Mizzou got almost no big plays on standard downs. A&M got a lot. In all, Mizzou had a higher success rate than A&M on such downs and basically faced the same number of passing downs. But Mizzou just had no hope for eating up large chunks of yardage at once. A "successful" play for Missouri was seven yards on first down. For A&M: 17 yards.

2. A&M was untouchable on passing downs. Mizzou's 0.790 S&P on passing downs is actually pretty good, and thanks to a couple of big plays, it was actually better than Mizzou's Standard Downs S&P. But A&M's offense also got better on passing downs. Like, much, much better.

3. The game started at ~6:10 p.m. CT. Mizzou's offense started playing around 7:15.

Missouri Targets & Catches
Player Targets Catches Catch% Target% Rec. Yds.
Yds. Per
L'Damian Washington (WR) 7 4 57.1% 18.4% 98 14.0
Dorial Green-Beckham (WR) 7 4 57.1% 18.4% 55 7.9
Marcus Lucas (WR) 6 4 66.7% 15.8% 45 7.5
Gahn McGaffie (WR) 4 3 75.0% 10.5% 26 6.5
T.J. Moe (WR) 3 2 66.7% 7.9% 26 8.7
Jimmie Hunt (WR) 3 2 66.7% 7.9% 19 6.3
Kendial Lawrence (RB) 3 1 33.3% 7.9% 7 2.3
Russell Hansbrough (RB) 2 0 0.0% 5.3% 0 0.0
Bud Sasser (WR) 2 0 0.0% 5.3% 0 0.0
N/A 1 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
TOTAL 38 20 52.6% 100.0% 276 7.3
TOTAL (WR) 32 19 59.4% 84.2% 269 8.4
TOTAL (RB) 5 1 20.0% 13.2% 7 1.4
TOTAL (TE) 0 0 N/A 0.0% 0 N/A
A&M Targets & Catches
Player Targets Catches Catch% Target% Rec. Yds.
Yds. Per
Ryan Swope (WR) 12 7 58.3% 24.0% 51 4.3
Malcome Kennedy (WR) 9 7 77.8% 18.0% 110 12.2
Mike Evans (WR) 9 8 88.9% 18.0% 99 11.0
Kenric McNeal (WR) 5 3 60.0% 10.0% 76 15.2
Derel Walker (WR) 3 3 100.0% 6.0% 30 10.0
Uzoma Nwachukwu (WR) 3 2 66.7% 6.0% 7 2.3
Trey Williams (RB) 2 2 100.0% 4.0% 16 8.0
Ben Malena (RB) 2 2 100.0% 4.0% 9 4.5
Christine Michael (RB) 1 1 100.0% 2.0% 12 12.0
Gaston Lamascus (WR) 1 0 0.0% 2.0% 0 0.0
Johnny Manziel (QB) 1 0 0.0% 2.0% 0 0.0
N/A 2 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
TOTAL 50 35 70.0% 100.0% 410 8.2
TOTAL (WR) 42 30 71.4% 84.0% 373 8.9
TOTAL (RB) 5 5 100.0% 10.0% 37 7.4
TOTAL (TE) 0 0 N/A 0.0% 0 N/A

This game goes a long way toward revealing why I use garbage time stats in the first place. For the game, Mizzou's passing game was only about 1.0 yards per pass worse than A&M's. One yard adds up over the course of 50 passes, but it doesn't exactly tell you the whole story.

Corbin Berkstresser sometimes makes his job much more difficult by failing to execute the easy passes. This was never made more clear than in passes to RBs on Saturday night. Johnny Manziel completed five of five for 37 yards. Berkstresser completed one of five for seven yards. Four of Manziel's passes to RBs came on first down, and they averaged a decent 4.8 yards per pass (two went for 13 yards, one went for three, and one lost four). All five of Berkstresser's passes to RBs came on first down, and four resulted in second-and-10. There is an enormous difference between 2nd-and-6 and 2nd-and-10, especially considering RBs are supposed to be a bailout option.


So that's that. New Year's Day is still 33 days away, but in terms of Mizzou athletics, it is officially 2013.


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%.