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Missouri 41, Arkansas State 19: Beyond the Box Score

Through four games, Missouri's ball distribution on offense has been incredibly even and well-distributed, but the temporary lulls, the three-and-outs, are still an issue at times.

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Bill Carter

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.)

The order in which things happen certainly impacts the way we view things, doesn't it?

Missouri 41, Arkansas State 19

ASU Missouri ASU Missouri
Close % 95.2% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 46.6% 55.2% Success Rate 46.0% 58.5%
Leverage % 56.8% 70.7% PPP 0.29 0.85
S&P 0.746 1.438
EqPts 38.9 48.1 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 42.9% 54.6% Success Rate 38.2% 42.9%
Close PPP 0.46 0.85 PPP 0.72 0.84
Close S&P 0.890 1.394 S&P 1.100 1.264
EqPts 13.5 22.9 Number 1 1
Close Success Rate 36.1% 58.3% Turnover Pts 4.0 4.0
Close PPP 0.37 0.89 Turnover Pts Margin -0.1 +0.1
Close S&P 0.735 1.476
Line Yards/carry 2.35 4.36 Q1 S&P 1.119 1.390
Q2 S&P 0.863 1.311
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.620 1.203
EqPts 25.4 25.2 Q4 S&P 0.782 1.571
Close Success Rate 47.9% 51.6%
Close PPP 0.53 0.81 1st Down S&P 0.736 1.460
Close S&P 1.006 1.330 2nd Down S&P 0.961 1.509
SD/PD Sack Rate 4.2% / 12.5% 0.0% / 12.5% 3rd Down S&P 1.004 0.685
Projected Pt. Margin: Missouri +9.4 | Actual Pt. Margin: Missouri +22

Five Thoughts

  1. ASU's most successful tactic in this game was basically Keep-Away. The Red Wolves ran 88 plays to MU's 58, severely testing Mizzou's depth on both the line and in the secondary (where Randy Ponder was ejected early). The Tigers missed some tackles, sure, but aside from basically two drives late in the first half (when fatigue was likely setting in), they were sturdy enough on passing downs and good enough at forcing them that even while possessing the ball for more than 34 minutes, ASU eventually couldn't make enough plays to keep up.

    ASU remained relatively loyal to the run overall -- until the final two drives, attempted 45 passes to 36 rushes -- but it never actually got the Red Wolves anywhere. David Oku carried 19 times for just 36 yards, and their woeful rushing success rate got them into quite a bit of trouble at times. And yes, while J.D. McKissic was able to evade quite a few tackles, it wasn't enough.

    Mizzou managed a 9.8 percent sack rate for the game against ASU. That's good. Not as good: the fact that ASU still managed a nearly 50 percent passing success rate overall. Adam Kennedycompleted 80 percent of the passes he was allowed to throw, and while most of the passes were horizontal or close to it, Mizzou got into trouble when Julian Jones started getting open (on E.J. Gaines, no less) downfield. Jones caught four passes for 95 yards in ASU's final two drives of the first half (he caught six for 41 the rest of the game), and that was the only time where Mizzou's defense looked wobbly enough to become a true worry.

    This does bear mentioning, by the way: In those two drives at the end of the first half, ASU gained 140 yards in 25 plays, 5.6 per play, and converted five of six third down attempts. The rest of the game: 63 plays, 295 yards, 4.7 per play, 5-of-14 on third downs. Even with the early missed tackles, Mizzou still controlled the ASU offense for most of the game. And when the Mizzou offense stopped going three-and-out in the second half, the game ended pretty quickly.

  2. Line Yards Per Carry was once again well over 4.0. This offensive line is getting better and better.

  3. Targets and Catches
    L'Damian Washington: 9 targets, 6 catches, 67 yards, 1 TD
    Dorial Green-Beckham: 7 targets, 4 catches, 95 yards, 2 TD
    Marcus Lucas: 5 targets, 4 catches, 40 yards
    Bud Sasser: 5 targets, 3 catches, 22 yards
    Jimmie Hunt: 2 targets, 2 catches, 13 yards
    Darius White: 1 target, 1 catch, 12 yards
    Henry Josey: 1 target, 1 catch, 7 yards

    Intended Touches (Targets + Carries)
    L'Damian Washington: 9 for 67 (7.4), 1 TD
    Russell Hansbrough: 8 for 96 (12.0)
    DGB: 7 for 95 (13.6), 2 TD
    Henry Josey: 7 for 59 (8.4), 1 TD
    Marcus Murphy: 6 for 45 (7.5), 1 TD
    Marcus Lucas: 5 for 40 (8.0)
    Bud Sasser: 5 for 22 (4.4)
    James Franklin: 4 for 36 (9.0), 1 TD
    Morgan Steward: 2 for 14 (7.0)
    Jimmie Hunt: 2 for 13 (6.5)
    Darius White: 1 for 12

    Seven players with between five and nine intended touches, six of whom averaged at least 7.4 yards. The ball distribution for this team is incredibly, ridiculously even.

  4. Average starting field position: Mizzou 34, Arkansas State 25. Over the course of 24 possessions for the game (12 for each team), that's basically an extra 108 yards in Mizzou's favor, to go along with the extra 60 the Tigers gained (in 30 fewer plays). ASU's game of keep-away could have worked, but it didn't.

  5. Mizzou in its three 3&outs: 9 plays, 11 yards (1.2)
    Mizzou's other 9 possessions: 49 plays, 484 yards (9.9)

    Right now, the only concern for the Mizzou offense is the magnitude of the lulls. As I mentioned in my book, the power of three-and-outs is significant. If you go 3&O zero to one times in a game, you're going to win about two-thirds of the time. Do it twice, and your odds sink to about 57 percent. Do it three times, and you're down to 49 percent. Mizzou's offense was devastating for most of the game, but the unsuccessful drives need to be just a little more successful to avoid putting the defense in a situation like it faced late in the first half and early in the second on Saturday: Over a 14-minute span in the middle of the game, ASU attempted 40 plays to Mizzou's 6. Against a more explosive offense, that is beyond deadly.

In the end, though, it's difficult to complain about too much. At the beginning of the season, I said that I figured Mizzou was going to be a top-40 team at least, but that a top-40 team could easily drop a game against Toledo, Indiana, and ASU. The Tigers did not. A 4-0 start means Mizzou needs to only go 2-6 in conference play to get back to the postseason; that seems infinitely less difficult than 3-5 to me for some reason, but because Mizzou looked mostly good in non-conference play, winning by 44, 15, 17, and 22 points, we can aim quite a bit higher than 2-6.

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