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South Carolina 27, Missouri 24: Beyond the box score

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Bailing yourself out for most of the game with big plays and a play-making defensive line is ... exactly what we expected from Missouri in the SEC, right?

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.)

Gotta pick the scab before you can heal.

Actually, that's terrible advice. Don't pick scabs. We're picking this scab, but only because I'm too lazy to come up with another analogy.

South Carolina 27, Missouri 24

S.C. Missouri S.C. Missouri
Close % 94.9% STANDARD DOWNS
Field Position % 55.0% 45.5% Success Rate 50.8% 30.0%
Leverage % 75.9% 60.6% PPP 0.50 0.44
S&P 1.005 0.737
EqPts 46.6 37.0 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 45.8% 27.3% Success Rate 30.0% 23.1%
Close PPP 0.50 0.56 PPP 0.51 0.75
Close S&P 0.958 0.833 S&P 0.812 0.980
EqPts 8.0 15.4 Number 3 1
Close Success Rate 40.6% 25.6% Turnover Pts 9.9 3.0
Close PPP 0.24 0.39 Turnover Pts Margin -6.9 +6.9
Close S&P 0.647 0.651
Line Yards/carry 2.32 2.62 Q1 S&P 0.748 0.806
Q2 S&P 1.217 1.184
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.623 0.514
EqPts 38.6 21.6 Q4 S&P 1.290 0.545
Close Success Rate 49.0% 29.6%
Close PPP 0.66 0.80 1st Down S&P 1.150 0.637
Close S&P 1.154 1.096 2nd Down S&P 0.833 0.737
SD/PD Sack Rate 14.3% / 0.0% 3.1% / 0.0% 3rd Down S&P 0.676 1.403
Projected Pt. Margin: South Carolina +2.7 | Actual Pt. Margin: South Carolina +3

1. In 2013, it is jarring to see Missouri lose in the trenches

Yes, Justin Britt did a good job against Jadeveon Clowney, one-on-one. But the South Carolina defensive line very much won the battle overall. Mizzou runners had no consistent room to run. That 11-yard touchdown run by Marcus Murphy in the first quarter and the 17-yard burst in the second overtime were both lovely, well-blocked runs. So was a 34-yarder from Henry Josey. The other 28 carries by Missouri running backs gained 81 yards. Passing downs will make your freshman quarterback look like a freshman quarterback; Maty Mauk faced a lot of passing downs on Saturday night. And in the second half, it caught up to Missouri.

2. Ball distribution falls apart when a lot of the options aren't working out very well

Missouri's distribution under Josh Henson has been simply fascinating. But it only really works when a lot of options are producing.

  • Henry Josey: 15 intended touches (15 carries) for 79 yards (5.3).
  • Marcus Murphy: 13 intended touches (12 carries, 1 target, 1 catch) for 50 yards (3.8).
  • Maty Mauk: 8 intended touches (8 carries) for 23 yards (2.3).
  • Marcus Lucas: 6 intended touches (6 targets, 3 catches) for 89 yards (14.8).
  • Russell Hansbrough: 4 intended touches (4 carries) for 11 yards (2.8).
  • Dorial Green-Beckham: 4 intended touches (4 targets, 1 catch) for 6 yards (1.5).
  • L'Damian Washington: 3 intended touches (3 targets, 1 catch) for 96 yards (32.0).
  • Bud Sasser: 3 intended touches (3 targets) for 26 yards (8.7).
  • Jimmie Hunt: 1 target, 1 catch, 6 yards.
  • Eric Waters: 1 target, 0 catches

Six players were targeted on at least four plays; only one of them averaged better than 5.3 yards per intended touch. Sure, L'Damian Washington should have probably seen more touches, but South Carolina's secondary had a lot to do with his and DGB's struggles. That defense played quite a bit better than I've seen it play this year; that has to be acknowledged.

And in the end, play-calling's pretty difficult when you don't know where you can go with the ball.

3. If you're actually considering calling DGB a disappointment, you might want to tap the brakes a bit

He had an absolutely atrocious game on Saturday. And even with that game, here are his stats for the season:

50 targets, 31 catches (62%), 457 yards (9.1 per target)

Here are his stats on passing downs, i.e. the defense-friendly downs.

16 targets, 12 catches (75%), 185 yards (11.6 per target)

He is a piece of the offense, but he is not the offense. That's not his fault. That's the fault of L'Damian Washington, Henry Josey, Marcus Murphy, Marcus Lucas, and all of the other successful players Missouri has on this team. And when the ball is thrown deep toward DGB, how often is he fighting just one defender for the ball by the time it comes down? He's found value as a decoy, and he's still providing all sorts of value as a receiver. He had a bad game. Drawing conclusions from it would might make you feel foolish later on.

4. If you'd told me...

...that Mike Davis would gain 51 yards on 19 carries...
...that South Carolina would turn the ball over three times...
...and that Dylan Thompson would be taken out of the game in the third quarter after completing 56 percent of his passes...

...I'd have assumed Missouri won by, well, about 17 points. We can justifiably quibble about fourth-and-15 and the screens. It's there for the quibbling. But this defense was somewhere between good and awesome for much of the game. The Tigers took away the No. 1 most threatening weapon South Carolina has (Mike Davis on the ground) and forced the Gamecocks to try Plan B and Plan C. The problem, of course, was that Plan C worked.

Well, the main problem was that South Carolina had time for a Plan C because of Missouri's own inefficient offense. The most important stat above? Leverage Rate. South Carolina's was solid, Missouri's was bad.

5. And yes, it feels weird losing a big SEC game despite having the clear big-play advantage

Bailing yourself out for most of the game with big plays and a play-making defensive line is ... exactly what we expected from Missouri in the SEC, right? It's an odd world we live in.