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Missouri 24, Vanderbilt 14: Beyond the box score

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Bud Sasser stepped up just in time, and the turnover gods smiled on Missouri a bit, and it was just enough to overcome inefficient passing and worse-than-normal finishing of drives and take down vanderbilt.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri 24, Vanderbilt 14

Confused? Visit the Advanced Stats glossary here.

Basics Missouri Vanderbilt Nat'l Avg
Total Plays 69 58
Close Rate (non-garbage time) 100.0%
Avg Starting FP 30.7 25.3 29.8
Possessions 11 10
Scoring Opportunities*
6 3
Points Per Opportunity 4.00 4.67 4.70
Leverage Rate** 69.6% 62.1% 68.2%
Close S&P*** 0.514 0.420 0.506
* A scoring opportunity occurs when an offense gets a first down inside the opponent's 40 (or scores from outside the 40).
** Leverage Rate = Standard Downs / (Standard Downs + Passing Downs)
*** When using IsoPPP, the S&P formula is (0.8*Success Rate) + (0.2*IsoPPP)
EqPts (what's this?) Missouri Vanderbilt
Total 24.0 14.4
Rushing 14.1 2.5
Passing 9.9 11.9
Success Rate (what's this?) Missouri Vanderbilt Nat'l Avg
All (close) 44.9% 34.5% 41.9%
Rushing (close) 52.3% 28.0% 43.4%
Passing (close) 32.0% 39.4% 40.3%
Standard Downs 43.8% 38.9% 47.1%
Passing Downs 47.6% 27.3% 30.6%
IsoPPP (what's this?) Missouri Vanderbilt Nat'l Avg
All (close) 0.77 0.72 0.85
Rushing (close) 0.61 0.36 0.73
Passing (close) 1.24 0.92 0.99
Standard Downs 0.61 0.67 0.77
Passing Downs 1.13 0.85 1.14
Line Stats Missouri Vanderbilt Nat'l Avg
Line Yards/Carry (what's this?) 3.70 1.96 2.92
Std. Downs Sack Rt. 12.5% 0.0% 4.7%
Pass. Downs Sack Rt. 0.0% 12.5% 7.5%
Turnovers Missouri Vanderbilt
Turnovers 0 1
Turnover Points (what's this?) 0.0 2.6
Turnover Margin Missouri +1
Exp. TO Margin Vanderbilt +1.17
TO Luck (Margin vs. Exp. Margin) Missouri +2.17
TO Points Margin Missouri +2.6 points
Situational Missouri Vanderbilt
Q1 S&P 0.407 0.236
Q2 S&P 0.562 0.473
Q3 S&P 0.587 0.358
Q4 S&P 0.515 0.626
1st Down S&P 0.468 0.277
2nd Down S&P 0.478 0.518
3rd Down S&P 0.582 0.499
Projected Scoring Margin: Missouri by 12.2
Actual Scoring Margin: Missouri by 10

Finish

Mizzou was one of the best drive-finishing teams in the country early in the year and is still pretty good at it; the Tigers rank 25th with 5.0 points per scoring opportunity (first downs inside the opponent's 40) this year. The problem, of course, is that the number of opportunities has dried up quite a bit.

On Saturday, though, some iffy finishing threatened to trip the Tigers up.

  • Drive No. 1: Mizzou had a first down at the Vandy 25, but Torren McGaster broke up a pass to Bud Sasser on third-and-5, and Mizzou settled for a 37-yard field goal.
  • Drive No. 4: Mizzou had a first down at the Vandy 45 (technically not a "scoring opportunity"), but a second-and-5 pass to Marcus Murphy resulted in a fumble that Jimmie Hunt recovered at the Vandy 47, and Mauk couldn't find Sean Culkin on third-and-long, and Mizzou punted.
  • Drive No. 5: 12 plays, 77 yards, touchdown.
  • Drive No. 6: Mizzou had a first down at the Vandy 46, but Mauk got sacked in about 0.2 seconds on third-and-4, and Mizzou punted.
  • Drive No. 7: six plays, 56 yards, touchdown.
  • Drive No. 8: Mizzou had a first down at the Vandy 26 but again stalled -- this time with two incomplete passes and a three-yard run -- and Andrew Baggett missed a 42-yard field goal wide right.
  • Drive No. 9: 10 plays, 70 yards, touchdown.

Not including end-of-half possessions, Mizzou had nine drives and entered Vandy territory on seven of them but managed only 24 points. It was a rare issue, but it prevented Mizzou from breaking through with a serious level of overall offensive progress. (It also made it a three-point game in the fourth quarter.) Creating more opportunities is an encouraging sign. But you still have to finish.

Havoc

Havoc Rate: VU 15.9% (11 in 69 snaps), MU 15.5% (9 in 58 snaps)

This offense still has issues. VU hasn't been very disruptive this year, but five of Maty Mauk's 12 incompletions were broken up (which means receivers weren't getting separation), and Vandy's Stephen Weatherly was probably the best player on the field on Saturday, with two sacks and two more hurries. That shouldn't be happening.

Still, improvement is improvement, and "that shouldn't be happening" is only something you say in regard to good offenses. Mizzou's probably not there yet.

Havoc plays
Matt Hoch 2.5 (2.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks)
Donavin Newsom 2 (1 TFL, 1 PBU)
Harold Brantley 1 (1 TFL, 0.5 sacks)
Markus Golden 1 (1 TFL)
Braylon Webb 1 (1 INT)
Charles Harris 1 (1 INT)
Kenya Dennis 0.5 (0.5 TFLs)

VU did a really nice job of keeping Shane Ray and Markus Golden off balance, and it could have made the difference in the game had Mizzou's defensive tackles, and an attacking Donavin Newsom, not played really well.

A little bit of turnovers luck never hurt

Mizzou recovered the game's only fumble, and while Vandy didn't snare any of five defensed passes, Mizzou had an interception on one of its two. Per national averages, Vandy could have expected a plus-1 (or so) turnover margin; instead, Mizzou was plus-1. Thank goodness.

Targets and catches
Bud Sasser 10 targets, 5 catches, 74 yards (7.4 per target), 1 TD
Marcus Murphy 3 targets, 2 catches, 10 yards (3.3)
Jimmie Hunt 2 targets, 1 catch, 35 yards (17.5)
Russell Hansbrough 2 targets, 1 catch, 17 yards (8.5)
Wesley Leftwich 2 targets, 0 catches
Sean Culkin 2 targets, 0 catches
Nate Brown 1 target, 1 catch, 4 yards
Maty Mauk 1 "target", 1 catch, 1 yard

Mizzou still had only a 32 percent success rate throwing the ball. The run was working at a 52-percent clip, but with no big run plays (again), Mizzou was unable to lean too heavily on the run without stalling. And for much of the game, Mauk didn't have anywhere in particular to go with the ball.

Torren McGaster and Bud Sasser were yapping quite a bit during the game, and to be sure, McGaster won some battles. Sasser helped him out with a dropped pass as well.

At the time of the drop (mid-third quarter), passes to Sasser were 1-for-5 for five yards. Awful. And passes to anybody else weren't exactly productive either. But with Mizzou desperately needing someone to step up, Sasser did just that, catching four of his last five passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns. Whew.

Passes that weren't to Sasser or Hunt: 5-for-11, 32 yards. Guh. And yes, Gary Pinkel said on Monday that Darius White probably had under a 50 percent chance of playing against Kentucky. Here's to hoping for a Nate Brown breakout. He's been seeing the field more, and he'll probably get another 25-35 snaps against Kentucky. Finding a third receiver (or, considering Jimmie Hunt's general regression -- 16 catches for 198 yards in the first four games before getting hurt in the South Carolina lead-up, then four catches for 66 yards in the last three games -- maybe a second receiver) could make the difference between 6-6 or 7-5 and 9-3 or 10-2. And if it's not going to be a senior, it might need to be a freshman.

A strange relationship with line yards

1. Mizzou averaged 3.70 line yards per carry, well above the national average.

2. Russell Hansbrough and especially Marcus Murphy have shown major-league explosiveness through the years. As Murphy showed in the return game against Florida, he is lightning in a bottle.

3. Mizzou has had almost no big run plays whatsoever this year, and considering the line yardage, that usually says the running backs lack explosiveness.

If I hadn't seen Mizzou play so much and was looking at this purely from the "neutral bystander" perspective, I would be wondering if the line just wasn't holding blocks well (and the running backs were making something out of nothing enough to make the line's stats look good before getting tackled), or if the runners weren't choosing the right running lanes or bursting forward quickly enough to do damage at the second level.

As someone who has indeed watched every Mizzou snap this season, I lean toward the former (runners making the line look good), but I'm starting to wonder about the latter. Hansbrough's footwork is fantastic, and Murphy maneuvers in traffic as well as anybody in recent Mizzou history, but both of them got repeatedly tripped up a moment before busting a big run on Saturday. Maybe they really aren't spotting holes and exploding as quickly as we thought? Or maybe the holes just really aren't good enough to get them there?

That said, there were a few key plays on Saturday that, if they didn't categorize as "huge," they were at least "intermediate." Mizzou leaned pretty heavily on the passing downs run, and I endorse that wholeheartedly. Hansbrough had rushes of 12 yards on second-and-10 and 10 on third-and-6, Murphy had a 13-yarder on second-and-10, and Mauk had a 10-yarder on second-and-20 and a 36-yarder on third-and-15. Mizzou was passing too much in obvious-passing situations, and with opponents getting a read on Mauk (and Mauk getting minimal help from his receivers), that was not a good approach. Mizzou still couldn't pass on third down (2-for-7 for 38 yards and a sack), but the run kept Vandy off-balance and extended drives ... even if those drives eventually stalled a bit.