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Missouri 38, UCF 10: Beyond the box score

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Efficiency on offense and havoc on defense have been the recipe for Missouri's 3-0 start.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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.)

Missouri 38, Central Florida 10

UCF Missouri UCF Missouri

STANDARD DOWNS
Close % 73.0% Success Rate 34.3% 52.9%
Leverage % 44.9% 57.6% IsoPPP 0.64 1.00
S&P 0.402 0.624
TOTAL
EqPts 16.4 24.8 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 30.2% 46.8% Success Rate 22.2% 30.8%
Close IsoPPP 0.81 0.97 IsoPPP 1.33 0.84
Close S&P* 0.404 0.569 S&P 0.444 0.415
RUSHING TURNOVERS
EqPts 6.6 10.1 Number 4 1
Close Success Rate 35.5% 56.5% Turnover Pts 23.7 4.3
Close IsoPPP 0.53 0.52 Turnover Pts Margin -19.4 +19.4
Close S&P 0.390 0.555
Line Yards/carry 2.79 3.93 Q1 S&P 0.411 0.596
Q2 S&P 0.511 0.601
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.331 0.499
EqPts 9.8 14.7 Q4 S&P 0.364 0.530
Close Success Rate 22.7% 37.5%
Close IsoPPP 1.43 1.63 1st Down S&P 0.257 0.503
Close S&P 0.468 0.627 2nd Down S&P 0.474 0.405
SD/PD Sack Rate 9.1% / 18.2% 6.3% / 0.0% 3rd Down S&P 1.000 0.777
Projected Pt. Margin: Missouri +27.8 | Actual Pt. Margin: Missouri +28

* When using IsoPPP, the S&P formula is (0.8*Success Rate)+(0.2*IsoPPP)

Primary takeaway: Three plays basically allowed UCF to stay in the game

UCF -- 3rd-and-19, MU46: HOLMAN, Justin pass complete to REESE, Josh for 27 yards to the MU19, 1ST DOWN UCF, out-of-bounds. Watching live, I thought Braylon Webb and John Gibson simply managed to whiff on the pass, but watching later on television, it simply looked like a frozen rope of a pass that manage to fit into the smallest window possible. This was a phenomenal throw and catch in traffic, and it set UCF for a field goal to make it 7-3.

MU -- 2nd-and-12, MU32: Mauk, Maty pass intercepted by GLENN, Jacoby at the UCF38, GLENN, Jacoby return 31 yards to the MU31 (McGovern, Connor). Mauk saw Hunt come open a half-second too late and didn't get enough on the pass. Glenn stepped in front of it and returned it into Mizzou territory, which set up...

UCF -- 3rd-and-12, MU 23: HOLMAN, Justin pass complete to PERRIMAN, B. for 18 yards to the MU5, 1ST DOWN UCF. Another bullet moved the chains and allowed UCF to score a touchdown and take a brief lead.

In the first half, Mizzou had the only turnover, and it was worth about 4.3 equivalent points in field position. And the Knights converted third-and-impossible on each of their two scoring drives, which reflects in the IsoPPP portion of the Passing Downs data above.

Targets & Catches

Darius White: 6 targets, 3 catches, 27 yards (4.5 per target)
Bud Sasser: 5 targets, 5 catches, 57 yards (11.4 per target), 2 TD
Jimmie Hunt: 4 targets, 2 catches, 21 yards (5.3 per target), 2 TD
Russell Hansbrough: 3 targets, 3 catches, 21 yards (7.0 per target)
Marcus Murphy: 3 targets, 0 catches
Sean Culkin: 2 targets, 1 catch, 18 yards (9.0 per target)

This was a strange offensive game. Maty Mauk got quite a bit of media attention because FOUR TOUCHDOWNS!, but he completed only 14 passes for the game, and in his seven pass attempts between the second TD pass to Hunt and the wacky pass to Hansbrough (which fielded way behind the line, surrounded by UCF defenders, then danced around for a 17-yard gain), he was 1-for-6 for 12 yards and a sack. But after Hansbrough gave him a boost, he finished 8-for-10 for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

Havoc

Havoc Rate has been getting some play in today's Numerical.

Havoc rate is a pretty simple method for looking at how much hell a defense is raising. Add up tackles for loss (which includes sacks), forced fumbles, and defensed passes (picks and break-ups), divide it by total plays, and voila: havoc rate. The national havoc average in 2013 was 15.9 percent.

Last season, Louisville led the country in the 23 percent range, while Navy brought up the rear around nine percent. So that's the general range.

Missouri: 26.7% (20 in 75 plays)
UCF: 10.2% (6 in 59 plays)

Havoc leaders
Shane Ray: 5 (4 TFLs, 1 FF)
Lucas Vincent: 2 (2 TFL)
Rickey Hatley: 2 (1 TFL, 1 FF)
Braylon Webb: 2 (1 INT, 1 PBU)
Aarion Penton: 2 (2 PBU)
Josh Augusta: 1 (1 INT)
Markus Golden: 1 (1 TFL)
John Gibson: 1 (1 PBU)
Darvin Ruise: 1 (1 PBU)
Harold Brantley: 1 (1 PBU)
Kenya Dennis: 1 (1 PBU)
Charles Harris: 1 (1 PBU)

Missouri (2014 season): 22.8% (Ray 8.5, Golden 7.5, Penton 5)

Efficiency

Every play is deemed either successful or not, and over the course of a game or season, you can use this as an efficiency measure, as you would on-base percentage in baseball. It helps to describe a team's ability to stay on schedule and avoid drive-crippling passing downs. (How crippling are passing downs? The national success rate on standard downs was 48 percent. On passing downs: 32 percent.) Efficiency might matter more to teams without a ton of explosiveness, but on some level it matters to everybody.

-- Five Factors

Success Rate (close): Missouri 47%, UCF 30%
Rushing Success Rate (close): Missouri 57%, UCF 36%
Passing Success Rate (close): Missouri 38%, UCF 23%
Standard Downs Success Rate (all plays): Missouri 53%, UCF 34%
Passing Downs Success Rate (all plays): Missouri 31%, UCF 22%

Neither team had a lot of success on passing downs (outside of the third-and-longs early in the game, UCF had almost no success whatsoever), so the game was determined by who stayed on schedule better. That was Missouri. On UCF's two scoring drives, the Knights averaged 4.7 yards per play; outside of those drives: 3.7.

Explosiveness

My first stab at this (and the point of this post) is to build off of an idea in the comments of one of my Varsity Numbers pieces at Football Outsiders.

One way of measuring this that might be useful is PPP per successful play. That might more directly get at the key question - when you have successful plays, are the REALLY successful, or just a little successful.

-- Isolating explosiveness with IsoPPP

Yards Per Play: Missouri 5.5, UCF 4.0
IsoPPP: Missouri 0.97, UCF 0.81
Rushing IsoPPP: UCF 0.53, Missouri 0.52
Passing IsoPPP: Missouri 1.63, UCF 1.43
Standard Downs IsoPPP: Missouri 1.00, UCF 0.64
Passing Downs IsoPPP: UCF 1.33, Missouri 0.84

UCF did a great job of forcing Missouri's receivers to find open space near the line. There were still a couple of lovely gains, but the Knights were able to limit the damage of big plays, especially on the ground.

The lack of explosiveness on the ground is a funny thing; we've seen Hansbrough break long gains before, and Marcus Murphy is a big play waiting to happen at all times ... but through three games, the big plays just haven't been there. Missouri has had one of the most efficient and least explosive run games in the country. I assume that changes as the season unfolds, but it hasn't yet.

Field Position

Field Position might have more influences than any of the Five Factors. To win the field position battle is to move, kick, punt, and return the ball better than your opponent. Or at least three of the four. And you probably want to win the turnover battle, too. Field Position is a mix of a ton of other factors. How much of each? [...]

* Field Position: Turnover Margin (21%), Success Rate (37%), Kick Margin (22%), Punt Margin (22%)

-- What derives field position?

Average Starting Field Position: Missouri 39.3 (3 starting in UCF territory), UCF 23.9 (1)
Success Rate (close): Missouri 47%, UCF 30%
Net Kicking: UCF 40.3 (in 3 kicks), Missouri 39.9 (in 7)
Net Punting: Missouri 35.0 (in 2 punts), UCF 34.0 (in 3)

The kicking game was a wash, but because of Missouri's extreme efficiency advantage and the late turnovers, the Tigers dominated the field position battle. It kept them afloat early and helped them lay the hammer down late.

Finishing Drives

Using these four measures -- Success Rate, IsoPPP, Red Zone Success Rate, and FG Efficiency -- I started tinkering. I'm just knowledgable enough to be dangerous when it comes to polynomials in Excel, and using 2013 data only, I was able to craft pretty strong projections for Points Per Trip by crafting an individual projection for each measure (projecting Points Per Trip by using only Success Rate, only IsoPPP, etc.) and using these weights:

* Offense: 28% Red Zone Success Rate, 25% IsoPPP, 20% Success Rate, 27% FG Efficiency. This wasn't the weighting I expected, but it produced a correlation of 0.906 between projected and actual points per trip.

* Defense: 34% IsoPPP, 26% Red Zone Success Rate, 23% Opponents' FG Efficiency, 17% Success Rate. Correlation between projected and actual: 0.858.

-- What matters when it comes to finishing drives?

Points Per Scoring Opportunity*: Missouri 6.2 (in 5 trips), UCF 2.0 (in 5)
Red Zone Success Rate: Missouri 41%, UCF 15%
Success Rate (close): Missouri 47%, UCF 30%
IsoPPP: Missouri 0.97, UCF 0.81
Field Goals under 40: Missouri 1-for-1, UCF 1-for-1
Field Goals over 40: UCF 0-for-1

* Scoring Opportunities are defined as drives in which you either score from more than 40 yards out or have a first down inside the opponent's 40.

Knock on wood, but Missouri has been sooooooooooo good at finishing drives this year.

Turnovers

Interceptions: Missouri 2, UCF 1
Pass Break-ups: Missouri 8, UCF 2
Fumbles: UCF 3, Missouri 1
Fumble Recoveries: Missouri 3, UCF 1

A turnover set up UCF's only touchdown, turnovers set up Missouri's last 10 offensive points, and of course, Missouri returned a fumble for a score at the end.

***

Efficiency: Advantage Mizzou
Explosiveness: Slight Advantage Mizzou
Field Position: Major Advantage Mizzou
Finishing Drives: Major Advantage Mizzou
Turnovers: Advantage Mizzou (in both luck and havoc)

On to Indiana.