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Indiana 31, Missouri 27: Beyond the box score

Indiana beat Missouri on first down and (unexpectedly) in the trenches, and it allowed the Hoosiers to pull off a pretty big upset.

Jasen Vinlove-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.)

Indiana 31, Missouri 27

Indiana Missouri Indiana Missouri

Close % 100.0% Success Rate 54.1% 39.0%
Leverage % 73.5% 72.0% PPP 0.80 0.91
S&P 0.593 0.493
EqPts 29.8 28.2 PASSING DOWNS
Close Success Rate 43.4% 41.5% Success Rate 13.6% 47.8%
Close PPP 0.83 0.83 PPP 1.15 0.66
Close S&P* 0.513 0.497 S&P 0.338 0.515
EqPts 16.3 9.9 Number 0 1
Close Success Rate 43.8% 30.3% Turnover Pts 0.0 4.4
Close PPP 0.78 0.99 Turnover Pts Margin +4.4 -4.4
Close S&P 0.505 0.441
Line Yards/carry 3.36 2.10 Q1 S&P 0.437 0.366
Q2 S&P 0.364 0.541
PASSING Q3 S&P 0.414 0.272
EqPts 13.5 18.2 Q4 S&P 0.482 0.440
Close Success Rate 42.9% 49.0%
Close PPP 0.90 0.76 1st Down S&P 0.481 0.407
Close S&P 0.523 0.544 2nd Down S&P 0.493 0.475
SD/PD Sack Rate 4.8% / 7.1% 3.5% / 5.0% 3rd Down S&P 0.077 0.228
Projected Pt. Margin: Indiana +6.1 | Actual Pt. Margin: Indiana +4

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

Primary takeaway: Standard downs success > Passing downs success

Despite some inaccurate passes at the beginning of the second half, despite a wealth of bad snaps, and despite seemingly facing second-and-9 (or worse) to start every drive, Maty Mauk had himself a decent day on Saturday. He completed 60 percent of his passes, he threw for two more touchdowns, and he managed to somehow take only two sacks despite what felt like endless pressure. That he averaged 6.0 yards per pass attempt while getting help from no linemen and basically three receiving targets is a miracle, as is the fact that Mizzou had a better success rate on passing downs than standard downs.

Meanwhile, Indiana had plenty of standard downs success and did next to nothing on passing downs. In the end, it basically worked out the same, but as we'll see below, the Hoosiers were able to generate one more scoring opportunity than Missouri did, thanks in part to staying on schedule, and it made the difference in the game.

(And yeah, I was honestly shocked Mizzou averaged even 2.1 line yards per carry. I would have guessed about 1.8.)

Targets & Catches

Bud Sasser: 15 targets, 12 catches, 2 drops, 153 yards (10.2 per target)
Darius White: 9 targets, 5 catches, 51 yards (5.7 per target)
Jimmie Hunt: 7 targets, 5 catches, 1 drop, 75 yards (10.7 per target), 1 TD
Marcus Murphy: 7 targets, 2 catches, 1 drop, 20 yards (2.9 per target)
Sean Culkin: 6 targets, 4 catches, 45 yards (7.5 per target), 1 TD
Russell Hansbrough: 2 targets, 1 catch, -7 yards (-3.5 per target)
Wesley Leftwich: 1 target, 0 catches

So basically...

Sasser and Hunt: 10.4 yards per target
Everybody Else: 4.4 yards per target

It was really nice seeing Sean Culkin getting even more involved in Mizzou's passing game; he made a couple of pretty tough catches and was rewarded with a touchdown reception on first-and-goal early in the fourth quarter. He certainly wasn't part of the problem. But while Darius White did have a few nice, quick receptions, White, Murphy, and Leftwich combined to catch just seven of 17 passes for 71 yards. That's horrific, and it completely negates the performance of Sasser and Hunt.

I love Marcus Murphy to death, but he looks like a running back playing receiver. When Mauk is in improvisation mode, Murphy isn't as adept as Hunt at finding open spaces in the coverage; a lot of the passes targeting Murph are on-the-run, low-margin-for-error passes, and they're either well-defended or, in the case of a gorgeous first-quarter throw, dropped.

This isn't an indictment of Murphy, by the way, at least not really. He looks like a running back playing receiver because he is a running back playing receiver. DGB's dismissal and Levi Copelin's suspension/dismissal left Mizzou in search of play-makers, and with Russell Hansbrough looking so good in the backfield, it made sense to try Murphy in the slot, and I love Murphy for saying, "Sure, let's try it." And hey, we're only one-third of the way through the season; maybe things will pick up over time. But he's not being used as I thought he would -- there have been very few screens/quick passes to him in space. Instead, he's roaming around downfield, and he doesn't have the experience to do that incredibly well.

So far this year, he's caught just eight of 17 passes for 81 yards; passes to him are generating just a 38 percent success rate. His longest reception was a 26-yard score against Toledo that came when he was lined up as a running back. I don't hate the idea of getting freshman Lawrence Lee some more time in Murph's position, just to see what he can do. Maybe Murph really is the best option, but especially with White now out with injury, Mizzou needs to dig around and see if it can unearth another weapon.


Again, Havoc Rate = (TFLs + Forced Fumbles + Passes Defensed)/Total Plays

Indiana: 20.5% (17 in 83 plays)
Missouri: 7.2% (6 in 83 plays)

As I've said before, I think of Havoc Rate as more of a descriptive stat than an evaluative one. You can have high Havoc Rates and still be all sorts of porous (hello, Syracuse), and you can play rather passive defense and still make tons of stops (hello, Florida State).

That said, the above percentages pretty much account for the difference in the game, don't they? Indiana's success rate wasn't any better than Missouri's, but the Hoosiers avoided negative plays far better, and while it didn't really make a difference on third down, it made a significant difference on second down.

Average Yards to Go on Second Down: Indiana 6.4, Missouri 8.1.

From my Numerical column today at SBN:

This week's "This Sport Is Mystifying" award goes to Indiana. In Week 3, Indiana's Havoc Rate (total tackles for loss, forced fumbles, and passes defensed divided by total plays) was a below-average 12.4 percent against Bowling Green; the Hoosiers were passive participants as the Falcons snapped the ball 113 times, completed 46 passes, and manufactured 39 first downs in a 45-42 loss. Meanwhile, Missouri allowed a 10.2 percent Havoc Rate to a generally active, athletic UCF defense in an easy win.

A week later, Indiana racked up 11 TFLs and six passes defensed in 83 snaps, a 20.5 percent rate of havoc. Missouri gained 503 yards, but most came on a series of big plays; the Hoosiers sent the Tigers backwards repeatedly and took advantage of a Missouri offensive line that suddenly reverted to 2012 form, with bad snaps, false starts, and all sorts of leakiness. The result: a 31-27 Hoosier upset that would have been nearly unfathomable seven days earlier. This sport is mystifying.

One other tidbit about last week's numbers:

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

Mizzou's own Havoc Rate was less than one third what it was against UCF. Markus Golden, please be healthy on Saturday (and on every proceeding Saturday for the rest of the year).

Havoc leaders
Shane Ray: 2 (2 TFLs)
Charles Harris: 1 (1 TFL)
Duron Singleton: 1 (1 TFL)
Kentrell Brothers: 1 (1 PBU)
Cortland Browning: 1 (1 PBU)

Indiana had 16 players make contributions in this regard; Mizzou had five. The Tigers missed Golden, but I guess he can only do so much.

Preview Revisited

Here are the keys I mentioned in last week's preview:

1. Line play, part 1

If Missouri is able to establish a steady run game, as it was able to do last year -- Russell Hansbrough, Marcus Murphy, and Henry Josey: 35 carries, 218 yards (6.2 per carry), 2 TD -- the Tigers will be able to eventually poke holes in a secondary dead set against giving up big plays. Even if the big plays haven't yet come for Hansbrough and Murphy, the steady five- and six-yard gains have. If Indiana can inhibit Missouri's run game, the Hoosiers might be able to bait Maty Mauk into some risky throws. (Those throws might actually work, mind you, but they're not guaranteed.)

Advantage: Indiana

2. Line play, part 2

Missouri's defensive line had its coming-out party, so to speak, in Bloomington last year. Shane Ray and Markus Golden combined for a couple of TFLs and a forced fumble, and of course Kony Ealy had his leaping pick six. Meanwhile, Harold Brantley was dominant as well. Mizzou completely prevented Tevin Coleman from getting rolling, hurried Nate Sudfeld, and forced iffy throws. The stats above tell us that Indiana doesn't exactly go guns-blazing in the passing game -- even on passing downs, Sudfeld is throwing mostly safe throws -- and if Missouri is able to cave in the Indiana line again, minimize the rushing damage, and force Sudfeld to win the game with his arm, the Tigers are probably in good shape.

Advantage: push

I expected Missouri to go 2-0 in these categories, not 0-1-1. It made the difference in the game.

3. Shane Wynn vs. Aarion Penton (or whoever)

Tevin Coleman is far and away Indiana's main big-play guy, but as Missouri experienced last year, Wynn can have his moments. He caught five passes for 90 yards last year, including a 68-yard, fourth-quarter score. He is a jitterbug type who catches a lot of his passes near the line of scrimmage, then starts dancing. He turned a little dance into a long score against Missouri, and he could do it again. If Missouri tackles well, and short passes remain short, the Tigers are in good shape. But if Wynn or somebody else turns short into long, Indiana has bought itself some time.

Wynn: 9 targets, 6 catches, 60 yards. He had his moments, but he was mostly a non-factor.

Advantage: Mizzou.

4. Field position

Field position was a silent killer for Mizzou against UCF last week; even while they were struggling, the Tigers consistently gave the Knights the ball deep in UCF territory and forced UCF to move the chains repeatedly (usually without big plays) to score points. UCF couldn't do it. Indiana's offense is better than UCF's, but driving 80 yards for a score is really hard, even for good offenses. Christian Brinser's punts have basically been return-proof so far, and Andrew Baggett still has one of the nation's stronger kickoff legs. If they do their job and Marcus Murphy rips off a decent return or two, the field is tilted dramatically in Missuori's favor. Indiana hasn't been very good on special teams this year; let's keep it that way.

Advantage: push.

Five Factors


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): Indiana 43%, Missouri 42%
Rushing Success Rate (close): Indiana 44%, Missouri 30%
Passing Success Rate (close): Missouri 49%, Indiana 43%
Standard Downs Success Rate (all plays): Indiana 54%, Missouri 39%
Passing Downs Success Rate (all plays): Missouri 48%, Indiana 14%

Again, it was even for the game as a whole, but Indiana owned standard downs, and that usually catches up to you.

Power to Indiana, by the way, for continuing to experiment. I thought Mizzou's defensive tackles played quite well against the run, but as the game progressed, Kevin Wilson and the Hoosiers figured out that they could create numbers advantages and get Tevin Coleman some space if they gave him short pitches on the side of the field that didn't contain Shane Ray. They got blockers on Charles Harris (or whoever the non-Ray end was at a given time), the cornerback, and the OLB/nickelback, and they gave Coleman just enough space to generate a head of steam. Since he's one of the best running backs in the country, that's all he needed. Coleman's first nine carries generated 26 yards; his last 10 generated 106. (And, of course, there was the late-game screen pass...)

I'd would have liked to see Mizzou attack the perimeter of the Indiana defense a bit more than it did, but that desire might stem less from "It would have worked!" and more from "It couldn't have been worse."


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 6.1, Indiana 5.9
IsoPPP: Missouri 0.83, Indiana 0.83
Rushing IsoPPP: Missouri 0.99, Indiana 0.78
Passing IsoPPP: Indiana 0.90, Missouri 0.76
Standard Downs IsoPPP: Missouri 0.91, Indiana 0.80
Passing Downs IsoPPP: Indiana 1.15, Missouri 0.66

Mizzou's run game was inefficient with big plays; Mizzou's passing game was semi-efficient with only a couple of big plays. In all, though, this was mostly a wash.

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: Indiana 25 (1 in MU territory), Missouri 23 (0)
Success Rate (close): Indiana 43%, Missouri 42%
Net Kicking: Indiana 41.2 (in 5 kicks), Missouri 39.3 (in 6)
Net Punting: Missouri 42.6 (in 7 punts), Indiana 38.1 (in 8)

This was supposed to be a Mizzou advantage; Indiana's special teams unit had been thoroughly underwhelming, both this year and last year, but Erich Toth's punts (eight for a 44.0 average, three inside the 20, only two returnable) were an unexpected strength. He averaged just a 19.0 net over three punts against BGSU a week earlier; more of that, and Mizzou would have had a field position advantage Indiana might not have overcome. Toth wasn't Indiana's MVP, but he was in the top five.

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 5.4 (in 5 trips), Indiana 5.2 (in 6)
Red Zone Success Rate: Indiana 42%, Missouri 33%
Success Rate (close): Indiana 43%, Missouri 42%
IsoPPP: Missouri 0.83, Indiana 0.83
Field Goals under 40: Missouri 1-for-1, Indiana 1-for-1
Field Goals over 40: Missouri 1-for-1, Indiana 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.

Once again, Missouri was pretty outstanding when it came to finishing drives, even if the Tigers had to settle for two field goals this time around. What killed the Tigers in this one was simply the number of scoring opportunities. Indiana missed a field goal after the game's lone turnover, but the Hoosiers generated one more scoring opportunity and were therefore able to waste one. And especially without Golden, Mizzou was in search of a turnover that never came.


Interceptions: Indiana 1, Missouri 0
Pass Break-ups: Indiana 5, Missouri 2
Fumbles: none
Fumble Recoveries: none

Indiana fumbled twice in its first two games but never laid the ball on the ground in this one. And while Nate Sudfeld completed only 55 percent of his passes, he played it safe for the most part, only throwing two passes that Mizzou players were able to break up.

Mizzou forced a turnover for nearly 50 consecutive games before Saturday. That streak isn't supposed to happen; as of Saturday, nobody else had gone even 30 straight. Eventually the Tigers were going to face a team that held onto the ball and didn't throw errant passes; it happens to everybody. You just had to hope that the game would come in a blowout, not in a game in which a) Mizzou was missing its best defensive player, and b) Mizzou needed to make one more single play than it made. This was pretty much the worst game for the streak to end.


Efficiency: Push (maybe a slight edge to Indiana)
Explosiveness: Push
Field Position: Push
Finishing Drives: Edge to Missouri
Turnovers: Edge to Indiana

On to South Carolina.