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Missouri-South Carolina: Targeting CBs, shuffling LBs and switching up the line

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The offense and defense both played well in spots. The other spots were what led to a loss.

NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina
Eric Beisel had a whale of a game against South Carolina.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

If you were familiar with my work at the Columbia Daily Tribune you knew that, as part of my in-season coverage, I endeavored to provide snap counts for every Missouri player for every offensive and defensive snap that counted during the season.

If you were not...well, I just explained what this is in the last graf. You should have paid attention.

Anyway, I pored over the film of the Tigers’ 31-21 loss to see who Missouri used on offense and defense, how often and in what ways. Then I tried to gather it in a way that wouldn’t bore you too terribly.

Did I fail? Did I succeed? I suppose that’s up for history to decide.

Here we go...

Offense
Quarterback
Drew Lock – 75
Marvin Zanders -- 1
---

Tailback
Ish Witter42
Damarea Crockett – 34
---

H-Back
Sean Culkin10
Kendall Blanton5
Jason Reese -- 3
Josh Augusta2
Tyler Hanneke -- 2
---

Tight End
Kendall Blanton – 17
Sean Culkin – 17
Jason Reese -- 2
---

Wide Receiver
J’Mon Moore61
Dimetrios Mason – 60
Richaud Floyd – 35
Chris Black30
Eric Laurent13
Emanuel Hall -- 11
Sean Culkin – 10
Johnathon Johnson -- 9
Jason Reese -- 8
Kendall Blanton – 7
Drew Lock – 1
Marvin Zanders -- 1
---

Line
Paul Adams76
Samson Bailey – 76
Kevin Pendleton76
Adam Ploudre76
Tyler Howell – 74
Tre’Vour Simms -- 2


Defense
End
Charles Harris47
Marcell Frazier – 33
Spencer Williams27
Jordan Harold -- 8
---

Tackle
Rickey Hatley – 57
A.J. Logan -- 42
Josh Augusta – 31
Markell Utsey -- 16
Jordan Harold – 4
Spencer Williams -- 4
---

Rush End
Charles Harris19
Marcell Frazier – 15
Jordan Harold -- 3
Spencer Williams -- 2
---
Linebacker
Eric Beisel76
Joey Burkett -- 43
Brandon Lee30
Terez Hall – 21
Donavin Newsom10
Cale Garrett -- 1
---

Nickelback
T.J.Warren – 46
DeMarkus Acy -- 4
---
Cornerback
John Gibson -- 77
Aarion Maxey-Penton – 52
DeMarkus Acy -- 25
---
Safety
Cam Hilton – 62
Anthony Sherrils59
Ronnell Perkins – 18
Thomas Wilson -- 15


Heres and Theres

  • Zanders’ one snap at quarterback was a designed run with Lock split wide. The next snap, Zanders was split wide and actually ran a route as a decoy as Lock rolled toward his side and set up a throwback...then took a 13-yard loss on a sack.
  • The running-back rotation has pretty much tightened down to Crockett and Witter.
  • Jason Reese saw a bit more play than he had been in the past couple weeks, with 13 snaps, but he’s still lagging Culkin (37) and Blanton (29).
  • Moore and Mason are still getting the bulk of the wideout snaps, even though Moore hasn’t started in two weeks. Johnson played only nine snaps (possibly because he was dinged up? Possibly as punishment for the punt muffs?), and Floyd (35) and Black (30) benefited. Laurent’s involvement ramped up, and Hall has been trending down since Middle Tennessee.
  • The line pretty much stayed the same all game, with Ploudre in for the injured Alec Abeln, who was in uniform at least. Simms had two snaps in the JUGGERNAUT.
  • The end rotation is pretty much set at Harris 80-20 with Harold and Frazier 60-40 with Williams. DeMontie Cross and Barry Odom tried something new in the Dime for four snaps against South Carolina, pushing Harold and Williams inside and exhibiting an all-end line. That did not work too well...as you’ll see later...
  • Inside, Hatley/Utsey is about a 75-25 split, and Logan/Augusta is about 60-40.
  • Just like last week, it looked like Missouri went in with a plan to use Lee/Beisel and Burkett/Garrett in a rotation with the third backer/nickelback...then Garrett went out with targeting after one snap. So Beisel took over for the rest of the game and the weakside spot went about 60-40 in Burkett’s favor.
  • At the strongside/nickelback slot, Warren ended up playing about 60 percent of the snaps, and Hall and Newsom took the rest.
  • Also: I won’t hear that Missouri is using Warren and Hall/Newsom interchangeably at that spot. Because if that were the case, they wouldn’t switch in and out with each other in the middle of certain drives, as they did against South Carolina.
  • When Warren was in, South Carolina was a 55-percent run team. When an actual, factual third linebacker was in, South Carolina was a 68-percent run team.
  • In the defensive backfield, Penton and Gibson both had kind of rough days, but Gibson stayed out the whole time. No Cheadle. Penton went out before the Gamecocks’ final four drives (and kneel) with Acy coming in. Acy also played the sixth defensive back in Missouri’s Dime snaps.
  • At safety, it was mostly Sherrils and Hilton. Wilson got two series and Perkins got four and a kneel.

Offensive Set Success

3-WR/1-TE/1-RB
Run: 17 for 129 (7.56 avg.), TD
Pass: 10-of-14, 110 yards (7.86 avg.), TD, INT, fumble lost
Sack: 1 for -13
Total: 32 plays, 226 yards (7.06 avg.), TD, INT, fumble lost
---
4-WR/1-RB
Run: 6 for -2 (-0.33 avg.)
Pass: 6-of-16, 78 yards (4.88 avg.), INT
Sack: 2 for -11 (-5.50 avg.)
Total: 24 plays, 65 yards (2.71 avg.), INT
---
3-WR/2-RB
Run: 8 for 58 (7.25 avg.), TD
Pass: 7-of-10, 114 yards (11.4 avg.)
Total: 18 plays, 172 yards (9.56 avg.), TD
---
JUGGERNAUT
Run: 2 for 2 (1.00 avg.)
--—-

To the Near Side…
Run: 16 for 67 (4.19 avg.)
Pass: 11-of-20, 138 yards (6.90 avg.), INT
Total: 36 plays, 205 yards (5.69 avg.), INT
To the Far Side…
Run: 17 for 120 (7.06 avg.), 2 TD
Pass: 12-of-20, 164 yards (8.20 avg.), TD, INT, fumble lost
Total: 37 plays, 284 yards (7.68 avg.), 3 TD, INT, fumble lost
--—-
Unbalanced Line
Run: 8 for 74 (9.25 avg.), TD
Pass: 1-of-1, 19 yards
Total: 9 plays, 93 yards (10.3 avg.), TD


Defensive Set Success
Nickel
Run: 22 for 128 (5.82 avg.), 2 TD
Pass: 13-of-16, 118 yards (7.38 avg.), 2 TD
Sack: 3 for -23 (-7.67 avg.)
Kneel: 1 for -2
Total: 42 plays, 221 yards (5.26 avg.), 4 TD
---
4-3
Run: 16 for 60 (3.75 avg.)
Pass: 3-of-3, 49 yards (16.3 avg.)
Sack: 1 for -5
Total: 20 plays, 104 yards (5.20 avg.)
---
3-4
Run: 5 for 7 (1.40 avg.)
Pass: 3-of-6, 46 yards (7.67 avg.)
Total: 11 plays, 53 yards (4.82 avg.)
---
Dime
Run: 1 for 9
Pass: 3-of-3, 41 yards (13.7 avg.)
Total: 4 plays, 50 yards (12.5 avg.)
——-
Jake Bentley Success When Throwing At…
John Gibson: 4-of-6, 81 yards
Aarion Maxey-Penton: 4-of-4, 77 yards
Cornerbacks: 8-of-10, 158 yards
Anthony Sherrils: 6-of-6, 44 yards
Ronnell Perkins: 2-of-3, 18 yards
Safeties: 8-of-9, 62 yards
T.J. Warren: 2-of-3, 7 yards, TD
Brandon Lee: 2-of-3, 3 yards
Eric Beisel: 1-of-1, 17 yards, TD
Joey Burkett: 1-of-1, 7 yards
Terez Hall: 0-of-1
Nickelbacks/Linebackers: 6-of-9, 34 yards, 2 TD


  • Let’s start with the bottom bit first. Missouri’s secondary got shredded. The kill shots came underneath, but the 8-of-10 for 158 yards throwing at Penton and Gibson was what did the most damage.
  • Penton gave up two long catches for 62 yards. Gibson gave up three long ones for 76 yards. That’s 6 percent of South Carolina’s plays making up 32 percent of its total offense.
  • That Dime set we were talking about earlier? 50 yards on four plays. All on third downs, average of 7.5 yards to go and three conversions. Not ideal.
  • The rest of Missouri’s defensive sets were pretty consistent, all around 4.8-5.3 yards a play. 4-3 and 3-4 were pretty bad against the pass (6-of-9, 95 yards), Nickel was pretty bad against the run (22 for 128), but also got three sacks.
  • But let’s talk about some cheerier things. Missouri ran an unbalanced line nine time in which (starting to the far side of the field), it lined Adams and Howell up next to each other, then Pendleton, Bailey and Ploudre with a tight end attached to Ploudre. And it worked really well, resulting in Crockett’s 29-yard touchdown run and a 19-yard pass to Blanton.
  • The Tigers have trotted out the unbalanced line throughout the year, but this is the most usage we’ve seen of it. And it worked well.
  • OK, this “to the near side,” “to the far side” business. No, it’s not a Gary Larson shoutout. It’s simply charting how often and how well Missouri’s offense did when it passed or ran to the fat side of the field (far, the side with the most field until the sideline) and the skinny side of the field (near...the opposite of that).
  • The distribution was pretty even, which is a good sign. The non-sack success to the far side (7.68 yards a play) was about two yards per play better than the near side (5.69). So let that ball flow wide to the boundary, man.
  • The four-wide set struggled. It produced two sacks and the 10-yard lateral loss to Laurent on the potential double pass.
  • We’ve seen a move toward three-wide, tight end in the backfield or attached sets as the season has gone on, and they continue to be Missouri’s most successful sets. This time around, the 3-0-2 averaged 9.6 yards a play and the 3-1-1 averaged 7.1. Together, on 50 plays, that’s 398 yards (7.96 per) and a 50-50 run-pass split.
  • Maybe shelve that fourth wideout?