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Missouri’s offense is the most explosive in the country

Unfortunately, efficiency is the most direct path to success. That, and, you know, defense.

Missouri v Georgia Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Oh sure, now you kick butt in the Little Things™

Mizzou won the field position battle, finished every scoring chance in the end zone (thanks to that whole “only score via big play” thing), got a smidgen of turnovers luck, and created bigger big plays. All the things the Tigers needed to do against South Carolina, they did in a blowout loss. Cool, cool. And with those points/opportunity averages, the Kentucky game would have been about 30 points in Mizzou’s favor. Cool, cool, cool.

I actually expected that first quarter success rate to be closer

Missouri’s defense sold out on the interior, and it produced some decent early results against the run. But the pass was too successful for Mizzou to be efficient overall. And then the run defense wasn’t efficient anymore either.

No sacks, no hurries

Considering how iffy the running game was, Mizzou’s offensive line did a pretty spectacular job of pass protection for Drew Lock. He was never sacked, and per the official scorekeeper, he was never hurried either. Of course, Georgia’s Jake Fromm took only the one sack with no hurries, too. The major difference in the game, then, was that when Fromm sat in the pocket with all the time in the world, receivers came open. It was a little bit harder for the Mizzou receivers against Georgia defenders.

Okay, that was a difference. Georgia also had Georgia’s run game to lean on. That probably helped, too.

The Mizzou offense might be the most explosive in the country

It’s early, and the opponent-adjusted figures are still kind of funky because of iffy opponent adjustments, but when you take Mizzou’s raw standard downs numbers (42nd in success rate, fourth in big plays), and adjust for the Tigers’ having faced quite a few good standard downs defenses (Georgia, Auburn, etc.), and ... Mizzou’s offense now ranks No. 1 in Standard Downs S&P+.

The major reason for that, of course: big plays. Again adjusting for opponent, Mizzou ranks first in IsoPPP+, my measure of the magnitude of a team’s successful plays.

Efficiency is the most direct path to success; as we’ve seen, explosiveness can lead to drastic volatility and inconsistency when not accompanied by a decent success rate. But that doesn’t make explosiveness a bad thing in and of itself.

“Hey Emanuel, go long” is my favorite play in the Missouri playbook

And as long as Josh Heupel has some counters in place for when Hall starts distracting both a corner and safety over the top on every play, this could be something Missouri can take advantage of.

A major piece of that counter: the tight ends

Jason Reese caught another long pass up the seam, but I was intrigued by the way that Missouri used Albert Okwuegbunam in more everyday situations.

We know that the up-the-seam thing is a complement to the base offense, not something you build an offense around, but Al O was used in interesting ways, be it a shovel-pass touchdown (Martin Rucker-esque) or along the sideline in big spots. Lock found him for an 18-yard gain on third-and-7 in the second quarter, then looked his way again (unsuccessfully) on a third-and-6 attempt later in the quarter.

Okwuegbunam’s emergence has been a bit of a happy surprise this year. He has zoomed past Kendall Blanton on the pecking order, and I in no way expected that.

Mizzou did a really nice job on Nick Chubb

I can say that. Unfortunately, Georgia has like 17 blue-chip running backs. The others did just a little bit of damage.

  • Chubb: 16 carries, 70 yards, 38% opportunity rate (carries going at least 5 yards)
  • Others: 27 carries, 259 yards, 59% opportunity rate

I was hoping for 4.5 to 5 yards per carry for Mizzou backs

I knew that was probably a bit of a reach, but in the name of upset potential, it was a requirement. (Of course, knowing what we know now about how the defense performed, Mizzou backs probably needed more like 10 yards per carry to keep up.) Damarea Crockett, Larry Rountree III, and Ish Witter combined for 62 yards in 20 carries, 3.1 per carry. Only six of 20 carries gained at least five yards. Running against Georgia is very, very hard.

Between a couple of hard carries and a nice kick return, I was happy with what I saw from Rountree, though. That could be big because it sounds like the odds are decent that Crockett won’t be ready to carry a full load against Idaho thanks to the shoulder injury he suffered in the second half.

No havoc

Havoc rate:

  • Mizzou: 10 havoc plays in 77 snaps (12.9%)
  • Georgia: 6 havoc plays in 49 snaps (12.2%)

The national average for havoc rate in a game is 16.3 percent. Mizzou used to be near 20 percent in previous years. This year: 11.8 percent, 118th in FBS. If you can’t disrupt, you better pursue and tackle well. Mizzou does not do either of those things well.