I think I’m going to write a “here are some things that are actually going right” list later this week — and believe it or not, there are some things on that list — so we’ll just pile all of the bad things in here, both in terms of stats from the Auburn game and a few particularly trashy stats from the newly updated Missouri stat profile. Ripping the Band-Aid off and whatnot.
1. I said Missouri at least showed up on Saturday. The stats say the Tigers didn’t until 22 minutes were gone.
Missouri wasn’t listless. I’ll say that. But the Tigers still got their asses kicked. From kickoff until Auburn went up 28-0, Missouri’s success rate* was 25%, and Auburn’s was 63%. That’s guaranteed destruction.
But hey, Mizzou sure did hold its own after that!
* Success rate deems every play successful or unsuccessful based on the following criteria: gaining 50% of necessary yardage on first down, 70% on second down, 100% on third or fourth down.
2. 176 of Drew Lock’s 216 passing yards came in garbage time
I define garbage time as the plays that happen after a team has gone up by more than 28 in the first quarter, 24 in the second, 21 in the third, and 16 in the fourth. So the switch got flipped when Mizzou went down 28-0, got unflipped when Mizzou scored to make it 28-7, and then got flipped again at halftime.
Basically all of Missouri’s success came when the switch was flipped. Before the game was out of hand, Lock was a cool 7-for-16 for 40 yards.
3. Missouri’s run game is a nightmare when Damarea Crockett isn’t fully weaponized
Let’s revisit my Count the Ifs list from August real quick. Item No. 1 on the list, something that was a grave necessity if Missouri was even going to bowl in 2017, was Crockett staying healthy.
My feelings about Damarea Crockett’s potential are both well-known and, well, rather common. It isn’t hard to see what he might be capable of. But if he were to get injured, a la Russell Hansbrough early in 2015, it will be virtually impossible for Mizzou to reach its ceiling.
The Mizzou running back corps is in better overall shape than it was in 2015. Ish Witter is a steady veteran now, Nate Strong showed that he could grind late in 2016, and freshman Larry Rountree III is turning lots of heads. But Crockett is the star. Mizzou needs him to stay upright.
Crockett injured his tailbone midway through the South Carolina game. His last carry came on a third-quarter field goal drive that got Mizzou to within 21-13 of the Gamecocks. (Mizzou had a first-and-goal from the 5 and could have really used No. 16 there.) Since that drive, Mizzou has been outscored 96-17.
Now, there’s context here. Crockett looked far more ready against Auburn than Purdue, and I’m betting he’s fine after the upcoming bye week. I doubt this is a Hansbrough-in-2015 situation. Still, the damage was obvious. Crockett looked like Crockett a small handful of times on Saturday, but he was still far slower in his cuts than we’re used to seeing. And when Mizzou doesn’t have a create-on-his-own guy in the backfield, Mizzou can’t create.
(The best ‘creator’ Missouri had on Saturday: Larry Rountree III, who looked mean and decisive. And only got four carries and nine snaps.)
4. J’Mon Moore, complementary receiver
Over the last three games of 2016 and the first of 2017, J’Mon Moore, Missouri’s second-best creator behind Crockett, caught 27 balls for 594 yards. Projected over 13 games, that’s a ridiculous 88-catch, 1,930-yard pace.
Granted, that pace is unsustainable. Sure. But since Missouri State, Moore has caught eight balls for 125 yards. His per-target averages are still great! 26 yards per catch, 14.9 yards per target, etc. But he’s also only been targeted 21 times, four fewer than Dimetrios Mason and three fewer than Johnathon Johnson. On Saturday, he was targeted fewer times than those two, Richaud Floyd, and Al Okwuegbunam. He has disappeared into the scenery.
5. Missouri’s defense has no identity, no havoc, no hope
Missouri currently ranks 119th in success rate allowed — 103rd rushing, 112th passing, 103rd on standard downs, and 115th on passing downs.
Worse yet, we still don’t know what the Tigers actually want to do. Their base defense, for starters, is atrocious. They had more success out of a 3-4 than the base nickel or 4-3. Of course, if I recall correctly, the 3-4 stunk before last week, too.
There is simply no disruption or hope for disruption. Opponents are running the ball constantly on standard downs (67 percent of the time, 18th-highest in the country) because they don’t fear Missouri’s base defense. They are throwing the ball constantly on passing downs (75 percent of the time, 17th-highest) because they don’t fear either Missouri’s secondary or its pass rush. Third-and-8 is like third-and-3.
Missouri had a pathetic three tackles for loss, zero passes defensed, and zero forced fumbles on Saturday. Havoc rate: 4%. Missouri’s havoc rate in 2015: 20%.
Again, I’m going to flip this around and talk about a few slightly positive trends later in the week. But Missouri is absolutely hopeless at the moment. Honestly, it’s almost worse that the Tigers actually seemed to show up against Auburn because it proved just how awful this team is. They tried. And they still lost by 37.