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Does Missouri Have Another Danario Scenario on its Hands?

Emanuel Hall’s hot start to the season has him looking an awful lot like another indispensable Tigers receiver of recent vintage.

Tennessee v Missouri
If the first two games are any indication, Emanuel Hall’s going to be doing a lot of this for the Tigers this year.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Emanuel Hall is off to an absolutely bonkers start to his senior season.

Through two games, he ranks second in the nation in receiving yards per game, at 171.0…and he got exactly 171 in each of the first two games, so how’s that for consistency? He is also the only player in the national top 20 of yards per reception (24.4) that has more than 10 catches.

So he’s explosive. And he’s explosive over an impressive number of catches.

But you already knew that if you watched Hall at all last year, when he averaged 89.1 receiving yards a game and 25.5 yards per catch over an eight-game stretch in the middle of the season.

Hall’s strong start to the season, combined with the promise he showed last year, bring up a couple of questions.

One, can he keep this up? And two, does he have a shot at replacing Danario Alexander’s name at the top of the Tigers record book?

Alexander, as you’ll undoubtedly remember, was Blaine Gabbert’s one-receiver wrecking crew in 2009, tallying up 113 catches for 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns. All of those are Missouri single-season records.

Hall, if he keeps up his two-game pace for the 13 that Alexander played in 2009, would end up with 91 catches for 2,223 yards and 20 touchdowns.

That is what we in the business call a “gotdang insane” statistical year. But that is also what we call in the business “statistically very unlikely to happen.”

Defenses will get tougher. You’d think some would actually get a clue and start devoting more than one defender to Hall, as well, at some point.

Hall, in a 13-game season, would have to average 7.62 catches, 110.7 yards and 0.92 touchdowns a game over the Tigers’ final 11 contests to beat all of Alexander’s records.

Difficult. Not impossible. Keep in mind, though, that Alexander averaged 14.0 catches and 223.5 yards over his two most productive games, then his averages for the rest of the season dipped about 45 percent in both categories in the other 11.

If Hall were to face a similar depreciation – and if he doesn’t have any plus-171-yard games up his sleeve – he’d be looking at season totals of around 56 catches for 1,377 yards.

Not bad. But not record-breaking.

For now, let’s take Hall game-by-game over his 10-game run – eight last year starting with Dimetrios Mason’s expulsion from the team and not including the Texas Bowl, in which Hall barely played and wasn’t targeted, and two this year – and compare it with what Alexander did over his 13 games in 2009. The numbers in parentheses next to some of the stats are Hall and Alexander’s proportion of the team totals during the studied periods.

Emanuel Hall (2017-18)
Targets/Gm: 6.80 (19.9)
Catches/Gm: 4.20 (19.5)
Comp. %: 61.8
Yds/Gm: 105.5 (30.9)
Yds/Target: 15.5
Yds/Catch: 25.1
TD/Gm: 1.10 (26.8)

Danario Alexander (2009)
Targets/Gm: 12.2 (34.1)
Catches/Gm: 8.69 (41.2)
Comp. %: 71.1
Yds/Gm: 137.0 (48.0)
Yds/Target: 11.2
Yds/Catch: 15.8
TD/Gm: 1.08 (53.9)

So you can see Alexander ended up taking up a lot more of the team’s targets, catches and touchdowns than Hall has over his run. You can also see that Gabbert completed about 10 percentage points more of his passes to Alexander than Drew Lock (and Taylor Powell) have to Hall. Although Hall is catching 82.4 percent of his targets this year, so maybe that is in his arsenal as well.

The explosion numbers – yards per target and completion, touchdowns per game – are very Hall-friendly. And Hall played second fiddle to J’Mon Moore for the eight games last year, so his proportions would be down. This year, as the number-one wideout, Hall has taken up 21.5 percent of the team’s targets, 25.0 percent of the catches, 43.2 percent of the yards and 37.5 percent of the touchdowns.

A little more dominant. Still not Alexander levels.

Might I make another suggestion? A more explosive 2014 Bud Sasser.

Sasser was Maty Mauk’s ultimate go-to guy in 2014, just as Hall appears to be with Lock this year. But Mauk also had a Jimmie Hunt counterbalance to keep Sasser from getting up toward 40 percent of the total targets, just as Hall appears to have one in a mixture of Johnathon Johnson and Albert Okwuegbunam this year.

Here are how Sasser’s 2014 numbers stack up with those you’ve already seen from Hall and Alexander.

Bud Sasser (2014)
Targets/Gm: 8.93 (30.1)
Catches/Gm: 5.50 (34.8)
Comp. %: 61.6
Yds/Gm: 71.6 (37.9)
Yds/Target: 8.02
Yds/Catch: 13.0
TD/Gm: 0.86 (48.0)

Now, I think Hall will end up with appreciably better numbers than Sasser, mostly because this Missouri offense has no chance of reaching the hilariously low depths that the 2014 passing game mined. Remember 27-of-73 for 249 yards and zero touchdowns over THREE games against South Carolina, Georgia and Florida? Try to imagine that with Lock now.

You can’t.

But I think Sasser’s proportions would be pretty good aspirational figures for Hall.

Let’s take last year’s passing numbers, for instance. If Hall duplicated Sasser’s proportions, and Missouri duplicates last year’s passing stats, he’d end up with 129 targets, 86 catches, 1,521 yards and 21 touchdowns.

I think that’s pretty realistic. And sporty.

Check the work below, if you’d like.