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Bye Week Breakdown 2: Defense by the Numbers

A once elite defense has become...oh, yup, still elite just slightly less dominant

NCAA Football: Missouri at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I walked through the offense and the noticeable trending down that has occurred between an 4-game sample size and an 8-game sample size. Today, we’ll be doing the same for the defense, which has become the sole strength of the Tigers. Let’s see what’s changed!

  • Defensive SP+ Rank: 11th -> 14th (-3 spots)
  • Success Rate: 28.0% -> 31.6% (+3.6%)
  • IsoPPP: 1.24 -> 1.22 (-0.02)
  • Average Field Position: 25.9 -> 26.7 (+0.8)
  • Turnover Luck: 1.20 -> 0.50 (-0.7)
  • Points Per Scoring Opportunity: 3.69 -> 4.60 (+0.91)

No giant changes, but some obvious regression, specifically in the success rate and points per scoring opportunity department. How much of that is losing Cale Garrett is unknown, but it is good to see that the defense has stayed strong even with losing its best play maker.

  • Success Rate: 30.0% -> 33.6% (+3.6%)
  • Efficiency: -18.0% -> -15.1% (+2.9%)
  • Explosiveness: 0.04 -> 0.01 (-0.03)
  • Opportunity Rate: 31.1% -> 38.6% (+7.5%)
  • Stuff Rate: 31.1% -> 24.1% (-7.0%)

Opponents slightly improved their success rate and efficiency, majorly improved their opportunity rate (getting 4 yards), but are letting the Tigers stuff the run much more frequently. I was curious what two running quarterbacks gashing the defense would do to the rushing rankings and it’s really only had one massive effect; remember, as far as shutting down a traditional rushing attack with running backs, the Mizzou defense is still aces.

  • Success Rate: 26.2% -> 29.3% (+3.1%)
  • Efficiency: -13.6% -> -11.4% (+2.2%)
  • Explosiveness: 0.11 -> 0.13 (+0.02)
  • Completion Rate: 44.8% -> 49.3% (+4.5%)
  • Sack Rate: 8.7% -> 6.3% (-2.4%)

Regression all around! Nothing but the lower completion rate is super worrisome, but it is disappointing to see an already dismal sack rate get even worse after this 4-game sample size.

  • Success Rate: 27.9% -> 34.0% (+6.1%)
  • Efficiency: -22.7% -> -16.8% (+5.9%)
  • Explosiveness: 0.08 -> -0.04 (-0.12)
  • Line Yards Per Carry: 1.98 -> 2.24 (+0.26)
  • Sack Rate: 5.7% -> 5.0% (-0.7%)

Yes, there’s regression. But the interesting thing is that how it compares to the nation actually improved from the first four weeks to this point in the season. I was also happy to see that Mizzou improved on limiting the explosiveness on standard downs. But then we get to the other type of down out there...

  • Success Rate: 28.2% -> 27.5% (-0.7%)
  • Efficiency: -3.5% -> -7.4% (-3.9%)
  • Explosiveness: 0.07 -> 0.27 (+0.20)
  • Line Yards Per Carry: 1.59 -> 2.15 (+0.56)
  • Sack Rate: 12.0% -> 7.7% (-4.3%)

Holy explosive weakness. The Tigers defense has actually gotten better in limiting successful plays and made opponents less efficient in passing downs but the explosive play impact went waaaaaaaaaaaaay up. Do you know why? Well, if the receivers are covered, the running backs don’t get anything, but the sacks go down and you play a lot of running qu-DAMN YOU, RUNNING QUARTERBACKS, DAMN YOU STRAIGHT TO HELL.

...sorry.

Anyway, the inability for the defense to effectively cut off a scrambling quarterback leaves any broken pass play into a running play. I’m pretty sure that’s what Dooley wants KB to do; I’m pretty sure Ryan Walters has no idea how to stop that type of play with the personnel on hand.

  • Standard Downs SR: 28.6% -> 35.3% (+6.7%)
  • 1Ds on 1st/2nd Down: 62.2% -> 63.1% (+0.9%)
  • Big Play Rate: 4.0% -> 5.2% (+1.2%)
  • Avg. 3D Distance: 8.7 -> 7.9 (-0.8)
  • 3D SR: 25.0% -> 27.3% (+2.3%)

Again, some regression across the board but, overall, these are all marking of an excellent defense. Make you realize that the failures of the offense even make the defense look bad to our eyes.

  • 3rd-and-Long Percentage: 58.1% -> 54.2% (-3.9%)
  • 3rd-and-Short Percentage: 11.3% -> 9.2% (-2.1%)
  • 3rd-and-Long Success Rate: 16.7% -> 24.6% (+7.9%)
  • 3rd-and-Medium Success Rate: 36.8% -> 34.1% (-2.7%)
  • 3rd-and-Short Success Rate: 42.9% -> 45.5% (+2.6%)

Elite at stopping 3rd-and-short. Elite at stopping 3rd-and-medium. 70th at stopping 3rd-and-long.

/thinks

//visions of Mo Hasan and Lynn Bowden, Jr. flash before my eyes

///shudders

...moving on...

  • 30-21-yard line SR: 33.3% -> 37.9% (+4.6%)
  • 20-11-yard line SR: 35.7% -> 35.7%
  • I10-yard line SR: 25.0% -> 34.6% (+9.6%)
  • I10-yard line Turnover Rate: 6.3% -> 3.9% (-2.4%)
  • 1st-and-Goal SR: 33.3% -> 45.5% (+12.2%)
  • Goal Line SR: 40.0% -> 40.0%

Missouri’s defense is a little more human when it gets into the red zone. Still good, mind you, but not elite. That certainly adds to our (occasionally misplaced) frustrations with the defense, especially when they’re so great in other aspects.