If you — seemingly like most of the Missouri fan base — want to move past this game and forget it ever happened, I certainly wouldn’t blame you. It’s weird to hear that from a game your team won, but between losing Cale Garrett for the year, nearly losing Kelly Bryant via cheap shot, and the countless unnecessary roughness and other various penalties called on every play, it wasn’t a banner victory to look upon fondly. But, in my humble opinion, every game gives us something to analyze and dissect, and the only way to consume this sport in a logical and measured manner is to extract every data point possible to learn about your favorite team’s performance.
So let’s pour one out for Cale and appreciate his (likely) final performance as a Tiger:
Let’s review the key stats I highlighted in this matchup:
- Opportunity Rate
Overall, the Missouri offensive line was able to create at least 4-yards of running room on 55% of running plays. That’s much better than the national average of 46% and their best performance since a 55.3% opportunity rate in Week 2 against West Virginia. It should be noted that the Troy defensive line is much better at clogging running lanes than the Mountaineer defensive line was at the time (and is, as of this week).
Winner: Missouri, big time
- Standard Downs Success Rate
The Tigers had a 63% success rate on Standard Downs, meaning they were getting 50% of necessary yardage on 1st Down, 70% on 2nd, 100% on 3rd & 4th. In fact, for the entire game, Missouri only faced 13 third downs, thanks partially to the fact that the offense was gaining an average of nearly 5 yards on first down. If an offense is staying ahead of the chains, they’re typically going to create more scoring opportunities and capitalize on them.
- Explosive Plays Effectiveness
I mentioned Troy’s weakened secondary several times in the previews and the Trojan Wall’s Scott Watkins mentioned the nearly all-freshman secondary in last week’s podcast. Paired with an excellent Trojan front seven, the Tiger explosiveness struck gold in a predictable manner: the Tigers only managed a 0.77 IsoPPP on the ground (0.89 is the national average) but an overwhelming 2.14 through the air (average is 1.49). Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley has done a great job this year of not only figuring out what’s working, but how it’s working and using it appropriately. The pass game has been an efficiency tool all year while the ground game blew up for big yards; that wasn’t working this week and, like the Wyoming game, used the run more as an efficiency tool to set up shots against the Troy secondary.
And here were the matchups to look for when Mizzou was on defense:
- Passing Downs
Troy had a 23% success rate on passing downs, well below the national average of 31%. For all the hype I lumped on to “the magician” Kaleb Barker, he had nearly an identical stat line on passing downs as he did on standard downs. The Mizzou defense did a great job of hemming him in and forcing bad throws in passing situations, enough to where the Trojans couldn’t get any momentum (outside of the first drive).
- Explosive Plays
For the game Troy had an IsoPPP rating of 0.88, well below the national average of 1.18. As this is the defense’s biggest Achilles heel, it was refreshing to see an opponent struggle to hit on the big explosive plays to help overcome efficiency deficiencies.
Winner: Missouri, big
- Passing Game Disruption
There are two ways you can disrupt a passing game: you can either play off and allow receivers to catch the ball but make sure it’s not much yardage/limiting the success of the play, or you play close and allow some successful passes but limit the completion percentage. The Troy receiving corps came in with high catch rates and continued as such (only one receiver had a catch percentage under 65%), but the success rate of the pass plays was only 42%, much worse than Troy’s season average and lower than the Trojan success rate at running the ball.
- Standard Downs
29% success rate on standard downs is.... well, it’s what you’d expect when a G5 team goes against a P5 team. What surprised me is that Troy insisted on going to the air when the ground game was actually doing a decent amount of damage (3.3 yards per carry, 2.7 line yards per carry, 44% success rate). The problem is that Troy had one good drive through the air and attempted to recreate that while only using the running game to keep the defense off balance. Missouri kept them behind the chains by limiting Troy’s 1st-down yards gained to 2.7 on average and kept any third down to nearly 8-yards each time. That’s what an excellent standard downs defense can do for you.
We’ll see how this team recovers from the Kelly Bryant scare and the Cale Garrett gut punch. This is an excellent team on both sides of the ball, even outside of its two best players, and you expect to see some adjustment pains worked out as a fallen power in Ole Miss comes to town for Homecoming this week.