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Beyond the Box Score: the “streak-busting” edition

Missouri played an ugly, weird game against an ugly, weird opponent but finally shook one monkey off its back

I’ve said it many times previously: games against Will Muschamp teams are weird and no fun. A defensive slug-fest is hardly as exciting as a first-to-60-shootout, and Muschamp offenses tend to be so incompetent that — no matter how poorly you play — you always feel like you have a shot at winning. Luckily, the Tigers finally did that on Saturday, giving Barry Odom his first win over the Gamecocks and his first victory in an SEC opening game. Cheers! It was super weird (especially that first quarter), and it wasn’t really all that fun until the end, but a win’s a win and it’s better to get to the bye week looking forward to our next matchup against Troy.

...Unless you’re me, who is stuck in the past, rewatching the game two more times so that I can offer you advanced insights on the Tigers’ streak-busting victory. You’re welcome.

TO THE STATS:

Advanced Stat Sheet

Let’s revisit the match-ups I made in the preview pieces to see how Missouri fared:

Missouri Offense

Missouri Offense vs. South Carolina Defense
  • Line yards vs. Run stuffs

Line Yards per Carry: 2.07 (National Average: 2.44)

Stuff Rate: 19% (National Average: 20%)

The Tigers rushing attack was inconsistent and not very successful (only 27% success rate on the ground), but despite being held under the national average for line yards, they did keep the South Carolina stuff rate at its year-to-date average of 19%. I was afraid the South Carolina defensive line would “wake up” against the Tigers, and for the most part, they did. They were able to bottle up the ground game and hold Missouri to its lowest success rate of the year, but did not do enough to erase it outright. Why is that, you ask? Because Kelly Bryant put on his Superman cape and ran 15 times for 90 yards at a 47% success rate.

Result: push

  • Good explosions vs. Bad explosions

IsoPPP (effectiveness of the explosive plays): 1.15 (National Average: 1.18)

South Carolina Havoc Rate: 16.9%

Because South Carolina has been so damn good on passing downs (2nd & 3rd and long), it was important for Missouri to stay efficient early in the drive or rely on explosive plays to catch back up. Overall, the Tigers’ big plays weren’t going very far (under the national average, actually), but that’s the standpoint for the game. Breaking it down into runs and passes looks like this:

Rushing IsoPPP: 1.19 (National Average: 0.89)

Passing IsoPPP: 1.12 (National Average: 1.49)

The run game was not very successful on Saturday, but when it hit for big yards, it went for BIG yards. The passing game was much more reliable, but didn’t get huge plays while doing so. That tends to be the reverse of how we view each aspect of the offense, but given the effectiveness of the Cocky secondary this season, this certainly jives with expectations.

“Bad explosions,” in this case, were any big plays that the South Carolina defense could inflict on the offense. 17% is a fine havoc rate, essentially what you would expect from an average team at any point.

Result: advantage South Carolina

  • Staying on schedule vs. passing downs

Standard Downs Success Rate: 37% (National Average: 46%)

Passing Downs Success Rate: 31% (National Average: 31%)

The South Carolina defense flipped their script and were deadly effective on 1st and 2nd downs, forcing the Tigers into 25 2nd-and-longs and 11 3rd-and-longs. Clearly the Tigers didn’t covert most of those, but when they did, it was Kelly Bryant breaking free on the ground. This goes back to the previous point: the ground game wasn’t efficient but was explosive, and the passing game could get most of the yards reliably, but wasn’t breaking free.

Result: advantage Missouri

Missouri Defense

Missouri Defense vs. South Carolina Offense
  • The freshman vs. The experience

Ryan Hilinski: 13-30 (43%)/166 yards/1 INT/2 sacks/4.7 ypa

Tiger secondary: 14 tackles/2 TFLs/1 sack/4 PDs/1 INT/50% HAVOC

...yes, I do believe the Tiger secondary won this matchup.

Really, outside of one sustained drive in the 3rd quarter (that ended up in the Ronnell Perkins INT) Ryan Hilinksi was off on almost every throw he attempted. That 14-play drive, minus the interception, featured the QB and his receiving corps going 7-10 for 79 yards. My state-school math shows me that every other drive that Hilinski was part of had him throwing 6-20 for 87 yards. So yes, keeping their quarterback — even a freshman in his first road start— completely anemic is a total victory for the Missouri secondary.

Result: advantage Missouri

  • Efficiency vs. Explosions

South Carolina Running Success Rate: 30% (National Average: 41%)

South Carolina Running IsoPPP: 0.40 (National Average: 0.89)

They only ran it 19 times, but they weren’t all that efficient; nor were they explosive. The Cocky ground game was actually more successful than the passing game (30% by land, 24% by air) but nothing was working for the offense last week. Remember, this was the 27th best offense according to SP+ heading into the game so give credit to a Missouri defense that has been tremendous all year (minus two very specific plays).

Result: advantage Missouri

  • Slots vs. Nickels

Shi Smith & Kyle Markway: 10 targets/6 catches/84 yards/40% success rate

Bryan Edwards was essentially the focal point for the entire passing game, logging 15 targets for SIX catches with an underwhelming 20% success rate (he was possibly targeted an additional five times, but those passes were knocked away so I’m not totally sure he was the intended target). The one time Missouri was vulnerable through the air this season was when Wyoming connected with their slot receivers; they didn’t get a lot of yards but they were consistently moving the chains and getting first downs. It stood to reason that South Carolina would do the same, especially with breakout performance by tight end Kyle Markway. And while Edwards was targeted 60%, Hilinski did get some shots at the inside receivers but — to the Tigers’ credit — they limited slot-man Shi Smith and Markway considerably, going from 50% of the season’s targets and yards to 30% of targets and keeping the damage to a 40% success rate is tremendous work for the Tiger nickel backs and safeties.

Result: advantage Missouri

  • Protection vs. Pressure

Line Yards per Carry: 1.66 (National Average: 2.44)

Success Rate: 30% (National Average: 41%)

Opportunity rate: 35% (National Average: 46%)

Stuff Rate: 35% (National Average: 20%)

Last week I wrote that getting South Carolina to pass was crucial:

How prescient!

And in that respect, I was right. What I didn’t account for, however, was just how dominating our d-line was going to be against their o-line. South Carolina came in as the 17th best line in the country at getting 5-yard gains, 17th in avoid run stuffs, and 36th at converting third and short.

They leave Columbia ranking 40th, 64th, and 38th, respectively. That’s... quite a decline.

This Missouri defense is damn good and it’s about time we start giving them credit for being as such.

Result: advantage Missouri

Missouri Week to Week

Areas of Regression

  • Yards Per Play: 7.4 -> 4.8
  • Yards Per Possession: 35.9 -> 30.1
  • Points Per Scoring Opportunity: 5.0 -> 3.3
  • Yards Per Passing Attempt: 9.2 -> 6.1
  • Yards Per Passing Completion: 15.0 -> 11.9
  • Average First Down Gain: 8.0 -> 4.8
  • Average Starting Field Position: 28.8 -> 28.0

Areas of Improvement

  • Average Third Down Yards To Go: 17.7 -> 7.5
  • Yup, that’s it. An FCS team, South Carolina is not.

Extra Points

  • The “Tyler Badie is Missouri’s MVP” campaign took a break for the week to, like, just take it easy and decompress for a bit. 11 rushes for 18 yards with a nine (9) percent success rate isn’t great, but I blame the 0.6 line yards per carry he was given by the o-line. He did catch 3 of 4 passes for 42 yards and a 50% success rate, so it wasn’t all bad. Hopefully Troy will be a little more accommodating than the Gamecock defense.
  • The success rates by quarter for both teams were disgusting and bad. Let’s poke it with a stick!
Gross

This game played more like a 20-17 Missouri victory than a 34-14 Missouri victory and both teams can point to their respective defenses to either: a) scoring or b) making it very easy to score. Remember, an average college offense has a 40-44% success rate and... well, only Missouri had one quarter of “average” success rates. Seriously, wherever Will Muschamp goes, offenses just dry up and die.

  • No Maurice Massey or Barret Bannister this week and only a brief glimpse of Dominic Gicinto. The Tigers are lucky that the #TightEndPassingGame is doing well enough that they can afford to have a grab bag of replacement-level receivers running around. The upside on the receiving corps is tremendous, but the potential has not been hit yet.
  • Missouri was a bit unlucky in the turnover department and still hauled in an interception and two fumbles. Just imagine what happens when the luck actually turns!
  • I saw a tweet floating around Saturday that Missouri has limited three straight opponents combined to under 100 yards rushing. Because the NCAA counts sacks as rushes, that’s technically correct... but slightly misleading. Without attributing sacks to yards on the ground, West Virginia, SEMO and South Carolina have rushed 77 times for 158 yards, with no team averaging more than 2.5 yards per carry and a combined success rate of 22%. That’s remarkable.
  • For all of those keeping track at home (me, basically), this is the third straight game that Missouri stuffed the run at a clip better than the national average. That average has been either 19% or 20% nationally and the Tigers held West Virginia and SEMO to exactly 41.4% each and South Carolina to 35%.