Good news, Tiger fans: the result is exactly what we thought it was going to be. It was over, essentially, at the 11:07 mark, when Cale Garrett snagged that pass out of the air and was promptly escorted to the end zone. The bad news, as it were, is twofold:
- Because of the quality of opponent, the only things you can truly take away from this game are bad.
- Missouri has still not shown a complete game on offense.
I’ll get more into the second statement later on; I just want you all thinking about it as we go through this exercise.
SPEAKING OF THIS EXERCISE I’m going to abandon the previous two formats because there were approximately 87 different key stats that went Missouri’s way in the lopsided victory over SEMO. So I’ll post the advanced box score and show you the individual stats as well, but I thought it might be more interesting to show you how we performed against each team. Again, after working through 75% of the Missouri non-conference schedule, I’m trying to figure out what this team is, and hopefully through a direct comparison, we all can come to a better conclusion.
TO THE STATS, JEEVES!
Comparison #1: The passing game
First off, I want to make sure you all are absolutely aware of the fact that SEMO averaged one yard per passing attempt, and they only had 18% of their pass plays result in a successful play (50% of needed yardage 1D/70% 2D/100% 3D & 4D). Like I said: blood. Everywhere.
But, zooming out to our 3-game sample here, we see that West Virginia tagged the most yardage on us, but this is why we don’t go by raw stats. Looking at success rates shows that Wyoming had the best passing attack against us by far, and they only completed 6 of 16 passes. There is obviously more context beyond even an advanced box score: Wyoming’s running game, for example, opened up play action beautifully and lessened the need of a passing game in general, but the Missouri passing defense has been excellent against what is, truthfully, some awful passing teams. Does that mean they’ll hold up against a competent passing team? For that, we’ll have to wait and see this weekend, but in three individual tests, DeMarkus Acy & Associates (editor’s note: is this a new law office like Smith & Smith?) have exceeded expectations.
Comparison #2: The running game
Last week I told you that we made West Virginia look like an FCS team and quipped that SEMO would post better rushing numbers than the Mountaineers did. I’m going to give myself partial credit on that one. The Redhawks ran the ball the same number of times for 6 more yards, had better line yards per carry, and had better highlight yards, but the Mountaineers were more successful (relatively speaking) and got 5-yard rushes at a better clip. I do find it hilarious that they both ran 29 times and were stuffed at the same 41.4% rate, though.
And then there’s dear, sweet, Wyoming, capitalizing on first game glitches and 3 big running plays. Sigh. It still hurts, yes, but take solace in the fact that — even with their big-hitters — they still did not generate five yards better than the national average and still got stuffed at the line right at the national average. And their play-style hasn’t changed, mind you: throwing the ball less than 20 times and running non-stop while getting some turnovers was exactly how they beat Texas State and Idaho as well. They’re just a damn frustrating team that isn’t flashy and still beats you (just like this Bill Snyder K-State teams).
But back to Missouri: opponents have been seeing better success on the ground than in the air, but that’s mostly skewed because of the Wyoming game,and its still a year-to-date average of under 30% (national average is 41%). Critics will say that these three opponents “ain’t nobody,” which is fine (these are not team-adjusted numbers), but supporters will rightfully claim that holding any team to under the national average over 3 games is pretty damn good. We’ll see how that stacks up as we play our first team without our advantage of any built-in talent or depth.
Comparison #3: Success Rates
And this is where I have some reservations about the Tigers: we have yet to see a solid, consistent effort from the Missouri offense. Yes, you can couch a lot of the later-game crashes to the backups playing over matched teams, but I think there’s some concerns that Barry Odom wanted to work on, and that’s why the 1s stayed in the SEMO game far longer than they should have.
Look at that Wyoming game: 40-45% Success Rate is generally where an average college offense will operate at from quarter to quarter, and Missouri was slightly better than average for three quarters before a frenzied rush in Q4. Now, a lot of that lower success rate was turnover-related, but the fact remains that the Wyoming defensive was able to limit Missouri’s explosiveness and force them to matriculate down the field and experience a lot of stuffed runs at the line. Once Missouri finally got clicking in the pass game, they got to 60%, but that wasn’t until late in the game (and, did you know? we lost).
West Virginia was the offense’s best game, but after halftime, the starters couldn’t get anything going— run or pass. In fact, Missouri was at a 20% success rate 16 plays into the third quarter with a punt and missed field goal, and then resigned themselves to just run out the clock (at which point, they started notching more successful plays).
And SEMO? As Sam pointed out immediately, the Tigers put together a blistering 9 minutes and then... lost interest? Became complacent? Whatever the reason, the Tigers, against an FCS foe, did slightly better than average for the remaining 45 minutes, 22 of which were still featuring the starters. And again, I hate to be a downer about this, but Missouri had 10 third downs in the game and only converted two because... and I’m not making this up... the average yards to go was seventeen (!!!). Seventeen yards! Against an FCS foe! I certainly did not approve of Odom and Dooley leaving the 1s in, but they are seeing some inconsistencies and concerns that they wanted ironed out against an inferior foe. Whether they did or not is unclear at this point, but this is not a consistent offense at all. Elite at times, mediocre for random other instances.
Missouri Week to Week
Areas of Regression
- Points Per Opportunity: 5.4 -> 5.0
- Third Down Conversions: 46.7% -> 20.0%
- Average Yards to Go (3rd Down): 6.1 -> 17.7
- Average Starting Field Position: 37.4 -> 28.8
Areas of Improvement
(basically everything, lol)
- Yards Per Play: 4.8 -> 7.4
- Scoring Opportunities: 7 -> 10
- Yards Per Passing Attempt: 4.5 -> 9.2
- Yards Per Passing Completion: 7.9 -> 15.0
- Average First Down Gain: 5.0 -> 8.0
- In this week’s edition of “Tyler Badie is Missouri’s MVP” our favorite scat back again had a 100% catch rate, but with only a 33% success rate. He had fewer carries, yards, line-yards per carry, success rate, and opportunity rate than Larry Rountree III, but he did have better yards per carry and nearly double the highlight yards of ‘Tree 3 (editor’s note: the Fifth Down podcasting duo has renamed him Larry Three-sticks, so I hear-by veto ‘‘Tree 3’ ).
- Maurice Massey has been targeted twice. Both instances were in the red zone, both instances he ran a fade to the corner, and - as a bonus - SEMO picked off the pass. I understand that he had the highlight, one-handed grab during training camp, but is there possibly a different set of routes and situations the offensive staff could work him into?
- Before this game SEMO, was ranked 34th in Bill C’s (very beta!) FCS SP+ rankings. After playing Missouri, they jumped to 29th. When the SEMO offense is clicking, it’s throwing quick passes to the sideline, having a few break out, and utilizing the run game once the defense is stretched. It absolutely works against FCS teams... it absolutely did not against an SEC secondary. I’m not sure if they’ll make it the FCS Playoff this year, but they did so last year and I couldn’t help but feel bad as they got repeatedly detonated by Tiger defenders (and special teamers).
- ... seriously SEMO averaged 4.9 yards per catch and 2 yards per carry :(
- ... and West Virginia, which averaged 1.8 yards per carry against Missouri, just put up 44 points on NC State :)
Here’s the advanced stat sheet. Seriously, the SEMO stat sheet is so very, very, upsetting.