Well....let’s get this over with, shall we?
Here’s the advanced box score:
Missouri ran 25 more plays on the same 13 possessions as Arkansas but was more than doubled up in yards per play and outscored by 2.3 points per opportunity. I talk about finishing your drives every week and this was killer: if both teams played to their season averages in PPO and kept the same number of opportunities this game would have been Mizzou 21 - Arkansas 28. Alas: connecting on big plays and scoring touchdowns is, apparently, pretty important to winning football games!
As is tradition, let’s revisit my keys to the game:
When Missouri Has the Ball
Tyler Badie was, indeed, credited with an extra carry for six yards that occurred on a holding penalty. That didn’t stop him from breaking Devin West’s single-season rushing record, it just takes his incredible day from 41 carries to 40 and 213 yards instead of 219.
You know who could have use an extra six yards to their name? Anyone in the receiving corps.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, if your top five targets combine for 20 targets, 8 catches, and 53 yards then you’re having a bad passing day. Man...Bazelak was just awful on Friday.
My goal was for Missouri to keep more than 60% of their plays in standard down situations and avoid the passing down defense that Arkansas used to rout their opponents. Missouri ran 50 of their 79 plays in standard downs situations, good for 63%. The issue, of course, is the two items listed below this one.
Land Some Haymakers
In two years of the Drinkwitz offense we’ve seen the occasional big play but, for the most part, Drink’s style is very methodical and reliant on stringing together 11-14 plays using the ground game to stay ahead of the chains. Clearly there is a lack of consistent, dynamic athletes in the receiving corps (and a lack of a quarterback who can reliably hit deep shots) but I’m really hoping that the Drink offense isn’t actually this boring, zone-left-inside-power-25+ carry offense on purpose.
Anyway...Arkansas came into this game with the propensity to get burned and, given their offensive prowess, I thought Missouri needed at least eight explosive plays to keep up; they got eight exactly, seven on the ground and one through the air. Turns out it wasn’t enough to keep up.
Finish your dang drives
7 trips with at least 4 points per opportunity was the goal and even that wouldn’t have been enough. What Missouri got was 5 trips with 3.4 points per opportunity.
When Arkansas Has the Ball
Missouri did a good job of holding Arkansas basically at their season-long passing averages (43.5% success rate, 43.6% on the year) and way below their season-long rushing averages (37.9% success rate, 45.9% on the year). The problem is that Arkansas connected on ten explosive plays and almost every single one lead to points.
Nullify the Ground Game
The goal was a rushing success rate under 40%; as stated above, the Tigers passed that test with flying colors.
25% havoc rate with even one turnover was the goal; 20% and a fumble recovery was the result. Arkansas did a decent job of avoiding negative plays and/or hitting on explosive plays to overcome them. Having a Treylon Burks on your team goes a long way in creating big plays, as does a quarterback that can RUN THE BALL EFFECTIVELY WOW WHO WOULD HAVE THUNK.
The Little Things
Missouri actually did decently well in their keys to the game! So what the heck happened? Well...
Nothing went right here, that’s what happened! Special teams was a draw, I guess, but Arkansas dominated in the “hidden yardage” department and that helped them win comfortably. Also:
It felt like Missouri was called for way more holding calls than that, right? Probably because the ones you remembered happened on the same drive and wiped out awesome-Badie-happenings. Overall, it was pretty even in the department, for whatever that’s worth.
First, allow me to present to you the saddest passing chart I’ve seen in quite some time:
The number of “x”s flying by your eyes here would give the billboard lineup of I-70 a run for its money.
Baze threw 26 passes and 5 of them were successful plays. Five! That’s a 19.2% success rate! Nineteen point two! Thankfully he’s the best quarterback on the roster, I shudder to think what depths of passing success rates Brady Cook would experience, amiright?
Next, may I interest you in the saddest receiving chart in the world?
Your second-leading receiver in terms of targets and catches had -2 yards. That’s the second game in a row where a receiver in the top two of targets/catches had negative yards. And Badie, for the second game in a row, ended with negative receiving yards. Again, I get the Drinkwitz offense is built off of lateral movement to get guys in space but...uh...it’s not working. And I understand he’s bringing the athletes in to get it to work but WOW does it suck to watch when it doesn’t.
And this isn’t the case of receivers getting a case of the dropsies; Baze was overthrowing, underthrowing, throwing behind, and throwing too far ahead of almost every dude on this list. On top of that, Arkansas typically dropped eight and clogged up every conceivable passing lane. When you have an opportunity you gotta hit it and Missouri definitely did not do that.
Lastly...and this is the saddest of them all...behold:
No, I’m not talking about the numbers. The numbers are beautiful. The numbers are fun, lovely, effective, and reliable enough to start a family with. No, what I’m talking about is what it represents, as in “the last time we watch Tyler Badie play football for Mizzou”.
Or at least it should be; if he takes the field in the bowl game my sadness would be replaced by deep concern for his sanity and professional future. But the point is this: yes the season wasn’t what any of us wanted or what some of us expected (ahem) but it was a magical season to witness regardless. We will probably never see a season like the 2021 season Tyler Badie put together, partly because he is an uniquely talented running back and also because this offense sucks so much a** right now that he has to get that much usage.
BK and I quickly compared Badie to Danario Alexander’s magical ‘09 run on the podcast. And while, yes, Alexander had an NFL quarterback throwing to him, he was impacting the game so heavily on what averaged out to be about 8-9 touches per game. Badie was asked to fling himself into the teeth of the defense 30+ times and happily did so over and over again. So while Alexander was the most dynamic display of athleticism I’ve seen from a Missouri receiver, Badie’s was the most impressive run of effective durability we’ll probably ever see.
And if you get in a debate between the two, just sit back and enjoy the fact that your team enjoyed both for a very small moment of time. Thanks for everything, Tyler.
The regular season is over and we get bonus football in December. We’ll figure out what level of crappy bowl Mizzou gets thrown into but, for now, enjoy the fact that your Tigers have been bowl eligible for five straight years and should only get better.