Required listening re: the title above:
Let’s just get this out of the way early, shall we?
There were five officiating calls that Mizzou fans seemed to have particular beef over. Let’s review:
Unsportsmanlike Conduct - Josh Landry (End of 1st Quarter): Did Kentucky seem to work really hard to provoke the Missouri players on their sideline? Oh boy, yeah they did. Is that a penalty? Nope (especially since this beauty wasn’t a penalty). Did Josh Landry, #90, enter from the bottom-middle of the screen and throw a punch? Oh boy, yeah he did. Is that a penalty? Yup! Check the clip yourself:
Missouri followed this incident up with a tackle for loss on Chris Rodriguez and two consecutive sacks for a loss of 18 yards, forcing a Kentucky punt. So, whether you thought it was unfair or not, it was rectified and nothing bad happened because of it.
3rd-and-1 Conversion - Chris Rodriguez, Jr. (8:38 in the 3rd Quarter): You all know what happened. This guy Zapruder’d the hell out of it:
I was so astounded I had to go back and break it down. pic.twitter.com/Uv7fMP3OVl— Evan Onstot (@KOCOEvan) November 6, 2022
Was he short? Clearly! Did the referee with the best view move from his original position? Yes! Should Eli Drinkwitz have called a time out to yell at them to review? ABSOLUTELY. That’s the core function of the head coach! What was he doing? Not a clue. Kentucky went on to score a touchdown on this drive. In a game Kentucky won by 4 points.
The fumble that wasn’t - Chad Bailey & Chris Rodriguez, Jr. (6:11 in the 4th Quarter): Chris Rodriguez was tackled by Chad Bailey; the ball came out, it was recovered by Missouri. The officiating crew stated that it was a fumble recovered by Missouri heading into the review so they needed clear evidence that it wasn’t to overturn it; anything less than that and the ruling on the field would (should) stand. As a biased Missouri fan, I saw enough movement before any limb was down that I couldn’t say, for certain, that he wasn’t fumbling before he hit the ground. But my opinion doesn’t count here. Kentucky finished this drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass thanks to some poor tackling in the secondary. In a game Kentucky won by 4 points.
The targeting no-call - Dominic Lovett & Tyrell Ajian (5:18 in the 4th Quarter): Dom Lovett floats out of bounds, comes back in, gets rocked as hand e tries to catch the ball. It seemed upon replay that Ajian launched himself at Lovett but the referees determined it was just a hard hit and the illegal touching penalty got thrown on to a guy who was sitting on the bench counting the stars above his head. Missouri went on to punt the ball away.
The walk-off roughing the kicker penalty - Will Norris (2:34 in the 4th Quarter): The snap goes over the punter’s head and lands down by the Kentucky end zone. Punter Colin Goodfellow runs backwards, scoops it up, and punts it away in one swift motion. Will Norris tackles the player without attempting to go after the ball, which is a penalty. Apparently, all the football rule nerds out there knew it was the right call immediately. I, a football rule idiot, thought a muffed snap/catch/whatever made hits of any kind legal which, apparently, is incorrect. Goodfellow apparently died a painful death to do this but secured Kentucky’s ability to run another four plays to give Missouri 38 seconds and 87 yards to score...which they didn’t.
Look...people only complain about celebrations, sportsmanship, and referees when they lose a game. And if your team needs an officiating crew to be 100% perfect in order for you to win, you’re a bad football team. But Missouri was almost able to overcome every single one of these and still win. They could have done themselves a few favors along the way but they didn’t and they lost.
Here’s the advanced box score:
Just total offensive ineptitude on display here. The difference is in 3rd-down conversions, average starting field position, and turnovers, which Kentucky had a noticeable advantage in.
When Missouri Has the Ball
One week after keeping South Carolina to a 7% havoc rate, this offensive line went right back to its old ways, allowing Kentucky to blow stuff up at a 25% clip. And that’s how you end up with 29% success rates on the ground and in the air.
The goal was to hit at least 9 explosive plays; Missouri had:
- Q1: Cody Schrader run 14 yards
- Q3: Brady Cook to Luther Burden III pass 16 yards
- Q3: Brady Cook to Mekhi Miller pass 25 yards
- Q4: Brady Cook to Luther Burden III pass 35 yards
- Q4: Brady Cook run 20 yards for a touchdown
Five is good but their inability to gain smaller yardage or hit for big yardage really limited this offense all game.
Hold on to the dang ball
Kentucky came in with terrible turnover luck and I figured Missouri could get to +2 turnover margin and win the game. They were officially at a -1 turnover margin, plus two turnovers on downs.
Finish your dang drives
6 scoring opportunities, 4 points per opportunity was the goal. Good: Missouri averaged 5.7 yards per opportunity! Bad: Missouri created three scoring opportunities.
When Kentucky Has the Ball
You might have heard Missouri’s defense was excellent once again. They achieved a 27.8% havoc rate while holding the Wildcats to a 23% success rate on the ground and 36% success rate when throwing the ball. That should win you college football games in 2022. It didn’t.
Bottle Up the Run
40% success rate or less rushing the ball was the goal and, as stated, Missouri held them to an absurd 23.5% success rate.
Limit Explosive Plays
Like Missouri, Kentucky relies on big plays so the goal was to keep Kentucky under 7 explosive plays;
- Q1: Will Levis to Barion Brown pass 39 yards
- Q1: Will Levis to Jordan Dingle pass 17 yards
- Q1: Chris Rodriguez, Jr. run 12 yards
- Q1: Will Levis to Jordan Dingle pass 18 yards
- Q2: Chris Rodriguez, Jr. run 13 yards
- Q2: Chris Rodriguez, Jr. run 13 yards (nope, not a repeat!)
- Q3: Chris Rodriguez, Jr. run 26 yards
- Q3: Will Levis to Tayvion Robinson pass 18 yards
- Q4: Will Levis to Dane Key pass 19 yards
- Q4: Will Levis to Dane Key pass 22 yards touchdown
Kentucky finished with 10 explosive plays for 197 yards.
The Little Things
Losing the turnover battle in a game as tightly contested as this one is brutal. So is losing the field position battle, especially since Kentucky routinely had less field to travel to score and Missouri was consistently at a disadvantage. It was nice to see a team rack up even more penalties than Missouri usually does, although Kentucky only had 19 more penalty yards with six more penalties called.
- This is what happens when two offenses who struggle to move the ball outside of explosive plays meet two defenses who are Top 25-levels of elite. I have to say, it never felt like Missouri has the more successful offense for every quarter but that’s the impact explosive plays - or lack therefor - have on the psyche.
- Explosive play check! Against Kentucky Missouri logged five explosive plays (12+ yard runs, 16+ yard passes) for 110 yards, which comes out to 47.6% of their yards on 8.3% of their plays. Yikes. As previously stated, Kentucky had ten explosive plays for 197 yards, which comes out to 79.8% of their total yards on 16.9% of their plays. Double yikes!
- As far as Drinkwitz’s ability to call passing plays in non-obvious passing situations. Missouri faced 18 passing downs situations and called 6 runs and 12 passes (two of which ended up in Brady Cook scrambling). Missouri faced 12 3rd-down scenarios and called passes on 10 of them (one was a Brady Cook scramble). So... not much variation or surprise here.