After an electric game that saw the Tigers take down a top 15 opponent just a year removed from being pummeled by said opponent, I will admit— I was very intrigued to see who would top the Tigers analytically.
Coach Drinkwitz’s team excelled on the offensive side of the ball, and most importantly, were efficient in the way they did things which isn’t something I thought I’d be saying this year.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at our analytics MVPs for this past week
Offense: Brady Cook
Cook had what some would call a “legacy game” against Kansas State, and it’s safe to say that his legacy was anything but augmented. Cook was amongst the best passers in college football this weekend, doing just about everything right.
Legends for these cards can be found at the bottom of this article, but as you can see he wasn’t exactly elite in any category, but he was more than serviceable in all of them.
The big number for me is that 54% in the depth of target category. Typically you see Brady hover around the 25-30% mark, but this week he just had a different pep to his step. He was so much more keen to launch deep balls than I have ever seen before, but more importantly, he was right on the money with most of them.
The 86th percentile VAT number for Cook is the best single-week performance of his entire Mizzou career, and that on its own is excellent enough, but to do that in arguably the biggest game of his career is just another level.
On the throw above, you see Brady willing to throw a ball into a tight window to find Wease on a big play to get a drive moving. Usually with Cook we’ll see him be more keen to dump the ball off and take the safe yardage, but plays like that show it was just a different story against Kansas State and I think that change of pace from Cook is what made him so lethal.
Defense: Ennis Rakestraw Jr.
Rakestraw had 32 coverage snaps against Kansas State, barely qualifying for the 30 coverage snap minimum to be eligible for these awards, but did he ever make the most of those 32.
Rakestraw was above average in just about every statistical category, and absolutely dominant in tackling and forcing incompletions on Saturday.
Just with base numbers, Rakestraw picked up five solo tackles against the Wildcats, which measures up to tying a career-best that he previously set against Florida in 2022.
Rakestraw’s elite ability as a run defender combined with his more than serviceable abilities in coverage make him poised to be one of the best corners this year analytically, and it’s precisely why he scored so well for Week 3.
Missouri CB Ennis Rakestraw- Plays with good anticipation, burst of speed to close on underneath routes! pic.twitter.com/ixfO2Gm3Nz— Robert Cardona (@CARDONAFAM29) July 31, 2023
This set of two clips from the South Carolina game last year is a great indication of the value Rakestraw brings to the table that I talked about earlier. In the first play you can see he reads the play the whole way and makes a big play on the ball, and plays like that are exactly why he consistently ranks in the upper half of corners in football in stops.
This week’s MVPs were extremely difficult to select, as you had so many marquee performers, I was even debating making Mevis one of the MVPs but unfortunately, there is so little week-by-week kicker data that I just couldn’t.
VAT stands for Value Added to Team, and it is an overall measure of how much a player brings to his team taking in a variety of variables including quality of competition and teammates.
Each card has 10 stats on them (not including VAT) and for QBs those stats are, Accuracy, Depth, Protection, Security, Scramble, Clutch, Drops, Batted, TD/INT, and NFL QBR.
Accuracy: Aimed Pass Percentage, so passes that are throwaways don’t count against the QB, since throwaways are typically a responsible choice and thus shouldn’t be held against them.
Depth: Average Depth of Target, essentially shows how deep a QB’s target tends to be, and is often a reflection of the scheme the QB is in but can also be a reflection of that QB’s arm strength and ability to spread the field.
Protection: A mix of time-to-throw and defensive pressure rate, Protection is a hindrance in the VAT formula, meaning that if a QB receives good protection it will negatively effect his VAT.
Security: Turnover Worthy Play Rate, how often does this QB make plays that are deemed risky and turnover worthy, this stat is great as opposed to interceptions and fumbles since it takes into account plays that aren’t the QBs fault like dropped balls that lead to interceptions, and takes into account lucky plays like dropped INTs by DBs.
Scramble: Pressure to Sack Rate, this stat doesn’t take into effect how many yards a QB gains in his scrambles, but moreso how many times he allows pressures to become sacks.
Clutch: Big Time Throw Rate in the final 5 Minutes of one-score, or tie-games, the specifics of the BTT stat are unknown since it is a PFF signature stat, but just as a pre-cursor to how accurate it is, Taylor Heinicke was in the 94th Percentile in 2014, and everyone knows he has that dog in him.
Drops: Relatively self-explanatory, the drop rate of catchable balls thrown at this QB’s receivers, is a hindrance to the VAT just like Protection.
Batted: How often a QB’s throws get batted.
TD/INT: Touchdown to Interception Ratio.
QBR: NFL Passer Rating.
Catching: Opposition Catch Rate when Targeted
Tackling: Missed Tackle Rate
QBR: QBR Against when Targeted
Stops: On a first down, if the offense gets 45% of the way to a first down or less.
On a second down, if the offense gets 60% of the way to a first down or less.
On a third or fourth down, if the offense doesn’t get a first down.
Incompletions: Forced incompletion rate
Man: Man QBR against
Zone: Zone QBR against
Receptions: Average Coverage Snaps before a reception is allowed
Targeted: Average Coverage Snaps before this CB is targeted
Pass Breakups: Pass Breakup Rate