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Beyond the Box Score: How to Make a Blowout Interesting

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When you play Georgia you lose. It’s the law.

Regardless of your rabid optimism, I think everyone knew that Missouri was going to get their collective butts handed to them by Georgia. The only question was “how soon is it over” and “can Missouri make things interesting?”. And, much like last year, the Tigers were in it for the first half, maybe a little before the half in the 2021 iteration. But the more interesting thing about this game - given the program building that Drinkwitz and friends are in - is who is playing and how they are performing. That was true for the whole team but absolutely the case for the quarterbacks.

BK and I said this on the preview and postgame podcasts: Georgia’s defense is so damn good that you really can’t learn anything worthwhile about what the offense was doing. But I will try to find some nuggets of info to share with the idea that we’ll learn more about both quarterbacks after the South Carolina game.

Assuming Bazelak doesn’t play, that is.

But first! Here’s Georgia:

Advanced Box Score

Nasty! Georgia more than doubled up Missouri in yards, yards per play, yards per possession, and points per scoring opportunity. There’s not a lot of games to be won under circumstances like that.

But hey! At least Missouri had a similar rushing performance to Georgia! Progress!

When Missouri Has the Ball

Missouri’s Offense vs. Georgia’s Defense

If you were wondering, “is this the worst offensive performance of the year?”, then let me assure you: yes, yes it definitely was. By a lot.

The Tigers had a 34.4% success rate when running the ball, its worst performance since the 35% success rate they managed against Texas A&M. But that Aggie loss was overshadowed by a 33% success rate passing the ball which, at the time, was the worst passing performance of the year.

Saturday’s passing performance was worse, coming in at a 25% success rate. Yikes.

Not only that, but a whopping FIVE Tiger receivers finished the day with a 0% success rate catching the ball, including Tyler Badie who was targeted five times and caught five passes.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, anytime Tyler Badie has a 14% success rate over 14 touches, the 2021 Missouri Football Tigers are going to lose ten out of ten times.

How badly did Missouri whiff on the keys to the game? Well...

Be the Best Version of Mizzou Possible

LMAO. No. That didn’t happen.

Winner: Georgia

Finish your dang drives

Missouri needed 8 scoring opportunities and average 7 points per opportunity to hang with Georgia. They got 5 scoring opportunities and averaged 1.2 points per opportunity.

Winner: Georgia

When Georgia Has the Ball

Missouri’s Defense vs. Georgia’s Offense

Create Opportunities for the Good Guys

Missouri needed lots of turnovers to keep Georgia from scoring and give the Tiger offense more chances. I asked for four: we got one.

Winner: Georgia

Don’t Get Injured

This game was, essentially, not able to be won so the hope was that none of the starters or backups got hurt against a superior opponent. And they didn’t! Hooray victory!

Winner: Missouri

The Little Things

“The Little Things” Report Card

Missouri hung close in field position and special teams - even despite Thiccer allowing the world to think he was mortal for a singular kick - but Georgia totally outclassed Missouri in yards per play and points per scoring opportunity and that was enough to make it a blow out.

At least Missouri fared better in the penalty department:

Penalties

Were the Tigers actually playing cleaner? Or were the referees just looking to end a lopsided game quickly? Impossible to say but I can confirm that five penalties is less than nine and 30 penalty yards is much fewer than 100 penalty yards. Success!

Extra Points

Ok, let’s get to the comparison we’ve all been looking for: Cook vs. Macon. I FEEL THE NEED TO REPEAT that there’s no long-term lesson learned from watching two freshmen quarterbacks get paddled by one of the twenty greatest defenses ever fielded in the history of college football...but ok, you want it, you got it!

  • Brady Cook: 20 drop backs, 25% passing success rate. 9 rushes, 44.4% success rate. 31% success rate overall
  • Tyler Macon: 14 drop backs, 21% passing success rate. 9 rushes, 55.6% success rate. 34% success rate overall

Regardless of quarterback the performance of that position wasn’t good but Cook was slightly better throwing the ball, Macon much better running the ball, and Macon had a slightly better overall success rate in fewer plays. This means nothing in the long run because the sample sizes are so small but I will say, for my money, Brady Cook is a blend of Bazelak’s accuracy and Macon’s willingness to run. Because of that, I’d start Cook against South Carolina and bring Macon in for situational plays/drives. I do think Macon has the higher potential of the three quarterbacks currently on the roster but is also the one least prepared to do long-term damage to a defense in a game.

Also, this is seriously one of the worst receiving performances I’ve seen in a while:

It’s bad!

This is why I don’t think anything would have changed had Bazelak played; The passing game, right now, is predicated on Bazelak making the safe throw to an open guy who gets the most yards after the catch possible. Georgia’s defense doesn’t give up yards after the catch (or yards in general) and so the receivers got the ball and were immediately laid down for a nap by an aggressively nurturing Bulldog defense. Drinkwitz brought in some stud receivers but they aren’t ready yet. Maybe next year - especially with Luther Burden - they can start YACing defenses to death.

Along those lines, this is probably the worst running performance Georgia fans has seen in a while from their team:

Running Game Comparison

Both teams had the same number of rushes, Georgia averaged one more yard per rush, but look at the advanced stats to the right of each box. Line yards were almost dead even, Georgia had a better success rate, but Missouri’s offensive line got their backs four yards at a better clip than Georgia’s line did! Incredible! Granted, Bulldog backs went further on average than Missouri did but still: loading nine guys in the box to stop the run works! Incredible!

Do check out the Georgia passing game, by the way. I want to draw your eyes to something that reinforces the “stack the box and make ‘em throw” theory:

Georgia Targeting Data

For almost every Georgia receiver, their catch rate is the same as their success rate. What does that mean? It means that whenever they caught the ball they were getting the necessary yards to keep up with down and distance. With me so far? Ok let’s take it a step further.

Missouri’s secondary is good but Georgia’s receiving corps is elite. Keeping catch rates and success rates the same means that Georgia was doing damage through the air but couldn’t catch every ball. That might sound hilariously simple but think about it: coming into this game Missouri’s run defense was terrible and previous opponents would blow 8-yard holes in the defense every time they ran the ball with no problem. Throwing the ball introduces the risk of not catching the ball or - POSSIBLY - the defense intercepting the ball. Two things that are great for defenses! It’s why that old adage (that’s attributed to every salty coach of the 40s) is “when you throw it three things can happen and two are bad”.

So, if Missouri continues to stack the box with nine defenders and force quarterbacks to throw, they are creating a scenario where two bad things could happen for the offense, instead of one guaranteed five-yard gain play after play. After all, this is college football: even the most elite quarterbacks and receivers will have a drop or a misfire here and there. It worked against a really good Georgia offense and I feel confident in saying it’ll work against the South Carolinas and Floridas of the world, too.

Lastly, here’s the success rates by quarter for each team. Try and figure out which quarter was the one where Georgia figured out what Missouri wanted to do on offense and snuffed it out.

Success Rates by Quarter

Conclusion

It wasn’t a win but we saw two possible quarterbacks of the future in extended playing time and finally saw the defense whole-ass commit to stopping the run. I don’t know if that strategy/momentum continues to the South Carolina game but, at the very least, I have somehow become excited to see how this team performs this week in what will probably be the last game they are favored to win.