There’s really not much you can say about this game. Missouri was in it for exactly 36 minutes and 5 seconds before Tennessee hit the nitrous and ran away with the game, turning a 28-24 lead into a 49-24 lead in a mere 7 minutes of game time. Missouri was good enough to hang around for a little bit not enough to win on the road against a top five opponent. It’s one of the least surprising developments of the year.
And shame on me for having some hope! I thought Missouri could replicate the blueprint provided by Pitt and Georgia, but a.) they didn’t replicate it at all, and b.) it wouldn’t have mattered, anyway. If part of your defensive strength is the ability to swap out a bunch of dudes and have a package ready for any offensive situation...and the offense never substitutes and keeps running different plays and formations with the same personnel, then you’re going to be a world of hurt. Oh well.
Here’s the advanced box score, if you dare take a look:
Missouri had one more possession and converted the same number of 4th downs in one fewer try. Thus concludes the list of things Mizzou did better than Tennessee.
When Missouri Has the Ball
Missouri’s offense was, for the first time all year, the better unit than their defensive counterparts on Saturday. Tennessee’s defense will give opponents some room to operate but it was all shut down in the 3rd quarter.
Passing Success Rate
Missouri needed at least 40%; they got 31.4%.
Missouri needed at least 9; they got 4
Finish your dang drives
Missouri needed at least 8 with at 4.5 points per opportunity; they got 4 at 6 points per opportunity.
When Tennessee Has the Ball
Mizzou’s defense has only logged a havoc rate below 19% in two games. Those two games were against Kansas State and Tennessee which were total blow outs. The Tigers notching a 20+% havoc rate doesn’t guarantee a win but, if it’s below 20%, it’s a guarantee this team will get demolished.
Make Them Inefficient
The goal was to take a passing game that had a 50+% success rate and make it be 45% or less. The Tigers got them below their season average but not quite enough, with the Vols finishing at 47.6%.
As previously stated: 17% isn’t going to cut it when 35% is the bare minimum expected in this situation.
The Little Things
When you are a heavy underdog on the road you have to take care of the little things and “hidden yardage” opportunities to leverage the field in your favor. Missouri did none of these, getting out-paced in yards per play and scoring opportunities while losing the turnover battle and barely holding steady in special teams.
The other thing that you absolutely can’t do is get walloped by penalty yards and BOY GUESS WHAT HAPPENED. 16 called penalties, 14 accepted, 120 yards. Tennessee, as a comparison, had 8 called penalties, 7 accepted, for 59 yards. It certainly didn’t lose Mizzou the game, but it also didn’t help.
- Missouri’s best offensive performance of the year meet Missouri’s worst defensive performance of the year! Fortunately, all that damage done in the 4th quarter was committed in garbage time, which won’t affect SP+ at all but, of course, affects our fragile little minds daily.
Against South Carolina the Missouri defense was on the field for 53 total plays. Against Kentucky the Missouri defense was on the field for 59 total plays.— Nate Edwards (@NateGEdwards) November 13, 2022
By the end of the 1st Quarter against Tennessee, Missouri’s defense had already been on the field for 23 plays.
- So not only is this the fastest offense Missouri has seen all year, and not only do they not give you any window to substitute, but ALSO they will run more plays in a single half than you’re used to seeing in an entire game? Yeah, that’s a good recipe for getting cooked.
- Tennessee ran a play on 1st-down 39 times (52% of their total plays!). They gained 358 yards of their 727 total yards on 1st-down (49.2%!). I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Missouri team or Missouri opponent ever do that before.
Tennessee is good. Missouri is ok. New Mexico State is bad. On to the next one!