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Beyond the Box Score: Missouri Didn’t Lose to a FCS Team

They keep saying a win is a win. I guess it’s true.

Did you have a good time? Hopefully the breakfast tailgate was good! Little mimosa action, maybe? Breakfast tacos would certainly be my choice while tailgating for an 11am kick. Or you could skip over the early morning familiars and go straight to brats and burgers and various heavy dips; nothing wrong with that. It seemed like a nice day; hopefully the sun wasn’t beating down too hard on you all in the stands. And there were a lot of people there, which is nice! A record crowd in the Drinkwitz era, from what I’m told. Hopefully the lines at Faurot weren’t too unbearable and the food lockers were functioning well. And, of course, you had the opportunity to stick around Columbia and visit your favorite haunts, maybe take a walk around The Quad, see what your old dorm looked like, all that good stuff. Saturdays in the fall are great for nostalgic romps and experiencing the good stuff that Columbia has to offer. Luckily, there are seven of these days for 2022 and I hope you all had a great time with this one and all the others that are upcoming!

Oh, right. Yeah, I need to write a Beyond the Box Score post. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp since you said I had to...

The game sucked and this season is in peril. Hi! Hello! Welcome to the BTBS for Abilene Christian.

Advanced Box Score

ACU is an ok FCS team. The Wildcats are a dynamite defense with a glitchy offense that should never get close to beating an SEC team. And, to be fair, they really weren’t close to winning this game at any point.

However, Missouri was also never far enough away to comfortably put in the backups and freshmen to get some experience. And when they finally did put in the second stringers on defense, they immediately got torched for a touchdown. So, yeah, this team is not nearly as good as we believed heading into the season. What that means for the win-loss record is yet to be seen but...well...ask anyone on the internet, I’m sure they’d be happy to give you their opinion.

The advanced box score reflects a comfortable Missouri win and, to be fair, it was a rather comfortable win. But you don’t play FCS opponents in Year 3 of a coach’s tenure and expect a “comfortable win.” You expect it to be a blowout of epic proportions, with 40ish points at halftime and nary a starter on the field from the 3rd quarter on. Missouri played well enough to bury ACU but could not sustain drives reliably nor could they finish drives. And that’s how you get a 34-17 score when Missouri generated ten (10!) scoring opportunities.

I didn’t post any keys to winning the game - because Missouri should win this game 10 times out of 10 - but we’ll still revisit the performances on both sides of the ball and I’ll point out some interesting numbers to look at.

When Missouri Has the Ball

Missouri’s Offense vs. Abilene Christian’s Defense
  • First off: there are many ways that the college football product is light years better than the professional version of the sport, but one of those is not in box scoring. While the NFL replays and fixes box scores over several game reviews with dedicated pros, the college version tends to have an athletics department employee eyeball it in about three seconds, jot it down, and move on. Over my multiple viewings I had a few runs/passes reapportioned and reclassified so don’t be alarmed if what you see here differs from what you’ve seen on ESPN/whatever medium you use.
  • Missouri finished the day with a 46% success rate throwing the ball and a 37% success rate running the ball. That is the second-best success rate through the air so far this year and the worst success rate running so far this year. Against an FCS team.
  • The big problem? ACU’s defense notched a 20% havoc rate thanks to nine (9!!!!) tackles for loss, including one sack. Louisiana Tech finished with 7 TFLs against Missouri and Kansas State wound up with 10, so, congrats to ACU on doing an equally bang up job against Missouri’s offensive line as their FBS brethren.
  • Seriously: Mizzou’s o-line allowed a 24% stuff rate (runs tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage) in this game. For reference, the Tiger o-line had a 29% stuff rate against K-State and 14% against Louisiana Tech. In fact, Missouri’s stuff rate for the young season is sitting at 18.8% - 122nd in the country - and that’s during one of the easiest stretches of the schedule! At this point poor run blocking is no longer a bug, it is simply a feature.
  • On another note: poor Elijah Young. Of his seven carries he was tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage on four of them. In fact, he has been stuffed on six of his twelve carries, easily the worst of the running backs. And the most maddening part is that he has the best highlight yards (number of yards gained after running 4 yards) of any of the running backs on the roster. Either he’s the lone back who can’t create running lanes from poor blocking or the o-line really hates him in particular.
  • Through three games Dominic Lovett is clearly the best receiver on the roster and it’s not even close. He has the most targets (23), most catches (16), best catch rate (69.6%), and best yards per target (11.9). Burden is your best offensive weapon and does have 17 targets on the year - second most on the team - but a good chunk of those passes have come at or behind the line of scrimmage. We saw how effective Burden was when running routes downfield against ACU; I’d like to see him get some more targets on downfield routes as the Tigers get into SEC play.
  • Of the nine penalties Missouri was called for, eight came on offense and six were against the offensive line. Six penalties were of the “Holding” variety, and even Barrett Banister got in on the fun of holding on to a guy while run blocking. The run defense might stink, but hey, at least they are also cheating while doing it!
  • My only goal for the offense was to see the young guys play. The guys that Drinkwitz recruited as high schoolers who got to see the field on offense were Connor Tollison (starter, 70 snaps), Luther Burden (starter, 33), Dominic Lovett (starter, 25), Elijah Young (22), Mekhi Miller (13), B.J. Harris (7), Tavorus Jones (3), and Ryan Hoerstkamp (2). Missouri ran 70 offensive plays.

When Abilene Christian Has the Ball

Missouri’s Defense vs. Abilene Christian’s Offense
  • Abilene Christian had a 29.0% success rate when they threw the ball and a 29.6% success rate when running the ball. As it should be. The numbers are exactly what you’d want from your defense in this situation job but also, thank you for doing what was expected of you? I love FCS games because they are almost certainly a win but there’s nothing you can learn from the situation.
  • The Tiger defense had a bounce back week in terms of havoc, finishing with 19%; not as good as the ungodly 43.5% against LaTech but certainly much better than the 6.7% against K-State. Still, 3 TFLs, one forced fumble, three passes defensed and an interception isn’t a whole lot against an overmatched foe. Speaking for myself, I would have preferred to see at least 5 TFLs against ACU, if not more.
  • Should we talk about sack numbers? There are plenty of ways to caveat it - we’re only three games in, K-State hardly threw the ball, ACU threw the ball super quick - but with 25% of the season complete Missouri has 4 sacks, all of which came against Louisiana Tech. And zero of those sacks came from gentlemen named Trajan Jeffcoat or Isaiah McGuire. Again, the caveats are above, but this defense is going to have to carry the water this year and disruption is the calling card of Blake Baker defenses. I’d like to see more pressures and sacks occurring against Auburn to give me potential hope for the defensive future.
  • My only goal for the defense was to see the young guys play. The guys that Drinkwitz recruited as high schoolers that got to see the field on defense were Kris Abrams-Draine (starter, 45 snaps), Ennis Rakestraw (starter, 44), Daylan Carnell (21), Arden Walker (20), D.J. Jackson (10), Dameon Wilson (10), Tyler Hibbler (8), and Johnny Walker, Jr. (5), Missouri’s defense was on the field for 68 plays.


Missouri won a game and we learned nothing about this team we didn’t already know. If you didn’t see your favorite backup of youngster on the field on Saturday then it’s almost certain you won’t see him on the field this year. And that just stinks. Not only that this team isn’t good enough to pull away from a mediocre FCS team, but that the Drinkwitz staff has so little care for the long-term health of this football program that they refuse to play the bountiful high school talent that’s littered on their bench. Hopefully they take these five days to figure out who their best offensive linemen are - instead of, you know, a live-game scenario to figure it out - and let’s hope this team can stick together during the roughest stretch of the schedule.