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What Pro Football Focus stats can tell us about Missouri in 2015

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus is sitting on a goldmine of charting information and is using it in Twitter bursts this offseason. Presumably because of SEC Media Days, the group has been going tidbit-crazy about the SEC and, in many cases, Mizzou. Let's see what these stats can tell us about Mizzou in 2015.

One of the things we've come to suspect with Mauk is that he has to see a guy open before he throws the ball. He's not necessarily the best at throwing a guy open, but if he can get a clear read, he can fire the ball in as well as anybody in teh country.

This tracks with his apparent in-route success. A receiver running a good in route is going to be coming toward the middle of the field and presenting a big, open target to hit. Granted, Mauk was only throwing one of these per game, but it was a strength when he threw it.

Hansbrough had a pretty funny ability in 2014. His 15+ runs were pretty rare, but when he had one, it seemed he was going to have one with plenty of room to run. He had a 68-yarder against Indiana, a 49-yarder against Texas A&M, and a 78-yarder against Minnesota. Those three runs alone accounted for 195 of the 479 yards referenced above.

And I mean, hey, that's not a bad tendency, even if it's totally random.

One added drawback of Marcus Murphy lining up in the slot at times (other than "he was new to it and wasn't great at it" and "it was further proof that Mizzou was lacking depth at receiver"): it took a pretty good pass blocker out of the backfield.

That was aided, of course, by his absurd performance in the SEC title game. But he turned the Tennessee and Arkansas games with big catches, too. Mizzou will miss Bud Sasser's reliability, but the Tigers were at their best when Hunt was roaming deep, too.

Kind of an interesting tidbit if only from a deception standpoint. Mizzou tight ends actually lined up tight more frequently last year than in previous years, but it was a dead giveaway: if he's lined up tight, Mizzou's probably running the ball. Mizzou was still pretty good in those obvious-run situations, but it certainly suggests that leaking him out from the line in play-action a few more times might work to Mizzou's benefit. (It might also result in more success for Culkin; he and Mauk just weren't on the same page last year, and his catch rate and per-target averages were some of the worst in the country for tight ends.)

Want further proof that the Indiana game was just about the biggest anomaly ever? Indiana generated constant pressure in that game, often from straight up the middle, but against teams with actually good pass rushes, the line held up. (I guess they're assigning all of the Indiana breakdowns to Mizzou guards instead of Boehm. Probably fair.)

This also hints at why Mizzou is so willing to move McGovern to tackle when he's such a good guard: he's also probably a better tackle than we're giving him credit for.

The Golden tidbit further suggests that he was Mizzou's best end when healthy, but the Harris stat is encouraging. Harris looked lost at times, and (again with the Indiana game), the Indiana game turned when IU realized that they could do things to him that they didn't think they could do to Golden (mostly in run-blocking). We'll see how he holds up against the run, but his spring pass rush success might not have been a mirage.

Even without Harold Brantley, we're still relatively excited about Mizzou's tackles because of Josh Augusta, Rickey Hatley, Terry Beckner Jr., and company. But Hoch and Lucas Vincent were very instrumental in Mizzou's run success last year. There's a high bar to clear here.

I THINK that once-per-11.3-snaps tidbit is good, meaning he was targeted less than others. That says good things about his agility and coverage ability. And of course, Mizzou has one of the surest tacklers in the league in Brothers. If the tackles are missing a few more tackles this year, Brothers will be tested even further.

There's plenty of reason to worry about the run defense considering Harris' struggles and the turnover at tackle. But between Harris' pass rushing and what really could be an immaculate secondary, I can't even pretend to worry about the pass defense just yet.