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Missouri-LSU: Empty Boxes, New Go-To Formations and Yards. After. Contact.

LSU’s line pushed MU’s off the ball. Even when the Tigers filled a gap, it was no guarantee of a tackle.

Missouri v LSU
You see...what had happened was...
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

If you were familiar with my work at the Columbia Daily Tribune you knew that, as part of my in-season coverage, I endeavored to provide snap counts for every Missouri player for every offensive and defensive snap that counted during the season.

If you were not...well, I just explained what this is in the last graf. You should have paid attention.

Anyway, I pored over the film of the Tigers’ 42-7 road drubbing at the hands of LSU to see who Missouri used on offense and defense, how often and in what ways. Then I tried to gather it in a way that wouldn’t bore you too terribly.

Did I fail? Did I succeed? I suppose that’s up for history to decide.

Here we go...



Drew Lock – 57

Marvin Zanders -- 3



Ish Witter – 36

Damarea Crockett -- 23



Sean Culkin35

Kendall Blanton -- 7

Josh Augusta -- 2

Tyler Hanneke2

Chris Black -- 1


Tight End

Kendall Blanton – 7

Sean Culkin – 7

Jason Reese -- 2

Johnathon Johnson -- 1


Wide Receiver

J’Mon Moore – 53

Emanuel Hall – 44

Chris Black30

Johnathon Johnson21

Dimetrios Mason – 8

Eric Laurent -- 5

Sean Culkin -- 4

Richaud Floyd -- 4

Drew Lock – 3

Marvin Zanders – 3

Damarea Crockett – 1

Jason Reese -- 1



Alec Abeln – 60

Paul Adams60

Kevin Pendleton60

Tyler Howell – 58

Samson Bailey – 46

Adam Ploudre14

Tre’Vour Simms -- 2



Charles Harris53

Spencer Williams41

Jordan Harold – 26

Marcell Frazier -- 15



Rickey Hatley -- 47

A.J. Logan45

Terry Beckner – 33

Josh Augusta – 30

Markell Utsey -- 9


Rush End

Jordan Harold – 9

Spencer Williams – 9

Charles Harris8

Marcell Frazier -- 3



Joey Burkett -- 74

Michael Scherer68

Donavin Newsom45

Terez Hall – 35

Cale Garrett – 15

Eric Beisel5

Brandon Lee -- 4



Greg Taylor -- 4

Thomas Wilson2

Ronnell Perkins – 1

Anthony Sherrils -- 1



John Gibson -- 76

Aarion Maxey-Penton – 62

DeMarkus Acy -- 19



Thomas Wilson80

Anthony Sherrils -- 43

Ronnell Perkins – 40

Offensive Set Success


Run: 11 for 51 (4.64 avg.)

Pass: 10-of-27, 101 yards (3.74 avg.)

Sack: 2 for -15 (-7.50 avg.)

Total: 40 plays, 137 yards (3.43 avg.)



Run: 7 for 20 (2.86 avg.)

Pass: 1-of-4, 1 yard (0.25 avg.), INT

Total: 11 plays, 21 yards (1.91 avg.), INT



Pass: 4-of-4, 38 yards (9.50 avg.)



Run: 1 for 21

Pass: 1-of-1, 21 yards, TD

Total: 2 plays, 42 yards (21.0 avg.), TD



Run: 1 for 0

Pass: 1-of-1, 16 yards

Total: 2 plays, 16 yards (8.00 avg.)



Pass: 1-of-1, 11 yards


When LSU put…

6 in the Box

Run: 13 for 60 (4.62 avg.)

Pass: 12-of-23, 95 yards (4.13 avg.), INT

Sack: 2 for -15 (-7.50 avg.)

Total: 38 plays, 140 yards (3.68 avg.), INT

7 in the Box

Run: 5 for 31 (6.20 avg.)

Pass: 4-of-13, 61 yards (4.69 avg.), TD

Total: 18 plays, 92 yards (5.11 avg.), TD

11 in the Box

Run: 1 for 0

Pass 1-of-1, 16 yards

Total: 2 plays, 16 yards (8.00 avg.)

5 in the Box

Pass: 1-of-1, 16 yards

8 in the Box

Run: 1 for 1

Avg. Players in the Box: 6.48

Defensive Set Success


Run: 28 for 255 (9.11 avg.), 2 TD

Pass: 12-of-17, 136 yards (8.00 avg.)

Sack: 1 for -1

Total: 46 plays, 390 yards (8.48 avg.), 2 TD



Run: 10 for 128 (12.8 avg.), TD

Pass: 4-of-8, 40 yards (5.00 avg.)

Total: 18 plays, 168 yards (9.33 avg.), TD



Run: 4 for 17 (4.25 avg.)

Pass: 2-of-3, 28 yards (9.33 avg.)

Kneel: 1 for -4

Total: 8 plays, 41 yards (5.13 avg.)



Run: 6 for 20 (3.33 avg.), 2 TD



Run: 1 for 1

Pass: 1-of-2, 12 yards (6.00 avg.)

Total: 3 plays, 13 yards (4.33 avg.)



Run: 1 for 2, TD


LSU On Run Plays

Yards Before Contact: 181 (3.55 per)

Yards After Contact: 241 (4.73 per)

Broken Tackles: 25

% of Runs w/Broken Tackle: 37.3 (19 of 51)

  • If you’re a Missouri fan, both of those YBC and YAC numbers should concern you.
  • With 181 yards before contact on 51 carries (not counting the kneel), it meant that — on average -- LSU’s backs were getting an average of 3.55 yards up the field before any Missouri player was even touching them. A couple of LSU’s bigger run plays — Derrius Guice’s 37-yard touchdown run, D.J. Chark’s 18-yard end around — came with zero. Broken. Tackles.
  • On the flip side, those 241 yards after contact on 51 carries — or 4.73 per — should be troublesome as well. It meant one of two things. One, whoever first got a touch on an LSU back was being so thoroughly blocked at the time that he couldn’t do near enough to bring him down. Two, Missouri’s tacklers were in position and just whiffed.
  • Guice’s 42-yard touchdown was an example of the former. He got 17 yards upfield before Gibson had a shot at him, but he was also being covered by wideout Russell Gage and only got a couple fingertips on Guice as he easily juked past and outsped Thomas Wilson to the end zone. A 22-yarder by Guice was an example of the latter, where he got 8 yards upfield before the Tigers got a hand on him and then he broke four tackles before finally (barely) stepping out of bounds.
  • LSU broke 25 tackles on 51 attempts and broke at least one tackle on 37.3 percent of its runs. And, even when LSU wasn’t breaking tackles, it was usually falling forward at the end of runs as well. In conclusion: little push up front. Little success tackling on the back end. Bad scene, guys.
  • To wit: Missouri ran its base defense (four linemen and three linebackers in some combination) for 67 of 82 plays and gave up a grand total of 581 yards, or 8.67 per. When the Tigers go up against power run teams, they usually camp out in the 4-3. This time around, LSU ran 28 times for 255 yards against that look. Woof.
  • The Tigers also subbed extra linebackers in on seven short yardage plays and ended up surrendering three touchdowns on them. They did, however, stop the 4th-and-2 out of a 4-4. Small victories.
  • Missouri pretty much always had seven or eight (or sometimes nine) men in the box. LSU pretty much never did. The home Tigers put six men in the box on 63.3 percent of the visiting Tigers’ offensive plays and dared them to beat them on the ground. If Missouri was spreading four or five wideouts regularly, then you’d say LSU was just reacting to the formation. But, as we’ll discuss in a second, Missouri was not.
  • This appeared to be a calculated move on Dave Aranda’s part to give Josh Heupel and Drew Lock enticing run looks down after down and ask them to try and beat LSU on the ground. Missouri would not/could not.
  • LSU got both of its sacks with six men in the box and held Lock to 4.13 yards a completion as it sunk five defensive backs into coverage and took away the receivers. Missouri had intermittent rushing success against that look (4.62 yards a carry). But LSU stuck to its guns when Missouri started running well, the Tigers tried to go back to the pass and it didn’t work.
  • Case in point: Witter starts a drive with 19 yards on two carries against six men in the box. Two passes later, against the same look, Lock throws his interception. Missouri wants to be a pass-first team. It can’t also be a pass-second and pass-third team, or good defenses will do this to them.
  • Breaking news: the three-wideout, tight end in the backfield set appears to be the new base set for Missouri’s offense. At least for now. Over the first three games, Missouri used the four-wide look 38.7 percent of the time, its most plentiful set. Over the past two weeks, that look has seen the field 8.76 percent of the time while the three-wide, H-back set has seen 76.6 percent usage.
  • Against Delaware State, I thought it was just Heupel shutting things down and running the same play over and over. Against LSU, with it still being the main looks like it might be a thing. And, while Culkin did run routes every now and then from the look, his biggest usage was as a run or pass blocker.
  • The four-wide happened four times against LSU: all wide receiver screens in which the split-wide tight end was used as a lead blocker.
  • We saw our first pass out of the JUGGERNAUT, the 16-yarder to Hanneke on 4th-and-1. So that was fun. The pass, however, was not to Augusta. Less fun.
  • The 2-1-2 was the resident set of weirdness against LSU. The first time, Black lined up as an H-back and served as a sort of decoy end around option while Lock handed to Crockett for a 21-yard gain. The second time, it was Johnson lining up as a tight end, Zanders lined up wide, taking an end around and pitching to Laurent (or, as Jesse Palmer says, “Low-RONT”), to throw to a wide-open Lock for the touchdown.
  • You know, the play that useless ball spot challenge negated against West Virginia.
  • That Lock TD set was also weird because the line was unbalanced, with Adams and Howell playing on the left end, Pendleton and Ploudre surrounding Abeln the snapper and Johnson attached to the short side with Ploudre. It all set up for a run left...which then turned into a run right...which then turned into a throw. Pretty neat design.
  • Speaking of tight ends, after fighting injuries and splitting time fairly equitably with Reese and Blanton for the season’s first four weeks, Culkin looks to have seized the spot for now. He played 46 snaps to Blanton’s 14 and Reese’s 3.
  • The outside receiver rotation is tightening, with Moore and Hall playing 80.8 percent of the available snaps, while the interior receiver rotation appears to have narrowed to Black and Johnson (pretty evenly) and Floyd playing a designed drive a game. Lock and Zanders both played three snaps split wide and never ran a route, except for Zanders’ end around.
  • Bailey got a rest on the final two drives, with Abeln shifting over to center and Ploudre coming in at right guard. Simms got two snaps in JUGGERNAUT.
  • While Missouri does, truly, have a four-man rotation on the interior, Hatley and Logan are still the starters by name and reps. They played 56 percent of the snaps against LSU, Beckner and Augusta played 38 percent and Utsey got to see more action after burning his redshirt against Delaware State.
  • Speaking of redshirts burned: Trey Baldwin, but solely on special teams. Does that mean Missouri has designs of getting him into the linebacker rotation going forward? We shall see.
  • Terez Hall came off injuries that hobbled him the past two weeks to play almost as many snaps against LSU as Newsom, who got shut down for the rest of the game about halfway through the third quarter. Sherrils exited after Darrel Williams’ touchdown run to start the third quarter and never returned, at least on defense. It was Perkins’ game from there on out.
  • Wilson did not leave the field and Cam Hilton (after, apparently, unseating Sherrils last week) did not play. Barry Odom told reporters — including Trib scribe Blake Toppmeyer — that Hilton was a healthy scratch because Odom didn’t like how he had prepared in the last “24 hours.” Ooooooook.
  • Also not preparing well in the previous 24 hours: Maxey-Penton, who missed the game’s first 20 plays in favor of Acy (first career start), then didn’t leave the field after coming in near the end of the first quarter.
  • With Logan Cheadle out hurt, Gibson played all but six snaps, instances in which Missouri subbed him out for an extra linebacker.
  • Brandon Lee’s first series of the game lasted four plays, then he got tossed for targeting at the end of a pass play. C’est la vie.