Bill Connelly of Rock M Nation, the SB Nation network and Football Outsiders joined Matt and BK for his weekly appearance on The Big Show to discuss Missouri’s loss to Kentucky, to put context on how bad this Missouri offense has played, and to explain his position that Missouri should turn the reigns over to freshman quarterback Drew Lock.
David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune joined BK on The Sports Wire to discuss Missouri’s offensive struggles, the defensive success, and David gives the hypothetical scenario under which Drew Lock would start a game for the Missouri Tigers.
Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Info joined BK on The Sports Wire to discuss what a Carlos Martinez injury could mean for the Cardinals, how the Royals stack up against their AL playoff competition, and whether or not Kansas City has found a new market inefficiency.
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Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus joined Matt and BK on Wednesday on The Big Show to dive into the numbers behind Missouri’s offensive struggles and defensive success. PFF is one of the industry leaders in breaking down NFL games, and they’re now diving into the college games. The advanced stats they provide is invaluable.
So, without further adieu, here is some of the best stats and information we learned from Steve Palazzolo on The Big Show.
BREAKING DOWN MISSOURI’S PASSING GAME:
We started with the offense, where the Tigers are obviously struggling. Missouri’s offense ranks 109th in scoring offense, 119th in rushing offense and 76th in passing offense. This is a case where the numbers back up what you’re seeing with your eyes. But why has it been that way? That’s more difficult to answer, but some of Pro Football Focus’ numbers can give us an idea.
For one, Maty Mauk is not attempting any intermediate throws. Not literally, I guess. But pretty darn close. Mauk has attempted just eight passes between 11 and 20 yards, according to Palazzolo. To put that into context, Mauk has attempted 16 passes beyond 20 yards. Fun fact of the day: Mauk has completed four passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns when throwing more than 20 yards down the left side of the field. He’s 1-for-7 with 32 yards and two touchdowns when throwing deep to the center and/or to the right side of the field.
The lack of an intermediate passing game can be attributed to a number of things. For one, the Tigers are running a lot of designed screens. That, by definition, means they’re attempting fewer passes down the field. Intermediate throws also require a lot of timing and accuracy, two things that have been somewhat of a struggle for Missouri through the first three games of the 2015 season. And lastly, teams are simply taking away most of those throws. Coaches said on Monday that UCONN ran different coverages than the Tigers were expecting, and that took away a lot of the intermediate to deep passing routes.
HOW DO THEY DO IT?
Lets move on to something good, shall we? One of my favorite advanced stats is something called “havoc rate,” which Bill Connelly of SB Nation created. Here’s how Bill explains havoc rate:
“The percentage of plays in which a defense either recorded a tackle for loss, forced a fumble, or defensed a pass (intercepted or broken up). If QB hurries were a reliable stat (at the college level, there is far too much inconsistency in how they are recorded), they would be included here, too.”
So, basically, havoc rate is a measure of how much stress your defense is able to put on the opposing quarterback. Through the first three games of the season, the Tigers rank second nationally in havoc rate. That’s a hell of a thing, considering the Tigers only current defensive linemen that came into the year with significant playing time are Charles Harris and Josh Augusta.
As Missouri fans, we’ve seen the amount of impact constant pressure can have on opposing quarterbacks. The defense made a living out of it last year with Shane Ray and Markus Golden crashing off the edge. But I never knew just how much it really impacted a quarterback’s overall performance. Palazzolo put it in perfect terms. Last year, NFL quarterbacks that were not pressured had a passer rating right around 98. That’s comparable to Tom Brady. On the other hand, quarterbacks that were pressured had a passer rating of right around 66. That’s comparable to Blake Bortles during his rookie season.
College stats can be funky, but according to CFBStats, the Tigers have 15 QB hurries through the first three games. Missouri’s opponents have attempted 80 total passes in those three contests. That means Missouri is getting pressure on roughly 20 percent of its opponents dropbacks. That’s significant. It makes the secondary’s job easier. It makes the linebackers’ lives easier. It makes the opposing offensive coordinator’s job more difficult. And, as you can see from that Pro Football Focus statistic, it makes opposing quarterbacks’ lives a living nightmare.
And we haven’t even gotten to Kentrell Brothers, who is a big part of Missouri’s havoc rating through three games. Brothers has the most tackles through three games by an SEC defender since at least 2000, according to SEC14’s Russ Mitchell.
The craziest part? That’s not the most unbelievable Brothers stat.
Kentrell Brothers had 21 stops through 2 games, according to Pro Football Focus. Palazzolo told us on The Big Show that a ‘stop’ can be broken down as a number of different things. It could be a 3-yard loss on 1st & 10, a tackle on 3rd down short of the first down marker, etc. Basically, it’s a good play by a defender that results in a negative outcome for the offense. Why is all of this important? Because, like tackles, Brothers is the best in the nation at stops. The next best player behind Brothers has just 14 stops, a full 33 percent less than Brothers.
Palazzolo compared Brothers to former TCU linebacker and 2014 All-American, Paul Dawson. Dawson finished last season with 94 stops. The next closest player had only 75. Palazzolo believes Brothers could be in for a similar season.
OTHER MIZZOU NOTES FROM PFF:
1) Tom Brady time to throw has been 2 seconds through the first two weeks. Andrew Luck is closer to Maty Mauk’s number of 3 seconds. That puts more pressure on the offensive line.
2) Of the top 5 Missouri offensive linemen, Mitch Hall is the only player with a positive run game. Hall also has a positive grade in the pass blocking.
3) Ish Witter averaging just 2 yards after contact per carry.
4) Missouri averaging 6.3 yards per carry to the left edge. Missouri is averaging 5.8 yards per carry to the left A-Gap.
5) Charles Harris grades on a +/- scale, with 0 being average. Harris has a +7.6 PFF grade as a pass rusher and +5.8 grade against the run.
6) Kentrell Brothers has a positive grade in both the run game and against the pass.
7) Opposing quarterbacks are 2-for-7 with a 39.6 QB Rating when throwing at Missouri CB Aarion Penton.
BK and Jeff are back for another episode of The Inside Slant. The guys give their three & out takes from last week, compare teams to fast food restaurants (really!) and give their picks for this weekend’s games.
Steve Palazzolo and the folks over at Pro Football Focus grade every player on every play of every game. He joined Matt and BK on The Big Show on Wednesday to discuss how the Tigers rate in Pro Football Focus’ metrics.
Just how good has Kentrell Brothers been in the first few weeks of the season? Steve says he’s comparable to a former All American. Find out who in the podcast.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss the Rams’ puzzling performance against the Redskins over the weekend. Do the Rams have enough offensive weapons to compete at a high level? We asked Jim today.
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Mizzou players and coaches met with the media for the first time since their 9-6 win against UCONN, and in anticipation of their first SEC game of the season, which takes place this Saturday in Lexington, Kentucky.
Coaches and players discussed the offense’s struggles through the first three weeks of the season, the importance of consistency and the decision to put freshman quarterback Drew Lock into the game late in the fourth quarter.
Bill Connelly of Rock M Nation & the SB Nation network joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss Mizzou’s 9-6 win over Kentucky. What are his thoughts on the offensive ineptitude? And just how impressive has the defense been? We asked, Bill answered, and now you can listen.
So, yeah. It’s been as tough to watch as you initially thought. What has gone into Mizzou’s offensive ineptitude? Just about everything, honestly.
For one, Missouri running backs not named Russell Hansbrough have combined for 232 yards and no touchdowns on 76 carries (3.05 yards per carry). Vanderbilt is the only SEC team getting fewer yards per carry than Missouri is from its running backs. That ain’t great.
Some of the blame for Missouri’s lack of rushing success falls on the offensive line. Some of it is because Missouri is without potential All SEC running back Russell Hansbrough. And some of it may be because Maty Mauk was just 1-for-5 with an interception when throwing more than 10 yards down the field against UCONN.
Let’s explore that last note a little bit further.
Against UCONN, Mauk attempted just six passes of more than seven yards down the field. Nothing about this offense is vertical. That’s a pretty significant change from what we’ve seen from Mauk in the past.
In week one, Mauk attempted 11 passes of more than 20 yards. And, to be fair, that’s to be expected against a team like SEMO. Missouri clearly had a talent advantage on the edges, and they took advantage. But Mauk’s ‘gunslinger mentality’ has gone on vacation the last two weeks. After the 11 attempts of more than 20 yards in week one, he has attempted just nine passes of more than 20 yards in the last two weeks combined. Opposing defenses are sitting on those short routes because of it.
One thing that could go into Mauk’s lack of deep throws could be immediate pressure getting to him. I asked Jack Farrell of Pro Football Focus if PFF has Mauk’s pressure stats on file, and sure enough they do. Keep in mind that these statistics are only for week one and two. PFF has yet to grade week three.
Mauk was under pressure on more than 33 percent of his drop backs against SEMO and Arkansas State. When under pressure, his completion percentage dropped, his interceptions went up and his quarterback rating plummeted. That’s to be expected, but it’s good to have confirmation.
Just as interesting, at least to me, is that SEMO and Arkansas State simply didn’t blitz Mauk. He was blitzed on less than 15 percent of his drop backs, and the results were a mixed bag. But this shows that teams don’t really need to blitz him. The pressure is getting to Mauk even when teams only rush four. That means seven players are able to drop back into coverage, making it all the more difficult for Mauk to read coverages and find the open man.
Missouri’s run game is among the worst in the country right now. That’s not opinion, it’s fact. Why it’s been so bad can be traced back to a number of reasons. The offensive line isn’t getting push. The running backs aren’t hitting the holes with authority and starter Russell Hansbrough has seven total carries in the first three games. Add into that mix a passing game that’s given up on the deep ball and a lack of time for Mauk to get the ball off, and voila: you have Missouri’s offense.