I try to pick the best, closest, and generally most interesting games for these reviews, but then a game came along that was different than most games.
The over/under came out in the high 30s and everyone scoffed that it was never going to come close. The teams didn't disappoint, as they'd have had to score more than three times as many points as they did to comfortably hit that over. There were 12 total three-and-outs. One team went 0-14 on third downs, and it wasn't the one that pulled its starting quarterback. The third-longest play from scrimmage was a 26-yard run by a punter. The teams combined for 59 plays out of 129 going for no gain or a loss, a stunning 46% rate.
Yes, friends, let's do a Five Factors of winning review of Missouri-Vanderbilt. Every last play is in here except for a kneel down at the end, and all sacks count as pass plays.
|Team||Runs 10+||Pct.||Passes 20+||Pct.||Explosive Pct.|
The only explosive plays Missouri managed were, naturally, a pair of long runs from Drew Lock and punter Corey Fatony's aforementioned 26-yarder. Darrius Sims was the playmaker on the other side, logging a 24-yard reception along with runs of 16 and 11 yards. Ralph Webb broke off the longest play of the game, a 46-yard carry.
The main measure here is success rate.
|Team||Run SR||Pass SR||Overall SR||Red Zone SR|
Don't let that 40% for Missouri's run game fool you. Five combined carries from Lock and Fatony account for five of the team's six rushing success plays. The conventional run game with Russell Hansbrough (eight carries) and Ish Witter (two) had a success rate of 10%. Mizzou had four plays on its first drive followed by eight consecutive three-and-outs. One of those three-and-outs resulted in a field goal thanks to a Vandy fumble, but still. It's a miracle that the Tiger defense didn't collapse from exhaustion.
Meanwhile, Vandy wasn't horrible at moving the ball. These efficiency rates are below average, but not by a mile. They just had a lot of drives killed by normal things like sacks or a penalty. The Commodores only had four three-and-outs. They weren't good, but they weren't horrible. Mizzou was horrible.
|Team||1Q SR||2Q SR||3Q SR||4Q SR|
As I said, Vandy wasn't that bad. It shook off a terrible first quarter and was just kind of average the rest of the way. Missouri's defense just found ways to make enough big third down plays to keep the Commodores from sustaining and finishing drives.
As for the Tigers, well, they peaked at having success on one out of three plays. Vanderbilt's defense is much improved this year over last and is actually one of the better ones in the country, but it's not this good.
Efficiency by Player
|Player||Comp. Pct.||Pass Eff.||Yards/Att||Sacks||Pass SR|
Reports surfaced yesterday that the previously suspended Maty Mauk has been reinstated and will be able to participate again. I don't believe Gary Pinkel runs the kind of program where failing to score a touchdown in three straight games and a line like this abomination would lead him to reinstate a player who would otherwise stay benched, but I'm not sure I could blame him if he did. Mauk has been erratic as a sophomore and junior, but he can't do worse than this. Lock may have potential, but behind a strangely experienced yet terrible line and bereft of playmakers out wide, he's struggling mightily.
This was the true freshman Shurmur's first appearance this season, and he got the lion's share of snaps. McCrary came in on Vandy's third drive and went three-and-out with an incompletion and third down sack, and that plus a commitment to giving Shurmur a chance kept him sidelined until the fourth quarter. Both led a sustained scoring drive, with Shurmur's being the one that found the end zone on a Ralph Webb one-yard plunge.
McCrary's field goal drive makes up most of his stats here, so that's why he looks so much better. He also had a pair of three-and-outs, and he could only turn a muffed punt from Mizzou that set him up 28-yards out into a field goal attempt six plays later thanks in part to a delay of game penalty. I can't really say that going with McCrary instead of Shurmur all game would've resulted in a more comfortable win. Shurmur didn't turn it over, though, which is an improvement over many of McCrary's performances this year.
I can't recall ever seeing a worse ratio of catches to targets than three to 11. I'm sure it's happened, but geez, that's awful.
When a true freshman is getting his first action of his career, you can expect a lot of yards per catch rates in the three to five range. Not many coaches air it out in such a situation.
Hansbrough getting hurt on his first play of the season set him back, but there's more to the Tigers' dismal rushing attack this year than just that. Witter just isn't the player Hansbrough is, and despite being nearly all seniors, the offensive line can't open holes. A success rate of 10% with the running backs is unfathomably low. Ole Miss's anemic run attack went up against Alabama's future pro front seven and managed a 36.8% success rate. This is garbage.
Webb is the Commodores' workhorse back for a reason, but this game was a really great performance for Sims.
|Team||Avg. Starting Position||Plays in Opp. Territory||Pct. of Total|
I had to double check Missouri's plays in opponent territory and rate because it seems way too high. Turns out MU actually did cross the 50 on each of its final three drives, and its general inefficiency meant that one play over there meant several more were coming from about the same yard line. Plus, it did have that three-play, post-turnover drive deep in Commodore space that became the Tigers' only score.
Anyway, field position is less important when you're basically punting every fourth play for three straight quarters.
A trip inside the 40 means a drive with a first down at the 40 or closer or a long scoring play from beyond it. A red zone trip means a drive with a first down at the 20 or closer.
|Team||Drives||Trips Inside 40||Points||Red Zone Trips||Points|
I've been somewhat complimentary towards Vandy's offense, but don't mistake that for me saying it had a great game. VU's offense generated a scoring opportunity (a trip inside the 40) on less than a quarter of its drives. One of those scoring opportunities was because of a fumble recovery at the Tiger 28 too. This wasn't a good performance; it was just less bad than Missouri's.
Both teams lost a fumble, and both lost fumbles led to field goal attempts. Missouri made its ensuing one, while Vandy missed an opportunity to ice the game with its miss late.
The 2014 season taught us two things about Vanderbilt. One is that James Franklin didn't leave behind a team capable of winning nine games again. Another is that Derek Mason wasn't fully ready to take over an entire program as a head coach.
To his credit, Mason learned from his mistakes. He corrected a few of them over the offseason and was upfront in admitting to many of them back at SEC Media Days. The state of the roster is still such that Vandy wasn't ever going to get back to a bowl this year, and while he's an upgrade over Karl Dorrell, Andy Ludwig still isn't an inspiring choice at offensive coordinator. Still, Mason personally overseeing the defense has resulted in one of the great turnarounds of the 2015 season.
I used to think the offensive struggles in Columbia were simply one of those things that happen when a program is not a blue blood that recruits near the top of the country every year. Such programs will just get caught with years when they struggle thanks to some guys not panning out and some guys not coming along at the right pace and maybe even some guys progressing too quickly and leaving for the NFL early.
I'm not so sure of that anymore. Mizzou doesn't just have the worst offense in the SEC. It has one of the worst in the country. New DC Barry Odom has kept the defense's end of the bargain, but no touchdowns for three straight games (and counting) is the sort of thing that causes heads to roll on a coaching staff.
OC Josh Henson is in his third year in the job with his previous two coming in SEC East-winning campaigns, so he's probably safe. Pinkel isn't the kind to kick assistants to the curb anyway, but something definitely isn't working this season. Things might get a little better with Mauk's return, but I'm not sure the team will win any of its remaining games with the opponents being Mississippi State, BYU, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
These teams are basically the same thing, with great defenses being wasted across from awful offenses. If Vandy hadn't scheduled two of the best Group of Five teams in Western Kentucky and Houston, they'd probably finish with the same record as the Tigers too. I was more down than most on Mizzou before the season, but I never would have guessed I'd be saying that about these programs.