Here’s what the NCAA statistics say the Missouri Tigers do well and what they don’t do well, along with what it all might mean for the Vols when they meet up with the Tigers Saturday night.
National Unit Rankings
Offensive observations. The Missouri Tigers are only 4-5 overall and 1-4 in conference, but they are still sporting the 15th-best offense in the nation. And before you discount that based on their schedule, note that they have played ranked Georgia and Auburn teams, as well as a good South Carolina defense. They’re averaging 484 yards of offense and 36.6 points per game. They’ve scored more points against Georgia than anyone else (28), and at least double every other Georgia opponent but Notre Dame, which was still nine points behind them.
So, yeah. Missouri is good on offense. How do they do it? An excellent passing attack, primarily, with an offensive line giving it plenty of time and protection to operate. The Tigers are giving up less than one sack and less than three tackles for loss per game. They’re getting nearly 315 passing yards per game. They’re both efficient (4th in Team Passing Efficiency) and explosive (7th in Passing Yards per Completion). And they’re good on first down and third down and in the red zone.
If there’s good news for Tennessee’s defense, it’s that Missouri’s running game is not nearly as good as its passing game. It isn’t terrible, though, either, so selling out to stop the passing attack isn’t without risk.
Defensive observations. Fortunately for the Vols, Missouri’s defense is about as bad as its offense is good. They are 104th in Total Defense and 106th in Scoring Defense, giving up 441 yards and 33.6 points per game. They’re particularly bad against the pass, giving up 260 passing yards per game, and they’re not much better against the run, as they also give up 181 rushing yards per game.
While that’s all good news for a struggling offense, what isn’t good news is that Missouri somehow continues to develop havoc-wreakers on the defensive line. Despite not being particularly good overall on defense, they are extremely effective at creating a mess behind the line of scrimmage. They’re 14th in tackles for loss and 31st in sacks, and that’s frightening news for a makeshift Tennessee offensive line down to its final few available players.
Special teams, Turnovers, and Penalties observations. Missouri appears to be solid when punting and dangerous when returning punts and kickoffs. Their kick return defense, however, is vulnerable, and that’s excellent news for Tennessee, especially if Evan Berry is able to go.
Missouri hasn’t been particularly good or lucky in the hidden yardage stats. They’re committing a lot of penalties for a lot of yards, and they’re not winning on turnovers at all.
Missouri’s good at:
- Offense, particularly passing offense;
- Generating sacks and tackles for loss;
- Punting; and
- Returning punts and kickoffs
Missouri’s not good at:
- Defense, particularly pass defense;
- Covering kickoff returns