Tennessee Volunteers vs. Missouri Tigers: statistic-based game preview


What do we do with a defense that defies the numbers? Ignore them, pretty much.

A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts, links to SB Nation game pages, and statistical comparisons. Caveats. Also, it's a long post, so we're putting the conclusions up top and the basis for those conclusions, including the head-to-head chart, below.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Unless I'm forgetting something, Missouri is the only team Tennessee has played this year that has had a tougher schedule than the Vols.
  • The Tigers offense is really not very good at all. But you know.
  • Missouri's defense is fairly strong, however.
  • The numbers on which last week's predictions for UT's defense were based were off by 40% for rush defense and 100% for pass defense and scoring, so Missouri's offense is getting a premium in this week's predictions regardless of the fact that their numbers are not very good.


  • Tennessee 42, Missouri 43

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

Missouri Logo
SE Louisiana Lions 9/1/12 win 62 - 10 coverage
Georgia Bulldogs 9/8/12 loss 20 - 41 coverage
Arizona St. Sun Devils 9/15/12 win 24 - 20 coverage
@ South Carolina Gamecocks 9/22/12 loss 10 - 31 coverage
@ Central Florida Knights 9/29/12 win 21 - 16 coverage
Vanderbilt Commodores 10/6/12 loss 15 - 19 coverage
Alabama Crimson Tide 10/13/12 loss 10 - 42 coverage
Kentucky Wildcats 10/27/12 win 33 - 10 coverage
@ Florida Gators 11/3/12 loss 7 - 14 coverage
Tennessee Logo
@ N.C. State Wolfpack 8/31/12 win 35 - 21 coverage
Georgia State Panthers 9/8/12 win 51 - 13 coverage
Florida Gators 9/15/12 loss 20 - 37 coverage
Akron Zips 9/22/12 win 47 - 26 coverage
@ Georgia Bulldogs 9/29/12 loss 44 - 51 coverage
@ Mississippi St. Bulldogs 10/13/12 loss 31 - 41 coverage
Alabama Crimson Tide 10/20/12 loss 13 - 44 coverage
@ South Carolina Gamecocks 10/27/12 loss 35 - 38 coverage
Troy Trojans 11/3/12 win 55 - 48 coverage

According to the NCAA's "Toughest Schedule" PDF, Tennessee's schedule is now 7th, and Missouri's is 4th.

Here are the drive charts for the two teams' games against Florida and Alabama:





Animated Drive Charts brought to you by Gameday Depot.

National Unit Rankings

Category National
Actual National
Actual Conf
Conf Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 98 125.00 Army 375.44 12 Texas A&M 251.33
Passing Offense 97 194.33 Baylor 392.13 10 Tennessee 323.11
Total Offense 109 319.33 Baylor 581.50 12 Texas A&M 559.56
Scoring Offense 94 22.44 Oregon 54.33 12 Texas A&M 44.67
Passing Efficiency 116 101.24 Alabama 175.85 14 Alabama 175.85
Sacks Allowed 90 2.56 Air Force .00 10 Tennessee .44

Offensive observations. Missouri's offense is really not good. Will it matter?

Category National
Actual National
Actual Conf
Conf Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 42 142.00 Stanford 57.78 7 Alabama 66.33
Pass Efficiency Defense 54 127.08 Florida 87.43 9 Florida 87.43
Total Defense 22 327.56 Florida St. 227.11 6 Alabama 228.89
Scoring Defense 38 22.56 Alabama 9.11 9 Alabama 9.11
Pass Defense 15 185.56 Michigan 145.44 4 LSU 150.33
Sacks 52 2.11 Stanford 4.33 10 South Carolina 3.33
Tackles For Loss 5 7.78 Stanford 9.22 1 Missouri 7.78

Defensive observations. The Tigers' defense is pretty good, though. They're exceptional at tackling behind the line of scrimmage, and their pass/rush defense is balanced and good enough for a total defense of 22nd in the nation.

Category National
Actual National
Actual Conf
Conf Leader Actual
Net Punting 106 34.19 Louisiana Tech 44.32 14 Florida 43.50
Punt Returns 6 16.35 Boston College 25.00 1 Missouri 16.35
Kickoff Returns 19 25.36 Utah 35.33 2 Alabama 26.77
Turnover Margin 40 .33 Kansas St. 2.22 6 Alabama 1.67

Special teams and turnovers observations. This is a fairly frightening return game, and our guys will need to be ready.

Players to Watch

Category Player National
Rushing Kendial Lawrence T-73 74.00
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) James Franklin 107.81
Corbin Berkstresser 93.54
Total Offense James Franklin 99 165.86
Corbin Berkstresser 89.25
Receptions Per Game Marcus Lucas 3.78
T.J. Moe 3.33
Gahn McGaffie 2.89
Receiving Yards Per Game Marcus Lucas 39.44
Scoring Andrew Baggett 5.78
Kendial Lawrence 5.33

Offensive Observations. Senior RB Kendial Lawrence looks like a decent back, and James Franklin's stats would likely be better/higher if he hadn't missed the Arizon State and Alabama games. Nothing really sticks out here, to be honest, but again, that doesn't mean they won't do something special this weekend against a struggling Tennessee defense.

Category Player National
Interceptions Kip Edwards .22
Sacks Sheldon Richardson .44
Kony Ealy .39
Michael Sam .39
Brad Madison .39
Tackles Will Ebner 7.75
Sheldon Richardson 7.00
Tackles For Loss Will Ebner 28 1.38
Sheldon Richardson T-72 1.00
Kony Ealy .89
E.J. Gaines .78
Michael Sam .67
Brad Madison .67

Defense. Will Ebner is a solid linebacker who can do some damage against Tennessee's run game. Other than him and DL Sheldon Richardson, it's just "the defense" that the offense has to contend with.

Category Player National
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Trey Barrow T-45 41.88
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Marcus Murphy 9 14.95
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game)
Field Goals Andrew Baggett T-55 1.11
All-Purpose Runners Marcus Murphy 87.00
Kendial Lawrence 85.22

Special teams. Sophomore RB Marcus Murphy is the danger guy returning punts for the Tigers. He had 5 returns for 180 and 2 TDs in the season opener against Southeastern Louisiana. He slowed down after that, of course, but he still got nearly ten yards per return against Alabama and Florida, which probably means he's a threat to get behind everybody every time he catches the ball.

Head to Head Comparisons

Tennessee Logo Missouri Logo
Result Against Comps
UT rush v. Missouri rush defense 162
NC State
191 160
UT pass v. Missouri pass defense 323.11
257 250
Missouri rush v. UT rush defense 186.33
115 115/172
Missouri pass v. UT pass defense 296.78
306/219 260/390
UT scoring offense v. Missouri scoring defense 36.78
Georgia/NC State
44/35 42
Missouri scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 35.44
NC State/FL
21/37 29/43
Again with the caveats: These are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations. But here's the general analytical framework: We are averaging X in a certain category. The opponent averages Y against that, which is most closely comparable to some identified previous opponent, against whom we did Z. All of that leads to an informed guess labeled as Prediction. And one more time for emphasis: The less data you have, the more sketchy the guess, and the guesses range from ALL CAPS SKETCHY WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS at the beginning of the season to merely lower case sketchy for the last game.

If you're new to this chart, here's how it normally works. Looking at Missouri's run game against UT's run defense, UT is holding opponents to 186.33 yards per game. Missouri is getting 125, which is very close to what Akron's doing. Against the Zips, we held them to 115 yards, so the prediction is 115 yards. However, . . .

. . . last week, I hadn't fully realized the magnitude of Tennessee's struggles on defense. For Troy's offense last week, I predicted 160 yards rushing, 250 yards passing, and 24 points. Instead, they got 225 yards rushing, 496 yards passing, and 48 points. That's off by 40% on rushing yards and 100% on passing and points. So, I'm going to give Missouri's offensive predictions a 50% premium this week. That sounds like A LOT, and it is, but would it really surprise any of us at this point? So the first number is what I would normally predict, and the second is the altered number.

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