You may be familiar with the Missourah Tigers, one of two of the last additions to the Southeastern Conference. They burst onto the scene from the Big12 in 2012, then won the 2013 and 2014 SEC East Division titles. After that, well, it’s been rough with seasons of 5-7, 4-8, 7-6, and 8-5 since 2015.
Current Head Coach Barry Odom is 24-20 in his tenure, and has righted the ship. They are 5-1 and currently *checks notes* T-1 in the SEC East. Wait, what?
Yup, in large part to Kelly Bryant, transfer from the Tigers in Clemson, SC, who are very similar to the Tigers in Auburn, AL, but with a lake. (In a related story, there are so many teams with the nickname Tigers).
While they haven’t faced a murderer’s row of talent, the Tigers average margin of victory is 28.8. They are 21st in Total Offense with 6.17 yards per play (36th nationally), 23 TD’s, and 474 yards per game.
ESPN’s SP+ has Missouri’s offense ranked at 32nd, which is the second worst ranking in the top 10 and 13 spots lower than the next best offense, Clemson.
As far as how their offense is run, they run a spread offense, basing nearly every play off of the read option. They want to get their playmakers in space on the edges or expose coverage in the middle of the field for chunk plays.
The highlights from the Ole Miss game provide a good snapshot into how their offense functions.
Seven players have 10 or more catches on the season, and all have longs ranging from 21-64 yards. Johnathan Johnson, 5’10” 180lbs senior, has the most catches 25 of any WR. The second leading pass catcher is RB Tyler Badie with 19. Incidentally, the player on the team with the most TD catches is TE Albert Okwuegbunam with five. He also has the third most receptions on the team at 16.
While Johnson may have the most receptions, it appears that when in the red zone, the bigger players are targeted. Typically, with offenses like this, speed and space work from 20-20 but inside the Red Zone, power and size win the day. Okwuegbunam is 6’5”, 255lbs.
On the rushing end, the Tigers use three running backs, but most of the carries go to Larry Rountree III. He has 105 carries for 557 yards and seven TD’s. He is 5’10”, 210lbs and is a threat to stretch the field with his speed as much as his power. He runs downhill with one cut from the backfield, and then uses his speed to break away.
Baddie and Dawson Downing have taken 59 and 26 carries, respectively. Each can spell Rountree and be productive in their own right. Baddie is averaging 4.5 ypc and Downing 7.0.
Bryant, who made waves when he transferred away from Clemson, has found his footing leading the other Tigers. He throws 30 times per game with 24 attempts per game coming between the 20’s. His completes 65% of passes for 262 yards per game. He’s thrown 12 TD’s and 4 interceptions.
He also has run for 137 yards on 57 attempts. Although, in CFB, those stats include sacks, for which he has been sacked nine times. It deflates his totals.
I will point out that this offense also kicks a lot of field goals. Fourteen, to be exact, which places them in the Top10 in the country for attempts. Senior Kicker Tucker McCann has made 11, his only misses coming from two attempts between 30-39 yards and one from 50+. He’s a perfect 5-5 between 40-49, however.
This indicates they move the ball down the field but can be stymied when it is time to punch it in. They are ranked 109 in Red Zone efficiency. Yikes. Of their 30 chances, they have only scored eight TDs.
But, they move the ball and give themselves a chance to score. They are top ten in SP+, Top25 in the AP, and first in the SEC East.