Advanced stats say Mizzou had most improved offense in 2016; Kentucky had fourth-most improved unit
The 2016 season saw a major drop-off for the Missouri Tigers’ defense. But on offense, Mizzou improved more than any college football team.
According to Bill Connelly’s S&P+ analytics system, no team showed more improvement on offense from 2015 to 2016 than the Tigers. Under new offensive coordinator Josh Huepel, Mizzou jumped from No. 127 in offensive S&P+ in 2015 to No. 42.
That 85-spot leap in the rankings was far bigger than any other program. Only Wyoming, which improved by 72 spots, came close.
“Missouri fielded an awful offense in 2015, when Barry Odom replaced Gary Pinkel as interim head coach and later had that tag removed,” SB Nation’s Alex Kirshner wrote. “For 2016, the Tigers hired away Utah State offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who worked wonders. Mizzou went from 4.4 yards per play to 6.3 and 14 points per game to 31.”
The Tigers weren’t the only SEC team to improve exponentially on offense. Kentucky was the fourth-most improved offense in the country, going from 104th in S&P+ in 2015 to 53rd in 2016.
The Wildcats re-tooled their offense after struggles early in the season. They became more of a run-centric team with running backs Stanley “Boom” Williams and Benny Snell Jr.
That changed helped Kentucky average 34.7 points per game over its final 7 games, including a 41-38 upset of Louisville in the regular-season finale. Overall, the Wildcats increased their scoring output from 24.7 points per game in 2015 to 30.0 points per game in 2016. They averaged 6.26 yards per play last season after getting 5.47 yards per play in 2015.