Everyone wants Jalen Hurts because of his name/resume, but from a football perspective, is he a good fit for the offense? I charted every play (499) from the last 2 seasons.

With Jalen Hurts entering the transfer portal yesterday, I decided to go back and chart every FBS play he was involved in over the last two years. Every designed QB run and every drop-back whether it resulted in a throw away, tipped passed, completion, incompletion, interception, or scramble. It totaled up to 499 plays.

Hurts has been mentioned as a possibility for UCF so I wanted to look at how his passing game fits into Josh Heupel’s offensive system based on his last two offensive seasons passing data. This includes his final season as OC at Mizzou as well as this season as the HC at UCF. It includes all throws from Mack, Milton, and Drew Lock.

None of this has anything to do with my opinion of Jalen Hurts as a quarterback. He obviously is like 26-2 as a starting QB which almost no quarterback can put on their resume. However, I think it’s important to understand Hurts’ situation as a whole.

Three points:

  1. At Alabama, he was surrounded by insane NFL talent at just about every position.
  2. If you’re not an elite QB, the system you play in drastically impacts how you are going to perform. I would put Milton in the category where it does not matter. See, Nick Foles without Jeff Fisher, Jared Goff without Jeff Fisher. Crap, I guess you can just throw any QB who has played for Jeff Fisher in there, but those are the two off the top of my head I can think of, and they both just happened to play for Fisher.
  3. Hurts isn’t going anywhere where he’s not going to be the starter, that is just common sense. So, the bring in experience/competition crew that thinks Hurts is going to have to “win” the job, that isn’t going to happen.

Overall Throwing:

Lets just look at Hurts accuracy chart. Again, this includes only passes thrown to an intended target.

67.81% is not really an awful accuracy rate at all, but it’s nothing to be jumping off bridges to go after either.

Look deeper into this. 38.64% on deep passes is not good. He also missed 10 open receivers in this area.

27.4% of his passes didn’t even travel past the line of scrimmage.

A 53.06% accuracy rate to the left sideline and a 46.38% rate to the right sideline is atrocious. Combine those two with his down field passing numbers and it leads you to question his arm strength. This does not make him a bad QB!!

Now, between the numbers, he thrives. All I can say is UCF better hope they don’t play him next year, because this is where they can’t defend. On the other hand, maybe if he was at UCF, destroying UCF in this area in practice might actually cause a change on the defensive side.

Middle of the field, downfield passing he was 9/11. That’s remarkable. (Middle of the field I chart as between the hashes).

The chart is self explanatory, it’s based off intended air yards, by direction. Those are the major points I wanted to make, but you can examine the rest for yourself.

Now, let’s look at the passing distribution of Heupel’s passes over the last two seasons. It’s just total attempts, obviously I don’t care about the accuracy of the 3 quarterbacks. I’m not trying to compare Hurts to either of the 3.

First thing I’ll note is just the total number of passes. 605 to 292. There are a couple factors to this.

One, Jalen didn’t start this season, so he didn’t get close to as many attempts as he did as a sophomore.

Two, Hurts looks to run a lot when he drops back and doesn’t have a guy right away. I’ll look a little at his scrambling numbers later.

Three, even when he did start, Alabama didn’t throw the ball more than 25 times a game.

Where did Hurts struggle? Throwing to the sidelines. Well, just under 50% of Heupel’s throws go to the sideline. Compare this to the 40% of Hurts’ that did.

Where else did he struggle? Throwing the ball deep when it wasn’t between the hashes. Well, 73 of Heupel’s 123 deep shots have come along the sidelines. That’s almost a 60% clip and if you watched his offense over the last two years, you’ll know how important this throw is.

Hurts threw a ton of passes behind the LOS, 27.4% as noted above, for Heupel, this is rare air as only 15% of his pass play designs end with a pass at or behind the LOS.

Really, Hurts struggles on any throw 11+ yards downfield. 42% of Heupel’s throws come at this DOT. Hurts combined accuracy on all throws farther than 10 yards downfield? 52.22%.

This is really a pretty basic breakdown of the Hurts’ system fit vs. Heupel’s system. There is obviously a ton more that goes into it. Do I think Hurts could make the throws that Heupel and UCF needs him to make, game in and game out? No, he just hasn’t proved it over the last two seasons, so there is no reason to think he will next year.

Again, this is not a knock on Hurts’ game, he’s just not mean to play in a downfield passing offensive system.

Has he made some really nice throws downfield? Of course, you can pick out some games he did really well downfield, but the majority of games, he struggled and this is an area Heupel needs every game. 1 in 5 passes, you’re throwing downfield if you’re a QB for UCF, that’s a lot of quarterbacks dreams and you better believe you better have the arm strength to throw opposite hash to opposite sideline.

Intended Air Yards:

Again, taking out all throw aways, tipped passes, and spikes here. I chart every throw away and tip (unless downfield) as 0 intended yards, so obviously that will skew the data.

Intended air yards or average depth of target (aDot) tells you how far the pass travels in the air from the line of scrimmage to the intended target. So, if the LOS is the 25 and the QB throws a pass and it’s touched at the 33, but bobbled and caught at the 35, it’s still 8 intended air yards.

It’s a great idea to put some context behind some quarterback numbers. A guy could have a ton of yards, but if 80% come after the catch, that’s not exactly on the QB being great. Also, if a guy has a 63% completion percentage, but an aDot of 12.21 (I believe this was Milton’s numbers from this year off top of my head) vs. a guy who has a 69% completion percentage and aDot of 9.91 (Milton again, from Frost in 2017), it puts some context behind it. Obviously, throwing the ball on average 2.3 yards downfield more per attempt, you’re making harder throws, thus a lower completion percentage. If you adjust the completion percentage for a QB’s aDot, those numbers are pretty equal (don’t panic over Milton’s lower completion % this season).

The top is Hurts, the bottom is Lock, Milton, Mack combined.

So, on average, Heupel’s passes travel 2.85 yards downfield farther than Hurts’ throws.

On completions, Heupel’s throws average 3.58 more yards in the air than Hurts’. This speaks to the amount of completions he has behind the LOS.

And net air yards per attempt (not sure if I worded this right) is air yards on completions divided by total attempts. So, Heupel’s offensive system averages 5.93 actual air yards per attempt while Hurts only averaged 4.23 net air yards (this is very low).

Pressure/Throwing on the Run/Outside of Shotgun

This is something I don’t really have anything to compare off of because it’s not something I charted when I began doing this last season, but I do have Hurts’ numbers

*This will include throws aways*

65 of Hurts 316 total pass attempts, came outside of the pocket (20.57%). Some of this is by design and some of it isn’t.

He’s been accurate on 25 of these throws out of the 49 non throw aways.

He also likes to throw on the run. 52 of 292 attempts with an intended target, he has done so.

He’s been accurate on 27 of them.

These are two things that if you’ve watched any of Heupel’s offense, which I’m assuming you did, rarely happens.

Alabama had numerous designed roll outs, but it’s also what Hurts is comfortable doing. If you look at his scramble attempts, all 53 of them, over half (27) of them have come where he wasn’t he even pressured. That speaks volumes to his style as a QB.

And look, Heupel emphasized about Milton becoming more of a pocket passer when he got to UCF, if he’s going to be adamant about it with the 8th place heisman finisher as sophomore, he’s going to be adamant about it with Hurts, who clearly likes being outside the pocket as much as possible.

Another thing I noticed, is Hurts going in the pistol and under center. I’m not 100% sure on this, but I don’t believe UCF utilized the pistol once all season.

Hurts did this on 53 pass attempts. If you take away the 8 throw aways/tips/sacks, it leaves you with 45. He completed 28 of 39 pass attempts (6 scrambles) and had a 10.85 ypa on these throws. His net intended air yards was 4.41 so barely above his season average.

But, it’s a part of his game, that doesn’t translate over to Heupel’s system.

Hurts is a fantastic runner, there is denying that. From a UCF perspective, so is DJ Mack. I have no idea who will be the QB for UCF next season. My guess/hope is Mack, but regardless if it’s Quadry or Gabriel or obviously Milton who we all want, but I don’t believe/think it will happen till 2020. In my opinion, Hurts doesn’t take UCF to a higher ceiling than Mack. I think UCF will succeed regardless who is under center because they’re that talented, but I think getting Hurts should not be in the conversation because in my opinion, the way he fits the system, will not elevate UCF’s performance.

Yes, getting the Alabama transfer, who won a national championship and is 26-2 as a starter sounds amazing, but look at it from a pure football perspective and it’s not as nice.

If I was Hurts, I’d go play for Lane Kiffin. I charted FAU’s offense in 2017, he obviously played for Kiffin and I can see exactly why he was recruited to play in that system. It fits him perfect, he’ll 100% be the starter, and it gives him the best chance to succeed individually on the field.

I wrote about why UCF fans should be ecstatic about Marlon Williams and broke down down distance play calling by run vs. pass advantage and individual success

With UCF’s season over and Josh Heupel’s first year as a head coach in the books, we finally have a full year of data to examine UCF’s season as well as Heupel’s.

A huge thing with Heupel is play calling, he’s the offensive coordinator and play caller for this team so that’s the number one area I wanted to look at.

So much of play calling has to do with being un-predicatable, you can do this is numerous ways. Run the ball is passing down and distances and vice versa as well as throwing the ball out of running personnel “12” or running out of typical throwing personnel “20” and “10”.

I took a look at down distance play calling and looked at the run-pass advantage based off of UCF’s results from this season alone. There are 4 primary areas where Heupel heavily favored either the run or pass when the opposite play design was significantly more successful.

I also looked at UCF’s success on down and distances based off the offensive target (ball carrier/intended receiver) to look at who Heupel liked to use in certain situations vs. who he actually should’ve used.

Before I get into all that, with Dredrick Snelson declaring for the draft, deservingly so, I want to show you why you should get used to Marlon Williams if you’re a UCF fan.

Marlon Williams:

I’m not quite sure what else Marlon had to do to get on the field this season. Not saying he should’ve played over Snelson, Gabe, or Tre, but there is definitely a way he could’ve gotten on the field a lot more than he did.

Since he stepped on the field at UCF, he’s done nothing, but produce, however he never really seemed to get rewarded for it with more playing time.

Not only does he produce with the ball in his hands, he’s a tremendous blocker as well, a primary reason I wanted UCF to use him as a hybrid tight end this season and run a lot of “10” personnel.

Let’s look at his 2017 numbers:

21 targets as a freshman is very respectable, if you ask me. On those 21 targets, he caught 15 of them, and turned all 15 into successful plays. That’s a 71.43% success rate, almost unheard of. He did have 3 drops.

If a freshman puts up those numbers, they have to get more work as a sophomore right?

Nope.

Williams got almost the identical amount of targets as a sophomore as he did a freshman. The thing is, he still produced at an insanely high rate. His success rate did drop to 63.64%, but asking someone to match a 71.43% rate is unfair.

So in his two years, he has 31 catches on 43 targets with 29 of them being successful (67.44%). On top of that, he can block.

Oh, I forgot to add that he can also run the ball. 4 carries in two years for 16.5 yards per carry. Not too bad. And he can even throw !! I’d say getting the ball in this guys hands is probably a good thing.

There’s no doubt Snelson is going to be a huge loss and you’ll see some of his impact in some of the individual down and distance numbers I post in a little, but Marlon is a guy that should have been on the field more this season and UCF fans, players, and coaches should be more than excited that he’s going to get his opportunity in 2019.

Run vs. Pass Advantage:

This is something that is extremely interesting and is for sure a fun study. I got the idea from Warren Sharp who does a ton of NFL analytics. http://www.sharpfootballanalysis.com/blog/2013/why-coaches-are-dumb

The NFL game the college game are different to study and is a major reason I don’t want to compare UCF’s numbers to his findings, rather just look at UCF’s numbers alone.

1st and 10:

A down and distance coaches love running on, despite usually being more successful throwing the ball.

Heupel ran the ball 54.41% of the time on this down and distance. However, UCF actually had a 2.34% higher success rate when running vs. throwing. They did however, averaged 3.06 more yards per play when throwing. Overall, it worked out pretty well.

2nd Down:

Now is really when it gets interesting.

2nd and 10+ is statistically speaking the dumbest down and distance to run the football. Yet, coaches love to do it.

Heupel is at about a 46.60%/53.40% split. But, UCF isn’t that much better throwing than running, but their is still a 1.70% and 1.73 yards per play advantage. Running the ball at 8.5 ypc almost seems unsustainable over a course of multiple seasons.

2nd and 5-9 is a down and distance that can be looked at either way really in my opinion. Heupel went 60% run here. Now, UCF had a 8.14% success rate passing advantage and averaged 7.07 yards per play more on passes than runs. Definitely a major difference and an area where Heupel should throw more than run.

2nd and 3-5 always comes after a successful play on first down. It’s also a big play in terms of setting up a possible 3rd and 1-2 or being stuck in a 3rd and 3-5 again. Again, Heupel goes run heavy, this time up to 73% of the time. And again their is an advantage to throwing the ball, though a lot smaller at only 1.31%, but also 4.72 yards per play.

2nd and 1-2 is a situation coaches like to take downfield shots, but for the most part is a run situation and should be.

3rd Down:

It is essentially the flip of 2nd down.

3rd and 10+ just an obvious passing situation, nothing to really point out.

3rd and 5-9. We saw on 2nd and 5-9 that Heupel liked to run when he should throw, well it’s the exact opposite on 3rd down and his splits are flipped. UCF averaged 9 ypc compared to 9.8 ypa, so not much of a difference there. However UCF had a -14.05% success rate advantage when throwing as opposed to running, despite throwing the ball 71.15% of the time.

3rd and 3-5. The same exact notion as above, except the disadvantage of throwing the ball is even higher. Throwing the ball here put UCF at a -25% advantage of getting a first down. And despite this, UCF still went pass 67.50% of the time compared to 32.50% of the time.

Look, I’m not saying that it should be 100% run or vice versa in certain spots. You can not agree with analytics in football or sports for that matter and I won’t try and change that, but look at it like this; If you were investing your money in two stocks and one gave you 58.14% chance of making money and on average will go up $12.10 per share that you buy, while the other stock gives you a 50% chance to make money, at a $5.03 increase per share, wouldn’t you invest 60% of your money into the first example and 40% into the second, instead of vice versa? (2nd and 5-9) Why is it different when it comes to football?

4th Down:

Pretty expectant stuff here so I won’t dive into it with anymore crazy analogy’s.

The numbers are pretty self explanatory here, it’s without a doubt something that can be changed, but it’s about realizing it first.

Player based:

So, something fun to look at is what players are getting the carries/targets based on down and distance and who has been the most successful.

Again, I’m not saying in a certain spot this guy should get the ball every single 1st and 10 and another should never get it, but when you need a big play/a positive drive, shouldn’t you want to go with what has worked the most? If not, that’s completely fine, but there is literally nothing that can back up that opinion.

1st and 10:

Easily the most important down and distance and by far the one with the biggest sample size to actually look at the data.

An AK run was by far the most common play here, despite being one of the worst, which I’m sure a lot could’ve guessed. A Greg McCrae run follows that up with a 63.27% success rate while averaging 9.41 ypc. I’d say that’s not a bad play call.

Not going to dive into everyone because the chart pretty much speaks for itself.

Three guys I want to point out. Marlon/Snelson and Taj. I was high on Taj all year and feel like he really got left out of the miss all season and unfairly. He averaged 6.90 ypc on 1st and 10 plays and was successful on 70% of his attempts. Damn it, if you want to get your drive off in a positive note, give the ball to Taj some more.

Snelson I think stands out on just about every one of these that I’ll post. A 68.18% success rate with 12.32 ypa on 1st and 10 is unreal production.

And then there’s Marlon, I talked about him before and I’ll continue to. He was successful on 10 of 12 1st and 10 targets as well as 2 of 3 rushes. That’s 12/15 good for 80%. There is zero reason he shouldn’t have been used more.

RB runs worked pretty well here.

Would love to point out AK and Taj’s success here. 13/17 for AK on a season where you could say he struggled a bit, this is a remarkable number and really stands out and he also was 2 for 2 on receptions, with a -3.5 aDot which would infer both were screens. Again Taj just being Taj.

Good old 2nd and long. UCF’s two most common plays, a run to AK and a run to McCrae. Solid for an 11/31 success rate.

Throws to Gabe and Snelson worked out pretty well though.

Not enough of a sample size here so I’ll skip it.

3rd Down:

2nd and short RB runs worked, so why not 3rd and short? Taj + AK + Greg = 13/18.

Remember the run of passing situations notion from above? Look here, AK + Mack + KZ + Greg + Otis = 8/12 = 66.67%. Not too bad !!

3rd and long, but not too long. Lot of red, lot of red on QB runs and passes. However, this is an area Tre performed very well. And how about 3 of 4 passes to running backs… out of the backfield for the matter… working. What a crazy world when throwing the ball to RB’s out of the back field works (sarcastic).

The attempts here are spread out way too much to even really say anything of significance.

Again, I’m not saying every first down you throw the ball to Marlon or Snelson, but hell, when you need a big play and some momentum, it’s not a bad idea. Or don’t run AK on every 2nd 4-7 because he’s successful over 75% of the time, but when the spot comes up on a big drive, it’s probably your best bet. And look, if it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean it was the wrong call. If you could call plays that work 100% of the time you’d be the first billionaire coach ever.

This will probably be the last thing I study/write about for a while, but I think this is something that’s extremely important. And I can’t wait to watch Marlon get to show how good he is next season.

Josh Heupel failed to let DJ Mack get into a rhythm vs. LSU in the 2h and didn’t get his best personnel groupings on the field enough, but UCF still failed to execute on numerous opportunities

UCF’s offense failed to establish any sort of rhythm or have any sort of success in their loss to LSU in the Fiesta bowl.

In the first half, outside of the first offensive drive of the game, the game-flow was pretty ugly from a UCF perspective and in my opinion that contributed a lot to UCF’s offensive struggles outside of the two scoring drives.

The pick 6 was almost the worst thing that could have happened for the offense and then Mack fumbled on the the next drive after UCF had got to around midfield.

However, UCF was only down 3 at halftime and got the ball to start the half and that is really all I want to look at for this game.

My main thought is, Heupel didn’t get his best and most efficient personnel groupings on the field enough, but UCF had plenty of opportunities on every drive, but one in the 2h. It seemed as if every time someone was open downfield, Mack either missed ’em or there was a dropped pass. There’s no excuses for a drop, they happen, unless your Deandre Hopkins. But, I do feel a lot of Mack’s misses were because the play calling in the 2h failed to let him establish any sort of rhythm.

I’ll explain it all:

Personnel:

I’ve said this since around May, getting 2 running backs on the field was going to be UCF’s best offensive personnel. In most cases, Otis Anderson and then one of the other 3 guys as well.

It’s something I kept track of after every game, and for the most part UCF was almost always better out of “20” and “21” personnel than “11” personnel despite running “11” personnel significantly more.

In games where UCF is just the clear better team (every game outside of the Fiesta bowl) it doesn’t exactly matter because UCF is always going to have the matchup advantage no matter what.

Well, when you play a team who is equally or slightly more talented then you, the little things matter that much more.

UCF ran “11” personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR’s) on 42 of their 62 snaps (67.74%). They only had 8 successful plays, good for a 19.05% success rate. That is the worst success rate on that sample size of plays I have ever seen.

Out of “12”, “20”, and “21” personnel combined, UCF ran 20 plays and they were successful on 2 more than they were out of “11” personnel despite running 22 less plays !! On the first drive of the game, UCF had 2 RB’s in on I believe every play.

They also had 2 RB’s in for most plays on their final TD drive.

On the first drive of the 2h, UCF went “20” personnel. Look what it did to the defense.

Look how much space opened up here. 2 of the 4 LB’s are now outside the box and you’re essentially a hat on a hat with the weakside end having to account for Mack.

The following play, there are about two lineman who didn’t actually block anyone, but the concept is still the same. The two LB’s actually moved much closer to the ball and if Milton was in, he probably would’ve checked to a quick slant to Snelson. I mean just look how much space he has to the middle of the field and the safety is about 11 yards off the LOS.

Pressure:

Obviously pressure is a lot of what people want to talk about it from this one and I forgot to mention a nugget above so I’ll jump into it now.

One thing I want to say is, I actually think Delpit and Alexander getting ejected was low key a good thing for LSU.

Dave Aranda is the best DC in the country and it’s probably not even really that close in my opinion. He made an adjustment.

Heading into this game, LSU only blitzed on 17.76% of drop-backs. Their sack rate doubles on blitzes compared to non-blitz and their pressure rate jumps up to 42% from 20%.

Aranda knew the only way of slowing down UCF’s WR’s against his depleted secondary, was to get pressure, and get it often.

Before Delpit was ejected (Alexander was already gone), Aranda only blitzed on 1 of 6 pass attempts (16.67%) right around what he has done all season.

After the Delpit ejection, Aranda blitzed on 9 of 30 (30%) designed pass attempts.

On the 10 blitzes, LSU recorded 6 pressures, all resulting in sacks. 7 more pressures occurred on plays where LSU didn’t blitz, good for 13 total pressures on 36 total pass attempts, a 36.11% pressure rate. That’s 12% higher than their 24% pressure rate throughout the season.

Now, what I wanted to mention before, 11 of the 13 pressures came while UCF was in “11” personnel. So despite having more offensive success and blocking better in other personnel groupings, Heupel continued to roll with a 1 TE, 1RB, 3 WR look.

It’s pretty safe to say DJ Mack wasn’t very good under pressure and the adjustment Aranda made to bring pressure almost double than what he normally does, paid it’s dividends as in my opinion, Heupel never made an adjustment of his own.

Run Game:

This was definitely a bright spot for UCF. I said they would be able to have rushing success and they were definitely able too.

Would have loved to see a lot more Taj as I mentioned before the game and Otis, on his limited carries, showed why he’s a RB that can run with the “big boys”. He was UCF’s best running back against Auburn last season and he was a beast against LSU. Yeah, it was only on 3 carries, but he had multiple yards after contact on every rush.

McCrae was also fun to watch again. He had a couple of really big runs. Him and Otis looked really, really good. It’s going to be fun to watch this kid get a full season as the back getting the most carries next year.

The Second Half:

My thoughts without data behind it… UCF had opportunity after opportunity in the 2h. The 3 outs may not show it, but if you look at every drive, except for the 5th drive I believe it was, UCF just didn’t make plays that were there.

Now, I attribute some of this to play calling and not letting Mack establish a rhythm. I’m going to go drive, by drive, play by play, in a second to explain myself.

Point is, on the first two drives, UCF went run-run-pass-punt. If you’ve ever played sports you’ll understand the really bad analogy I’m going to attempt to make.

Essentially, Mack was given one throw on those drives to be perfect. It was either 0% or 100%. Without any room for error. Now, he was going extremely long, body time, without getting any passings reps between halftime and the time LSU had the ball, to only one pass on each drive.

You ever play basketball, sit on the bench for 10 minutes, come in for 2 and get one shot up, you’re just not in rhythm have no real feel for the game/your shot compared to guys who are getting multiple shots up throughout the course of the quarter. You have room for error and the percentages always level out, for the most part.

Take a baseball pitcher, they have a quick 1-2-3 inning and then their team is at bat for 30 minutes (a long inning), when you come back out on the mound, more often then not, your performance dips.

A golfer who has to wait on groups in front of him to hit and play slow, is not as good as when he’s playing at his own pace.

That’s my attempt at analogy, point is, it’s almost impossible to perform at the best of your ability, when you’re not in any rhythm.

One thing, I mentioned after one of UCF’s blowouts early in the season, was using the pass to set up the run. This offense is so much more effective and better when they get a first down on a drive and the run game becomes more explosive when this happens.

If you look at the play of drive chart for this game, you’ll say well your point is invalid for this game.

If you take the 2h only, UCF only had one successful run on the first POD, the first play of the half, they followed it up with an unsuccessful run, almost negating the first down play.

Now, you’ll say well pass attempts only went 1 for 5. Let’s look at those pass attempts… they included, 2 completions, 2 drops, both which would have probably been TD’s, and one missed open WR. Essentially all 5 pass plays worked, UCF just failed to execute.

Pressure definitely had to do with Mack’s inability to get in a rhythm, but I also think the run-run approach to start the half was not good for it.

2h Drive by Drive:

I would’ve ended up diving into this above so let’s just jump into it now.

The first drive, Heupel came out in “20” personnel. Big fan, great idea. I showed you the run-run in gifs above. It set up a 3rd and 2:

Again only 6 in the box, using your speed and skill to spread out the defense. Great protection, even without the tight end on the field. It’s an 11 yard slant (the ball was actually on the 33 despite the line being on the 32) A ton of space, Otis won the middle of the field, had a mis-match. Great play call IMO, UCF should have done this over and over.

Well it didn’t work:

Well when you beat the guy on a slant route and force cover guy to run a dig to make up ground, it’s going to lead to getting mauled before the ball was even in the picture.

Will never blame refs, but this was an obvious call on a play where the DB knew he was beat. This drive should have continued and I believe UCF would have scored on it. Based off their success with 2 RB’s on the field (Heupel tends to keep the same personnel throughout the drive) and they would have had a little momentum.

2nd Drive:

Again, run-run. This time neither successful. So on the 4 runs on first and second down, on the first two drives, UCF had a 25% success rate and ran for 3 ypc.

3rd Down:

3rd and 6, obvious passing down. LSU only rushes 4, Mack has plenty of time. Snelson runs a 15 yard post, Mack just misses him. He was open, he even had a chance to catch it, but it wasn’t a great throw.

Back to the point of asking Mack to be 100% by only giving him one chance to throw. This play was there all game. Another missed opportunity to keep the drive for continuing.

So on the first two drives, UCF should have had a first down around midfield, instead, two three and outs. This has nothing to do with LSU’s defense “dominating”.

3rd Drive:

A throw on first down, not in “11” personnel, holy cow who would’ve known it would work out.

Putting out “12” personnel made LSU think run. Passing out of a run formation is always a good idea. You’ll see the right safety was only 6 yards off the LOS and takes two steps forward on the play action. It left Davis one on one with LSU’s least experienced corner who has no shot against Gabe. Gabe catches this 99/100 times and it’s impossible to be upset at him for dropping it because he’s so damn good.

Because a play out of “12” personnel worked so well, Heupel had to go back to “11” personnel the next two plays because he felt bad for LSU’s defense.

2nd Down was a play action fake with Colubiale coming across the formation and running a flat route for a 2 yard dump off with 3 yards after the catch.

3rd down, Mack was sacked.

Another drive, UCF should have put up points, they just didn’t execute, and once again, it had nothing to do with LSU’s defense dominating.

4th Drive:

LSU muffed the punt setting up UCF at LSU’s 20.

1st play:

An 11 yard crosser to Colubiale off play action:

Wide open, and once again UCF had the middle of the field wide open to utilize.

This is a ball I think Colubiale should have caught. Yes, it definitely could have been thrown better, but it looks like he extends his arms a little too late and the ref just might have been in his line of sight here.

Not sure if he would’ve score, but it would’ve been close.

A 5 yard rush on 2nd down was fine in my book. I think Heupel was playing for 4 down territory as he should have, but a false start on third down set up this on 3rd and 10:

Once again, great protection. Mack just throws this a little to deep on Gabe who ran a great post-corner route and was absolutely wide open.

Obviously if Davis catches the TD pass on the previous drive, this drive doesn’t happen, but two more plays here that would’ve been TD’s and UCF just didn’t execute. Again, LSU’s defense, not a factor.

Also, believe UCF should have gone for it here. All a field goal did was turn a 2 possession game into a 2 possession game, wait that’s not a positive.

5th Drive:

Mack threw a nice ball to Davis that resulted in a 15 yard PI on the first play… then since throwing the ball on first down the last three drives had resulted in three wide open receivers, Heupel went with a first down run, that set up UCF in 2nd and 8 and 3rd and 8, two obvious passing situations.

And I also believe they should have gone for it here. Down 13, with 11:36 on the clock and your defense hasn’t gotten off the field in probably under 5 minutes all game. It’s one of those situations where if you don’t get it, the casual fan will question it, but if you understand numbers and %’s it would be the right thing to do. Eventually, UCF came up a possession short (the last possession doesn’t count) and LSU marched down and took 7 minutes off the clock on the following drive.

6th Drive:

It was a thing of beauty after the 2 LSU penalties. They got a little momentum and unsurprisingly, the running game became successful. It’s almost like getting close to midfield helps out their running game a ton.

So, here’s my take, in the 2h, UCF had 6 true drives, only one of them did LSU’s defense actually force them off the field. They dropped 2 TD passes and Mack missed another as well as a pass that would’ve gave UCF a first down around midfield.

LSU’s defense did not dominate UCF in any form. Yes, they got pressure, on 36% of pass attempts, but UCF missed big play after big play despite the pressure.

Screens/Short Passes:

A lot of people I see are asking about screens and short swing passes. I’m completely fine with UCF not going to this over and over.

LSU dominated short passes to RB’s. They only allowed 10 of 31 passes thrown less than 10 yards to a RB, to turn into a successful play.

UCF tried 2 passes behind the LOS to RB’s… they went for a combined -1 yards.

LSU’s defensive strong point was their front 7, the area to attack them was passed the sticks, not behind the LOS.

Conclusion:

While I think Heupel failed to adjust to attack LSU’s secondary, I showed you play after play where the middle of the field was wide open, UCF still had the opportunities on offense. There’s a lot of what ifs, but bottom line is, they just didn’t execute throws and catches in the second half.

It’s only Heupel’s first season as a HC and this was by far his toughest opponent, he’s only going to learn (hopefully) from this game and see some things that were there that he didn’t take advantage of.

The winning streak was going to come to an end eventually and UCF fans should be happy it came against a respectable opponent, although I think UCF beat themselves in this one both offensively and defensively.

Until next year…

Randy Shannon’s inability to adjust UCF’s pass defense between the numbers and failure to understand LSU’s predictable play calling, accounted for all 4 LSU TD’s

UCF’s 25 game winning streak finally game to an end in a 40-32 loss to LSU in the Fiesta bowl.

It was a game that had a couple of big game changing plays and penalties from both sides that really could have dictated the game one way or another.

There are a lot of things that the casual fan would like to comment about why UCF lost and why LSU won and a lot of excuses made from both sides regardless of which team won.

I’m going to break the game down from the defensive side of the ball from a UCF perspective and will do the offensive side relatively soon as well.

But, to me, this game was a long time coming with the way the defense has been this season.

I don’t think the defense has been bad, I actually think it’s been better than most people.

However, they had a few weaknesses that I pointed out, and Randy Shannon refused to make an adjustment all season to fix it.

UCF struggled on passes between the numbers all season long, and it’s something I pointed out since the ECU game.

Combine that and letting up big play touchdowns on predictable play calling that I pointed out in my preview makes you wonder what kind of gameplan Randy Shannon put together for this one.

Directional Passing:

It’s where UCF lost the game it’s not even a question. The inability to adjust to this all season is rather sad if you ask me. It’s a total scheme thing and I’ll use some gifs from the game to show this.

19 of 33 throws came between the numbers.

You might be saying “UCF got beat to the left sideline as well”, those two plays I’ll talk about in a little. They were both on very predictable play action deep passes and they both led to TD’s. That is my other major point about this game that I’ll get into.

But, if you look between the numbers, to the middle of the field, Burrow was 5 for 5, all successful plays. On these throws, LSU averaged 20.20 yards per pass attempt. That is… a lot.

LSU had two major plays on balls thrown between the hashes. A long TD pass and a 2nd and 15 pass that went for a first down from their own 17.

Here is the long TD pass. The reason for UCF’s struggles to the middle of the field are obvious if you look at this play.

You’ll see Grant is playing the inside slot receiver and Moore is playing the outside receiver. As the receivers cross, Moore is trying to pass off his guy to Grant who continues to follow his guy on the out route, thus leading the outside receiver wide open.

Not exactly sure if this is a designed man coverage or zone coverage. Moore seems to be forcing his guy inside towards Grant, while Grant seems to be in 100% man.

The other play to the middle of the field, was a two yard pass that went for 19 and it’s the same thing over and over.

If you watch it from the broadcast view, it’s really hard to see what goes wrong, but thankfully they showed us a A22 angle review.

You’ll see, again Moore is covering the outside WR, again the guy who ends up making the catch, while Causey is originally lined up on Foster Moreau, the tight end. Moreau looks to be running a 15 yard dig, while the outside WR runs a drag. Once Moore’s guy goes inside, he drops off, seeming to be trying to once again pass off assignments again, this time with Causey who is already 10 yards downfield on Moreau. It leads to an extremely easy big play here.

Another one here on another 2nd and long. UCF’s run defense was great, something I’ll get into in a bit, but it didn’t matter because their secondary was picked apart on plays like this.

Causey is following his man on a go while Moore passes off his man on the dig route. You can tell they’re communicating because Causey has his back turned to the play and is able to still limit the YAC, but it’s impossible to defend a pass like this.

Now, throws to the right (between the right hash and right numbers). Burrow attempted 10 of these. 5 were caught and 4 were successful. It’s really not a terrible success rate and completion percentage to give up, but when you give up 14.50 yards per attempt, you don’t need to hit at a high rate for it to make an impact.

On the most significant play to the right, Pat ended up on a WR, I think as good as Pat is, we can all agree this is not a matchup in his favor, especially 21 yards downfield that went for a TD.

This came a on 3rd and 7. UCF got in so many good spots on defense in terms of down and distance and ruined a good portion of them.

It wasn’t exactly a pass off just two corners doubling a receiver and leaving the linebacker one on one downfield with a receiver. Not a great strategy if you ask me.

One more play, where the pass off man was again a failure was on a little dump off on a flat route to the RB.

It wasn’t a huge play, but it’s another example of the point I’m trying to make.

It also wasn’t between the numbers, but is the cause for the disgraceful between the numbers statistics.

In my opinion, it’s extremely sad that this was never fixed. It was a glaring weakness and if you’re watching film it’s pretty obvious if you ask me. It hurt UCF big time in this one.

1st and 10 Play Action Passing:

“Watching every game, something I noticed is LSU loves to take play action deep shots on 1st and 10 after rushing for a first down on the prior play.”

I wrote this in my breakdown prior to the game. What did UCF get burned on for two TD’s and 1 would’ve been TD had Causey not committed pass interference?

Yep, play action downfield passes after rushing for a first down.

LSU called 4 of these. One UCF did record a sack on, however it was an under center, one man route roll out attempt, not their normal shot play.

The 3 others? 1 PI penalty and then…

Two TD’s. Throw 29 and 35 yards into the end zone. The first, was the first LSU TD of the game after LSU converted a 4th and 1.

Really not bad coverage by Clarke, LSU hasn’t exactly been great on these plays throughout the season, but Burrow was on point in this one.

It looks like Grant was the safety over the top and he was late.

Also, I know this play was only “22 yards”, I count end zone yards as well which is where I get the 29 from.

The other, Moore got beat.

Shannon brings a safety blitz, in a situation where LSU likes to take deeps shots. Bold strategy and it definitely didn’t work.

Moore also bites on the stutter step, allowing Chase to beat him. There was no push off either.

Side note, I actually thought the refs were pretty good. The only call I think they missed was a PI on Otis on the first drive on the 2h.

So LSU scored two TD’s on plays where they’ve been predictable all season and it just seemed like UCF wasn’t ready for them for some reason and the other two TD’s came from attacking UCF’s pass defense in an area they’ve been weak all season and refused to make an adjustment.

That’s their 4 td’s. Try and convince me that UCF couldn’t be better prepared after a month to scout, get better and implement a game-plan. It sucks for the players if you ask me.

Since I have them, here are the non play action passing numbers as well.

Run Defense:

The run defense was amazing and not many people are realizing that. Everyone is saying that UCF got dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage, which doesn’t make sense.

I just showed you how LSU dominated UCF’s defense.

UCF held LSU to a 46.67% success rate on rushing attempts (not including scrambles and kneel downs). The only place LSU was really able to have success was to the right end.

This is also below LSU’s season success rate by 3-4%.

UCF also only let up 1.56 yards after contact, to the “more physical team” and only 3.64 ypc.

These were LSU’s season numbers broken down by running back (top is Helaire, bottom is Brossette. UCF held them under their averages in every category.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with the lines” well YBC certainly does, but I’ll present you with further evidence.

UCF made first contact on rush attempts at or behind the line of scrimmage on 40% of rushes and had a run disruption on 37.78% of rushes. Brendon Hayes was a monster as was Titus Davis.

Just how good are those numbers though?

LSU only let up a run disruption on 14.21% of running plays and first contact @ or behind the LOS on 28.68% of plays. I think UCF’s defense crushed those numbers.

Now, UCF wasn’t able to get any pressure on Burrow which is what most people want to look at in terms of “winning the trenches”.

LSU had 38 dropbacks. UCF blitzed 8 times, got 2 sacks and forced one scramble on these, but when they failed to get pressure on the blitz, LSU made them pay.

UCF only got 4 pressures on non-blitz plays. I believe LSU had a total of 38 dropbacks so the % there is very low.

However, it wasn’t like Burrow sat in the pocket for hours and waited for WR’s eventually get open.

I showed you some of LSU’s successful passes. It was a lot of coverage break down and scheme oriented stuff where the ball is out quick and pressure is almost impossible to get regardless.

The mantra was that LSU was going to run it down UCF’s throats, that didn’t happen. UCF played better run defense against LSU than almost every SEC team and LSU beat them by playing non stereotypical LSU style football.

*I’m only talking about UCF’s defense on this end, this has nothing to do with the flip sides of the ball for both team*.

Defense by Down:

UCF put themselves in great down and distances if you ask me. On second down, LSU had 8 ytg on average and 6.79 on third down. That should have been a good thing for UCF. However it let LSU get away from their run heavy self and throw the ball more successfully than they had all season.

Conclusion:

There’s not really much more to talk about in terms of this one from the defensive side. In my opinion, it’s a shame that something that hasn’t been right all season, was never adjusted. It’s a true scheme thing too. It’s not a talent thing at all.

During the season, there isn’t a lot of time to maybe completely fix this because I don’t think it’s an easy thing to just change and with little time between games, it’s not going to just drastically change, but with a month before a bowl game, there is no reason UCF should lose a game because of this.

There is also no reason, UCF should get burned on the 3 play action passes that LSU threw on 1st down after rushing for a first down. It’s just inexcusable from coaching game-plan perspective and it’s a shame.

UCF’s run defense was so impressive and the way they played should’ve led to more stops and fewer points than it did.

I broke down LSU’s offense and defense using analytics ahead of the Fiesta Bowl

UCF takes on LSU in the Fiesta Bowl on New Years Day, looking to complete their second undefeated season in a row.

LSU, will be the toughest challenge for UCF this season without a doubt.

I charted every play in FBS games for both teams (only the first 2 and a half quarters of the Rice game for LSU) in order to use analytics to breakdown LSU from an offensive, defensive, and play calling standpoint.

This game is a complete contrast in styles in my opinion and for that reason is going to be a very interesting game when it actually happens.

This is going to be very long, so I broke it down by LSU’s defense (what I think most people are interested in), LSU’s offense, and then a couple playing calling tendencies at the end.

I’m not really including a lot of UCF information, but will mention the major defensive weaknesses that I’ve found throughout the season and a couple of other things here and there.

My numbers aren’t strength of schedule influenced and I feel LSU’s would be better if they faced UCF’s schedule and vice versa, however with a full season sample size, I do believe that they are indicative of where a team is vulnerable and where they are strong.

LSU’s Defense:

LSU’s defense has been tremendous all season. I won’t get into any raw stats, because I don’t like raw stats, but if you watched any college football, you know LSU played good defense.

I’ll start with what I think is the key for UCF.

Run Defense:

Everyone thinks about LSU and wants to automatically say, great running team and great at stopping the run.

I actually think, UCF has a good chance to win at the line of scrimmage in this game. I’ll explain from the opposite side later, but in order to win this game, UCF is going to need to run the ball often.

I charted 255 rushing attempts (Non-QB) against LSU this season. They allowed a 51.76% success rate on these rushes. This is a pretty high % to allow and would indicate an area to attack if I was an opponent.

If you look a little further into the directional runs, you’ll see that to the right tackle, they allow a 62% success rate and to the left tackle, a 58.54% success rate. These are extremely high.


Now, take a look at UCF’s directional rushing (Non-QB). They have a 56.69% overall success rate on 344 attempts. They don’t really have a weakness, and have been successful rushing in every direction where LSU really hasn’t been great at stopping runs to any direction.

Furthering the point of running the ball, LSU allows 2.24 yards after contact per rush and 2.54 before contact. Giving up about 4.74 ypc is a good chunk.

LSU also allows a 15.24% explosive run rate (rushes of 10+ yards). Memphis had a 21% explosive run rate and were one of if not the best rushing teams in the country to put that 15.24% in a little bit of a perspective. You’ll also see how low LSU’s is in a little.

I also charted run disruptions and player to make first contact.

This includes QB runs, so that’s why the numbers are different. LSU made first contact @ or behind the LOS on 28.39% of rushes so about 1 every 4 rushing attempts. This is a very respectable number.

However, LSU will be without two D-Linemen this game. Here is the production they’ll be without.

Ed Alexander had 9 stops at or behind the line of scrimmage compared to Fehoko’s 2, in which he missed both tackles.

So Alexander, who missed a lot of time due to injury, could be an impactful loss for the Tigers.

With Darriel Mack at QB for UCF, everyone knows he’ll be involved heavily in the run game as well.

LSU has played both Kellen Mond and Nick Fitzgerald, both two really good rushing QB’s and similar in running style to Mack, so I really think these numbers are a good indication of what to expect.

On read options and speed options, LSU’s allowed 4 ypc to QB’s and a 47.06% success rate. Pretty average from both perspectives. On designed QB runs, they’ve allowed 4.53 ypc and a 42.11% success rate so they’ve been pretty solid at defending QB draws.

Mack doesn’t scramble, if he does, it’s very rare, but scrambling has been effective vs. LSU.

Red Zone Defense:

I think the red zone is going to be critical for both teams. It always is, but I expect limited opportunities from both sides so FG’s aren’t going to cut it.

I didn’t go into pass defense yet because I wanted to further my point of why running the ball will be so important.

In the red zone, LSU allows a 58.46% success rate on rushing attempts. That’s not very good if you ask me. Compare it to a 34.69% success rate against passes and I think it’s pretty obvious what you want to do against this Tigers defense in the red zone.

I further broke this down by personnel vs. min the box inside the 5 yard line.

There are a ton of matchups here to look at so I won’t blurb a paragraph about it, as it’s pretty self explanatory. I am big believer of using multiple receivers out wide to run the ball short yardage because it just gives you a better number advantage.

Some notes I wrote, about inside the 5 plays. Running between the tackles was successful 6 of 11 times. Outside the tackles, 7 of 14, so you can’t go wrong.

QB runs were only successful 4 of 10 times, this is something we saw Heupel do with Mack against Memphis. Mack is extremely strong and physical, but so are Mond and Fitzgerald.

Devin White:

White is probably LSU’s top defensive player and is playing in this game despite NFL dreams as well as Grant Delpit who is another stud.

I charted what White did on every snap. There were 4 options; Run defense, coverage, pass rush, and off the field.

Nothing crazy.

He played 647 snaps of the 739 that I charted. A lot of the off the field ones came when he had to sit out the 1h against Alabama due to a pretty controversial targeting call.

UCF will be lucky if he sits out a series in the Fiesta Bowl.

Of his 647 snaps, 282 of them he was in coverage. Most of these he kind of played center field for short passes as a linebacker.

In direct one on one coverage, he allowed 8 of 11 catches, a 54.55% success rate and an average 4 yards after the catch per reception.

The area to attack White is downfield. He faced 4 targets on balls thrown 10+ yards in the air, all 4 the receiver was open. Two catches, one drop, and one inaccurate throw, but on all 4 the receiver won the battle.

He rushed the passer on 93 snaps. 32 came on a blitz. You might think, he’s a linebacker isn’t it a blitz every time he pass rushes. I chart a blitz as a play where 5 or more guys rush the passer.

On 19 of those 93 snaps, he recorded a pressure whether it be a hurry/knockdown/sack. That’s a 20.43% pressure rate. I believe Alabama and Clemson are the only two teams in the country with over a 40% pressure rate, so 20% is pretty respectable. 14 of those pressures came from the middle of the line.

On his 272 snaps against the rush, he recorded first contact 17% of the time, 2.48 yards past the line of scrimmage on average, but only recorded a 4.41% run disruption rate. He also missed 4 tackles on rush attempts.

LSU allowed a 52% success rate on plays where White wasn’t in, clearly showing his impact on the defense.

White’s presence is huge for LSU, but I don’t believe he’s a guy that’s going to absolutely dominate the game, nor should UCF try to gameplan against him. He’s going to have his huge plays because he’s a damn good football player, but I don’t expect him to take over the game single handily like Trysten Hill did against Memphis.

Pass Defense:

UCF’s passing attack is lethal and has been all season, but I don’t expect it to be against LSU.

First off, LSU’s D coordinator is one of the best in the country and with a month to prepare, he’s going to have a defensive scheme that’s a lot more difficult for Mack than Memphis’ was.

I went through just about everything pass related to find a weakness in LSU’s coverage and to be honest, there wasn’t much.

Greedy Williams and Kristian Fulton being out is obviously huge.

Those guys have been lockdown. Fulton has actually been better than Greedy IMO. Only 35 combined receptions allowed on a combined 96 targets. A combined about 30% success rate against, that’s just dominant.

I don’t exactly know who is going to play out the outside and who in the slot for LSU so I’m just going to show all the guys I have info on.

Kelvin Joseph I would expect to see some outside snaps, a good thing for UCF. He’s allowed both a 58.33% completion rate and success rate against. 11 of his 12 targets have come against outside receivers.

Kary Vincent primarily played against slot receivers, so I’m not sure if he’ll stay as a slot corner or move to the outside. He’s faced 40 targets and only allowed 16 receptions against. Only a 30% success rate against as well. Pretty dominant. Snelson and Vincent could be an entertaining matchup if he stays in the slot.

I expect Alexander to play on the outside, just because I watched all the games and saw him there. He’s posted extremely respectable numbers overall, however has struggled against outside receivers.

Those 3 guys I expect will be the 3 primary corners for LSU, all pretty good, obviously not Fulton and Williams good, but LSU’s secondary is still scary.

On to the safeties, Stevens has faced 11 targets and has 3 pass break ups. 8 of his 11 targets have been while matched up against a TE, could possibly be lined up with Colubiale.

Grant Delpit is everything advertised. He has 4 interceptions on 33 one on one targets (might have more playing as a safety over the top). He’s only allowed a 30% success rate against. I would try to avoid Delpit as much as possible.

And finally, LSU’s other primary LB. Another guy you can attack.

If you look at both directional passing and depth of target passing, it’s impossible to find a weakness.

This secondary is consistently good in every single phase of pass coverage.

By presnap position, good against everyone. Slot Left WR could be an option as well as Slot Right/Left insider WR if you want to line up 3 WR’s on one side, but that’s about it.

A lot of people think UCF’s RB’s are going to create coverage problems. LSU has been tremendous against HB’s and that’s against guys like Kylin Hill who most people probably don’t even know who he is, but is an unbelievable talent.

This is just broken down by personnel regardless of presnap position. Once again really good vs. RB’s, but only 1 target has come more than 5 yards down field which is maybe something UCF can change. Something LSU isn’t used to defending, could be something they’re weak at.

Play Action:

I love play action passing and every time most likely will be worse against play action than non play action.

This is true with LSU, but they’re still really good against it. They only allow 6.99 ypa on play action attempts and only 4.72 ypa on non play action. If you’ve read anything I’ve wrote about UCF’s offense or matchups this season, you’ll know how absurd these numbers are.

Pass Rush/Blitz:

LSU is good regardless of whether they blitz or not. Their pressure rate and sack rate is doubled on blitz’, but that’s the purpose of blitzing. However, ypa, completion %, and success rate are all consistently low regardless.

Where do their pressures come from?

Up the middle, LSU generates a ton of pressure. Devin White accounts for 14 of the 44 in this category.

How many guys does LSU like to bring?

73% of plays they bring 4 guys and hardly ever bring more than 5. This is a good sign for UCF because we saw how Mack is when he has time vs. when he is being pressured.

However, with such a talented secondary, it still makes it extremely difficult to throw the ball successfully on a consistent basis.

And finally blitz by down. Pretty even distribution, but they aren’t scared to drop guys on third down.

Personnel:

LSU has barely faced any two back looks and UCF people know how much I love “21” and “20” personnel for UCF. With Otis on the field a lot, LSU could see a lot of looks they haven’t faced.

I also would like to see Colubiale and Hescock on the field in two tight end looks. LSU allows a 55.42% success rate against rushes out of “12” personnel.

Overall, UCF needs to run the ball in this one and I think they can be effective doing so. LSU’s secondary isn’t going to be as strong as the numbers indicate because Fulton and Greedy are out, and UCF might be able to find a matchup they like, however I believe they have the advantage in the run game when it comes to UCF’s Offense vs. LSU’s defense and most people won’t agree because they like to be stereotypical.

LSU’s Offense:

Someone tweeted (LSU writer) when the bowl matchups came out, that LSU was going to run the ball down UCF’s throats every single play. Now, everyone would probably say that’s LSU’s game and what they’re good at.

However, their rushing attack is not very good.

Brossette and Helaire are the two backs that have pretty much handled every carry for LSU. Helaire however, I don’t expect to play after recent news.

He’s probably their better back despite seeing less work.

Brossette has an average 46.60% success rate. Only averages 4.11 ypc and only 1.71 after contact. He’s only forced 25 missed tackles on 191 rushes.

He also only has 11% explosive run rate. Compare all those numbers to LSU’s defensive numbers I posted before if you want some perspective.

For a team that’s “gritty” and wants to “ground and pound” these numbers are pretty ugly.

UCF’s raw run defense numbers are not the best, but they’ve actually been good at stopping the run.

These are their numbers from before the conf championship game (I got a little lazy and didn’t want to update them because I didn’t plan on using it). What hurts UCF is allowing explosive runs, something they did at a 17.41% clip and I believe Memphis ran them at a 23% clip in the conf championship so it is probably slightly higher.

Now, UCF has faced probably the hardest opposing running backs of any team this season.

On 28.68% of runs, LSU allows contact at or behind the LOS. They allow a 14.21% run disruption rate. These aren’t good numbers for the style of team LSU is.

Trysten Hill has a chance to repeat what he did against Memphis and put his name on some NFL minds. Titus Davis and Joey Connors have also been great on the line and those 3 guys could make a huge impact in this one.

Passing Attack:

UCF struggles mightily vs. passing between the numbers. From watching, it seems to be on plays where defenders try to pass off their man and there is just a lack of communication.

LSU’s best two directional passing areas are between the hashes and to the right part of the field. Both are between the numbers. However, LSU’s offense lacks so much creativity, that I don’t exactly know if this is an area of concern.

They are extremely successful at throwing the ball between 1-10 yards in the air. They also love to do it as 44% of their passes come in this depth range.

Burrow struggles to throw the ball downfield.

The Key:

Burrow isn’t going to beat you on just obvious passing attempts, but Burrow is the key to this game. Both with his feet and with his arm. And their is one common denominator.

Fakes to the running back.

Whether it be a read option or a play action pass, UCF can’t bite on the fake. I’ve already explained why LSU’s rushing attack won’t beat you.

Burrow isn’t going to wow you with athleticism, but if you look at him on read option runs, he averages 10.35 ypc and a 65.38% success rate. That is really damn good.

None of these completion percentages are going to wow you, but look at his ypa, adot, and success rate of play action passes vs. non play action. 100x better.

Watching every game, something I noticed is LSU loves to take play action deep shots on 1st and 10 after rushing for a first down on the prior play.

So, I looked at those plays. Burrow has a 16.71 average depth of target on those plays (would indicate deep shots) and a 9.95 (would indicate some of the shorter attempts were completed).

It’s something UCF has to be aware of because if you sell out on the 1st and 10 run, you’re going to let up a long TD pass.

Receiving:

LSU will throw to a bunch of different guys, I won’t go into it to cut down on length.

Red Zone Offense:

I mentioned in the defensive portion, that I thought the red zone was going to be huge so I mine as well give some offensive numbers.

Their passing in the red zone is disgusting. Only an 18% success rate compared to a 53% success rate running the ball.

LSU’s offense isn’t great in the red zone and if UCF can hold LSU to field goals, that is a win on every single drive.

O-Line/Pressure:

Kind of skipped over this by mistake. You saw with LSU’s run game how the line is suspect. Well, it’s the same in the passing game.

They allow a 29.21% pressure rate and have allowed 32 sacks on plays I’ve charted.

The thing is …

They keep in an extra blocker over 75% of the time and keep in 7 or more guys about 35% of the time.

This goes along with the lack of creativity. For a “tough” football team, your O-Line should be able to hold it’s own without extra blockers on every single snap.

If you look at Burrow’s numbers under pressure, you’ll see that he struggles big time when teams get pressure without blitzing. When you’re keeping in multiple extra guys to block and still allow pressure with 7 guys covering 3 downfield, it’s hard to be effective.

Personnel:

The lack of personnel usage, isn’t because Coach O is Sean McVay or Joe Moorhead, it’s because the offense is so plain.

UCF has struggled to defend the run against “12” personnel this season, but LSU only runs that 27% of snaps and run the ball on 70% of the time out of “12” personnel. This is despite absolutely killing it on pass attempts in this personnel.

Throwing the ball out of a running look and running out of a throwing look will always be effective, especially when teams expect you to the run the ball every play.

Play Calling Tendencies:

Just something I like to do for fun with every team.

This is first and second down vs. third down. They struggle to throw the ball on third down.

Down and distance will show you how much they love to run the ball in short yardage.

In games with a one possession lead in the 2h, LSU really struggles. They go run 85% of the time on first down despite averaging just 2 ypc.

And finally,

Second down play calling based on 1st down. I only used the first quarters for this data.

After a successful run or pass that results in a second down play, LSU runs the ball 67% of the time.

After an unsuccessful play, they throw it 62% of the time.

Conclusion:

This was a lot of work and probably would’ve been better had I not just wanted to be done with it at a certain point.

I didn’t include UCF charts because it would’ve just doubled this in length and it’s long enough and also with only one game of Mack data, I don’t feel it is significant enough. Everything I think about UCF is pretty accessible on here and I tried to mention some key areas of UCF in words.

Game wise, I think it’s going to be very interesting. LSU’s offense doesn’t worry me at all, however that can change very easily if UCF keeps biting on fakes.

I think UCF has a chance to show the country something by controlling the line of scrimmage in this one. The numbers support it, but the game isn’t played on Microsoft Excel.

Offensively, I hope Taj gets carries because he is best suited to be effective where UCF can be and obviously McCrae as well.

Defensively, the D-Line is what I’m looking at. I think Trysten Hill has a chance to do something special again.

We’ll have to wait a couple more days to see what happens, but it should be worth the wait.

Trysten Hill, not Randy Shannon deserves all the credit for the defensive turnaround vs. Memphis in the AAC Championship

UCF’s defense did one of those things where they let up a bunch of points in the first half and barely any in the second again in the conference championship.

When this happens, everyone seems to want to praise Randy Shannon for his “defensive adjustments” during halftime.

I wrote about why I don’t think this has necessarily been true throughout the season and that there are many more factors that go into points allowed then people realize. 

In the AAC championship, there was one difference on the defensive side of the ball. That was Trysten Hill. UCF would not have come anywhere close to winning this game without Hill and he deserves all the credit, not Randy Shannon.

Everyone knows how talented Hill is, but what the difference he made on Saturday was Ed Oliver like. You probably noticed him making a couple of big TFL throughout the game, but other guys had a few too.

Let me explain:

In about the middle of the 2q, Hill had his first big play and  I thought to myself, why don’t I keep track of every play Hill is on the field and compare it to when he’s not.

Hill didn’t play a single snap on the first defensive plays of the game. Memphis scored 3 TD’s in those 10 plays on 3 drives.

His first drive came after Mack’s second fumble where Memphis took over at Midfield. UCF held Memphis to a FG. Memphis’ next TD drive? A 2 play TD drive, Hill not on the field. So of Memphis’ 28 points, Hill wasn’t on the field for a single snap on any of the drives. He was on the field for the TD that came after the Otis muff.

Numbers:

Overall, Memphis ran 74 plays, 38 runs with a 52.63% success rate, averaging 10 ypc. Not great. Without Hill on the field, Memphis ran the ball 16 times. 81.25% of them were successful and Memphis averaged 19.13 yards per carry.

WITH Hill on the field, Memphis ran the ball 22 times. Only 7 of them were successful (31.82%) and Memphis only averaged 3.36 ypc.

That is what you call a difference maker. And no, this isn’t by coincidence.

Hill’s first defensive drive, immediate impact. Beats the initial blocker and beats the tight end for a nice 4 yard loss.

Memphis ended up scoring on this drive, but it wasn’t anywhere near Hill’s fault. If you’ve ever wondered what a run disruption was, there is no better example of one than this. It’s why raw stats and box scores are dumb. There’s about 3 guys in on this tackle and Hill isn’t one, but he’s the one makes the whole play. He beats his guy off the ball, gets in the way of the pulling guard which causes the pulling tight end to run into the guard. Hill essentially forced three guys to block him on this play leaving the LLB (Evans) and the LOLB (Titus) with one guy to block two, and that one guy was late.

First defensive play of the 2h, nice to see Hill starting the half, Hill forces the double team leaving Grant waiting in the hole for Henderson. This isn’t a run disruption to me, because it didn’t happen at or behind the LOS, but it’s still a major impact play by Hill without it showing up in the box score.

Another play Hill makes, but Causey will get credit for the TFL. Forces a the guard and tackle to block him off the snap, and then bull rushes the guard so Magnifico can’t get over to block.

Here are two more plays Hill makes, that I won’t go into detail because you should get the point by now.

Hill played 46 snaps, by my count, he had 10 combined run disruptions and hurries. That is unheard of. UCF is lucky to have 10 of these in a game, let alone by a single player. The Cincinnati game was easily the best defensive line play of the season. UCF had 24 of these on 81 plays. On a little more than half the snaps, Hill had a little less than half the RD’s/H/K by himself.

Memphis Run Game:

Memphis clearly busted off some big runs and had some decent success on the ground, but it wasn’t all as bad on a per play basis that you would think.

Runs to the left end had been something UCF struggled against all season. Against Memphis, it was the right end.

But, a 52.63% success rate against this rushing attack isn’t bad. Runs to the left end were 3/4 on plays weren’t on the field as well so his impact continues to show.

The explosive runs are what made UCF’s run defense look worse than it actually was. And most of these were more than explosive. However, Memphis’, on the season, had an explosive run about 21% of the time, so UCF really held them right around their average. Again, just more explosive than you would hope.

Henderson finished the season with over 1,100 yards after contact I believe I saw on the internet. So holding Memphis to 3 yards after contact per rush isn’t too bad at all.

Defensive Personnel:

UCF hasn’t been good against 2 TE looks all season and I expected Memphis to show a lot of them. Well, they didn’t and they should have.

On 19 carries out of “12” personnel and one out “22”, Memphis had a 65% success rate and averaged over 9 ypc.

Memphis wanted to roll out a lot of “21” personnel, which they have done all season because Tony Pollard is a great do it all guy. But, losing that extra blocker really hurt them as they only had a 38% success rate. The ypc is high, but that is because two of their really, really long runs came out of this personnel.

I honestly have no idea why Norvell didn’t run more two TE sets with how good they’ve been running the ball with them and how poor UCF has been against them especially because Norvell got super conservative in the 2h and wanted to run the ball.

Mike Norvell can learn a lot from this game:

The thing I went into this game wanting to look for, was how Mike Norvell blew yet another huge lead by not scoring a single TD in the 2h. That got overcome when I realized just how good Trysten Hill was.

Norvell is one of the top G5 coaches and is highly respected by everyone and can get a P5 job whenever he wants, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect.

He got ultra conservative in the 2h and it cost Memphis. 

For the purpose of this exercise, I took out the final drive when Memphis was down 15. On 1st and 2nd down, Memphis ran 51 plays, they ran the ball 35 times with a 51.43% success rate. Most of those occurred on the first couple of drives because they were only successful on 6 of 20 first down runs with Hill on the field and he didn’t play in the first three drives.

Memphis had a 50% success rate on early down passes and completed 11/14, which is pretty good. White also scrambled twice for 7.5 ypc on early down pass attempts, those are not factored into either the run or pass category, but are a designed pass play.

Let’s look at just the second half. They ran the ball on early downs 13 times and only threw it 6 despite the run game being almost completely shut down in the 2h.

2 of those 6 passes came after unsuccessful runs, setting up a second and long and 3 of them came on 1st and 10, a down and distance they ran the ball on 70% of the time in the second half despite only averaging 2.86 ypc.

I understand the run game is what got them the lead, but this just can’t happen. Norvell and Memphis were the underdog heading into this game and they played to not lose, rather than to win. Getting ultra conservative and not even running the ball out of the right personnel is just inexcusable.

It is almost identical to what happened in the first meeting, but the heavy rain gives Norvell a pass in that one.

Conclusion:

Darriel Mack’s performance was something special and one of the best I’ve ever seen, but Trysten Hill was the real MVP of this game. Randy Shannon better be buying this guy steaks every night leading up to the Fiesta Bowl.

Everyone knows LSU is going to run, run, and run some more, Hill needs to be on the field as much as he can be. I’m interested in going back and looking at the statistics for the whole season and look at Hill’s impact because it was that important in this game.

And if you think it’s just a coincidence that the numbers with Hill on the field vs. when he’s not are extremely different, you’re wrong.

If you actually watched the game, you’d have realized that the defense started playing a whole heck of a lot better before the 2h started.

With all that said, Mike Norvell’s super conservative play calling had a major impact in this one as well.

I tried to put Darriel Mack’s performance into perspective because it was even better than you think.

UCF rallied from 17 down at halftime to defeat Memphis in the AAC championship game behind the performance of Darriel Mack.

It was UCF’s 25th straight win, all in which they’ve scored 30+ points. With McKenzie Milton out, many people wondered how the offense would perform with Mack at helm. Well, Mack silenced everyone who had questioned his ability with an almost unimaginable performance.

Memphis blew yet another big halftime lead, for the second time this season. I’m only going to focus on UCF’s offense in this one, but will get to the defense sometime this week because I really want to look at Norvell’s second half play calling.

Also, Mack’s performance deserves its own spotlight.

I’m not sure how many people understand how good this performance was, but I’ll try my best to break it all down with the advanced stats and analytics you can’t get from a box score.

After the ECU game, Mack’s stat-line was pretty ugly, but I thought it was a really positive performance and got some questioning about my breakdown which was totally understandable, but after this performance, it’s hard to question Mack right now.

Accuracy:

So Mack’s box score will read 19/27, which is a little misleading. He had one completion to Gabe Davis that Snelson held on, and because it is a spot of the foul penalty, it resulted in a 1st and 9 from 1 yard ahead of the previous LOS. In the box score, it counts as a completion but not an attempt.  I didn’t chart this play at all.

The 25 attempts in Mack’s accuracy include every pass thrown to a targeted receiver. That eliminates the spike at the end of the first half and the ball he just threw to avoid a sack at the end of the first half.

He posted a 76% accuracy rate and the only area he didn’t perform well was the 16-20 depth. Something that jumps out is only 7 of his 25 attempts, went to his throwing arm side of the field.

Another thing? Mack didn’t throw a single inaccurate ball in the second half. Down 17 at halftime, Mack was just about perfect. Only 1 of his 2h throws traveled less than 7 yards in the air as well.

Throws By Route:

Mack threw to a variety of different routes throughout the game. He didn’t struggle in any area really. A lot of people (myself included) were a little worried about his “touch” that for me, was on slants and crosses at intermediate distances. He did struggle on a couple crossing routes, the first play of the game was one where he threw it behind Gabe.

He threw a lot of Curls/Comebacks, and completed all of them. I think this is a great throw for Mack, given his arm strength. Throwing most of the time to sidelines, you need some velocity on the ball.

Also,

This ball was thrown with plenty of “touch”.

Play Action/YPA/aDot:

This is where it gets good.

If you follow any sort of NFL QB advanced stats, you’ll realize how stupid these numbers are.

First of all, play action was lights out.

Let’s take a look at some plays:

Backed up at the 6, Snelson goes in motion and the right safety comes up 3 more yards. By the time the pay fake is complete, the safety has no chance to help over the top and Gabe is going to win that one-on-one 9 times out of 10. Mack delivers just about a perfect throw.

This may have been the biggest play of the game. Otis runs a mini wheel as Tre runs a slant? can’t see because of camera angle, but regardless he goes inside and Otis goes around to the outside. The safety tries to jump the route for a pick, but Mack literally dropped this in on a dime.

Another play action deep ball here. Snelson runs a post-corner-post and just puts the safety on skates.

I mean that’s just not fair.

Final one, the play that ended the game IMO:

A little sluggo (slant and go) and Mack throws another perfect deep ball. If Snelson doesn’t trip over his feet, that’s a touchdown (second week in a row he did this to Mack).

All 4 of the plays involved play action, one-on-one coverage and most importantly great protection.

Mack loves the pocket, actually the first play of the game was a designed roll out and Mack threw a poor pass. The announcers said, there was going to be a lot of this, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

If you’ve watched Mack play this season you know he’s a true pocket passer. He’s extremely calm and just trust his line because he knows his receivers can get open against any coverage.

Mack only threw one ball from outside the pocket, the first play of the game. He only scrambled twice and one was off of a broken tackle on a would be sack.

Back to these numbers.

Overall, on Mack’s 25 targeted attempts UCF had a 68% success rate. That alone is just stupid good. I’ve probably charted around 50 total offensive games in the last two seasons, and I don’t think any pass success rate comes close to that. More than half of those games are Milton and Drew Lock games too, so some pretty damn good QB’s.

Now a 72% completion percentage is great no matter what. Mack did it with a 15.32 aDot (average depth of target). This means, on average, the first touch yardline of the intended receiver was 15 yards passed the line of scrimmage.

That is unheard of. He also averaged just about 14 yards per pass attempt, also unheard of.

Early Down Success Rate:

When I broke down Mack’s first two games before the Memphis game, I mentioned how critical it was for Heupel to let Mack throw on first and second down and not be too conservative.

All Mack did on first and second down was post a 66.67% success rate with a 15.19 ypa. Is that any good?

Now, they did run the ball a crap ton more than I would’ve liked, but most of those came after successful passes, which I’ve mentioned I really like. A 54.17% success rate is good and you’ll take it any game, but when your ypa is 10 yards more than ypc and pass success rate is 13% higher, it’s pretty clear the pass was very effective.

The one thing that gets me really mad, is run-run on first and second down.

There were 13 instances where this happened so a total of 26 plays (1st and 2nd down 13 times). 5 of the 13 resulted in 3rd downs with 4 or more yards to go, not exactly the position you want to put your freshman QB in, especially when trailing. Thankfully, Mack over delivered and UCF converted 3 of the 5. But, on the 26 plays UCF went run-run, they only averaged 3.69 ypc.

Also, Mack’s second fumble came on a 3rd and 5 after a run-run on 1st and 2nd down. Not saying that’s an excuse for poor pocket presence/ball security, but it is a situation I feel could have been avoided.

Mack’s Run Game:

This is one thing that I think makes UCF’s offense maybe a little harder to stop than when Milton is playing (I’m not saying Mack is better). Milton’s run game is very good and creative, but when Mack is at QB, it’s like essentially having another running back on the field.

Mack had 17 rush attempts (not including the kneel down) and he was successful on 12 of those. His YPC wasn’t great because a lot of his rushes were in short yardage situations, as they should be.

His first fumble came on a 1st and 10 designed QB draw out of empty. The play had no chance from the start.

33 yards after contact is awesome and any 4th and 1 should be a QB sneak. I think he got 5 or 6 yards on the one they attempted. You’re just not going to stop him on a QB sneak for less than a yard.

Ball security was definitely a problem, but I don’t look at fumbles as a predictive trend and the game is now over, so I’d rather look at how he performed and trust that his ball security will be worked on.

RB Run Game:

It was nice to see AK get going a little on the ground. I would say this was by far his best rushing game of the season. He had some great cuts to the outside late in the game and really showed I think what we’ve all been hoping for all season.

Taj, I think might get the short end up the stick with Mack at QB. I don’t necessarily agree with it because I think he can be more than a power back, but with Mack at QB, you don’t really need a power back.

Otis with 5 carries was nice. Nothing crazy, but nothing terrible. After the muffed punt, he could’ve easily took himself out of the game because at the time that seemed extremely meaningful, but he came back and made back to game-changing plays to start the second half, both as a receiver and that punt return was awesome.

And then there’s Greg McCrae. We’ve all got what we hoped and that’s a consistent workload for this guy, he’s earned it. 23 carries, a below 50% success rate in a game where the offense was so successful, isn’t the best, but over 25% of his rushes went for 10+ yards (explosive runs) and that definitely triumphs a few more unsuccessful carries than normal.

He was also great as a receiver. Heupel called 3 swing pass screens on 3rd and short, a play I mentioned in my Mack preview, and he caught all 3. Would have had 3 successful plays if not for Snelson whiffing on a block on the outside, but effective none-the-less.

Personnel:

A steady dose of “11” personnel, but I think that was by design to get Mack more protection on pass attempts. I think the only time a tight end was targeted was on the pop pass TD to Hesock.

But, UCF was also really good with “20” and “21” personnel, successful on 10 of 12 combined plays isn’t too bad.

Conclusion:

Mack’s performance was special, and if you understand aDot and YPA, it’s that much more impressive. He did something that only Lamar Jackson has done in the last 20 years by rushing for 4 td’s and throwing for nearly 350. That’s pretty elite company.

It was an awesome game and you just have to be happy for Mack, all the pressure in the world on him and he delivered and then some and give credit to Heupel because he had a major part in this as well.

 

I broke down how Memphis’ offensive strengths attack UCF’s defensive weaknesses with analytics and gifs

The AAC championship game takes place on Saturday, in a rematch between the same two teams who played a double OT thriller last season.

It is also a rematch of UCF’s closest game this season and in their 24 game winning streak.

To be honest, UCF should have lost at Memphis earlier this season and I think Mike Norvell struggled with his play calling due to the heavy rain which evidently let UCF hang around way longer then they should’ve.

I won’t go into that, however, there is one major difference this week, a Darriel Mack will be playing QB for UCF after McKenzie Milton suffered a devastating injury last week. I’m going to break down Memphis offense vs. UCF defense here, but if you want to see my take on the UCF offense with Mack at the helm, it should be the previous blog.

So, to me, there’s 4 things that I’ve come across after charting every UCF defensive play from this season that are quote on quote weaknesses based on their performance in other areas.

Two have to deal with the run, and two with the pass. I’ve mentioned them all before, but this week, it’s different because Memphis has been pretty good at doing what UCF has been bad at stopping and without Milton playing, the offense is a major question mark this week.

Personnel:

Throughout a 10 (fbs) game season, UCF has faced just about every personnel possible, some more than others of course.

You can get a pretty good idea of how solid on a play for play basis, the defense has been based on the low success rates against “11” personnel which is what they’ve faced on almost 60% of plays this season.

The next, “12” personnel. This is my first point. Against “12” personnel they’ve faced a 73% run rate and have allowed a 54.32% success rate. Their highest allowed success rate against both the run and pass in either that they’ve faced a relatively decent sample size.

Everyone knows Memphis is a great running team. Henderson, Pollard, and Taylor is a three headed attack and Henderson has been the best running back in the country this season.

“12” personnel is their second favorite personnel to run out of and their best personnel to run out of, if you only include their personnel’s that have over 50 rush attempts.

If you remember the first match-up between these two teams, you know Memphis scored all 30 of their points in the 1h.

Interestingly enough, they ran 19 plays out of “12” personnel and in the 2h they only ran 2 despite going extremely run heavy.

Why do I think they are so good out of “12” personnel?

Well Magnifico and Dykes (Memphis TE’s) are both solid blockers, but they can only split out as they are great receivers. They can have both tight, both split, or one tight and one split. With a split TE it forces a LB out of the box and with them both tight, it just adds extra blocking.

Both tight ends are tight here, simple run to the left end (something I’ll talk about next) and it goes for 17 yards.

The longest run of the game and 2nd longest UCF has allowed all season. Dykes splits out and forces Evans to cover him in the slot, taking him out of the box. This forces Causey into the LILB position because Dykes is too big of a matchup for him, and Causey gets destroyed in the second level by a lineman.

Now, I’ll be honest, Memphis wasn’t the best out of “12” personnel in their first meeting, but it is still baffling to me that they went completely away from it in the 2h because “21” personnel wasn’t working.

Rushes to the Left End:

Both of the above rushes fit this perfectly as well. Memphis loves to run to the outside.

Both Henderson and Taylor’s favorite direction to go. On a combined 83 rushes, they’ve been successful 52 times, I’m not good at math, but that is a very high %. If you throw in Pollard, they are 61 for 96.

Tony Pollard is a running back on the roster and I chart him as one, but he also lines up in the slot a ton and is almost always in with another running back. 34 of his 47 carries have come with 2 RB’s on the field.

Norvell uses him how Heupel should use Otis Anderson, but that’s a different discussion for a different day.

If you look at where UCF has struggled against the run, look no further than to the LE. Their overall success rate against is 48.15% which is respectable, especially considering the running backs they’ve faced, but to the left end they’ve allowed a 58.46% success rate on 65 rush attempts.

Now, Memphis isn’t going to just run the ball to the left end out of “12” personnel every single play, but they should do it more frequently then they would in a normal game.

Memphis also has an explosive run (10+ yards) on 21.52% of their carries, while UCF lets one up 17.41% of the time.

The above gifs fit perfectly into everything in here, left end rushes, “12” personnel, and explosive runs.

Middle of the field Passing:

This is an area, I’ve been mentioning for a while. UCF’s corners are great. Nevelle Clarke and Brandon Moore I’ll take against any outside receivers in the AAC and Rashard Causey has been dominant against the slot of late.

Where this pass defense has struggled is when guys get passed onto LB’s or safeties and when they get stuck in man coverage.

All of this occurs on plays between the numbers.

UCF has actually gotten a little better in the last two games here, if you remember the chart before the Cincinnati game it was a little uglier.

Between the hashes, it is still very ugly. On 53 targets, they’ve allowed a 60.38% success rate and a 77.36% catch rate.

The next two highest catch rates they’ve allowed? To the right and left. Now, the success rates are a little lower, but opponents have missed a combined 14 plays due to either inaccurate passes or drops.

Now, there is a lot more wrong with this play than just the pass over the middle, Titus should’ve had an easy sack, but you’ll see Moore open up a little because Gibson has him over the middle, except Gibson tries to jump the route and completely whiffs allowing a huge gain.

Memphis’ passing success lives to the left and right directions. Now, the middle, is by far their worst area in the passing game, but on 51 targets, they’ve had 8 drops on White has missed an open receiver 4 times. That’s a significant amount and if even half of those are turned into successful plays, their success rate jumps over 50%.

A 3rd and 6 here, Clarke sees Henderson running a wheel route out of the backfield and passes off his guy to the middle, but no one picks him up. It’s been a routine thing for UCF this season.

I could show probably a good 45-50 plays just like this from this season.

It is really just a question of whether an offense is smart enough to run these concepts over and over again and no one has yet, but Memphis is probably the most fit to face this UCF defense.

Play Action:

Almost every offense is better with play action and with that said, every defense is worse against play action so this isn’t ground breaking here, but it’s worth pointing out. With Milton at QB, UCF used PA over 50%, I don’t think many teams will come close to that, but Memphis is a lot closer to 50/50 than Cincinnati was and they’re still not even close.

Brady White is a major question mark at QB, so when you see his PA numbers they kind of jump out at you. a 65.77% completion percentage with an aDot of 10.51 is pretty damn good. a 9.82 ypa and a near 60% success rate are also incredible.

When you jump to non-play action, the aDot dips significantly and his YPA drops over a yard and a half. His accuracy improves slightly, but his completion percentage drops a lot and the success rate drops almost 15%.

A great time for play action? 1st and 10. Memphis has attempted 61 passes on 1st and 10 in the 1h and 41 of them have been successful.

“12” personnel and 8 in the box here, this is what can happen when you play the run.

Memphis only ran 6 play action passes against UCF, 4 of them were successful.

UCF’s numbers aren’t drastically different, but there is an advantage here and one that Memphis should try and take advantage of.

Also, the amount of play action passes against UCF this season has been staggeringly low.

Play Calling:

As always, I tried to look at some sort of play calling trend with the opposing team.

This week, I looked at 2nd down play calling based on what happened on first down. There were 5 different options.

This plays only include 1st and 10 plays that were followed by a second down play that didn’t have a penalty before it. They are also only from the 1h as in the 2h play calling can become time and score based and if not, I would assume the same trends.

I mentioned how good Memphis was on 1st and 10 passing, but when they throw an incompletion, they are very bad on second down. A common play calling trend in the 2nd down run after a 1st and incompletion. Norvell does this about 50% of the time (decently high) despite having no success with it. Outside of two explosive runs, this has been a wasted down.

Interestingly, after an unsuccessful 1st and 10 run, so it’s 2nd down and at least 7, Memphis runs the ball 54% of the time on 2nd down and have a 65.22% success rate doing so.

They don’t like to throw the ball 2 plays in a run when it’s on first and then second down.

Overall:

UCF is still the better team in this game, but the better team doesn’t always win. Matchups matter so much in sports and I just happen to think Memphis’ offense matches up well against UCF’s defense. I’m not saying they’re going to win or that they will do any of the things above, but they’ve done them throughout the season and if Mike Norvell was smart, he’d continue to roll with the above.

It should be a very close game Saturday and I am extremely interested to see how it plays out. Before the Cincinnati game I was confident it wouldn’t be close, because Cincinnati’s offense didn’t attack UCF’s weaknesses, Memphis does, so it should be close.

I broke down Darriel Mack’s two games this season (with gifs) and explained why play calling will be a huge factor in the offensive success vs. Memphis

Darriel Mack is getting his second career start on Saturday as UCF looks to win back to back American Conference Championships.

Mack’s raw numbers and statistics won’t impress anyone, but I actually have a lot of confidence in Mack.

UCF’s offense shouldn’t and won’t look the same as it did with McKenzie Milton at quarterback because Mack is a little different of a player than Milton is.

Also, Milton is one of the best QB’s in the country.

In my opinion and I’ll explain throughout the this, Josh Heupel is the only one who can slow down this offense and Darriel Mack from succeeding.

The drives may not look the same as they did with Milton, but that doesn’t mean Mack can’t lead this offense to the same overall scoring output as Milton did.

A lot of this will have to do with play calling and tailoring the game to more of Mack’s strengths.

I think, in the 2 games Mack has played meaningful snaps in, Heupel has been very conservative with letting Mack play “loose” and really find a passing rhythm.

Heupel’s been very fortunate to have inherited two of the best QB’s in the country in Lock and Milton the last couple of years, now we’ll find out how good of a coach he actually is because this is a team with a skill level above a lot of teams in the country and they have the personnel to win with pretty much any QB.

I’m going to try and gif some of Mack’s throws in here, don’t know if it’ll work.

Accuracy:

Once again, these are accurate completions and drops so good throws that are knocked away are not included and neither are throw aways.

With that being said, Mack has thrown two accurate deep balls, both to Snelson, one caught and one dropped.

Deep Passes:

Mack’s best ball in my opinion is his deep ball. He’s only missed on really one this season and all 5 of his attempts have traveled over 40 yards. Here’s the one Snelson dropped against ECU.

Absolute dime. A thing to note on this play is the protection. UCF went with a max protect here. Both McCrae and Colubiale stayed in to protect on only a 4 man rush. This gave Mack a ton of time to throw and let Snelson get open downfield.

Also, my third string quarterback in eighth grade doesn’t give me any credibility to talk about actual football things like footwork, progressions and reading coverages, but the trajectory and touch on this deep pass is beautiful.

Teams are expecting the run vs. Mack and even with 7 guys in coverage, there was no safety over the top. There are few teams in the country and none in the AAC that can cover any of UCF’s receivers one on one downfield.

This one, he overthrows an open Nixon. Once again, max protection and still no safety help. USF and ECU both put more men in the box vs. Mack than UCF normally faces when Milton is in.

Although Nixon was open, and he missed him, he put the ball in a spot where only Nixon had a chance to get it. You’re not going to throw deep balls perfectly every time.

One thing I really like about Mack, is he desire to stay in the pocket. Young QB’s who have the ability to run and break tackles like Mack can, usually love to get out of the pocket as quick as they can.

Here are two more deep balls he threw again ECU that resulted in PI’s that Mack got absolutely destroyed on.

This ball was underthrown and Davis was open if he had got rid of the ball quicker, but he gets absolutely crushed on release.

Another huge hit Mack takes, but once again staying in the pocket as long as he can, giving his receivers a chance to get open downfield.

Look how many guys are within 10 yards of the LOS, this is stealing with UCF’s receivers with the way Mack has looked on these throws.

Also, this was about as on the money of a throw as you can make. I don’t think it was PI I just think Nixon missed it.

Mack’s first pass against USF, a deep ball to Nixon:

Another great throw that the defender just made a great play on.

Later in the game, Mack had Nixon open again: 

Great protection again, just a little too strong on the throw, but once again putting it in a spot only Nixon could go get it.

The best part about this throw? The very next play:

A phenomenal throw to Snelson, it would’ve went for 6 if Snelson didn’t trip over his own feet.

One thing, Mack seems to emulate Milton in, is the effortless deep balls. Both guys simply seem to throw deep passes with 0 effort. Great trajectory and touch.

On every single one of these deep balls, Mack took his drop and remained patient when he didn’t have something right away. He seems to trust the line (they haven’t exactly given him a reason too) and is willing to take hits to stay in the pocket.

Intermediate throws:

This is the area I think Mack has struggled a bit and how the offense should get away from what they do a little bit with Milton. KZ is great at throwing slants and comebacks on the outside on intermediate attempts.

A lot of people have noted that Mack has a little bit of a lack of feel on throws and this is the area where that really matters.

I won’t go crazy with gifs like I did on the deep passes, but here are two throws against ECU at intermediate depths that he misses.

A very clean pocket and a wide open Davis, he simply just misses on this and it should have been intercepted.

This would’ve been a TD. He doesn’t miss by much and Miller just whiffed on his block forcing Mack to get rid of the ball way early.

He knew he was about to get crushed, but stayed in the pocket anyway. Not even a chance to set his feet here.

So should they only throw the ball downfield?

Mack is obviously going to have to throw some intermediate routes, but it should not be a major part of the offense in my opinion.

With the Milton injury, a lot of national people seem to have forgot that UCF has a ton of skill at skill positions.

Adrian Killins has been an extremely efficient receiver out of the backfield, Otis Anderson (if healthy) is a dynamic guy with the ball in his hands. We all know what Greg McCrae can do and Snelson in the slot can make guys miss as well.

What does this mean?

Short passes, at or behind the line of scrimmage. Mack hasn’t missed one all season. It’s an area where arm strength is important, as most are thrown a decent distance in terms of depth.

Heupel had gone extremely run heavy against USF until they pulled within 7 and Heupel realized the game wasn’t over.

What allowed the offense to go down the field in 4 plays?

2 RPO’s.

This is just a really good play from Mack. He made the right decision and it was an easy throw that UCF was able to gain about 13 yards on.

The very next play, same thing. A simple throw to Colubiale and another first down. The very next play I believe McCrae ran for a TD after the run game had done nothing since Mack entered for the most part.

As it was with Milton, so much of the offense is about Rhythm, get positive plays and move the chains. The defense gets disorganized and a little tired and that’s when UCF’s run game is at its best.

Here’s a 3rd and 7, an obvious passing down so ECU isn’t going to respect the run. Colubiale runs a nice block and release, Mack remains patient in the pocket as he’s shown, throws a nice simple pass one yard past the LOS and Colubiale picks up another 11.

Another simple throw here. A little swing pass with the WR’s blocking downfield for Otis, probably would’ve went for a good amount for if he didn’t lose his footing.

A simple play action WR screen on 1st and 10 for a nice gain. 7 guys all around the LOS, you don’t need to run every 1st down because Mack is in, these plays work just fine. This is also a really nicely thrown ball. It’s not lazored in there like some of throws are.

The last gif of the day:

The same play as Otis’ before, but with McCrae. Another 1st and 10 pass, easy throw, and a nice gain.

A lot of this is what we saw with Frost last season and I hope this is what the passing attack consists of against Memphis. Mack has great touch on these short swing passes, he’ll continue to develop it on quick slants and comebacks because he throws a really nice deep ball and short ball.

I will go into play calling in a bit in terms of run/pass and when UCF has scored with Mack on the field based on play calling to explain why UCF can’t go run heavy against Memphis.

First, one more gif because it’s my favorite Milton play:

20-20 against one of the best defense in the country, in the biggest game of his career and he pulls this off. There’s maybe one or two other QB’s in the country who could’ve made this play.

Pressure:

I showed a lot of plays of Mack getting hit and his desire to stay in the pocket, but that doesn’t exactly lead to good numbers. We saw above how solid he has looked with a clean pocket and the line is going to be huge this week. Even if UCF has to max protect, they need to keep the pocket clean.

Mack loves to stay in it and it’s when he’s at his best by far in his young career. As a great runner, we haven’t seen him scramble much and I don’t think he’s thrown a single ball on the run outside of throwing the ball away.

Play Action/YPA/aDot:

Mack’s been really good on non-play action passes. Now, his aDot and YPA aren’t the highest, but that’s alright.

Most of his deep passes above are on play action which might be the reason there wasn’t safety help, but Mack hasn’t been very good outside of those couple of throws.

Run Game:

This is really where I want to emphasize the point I’m try to make here and get into a bit of the play calling with Mack at QB.

We know Mack is a great runner. His ypc on all 3 different run styles is very good and he’s been extremely successful on QB draws in particular. His YAC is also very impressive. Now, UCF fans are going to be worried about Mack taking hits, but it’s part of his game.

Milton’s injury was a freak injury, they happen. He’s taken a million hits in his life, there’s no one to blame. As I may not have agreed with Heupel running the ball there on 3rd and 7 I believe after 2 unsuccessful runs after the previous drive going down the field and scoring because of your passing attack, the play call is not the blame.

This injuries just simply freakishly happen like Gordon Haywards ankle or Kevin Ware’s leg, and it absolutely sucks that it did because of all that Milton has done and meant to UCF,.

Bottom line is, what happened to Milton, doesn’t mean that Heupel has to be cautious about Mack taking hits, it’s a major part of his game and he’s built like a truck.

RB’s Run Game:

These are the results of the 60 rushing attempts while Mack was in at QB in the ECU and USF games where Mack wasn’t the ball carrier.

A 45% success rate is not bad, but it’s what UCF fans are used to seeing because with Milton at QB:

UCF has run the ball 247 (non Milton rushes) and has a 57% success rate on those.

With Mack at QB, teams have played 6 or 7 men in the box on 91.67% of the 60 rushing attempts.

With Milton, that number is at 67%.

It all comes full circle. Deep passing and quick passes outside the tackles are open because there are more men in the box as teams expect UCF to run, as they should.

Play Calling:

I don’t know really where to go with this, but I think it’s obvious that Heupel in both the ECU game and USF tried to go extremely run heavy and it didn’t really work out.

I wanted to look at the difference between the 8 scoring drives and the 10 drives that resulted in a punt or turnover on downs while the game was still within 2 scores.

On the first play of those 18 drives, UCF has gone run on 13 (predictable much). However, they are 3/5 in terms of success rate and scoring drive percentage when it comes to passing the ball on first down.

When they run on first down, despite being less successful, they also have only scored on 38% of those drives (disregard the % listed above that’s out of 18 not 13).

UCF has had 24 second and longs (7+) on these 18 drives. On 17!!!!!!! of them they have gone run.

To no surprise, 4 of the same pass attempts came on drives where points were scored.

There have been 12 3rd and 7+’s, Heupel has gone run 7 of these !! This is in games within 2 possessions.

Once again, 3 of the 5 pass attempts came on drives where points were scored.

I have confused myself greatly in Microsoft Excel so I give up.

The bottom line is, UCF has scored points with Mack at QB, but they have more drives that have resulted in no points than points. The biggest difference in those drives is pretty much letting Mack play vs. running the ball on 2nd and 3rd and long and just pretty much giving up on drives.

Mack hasn’t been the most accurate, so UCF needs to limit the amount of obvious passing situations he’s put in.

On scoring drives, 13 of his 21 passes have come on first down.

The percentages between run/pass aren’t extremely different, it’s all about when they are coming.

We saw McCrae run for 3 30+ yard TD’s against USF, 2 of those came on drives where Mack made plays to get the offense in Rhythm.

The run game has been a lot less successful with Mack in at QB, but it’s not easy to be successful when you’re running the ball on 24 of 36 plays when you’re behind the chains on second and third down.

 

I used analytics to break down why Cincinnati must throw the ball between the numbers and use play action passing if they want any chance at beating UCF. Also why UCF must force Desmond Ridder to throw the ball downfield

(11) UCF takes on (24) Cincinnati Saturday night in arguably the most anticipated home game in UCF history. Cincinnati comes in at 9-1, with their only loss being at Temple, in overtime, in a game in which they completely outplayed the Owls. UCF is winners of 22 straight and are looking to continue that.

This game will decide who gets one of the two spots in the AAC championship, probably for the chance to play for a NY6 bowl bid, so it’s kind of important.

I charted every single offensive play Cincinnati has run this season vs. FBS opponents where Desmond Ridder was in at QB and the few non-garbage time snaps Hayden Moore has taken this season are included as well.

In total, I have 613 offensive plays from Cincinnati, in which I would consider all of the meaningful plays they have run. On the flip side, I’ve charted 473 plays on the defensive side of the ball for UCF. Not included in those 473 is the Navy game (triple option) and the SC State game (FCS).

I used analytics to break down Cincinnati’s offense, how UCF’s defense matches up against some of the things they like to do, and most importantly where UCF is a little weak and how Cincinnati should try and attack the Knights defense.

In my opinion, UCF’s offense is going to score on any defense without having to worry about attacking defenses weaknesses besides maybe some of the top power 5 defenses in the country.

Cincinnati’s defense has been terrific, but so was Temple’s when UCF played them. If you look at the offenses of the opponents Cincinnati has faced, none of them compare to UCF’s offense.

That is mainly why I looked only at Cincinnati’s offense vs. UCF’s defense and also because this takes me a long enough time as it is.

Before I get into everything, watching every Cincinnati game, made me realize their offense is a lot like Temple’s, except Temple, in my opinion has the better skill players and are thus the more difficult matchup.

Personnel:

First thing I like to look at with pretty much every team is personnel usage.

Luke Fickell takes more of the Sean McVay approach when it comes to personnel usage. Whenever you’re doing something McVay does, it’s never a bad thing. Fickell uses “11” personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) on 77% of plays. McVay is in the mid to high 90’s, but 77% is very high compared to a lot of teams.

However, Fickell doesn’t exactly use the creativity or many different formations like McVay, which is a lot of why McVay is so successful. Not saying that Fickell isn’t, because his team is 9-1, but the advantage of using only “11” personnel is forcing defenses to adjust and make changes pre-snap because of the different formations.

Cinci uses multiple tight ends in short yardage and in bad field position and they go about 77% run in these situations, but have more success running out of “11” personnel.

The bad thing for Cincinnati is, UCF plays the run great against “11” personnel and plays overall great defense against this look. They have only allowed a 41.58% success rate while struggling more against the two tight end look.

I expect Cincinnati to run about 80% of plays in “11” personnel which probably favors UCF. It allows them to matchup in a 4-2-5 defense which we primarily see with 4 down lineman, Pat/Gilyard and Nate Evans at linebacker and then Moore and Clarke as outside corners with Causey as the slot corner and two of Grant/Gibson/Collier at safety.

How Cincinnati can attack UCF through the air and what UCF must force Desmond Ridder to do:

The run game is going to be important for Cincinnati obviously and that’s because Michael Warren is really good, but they are going to have to throw the ball if they want to win this game.

Desmond Ridder has been solid all season for the Bearcats and UCF’s pass D has also been pretty impressive. I’ve kind of found a couple of weakness on both sides in which can become crucial in the game.

Well start with what I think Cincinnati needs to do.

Luke Fickell needs to attack this UCF back 7 between the numbers. UCF fans saw this with Temple, they just couldn’t cover the middle of the field.

If you look at how dominate Temple was throwing the ball between the left hash and left numbers and then between the hashes, it is remarkable.

Now, looking at the season numbers:

Those are still the two areas you want to attack. Between the numbers, UCF has allowed a 68% completion percentage and a 50% success rate, both over their season averages. Now, the right sideline numbers are not very good, but I still don’t think attacking Moore or Clarke is a smart thing.

Now, Cincinnati loves to throw the ball outside the numbers. 110 of their 223 attempts have gone to either the left sideline or right sideline, but they have been extremely successful between the numbers. A 50%, 54.84%, and a 57.41% success rate when throwing to the left, middle, and right respectively.

Their numbers may tell you to keep throwing to the left sideline, but it is not where you want to challenge this UCF secondary.

Play Action:

Furthering along in how Cincinnati needs to attack UCF’s defense, but breaking it down a little so it’s easier to read (if anyone actually made it this far).

Play action is something that, in my opinion, Luke Fickell doesn’t even come close to using enough. There is almost no negatives to using play action for the most part, now I’m saying to use it every single throw, but it should be used often. Play action doesn’t even need an effective run game to be effective and Cincinnati even has good run game.

Only 22% of Ridder’s throws have been off of play action. Throw aways, spikes, sacks, and tipped passes are not included in any of this data, only passes thrown to a targeted receiver.

On the 49 play action attempts, Ridder has a 67.35% completion percentage and has thrown an accurate ball 75% of the time (includes drops). Cincinnati has a 61.22% success rate (very good) on such plays and are averaging 8.16 yards per attempt.

On the flip side, Ridder has a better completion percentage on non play action attempts, but Cincinnati has a significantly lower success rate and a lower ypa.

Luke Fickell is basically saying, we’re better out of play action, but I don’t care.

Well he should, because UCF’s pass D is worse against play action than non play action.

UCF’s defense allows about a 4.22% higher success rate and a full yard more per pass attempt on play action passes.

It’s almost like play action works.

If you’re interested, here are McKenzie Milton’s play action passing numbers.

These are unbelievable (I just had to include them for anyone who hasn’t seen).

The two ways in my opinion and backed by the numbers, to be effective against UCF’s defense through the air are to attack the middle of the field and to use play action.

Luke Fickell must do this on Saturday night if he wants to get a historic win for the Bearcats.

So who is Desmond Ridder Throwing To?

I mentioned that Cincinnati loves “11” personnel. It means you’ll see a lot of the same 5 guys on the field. Michael Warren at RB, Josiah Deguara at TE, Rashad Medaris as the slot WR, with Thomas Geddis and Kahlil Lewis as the outside receivers.

All three receivers have been pretty successful this season.

Deguara has also been very good and is extremely effective on short throws. They love to run a RPO with Ridder rolling out and Deguara sprinting into the flat and trying to make the defensive guy play one of the two.

Warren is a great runner, but he is also used a lot in the passing game. He has 26 targets, all on balls traveling 8 yards or less. However, this gets him in the open field where he can excel as he averages 8.75 yards after the catch per reception.

What UCF must force Desmond Ridder to do:

So, if you studied the receiving numbers above, you might be able to hint at what my key is here.

Taking a look at Ridder’s accuracy chart, he is pretty consistent to all directions.

You’ll also notice that 148 of his 220 attempts (67%) come on balls with aDot (average depth of target) of 10 yards or less. High percentage throws in other words and you’ll see that he has been very good on these throws.

They love to run curls, outs, flats and comebacks and get the ball out of Ridder’s hands quick, thus the high percentage of short throws.

Another reason for that, is his inability to throw the ball downfield. On passes traveling over 20 yards (deep balls) he has only thrown 14 of 40 accurately. Being around 50% on deep to intermediate throws isn’t exactly great either.

This tells me that UCF needs to force him to throw deep. Press on the outside, which Moore and Clarke actually like to do and take away the short throws.

Some more information to back this up:

Ridder has thrown 75% of his interceptable passes on throws traveling 11+ yards. If you ratio that, with the amount of attempts, it is not a very good ratio.

If you look at UCF’s defensive numbers. They are actually the worst at defending passes traveling between 1-10 yards by a large margin. They allow a 54% success rate on thse throws, while not allowing higher than a 42.22% rate anywhere else.

Once you get passed 11+ yards, their defense becomes very good. It won’t be easy and it’s why I don’t coach/get paid a lot of money, but this is something Randy Shannon needs to figure out heading into this game because it is a clear strength of Cincinnati.

Ridder under pressure:

Not very good. Also another reason why they probably like to get the ball out quick. On non blitz pressures, Ridder only has 9 completions on 45 such instances. We know UCF doesn’t like to blitz, so getting to Ridder with a 4 man rush can turn out to be very effective.

Ridder is a great runner, which I’m about to get into, but ironically has not scrambled once against a blitz.

Rushing Attack:

This is almost even battle for me, which is why I think it Cincinnati’s ability/inability to throw the ball is going to be the biggest factor in this game.

UCF might not have the prettiest raw statistics when it comes to run defense, but I’m actually higher on them then most. They’ve faced Singletary, Henderson, and Armstead so far as well as Pitt’s running backs who have gone off since, but I would put Warren behind the 3 names I mentioned before and it really isn’t that close in my opinion.

His numbers are very good, but nothing jumps out at you. With Henderson, Singletary and Armstead there was that one thing that was extremely impressive.

I would say his best thing has been his consistency to every direction. 44 missed tackles on 202 rushes is nothing crazy and a sub 5.0 ypc is good, but it’s nothing UCF hasn’t faced.

Something I noticed against USF was how much he tries to force things to the outside.

The numbers don’t exactly back it up, but it was the most recent game.

UCF struggles on runs to the left end which is primarily where Warren tries to bounce his runs. They must force him to run between the tackles, on designed between the tackles runs.

Also, Warren’s 2.59 yards after contact is not much higher than UCF’s average allowed 

I don’t think well see much of Cincinnati’s secondary backs, but here on their numbers:

Just a combined 37 rush attempts between the two. Thomas has actually been very good.

Explosive Runs:

Something that can skew raw stats a bit are outliers. By this I mean, long rushes that don’t frequently occur.

UCF is a team prone to letting them up and Warren is a guy who gets his fair share.

Ironically, I’ve charted 208 rushing attempts against UCF’s defense and 202 rushing attempts for Warren. So it is basically an identical sample when comparing the two. Warren has 28 explosive runs (10+ yards) while UCF’s defense has let up exactly 28 as well.

Warren will get 25(ish) carries if I had to guess Saturday night. 14% of 25 is 3.5 so I’ll go out there and say Warren will have 4 rushes of 10 or more yards. It’s not the end of the world if your a UCF fan, you can’t contain an explosive back on every snap.

Ridder’s Run Game:

Ridder is going to run and he’s going to run a decent amount. He has 85 designed runs on the season, about a third are straight QB draws. He has not been good on these and they normally come in situations with a decent amount of yards left to gain.

However, he has been very good on read options and scrambles. Russo, Temple’s QB killed UCF on scrambles, but it was something he ordinarily didn’t do, so I don’t think UCF game-planned for his feet.

This week, Ridder is a known runner, and a good one, so UCF should be prepared which I think actually makes him less of a threat than Russo was on the ground.

Play Calling:

This is always something I’m interested in diving into very far and just never have the time to. I think every coach falls into play calling tendencies and it would be fun to look for. With Temple I noticed something just from watching the games and it was very accurate with what happened in that situation in the game.

With Cincinnati, nothing jumped out at me and I wanted to get this done so I didn’t dive into it.

For fun, I look at how Fickell called plays in the first half compared to the second half while in one possession games.

Considering it is expected to be a one possession game, I figured it was relevant.

First half, the numbers are pretty normal, definitely a run first team, but nothing crazy.

In the second half, with a small lead, Fickell gets ultra conservative and his offense gets very stagnant.

An 83.33% run rate on first down and 70% on second down despite having just a 3 ypc average on first down a 31.25% rushing success rate on second.

It then forces him into obvious passing situation on third down and low percentage ones at that.

When tied, or losing, he sticks to pretty much the same approach as he has in the first half.

Just looking at everything that I’ve included with ypa, they are all extremely low, it is vital to stop the short passing game for UCF.

Conclusion:

I’ve now watched every single Cincinnati offensive snap this snap this season and I’ve probably watched every single UCF snap, both offense and defense, at least twice. I don’t think Cincinnati really has much of a shot in this game.

Their offensive style isn’t suited to for a shootout and in my opinion that is the only way UCF will lose a game which is why I’m scared of Houston.

Temple, I felt the same way and Anthony Russo played a way above his expected performance and they still lost by 12. I don’t exactly know who has the better defense between the two, but it doesn’t matter because they are both regarded as very good, but the talent UCF has on offense, particularly at QB is tremendous.

It should be an awesome game and I hope it lives up to the hype.

I have much more information so if you’re interested in anything or won’t to tell me how much this sucked tell me on twitter @Squints_15 or on here.