UCF defeated Navy on Saturday to continue their undefeated season and nation’s longest winning streak of 22.
After the best showing of the season on the offensive side of the ball a week ago, UCF followed it up with another extremely good performance on that side of the ball.
As they head into their biggest home game in potentially school history, it’s great to see McKenzie Milton being smart, extremely accurate, and efficient. The offense has looked like the one who can score on any defense in the country on any drive, something, in my opinion, it didn’t look like in the first half of the season.
I didn’t even look at the defensive side of the ball in this one as anything versus the triple option is irrelevant until they play Navy again next season.
UCF may have only scored 35 points (low for them), but they were extremely successful and could have scored a lot more, but I think Heupel was a little more concerned about staying healthy heading into the last 3 games of the seasons rather than keeping the foot on the gas. Against the triple option, a 3 possession game in the second half, is a game that is pretty much over.
There really wasn’t much to look at in this game as it was rather boring, but I still broke down the offense analytically and talked a little bit about why I think Otis and Snelson are going to be X factors heading into the final stretch based on their usage against Navy and why McKenzie Milton and play action is a pretty unstoppable combination.
Milton had a really good game, both through the air and on the ground against Navy. I read some comments that Navy threw out a different coverage scheme than UCF expected, but UCF’s passing success wouldn’t suggest that it worked.
I would like to say this was Milton’s most accurate game of his college career, but I can’t say that 100% factually so I’m not going too. Milton was accurate on 18 of his 20 pass attempts to a targeted receiver (non throw-aways).
This even includes a completion that was inaccurate (two minute drill pass over the middle to Snelson when he made the diving catch) so he had a chance to be even better which is basically impossible.
The other inaccurate pass was on the first drive to Otis when he just wasn’t really open on the screen.
A major reason for this, other than Milton just being really good, is he had all day to throw the ball. Navy only blitzed twice and they were both 5 man blitzes with the fifth guy coming from well off the LOS.
The line was also very good as they only allowed one pressure which turned into a 20+ yard scramble.
Milton also had a lot of success on his limited designed rush attempts. A 4th down conversion and a goal line TD are two plays included in that. His scrambling was also very effective, although he was only successful on 1 of the 4, 2 of the other 3 went for 8 and 9 yards respectively.
This is something that stood out to me while re-watching the game. I felt like UCF was using a lot more play action than in previous which wasn’t exactly right.
Milton was extremely effective in the play action passing game against Navy which led me to look at the season numbers.
Play action is something that is pretty much going to make any QB better. You don’t even need a good run game (although UCF has one) for it to be effective, it’s statistically proven.
Here are his PA numbers from the Navy game. One of his attempts was a throw away so adjusted completion % is really 12/13, I’m not good enough at math to do that off the top of my head, but it’s above 90%.
UCF had a 78.57% success rate on play-action passes and averaged 10.43 yards per attempt. These numbers are pretty damn good.
Now, Milton was also really good on non play action as well.
The same exact accuracy, but a lot lower success rate and YPA. Also a significantly lower ADOT of almost 5 yards. This would signal that they were very easy throws.
So 66.67% of UCF”s pass attempts came off play-action.
For the season (Navy game included), Milton’s been very good on play action. A 10.24 YPA is extremely high and to have a 62% completion % and a 65.52% accuracy rate with an ADOT of 13.43 is mind boggling.
I’m going to show you some NFL numbers with Patrick Mahomes in a second to show how good that really is.
Non play action numbers for the season are about the same as play action. YPA is a little higher and ADOT is still a good 4 yards lower, but in terms of accuracy, success rate, and completion % he has just been good no matter what.
So just how good are Milton’s PA numbers? I got all of the information from an article by Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman on Twitter) and here’s the link if anyone is interested in Patrick Mahome’s MVP season https://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2018/11/11/dwain-mcfarlands-rsp-film-and-data-mvp-favorite-patrick-mahomes-and-the-numbers-behind-the-box-scores/.
So since 2007, the highest completion percentage in the NFL for QB’s with ADOT (average depth of target) of 9.5 or higher is 69.9% by Tony Romo in 2014. His ADOT was 9.50 on the dot, Milton’s play action ADOT is almost a full 4 yards higher than that and his completion percentage is only .7% lower.
The highest ADOT on the list was 10.3 with a 65.3% completion percentage. Milton’s ADOT is significantly higher than all of these and his completion percentage is not much lower.
So, Mahomes ADOT is 9.6 this season, that would rank third in the NFL. His completion percentage is 66.2% (all before yesterday’s game). Waldman did a little research and weighted out 53,281 passing attempts and found that the expected completion percentage for Mahomes should be 61.8%.
Milton’s play-action ADOT is 13.43 and his completion % is still above that 61.8% threshold.
Yes, it’s definitely a little easier to throw the ball in college vs. the NFL, but that doesn’t diminish how impressive Milton’s numbers are in this case.
I’d love to see more of that 70/30 play action/non-play action split than we saw in the Navy game going forward.
UCF went run heavy against Navy, which kind of made sense based on Navy’s oddly strange defensive gameplan.
Everyone was average/good, no one really stood out or did anything crazy. Taj had a big fumble, but that means nothing going forward.
McCrae once again was the best back to touch the ball and is finally starting to get the work he deserves.
His ability to make guys miss and run after contact has just been better than the other backs. He seems to be extremely patient, which is always a good thing.
UCF had a really successful offensive game. Out of 20 personnel they did struggle and I know off the top of my head, they were in “20” personnel on the first 3 and out. But, UCF was really good with the tight end on the field, which I don’t think Colubiale even played (I could be wrong on this).
They were successful on 26 of 42 runs with a tight end on the field and it’s in large part due to Navy’s defense.
Navy had 5 or 6 guys in the box on 87.32% of plays. Just by straight numbers, the O-Line is 5 people + tight end = 6 which is greater than 5 and equal to 6. UCF just had the numbers advantage all game which contributed to a lot of run plays and a lot of successful ones at that.
Dredrick Snelson and Otis Anderson:
This isn’t exactly a Navy game reaction, but I think these two guys are UCF’s X factors going into a difficult remaining 3/4 games.
Everyone saw how good these guys were last season and how much they meant to UCF’s success and we kind of expected them both to be focal points of the offense this season.
To me, the offense has seemed to be a Gabe Davis, Tre Nixon, Adrian Killins, and Greg McCrae headed attack and Snelson and Anderson have kind of been lost in the mix.
Against Navy, Snelson was on the field almost every play and got the highest target share on the team (25%), which I think is a first for the season.
He caught all 5 of them, 4 were successful plays, 2 went for touchdowns.
Of the 3 main receivers (Snelson, Davis, and Nixon), Snelson has 36 of the 129 targets to the trio. That’s just 28%. However, of the 75 successful receptions the trio has, Snelson has exactly a third of them. So with just a 28% target share, Snelson has a 33.3% of the success rate share between the 3 guys.
I just feel he has gotten lost a little in the offense playing in the slot and he is too good of a receiver to not be involved more going forward. The Navy game was a prime example.
Otis had a 12.68% usage rate on Saturday (targets + rush attempts) which is one of his season highs and it’s starting to look like he’s getting a little more involved.
In the last two games, he has 3 explosive plays on just 14 combined targets and rushes. He’s forced 5 missed tackles and gained an extra 61 yards because of it.
On his 3 receptions, he has 60 yards after the catch.
He has been targeted on two screens when lined up as a receiver, both were incomplete passes. Otis’ ability to get open as a true WR allows him to be effective in that area without needing easy throws to get him the ball which hasn’t been working anyway.
There is just no reason AK should be out-touching Anderson. He’s the better runner and WR and the indecisiveness of how to use his has kind of allowed him to get lost in the offense this season.
As shown with, Snelson’s target share, the offense isn’t exactly designed for slot receivers to get a lot of volume and both Snelson and Otis are arguably the two best offensive players on the team.