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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

McKenzie Milton posts a 90% accuracy rate against Navy. The combination of Milton and play-action is lethal and why Dredrick Snelson and Otis Anderson are my X-factors for the remainder of the season. I broke it all down with analytics.

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.

McKenzie Milton:

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.

Play Action:

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.

Run Game:

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.


Despite the difference in points allowed, UCF’s defense has actually been better in the first half than the second: I used analytics to explain

UCF has had two close calls this season and in both, they were trailing at halftime after allowing 30 and 34 points in the first half. In the second half however, they allowed 0 and 6 points in those two games.

There has been a lot of talk about how Randy Shannon’s second half adjustments have been unbelievable and what not.

However, after charting the Temple game, I kind of realized that maybe that’s not the case. In my opinion, which I’ll back up with factual data, the defense has actually played significantly better in the first half than the second half.

There probably won’t be anyone who agrees with me and everyone will say go look at the PPG allowed difference and you’re right about that. I think UCF gives up like 2.3 ppg in the 3Q which is insane.

But, raw data and in particular points per game, don’t tell the whole story. There are so many more things that factor into scoring and allowing points.

Field position, turnovers, number of possessions are the primary ones that stick out to me and that I took a look at.

*I did not include the UConn and SMU game because they were both 3 possession games at HT*

Overall Success Rate:

I think success rate is the best way at looking at performance as a whole. With every play factored in, it gives a true picture of overall success in a large sample.

If you take a look at the first half numbers, you’ll see that they’re actually pretty good. The only bad one that jumps out is the 5.32 ypc. A 36.45% success rate against on pass attempts is really good and a 6.37 ypa is very low.

A 44.66% success rate on runs is pretty good as well. Without the Memphis game it is right around 40%. The 5.32 ypc with a low success rate, makes me think a lot of successful runs are turning into explosive plays (10+) yards which can be a major reason for the 1h points allowed to be higher than the overall defensive performance. This is something I’ll get into in a little.

Now, take a look at the 2h numbers:

Everything is worse, except for YPC, which would have been worse without the Memphis game. So, obviously in the Memphis game, the 2h defense was much, much better than the 1h defense, but that is the only game this is true for. This leads me to believe that the heavy rain played a major factor in slowing down Memphis rather than UCF’s defense.

Overall success rate is almost 10% higher, that’s a pretty significant amount with a large sample of plays.

I have come up with a couple of ideas as to why the points per half difference is so drastic despite the overall defensive performance being better in the second half.

Field Position/Turnovers:

Starting field position has a lot to do with scoring. The better the field position, the less amount of successful plays you’re going to need to score for the most part.

On 35 first half possessions, the average starting field position for UCF’s opponents is their own 26.66 yard line.

On 30 second half possessions, their average starting field position is their own 24.93 yard line.

I know what you’re thinking, “1.5 yards is nothing”. It may seem like nothing, but for an average with 30+ numbers, it is actually pretty significant. On top of that, the one drive that has started in UCF’s territory all season, came in the second half, and the starting field position is still worse.

For comparison’s sake, 24.93 would be the worst in the NFL by .2 yards and the difference between best and worst in the NFL is 6 yards according to football outsiders.

Turnovers also play a huge factor here. A lot of the turnovers off the top of my head, UCF has forced, have come in the second half. To me, almost all turnovers are because of offensive mistakes rather than defensive schemes. There are some turnovers that are caused by defensive schemes and coverage designs, but I don’t think you can argue that maybe more than one of UCF’s has been because of this.

Let’s take a look at all 35 of UCF’s first half defensive drive results:

Only 6 of 35 possessions have ended due to an offensive miscue (missed FG + turnovers). That’s roughly 17% of possessions.

UCF has forced 13 punts on the remaining 29 possessions which is bout 45% of possessions and have only allowed 9 first half touch downs which is only 25% of total drives. The obvious game that sticks out as bad is the Memphis game and technically, if UCF didn’t commit a million penalties, this wouldn’t be the case.

Now for the second half:

First off, only 30 possessions. By my math, which isn’t the best, is 5 less than 35 and 5 x 7 = 35 which is the amount of possible points more opponents could have scored in the 1h rather than 2h just solely based on number of possessions.

Last time I checked, points allowed averages doesn’t give a crap about possessions which is just another reason raw stats are misleading.

Of those 30 possessions, 14 of them have ended in either a turnover, missed FG or a turnover on downs. That’s almost 50% of possessions ending because of offensive miscues. Every turnover on downs has come on pretty good offensive drives, but time and score had an effect on kicking a FG or going for it.

This leaves 16 possessions where opponents didn’t hurt themselves, that is significantly less than the 29 in the first half.

Yes, turnovers are a part of football, I’m not saying anything in a bad way, all this is, is pointing out why the 2h points allowed is much lower than the first half.

Defensive adjustments have nothing to do with opponent starting field position and for the most part, turnovers. It just so happens that a large majority of turnovers have come in the 2h.

Explosive Plays/Missed Tackles:

A good way to score points of offense, without having a lot of overall success, is to have explosive plays.

Of the 46 successful runs against in the first half that UCF has allowed, 19 of them have gone for more than 10 yards (41%). On those 19 runs, UCF has allowed 338 yards of rushing offense. They have also missed 12 tackles which accounted for an extra 171 yards of offense on those 19 runs.

Tackling has played a huge role in the offensive success against in the first half so far. I don’t think the players are learning how to tackle at halftime.

Of the 45 successful runs in the second half, 14 of them have gone for 10+ yards (31%) and UCF has missed 7 tackles for 92 yards on these.

Of the 39 successful first half pass attempts, 28 (72%) of them have gone for 10+ yards.

OF 51 successful second half passes, 33 (65%) of them have gone for 10+ yards. Not a huge difference here, but it is still a difference.


Obviously everyone is going to point out that I’m wrong because the points allowed per half difference is so drastic so how in the world could the defense actually be playing better in the first half.

If I were to show you the data that I just did, without telling you which half they were from, you would say everything is flipped. Every second half stat should be for the first half and vice versa if you solely look at points allowed.

Overall, my point is that raw stats can be kind of misleading on overall performance. The numbers would be even more in favor of the 1h without a heavy rain in the 2h of the Memphis game.

The bottom line is, I expect UCF’s defense to be better (points allowed wise) in the first half going forward and worse in the second half.

They are about to head into their toughest 3 game stretch after the Navy game and teams like Cinci, USF (well maybe USF), and Houston are not going to have the offensive miscues that ECU with a true frosh QB or some of the other UCF opponents have had when the game gets tight.


UCF’s offense looked like one that can compete with any defense in the country, but the defense had a major weakness exposed. Was UCF’s defense actually better in the 2h? I broke it all down with analytics and advanced stats

UCF was able to hold off Temple Thursday night to extend their winning streak to 8 on the season and 21 total.

It wasn’t exactly pretty if you’re a fan of defense, but it was an exciting game if you don’t root for boring football.

I broke it all down with analytics and advanced stats. The good, the bad and the ugly.


It took 7 games, but the way UCF’s offense looked against Temple, reminded me of last season where I felt they could compete against any defense in the country. It was the first time all season, outside of the UConn game, you were surprised when they didn’t score on a drive.

To me, the biggest difference was Heupel finally used his personnel correctly.


I’ll start with personnel. Now, Gabe Davis got hurt early and Otis Anderson got hurt late so that caused Heupel to use Otis in the slot a lot more and then using a tight end primarily when Otis went down.

We finally got an abundance of 20 personnel. Unsurprisingly, UCF performed really well with 2 RB’s and 3 WR’s on the field. 11 of 15 successful rushing attempts is pretty good, I’d say.

“11” personnel was really good against Temple as well. Overall, UCF was just really good on offense, it’s almost impossible to come up with anything bad to say about this performance. I could dig really deep and probably find something, but it’s the first time all season I don’t have something obvious and we’re gonna keep it that way.

When I say “Heupel finally used his personnel right”, I don’t exactly mean personnel groupings.

Adrian Killins finally didn’t get force fed up the middle and treated like a work horse back that he isn’t. Killins got 3 targets in the passing game on balls thrown behind the LOS, 2 being screens, with a ton of space. All 3 of them turned into successful plays and he had 69 yards after reception on those 3 plays.

He also had a deep ball underthrown lined up in the slot when he was matched up against a LB. It didn’t work out, but you’ll take that matchup 100 times out of 100 if you’re Heupel.

Running Game:

The major question of personnel usage came with the running backs. Heupel is a run first coach, despite liking to air it out. However the running back usage had been a mess.

AK, as mentioned above, was finally used the right way. That allowed for a couple of things. 1. Greg McCrae and Taj McGowan get more carries and 2. AK being more effective with less carries. Quality over Quantity.

AK with a good success rate for the first time in a few games is nice to see. Taj, once again dominated in his few carries, but there was a slight increase in his touches.

Otis had a couple of carries early, but was forced into the slot which really limited the chances he’d normally get to run the ball, but we all saw how important he is on that 57 yard catch and run. It sucks not being able to get more carries and Otis is probably a little upset, but being able to step in and be a full time WR when someone goes down is extremely valuable to have.

Although, Marlon Williams is a pretty damn good receiver who can’t quite seem to impress Heupel for some reason. He made an incredible catch to start the last TD drive in the 4th Q and has done that his whole career at UCF.

Rant over, back to the run game and Greg McCrae because he was awesome:

16 Carries, 13 successful. Those are video game numbers. There was a reason I said he was UCF’s MVP halfway through the season. Heupel finally opened his eyes in the 2h. I believe he only had like 4 carries in the 1h. 5 yards after contact per rush, and 7 missed tackles forced are very impressive as well.

I think McCrae’s time has finally come.

Play of Drive:

While were on the topic of the run game, I’ll mention this. After, the Memphis game, I had discussed how UCF needs to start throwing the ball on the first 2 plays of drives more often. It had shown throughout the season, when I combined every game. However, against Temple, Heupel went 11 of 14 runs, 8 being successful plays on the first play of the drive. My assessment kind of back fired, but McCrae getting more touches definitely can change that.

Also playing a top 10 pass defense and a bottom 30 run defense did show, but nonetheless, I was wrong, at least for this game.

Offensive Line:

The offensive line had been kind of struggling, but against Temple, they were unbelievable. It showed with the rushing success.

I think one of these might have come on a running play. Colubiale’s was on an Otis screen pass so he was a much improved blocked this week for sure which is great to see because he’s had a positive impact everywhere else.

Temple didn’t really blitz either which helps out the line a bit.

McKenzie Milton:

Milton returned after something like 18 days off. He was definitely a little rusty, but he still played really good. By rusty, I mean, he missed a couple of throws he normally makes and might not have been 100% back up to game speed with reads and timing.

The throw he made to Colubiale for the TD, shows exactly why Milton is a special QB.

I actually really like this from Heupel. Deep shots and short passes. Gabe Davis and Tre Nixon are impossible to cover one on one on the outside as we saw against one of the best pass defenses. Milton has just slightly missed Nixon for long TD’s about a dozen times this year and you have to think they’re going to find the rhythm any moment now and watch out when they do.

Snelson is a do everything guy. He can win deep, and he can make plays after the catch. With the speed UCF has their is no reason to be throwing 11-20 yard throws, unless they’re wide open like Snelson was on Milton’s INT.

It was nice to have Milton back and looking extremely healthy.

His feet didn’t do much, but that’s all good when the RB’s are producing like they did.


It wasn’t pretty. You can look at the box score if you want the numbers, but I’ll try and look deeper into it than that.

Tackling, wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad so I won’t do missed tackles. I was at work for the 1h and had to follow on gamecast/twitter and twitter made it seem like the tackling was really bad when it really wasn’t.

Pass D:

So this is really all I’m going to talk about because it is what needs to be discussed.

I mentioned after the UCF game, that I felt I had found a weak spot in UCF’s pass D.

On 11 attempts, on balls thrown inside the numbers, and not thrown at Moore or Clarke, but thrown to a receiver, ECU completed 7 passes. 8 of the times, the receiver was open and they averaged 12.55 yards per attempt on these throws. Now, 7/11 isn’t terrific, but when you look at how good UCF’s Pass defense has been, it stands out and 12.55 YPA is concerning.

To further this, on balls thrown to RB’s or TE’s, again guys Moore or Clarke are not covering, ECU was successful on 10 out 18 pass plays. These plays averaged 8.33 yards per attempt. It’s a bit nit-picky, but a 17/29 success rate definitely raises some eyes when UCF held ECU to a 41% success rate for the game.”

This is what I wrote.

Now, Brandon Moore played awful, there is no denying that I actually think he got benched if he wasn’t hurt, but the he was certainly not the only problem.

Any coach who doesn’t come in with a game plan to throw between the numbers against UCF’s defense needs to be fired until something changes on defense.

Yeah, UCF held Temple to 6 points in the 2h, but it wasn’t because of this.

I took out tipped passes and throw away so it’s not = to Russo’s 52 attempts.

Temple threw 31 passes between the numbers. The receivers was open on 25(!) of those. The only reason the numbers aren’t worse, is because they can’t be and because Rashard Causey actually played really well defending passed to the right. But to the middle and left, 16 out of 22 successful pass attempts. Major, major weakness for UCF’s defense.

Individual Coverage: 

I’m going to start with Pat. Pat’s an unreal football player and a major part of this defense and is getting put into bad position by Randy Shannon. I had Pat as the primary target on 8 pass plays. 6 of them were successful (75%), 7 were completed, and 7.33 yards were averaged after the catch. But look who he is being asked to cover:

He only got matched up with a TE once, a play he got hurt on or he would’ve made the tackled for just a 5 yard gain.

3 targets on balls 15+ yards downfield against Temple’s skilled wide outs, that’s just not fair. You can’t blame Pat for this, something needs to be figured out.

Nevelle Clarke who’s been really good, was really good again. He made an incredible interception on pure football anticipation.

He was involved in 9 targets. 4 completions, and only 7 total yards allowed after the catch.

Brandon Moore: Clarke’s partner in crime and a guy I’ve been really high on all season because he deserved it, allowed 4 catches on his 4 targets, all for big gains. The TD he bit on the out route and got burnt.

The one cross across the middle kind of seemed like a zone miscommunication between him and Grant. This was his last target faced so not sure if this led to him getting benched (if he didn’t get hurt)

The two other catches allowed, he actually had good coverage the throws were just better, but he didn’t allow any yards after reception.

Rashard Causey: Causey had himself a game. He didn’t have any interceptions, but he was the reason for the two interceptions that happened.

I had Causey as a target on 8 throws, only 2 receptions against, both were successful plays, but he came up big. You can’t get complain about a 25% catch rate against and having such good coverage on 25% of your targets, you create an interception.

Aaron Robinson seemed to be the guy to fill in for Moore. He allowed 2 catches on his 4 targets.

Keenan Johnson: Johnson allowed 4 catches on his 4 targets, but minimized the big play.

There were too many pass attempts to go through everyone, but I think I touched on the main guys in pass defense.

Run Defense:

Armstead’s success rate on the season was around 57% and he pretty much maintained that against UCF. However, UCF’s run defense kind of flip flopped in terms of where they allowed successful rushes based on direction.

I think what everyone noticed was the QB run game from Russo. Something he didn’t do all season, but when you’re going to leave 10-15 yards on pass plays for the QB to run, any QB is in college is athletic enough to take advantage of that.

Russo scrambled 5 times, all 5 were successful and he averaged 11.2 ypc. That’s just not going to cut it vs. D’eriq King and Barnett.


Temple ran 97 plays they were successful on 53 of them (54.64%) which isn’t actually as bad as it looked.

On designed passes they were 33/60 and rush attempts they were 20/37. Armstead was 16/27, it just shows how important he is to this offense.

In the first half Temple was 27/51 and in the second half they were 26/46. Although Temple only scored 6 points in the 2h, their offense was actually better on a per play basis. I contribute this to starting field position, two turnovers, a missed fg and a turnover on downs.

The 2h points against makes you think that adjustments were made, but were they really? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

I Used Analytics and Advanced Stats to breakdown Temple’s offense and identified some Temple play calling trends

UCF and Temple face off Thursday night in a match up between two teams undefeated in AAC play.

Both teams are coming off a bye week and both have their most important offensive player questionable for this one.

McKenzie Milton said out UCF’s last game @ ECU and Temple’s running back, Ryquell Armstead has missed Temple’s last two games. If I had to guess, I’d say both will be playing in this primetime AAC battle.

I went through and charted every offensive play from Temple’s season in which Anthony Russo was their starting QB. Russo won over the job after Temple started 0-2 with losses to Buffalo and Villanova in which Frank Nutile ran the offense and an injury forced him out of week 3 action.

With Russo at the helm, Temple is 5-1, including a 21 point win at Maryland, and a home win over then #20 Cincinnati. Their only loss came at Boston College, in a very close game, back and forth game.

Many UCF fans believe this might be the hardest remaining game on the schedule, but I would disagree.

I broke down Temple’s offense using analytics and advanced stats to explain why I don’t believe Temple’s offense is a major threat.

I looked at just about everything outside of raw numbers you can think and identified some predictable play calling from Temple.


Personnel has slowly turned into my favorite thing to look at when I look at offenses. It’s not interesting at all, but for some reason I love to see how coaches like to use their personnel differently and where they are most effective.

 Temple, interestingly enough, does not use any personnel more than 41% of plays. Like most teams, “11” personnel is most commonly used. For Temple, “12” personnel is by far their most successful package of the 3 mainly used.

As more of a run first team who when they throw, gets the ball out quick, the more blockers, leads to better production.

If you look at how UCF’s defense has fared against the personnel’s Temple uses, you’ll see they are weakest against “12” personnel. If Temple were smart, they’d run a lot of “12” personnel Thursday night.

One thing I noticed about Temple’s personnel usage, is they kind of tip their play call with their personnel.

Out of “20” personnel (2 running backs, 3 WR’s 0 TE’s), almost 80% of the time it’s a pass play. Out of “12” personnel (1 RB, 2 WR’s, 2 TE’s) they run the ball 70% of the time despite having an outstanding 63% success rate throwing the ball.

Play Calling:

While I’m on the topic of play calling, I’ll jump into this now. I identified a situation where Temple goes run 80% of the time despite it being 2nd and long.

Taking out the 2h of games due to score and the clock having an influence in play calling, Temple threw an incomplete pass on first down 18 times, normally setting up 2nd and 10, but I believe their was about one 5 and one 15 thrown in there. On those 18 second downs, they ran the ball 80% of the time (14).

Defensively, it’s a nice situation to be in. If UCF can sit run here, it has the ability to set up a lot of 3rd and longs.

From a Temple perspective, this isn’t good to see. They have a 50% success rate and average 13 yards per attempt on their 4 pass attempts.

On their rushes, they have a 43% success rate and average 9.36 ypc, but 91 of those yards came on two rushes. If you take those out, they average 3.33 ypc.

The logical reason coaches fall into this play calling trend is because they don’t want to go pass, pass, pass, punt because it looks “stupid”.

I also charted Temple’s down and distance play calling:

Once again, the run/pass %’s aren’t as close to 50/50 as you’d like and if I had the time to break this down a lot further based off previous plays and personnel usage, Temple’s play calling is probably extremely trendy.

Interestingly, I mentioned before about 2nd down runs after an incomplete pass, but if you look at 2nd and 8-10 to go, it’s 61% pass. This tells me that after an unsuccessful run or unsuccessful completed pass, Temple is going to pass again.

Passing Attack:

I’m not exactly sure QB play is the reason Temple is now 5-3 after changing quarterbacks after their 0-2 start, but it kind of just worked out that the team won with Russo, so Geoff Collins stuck with him.

Here’s Russo’s accuracy chart:

He is actually a good amount more accurate than his 56% completion percentage.

Temple loves to throw the ball quick. They will run a ton of quick outs, curls, hitches, and mix in a lot of one on one vertical passes where the ball comes out quick. The line has barely let up any hurries/knockdowns because of this, so don’t expect UCF to get pressure, it’s not a cause for concern, it’s more of the offensive design.

Russo throws the deep ball extremely well and Temple’s receivers tend to drop a lot of them. He also throws the ball to his throwing arm side, about 20% more accurate than to the left.

Isaiah Wright and Ventell Bryant are still Temple’s primary receivers as it seems this is their 10th year playing college football.

Temple will play more than a handful of receivers, so I took a look at the 4 with over 20 targets.

Bryant is the main deep threat, as his highest % depth of target is the deep ball, but all 4 of these guys are deep threats.

Mack is the only sure handed guy as Bryant, Jones and Wright have a combined 10 drops which is not good.

Another thing to look at, is yards after reception/reception. It is eye glaringly low and speaks to the types of throws Temple makes. Outs to the sideline and curls/comebacks where the receiver doesn’t exactly have time to turn and run.

A semi-weakness of UCF’s pass defense this season has been when Brandon Moore and Nevelle Clarke aren’t being thrown at. It speaks volume to how good both those guys are.

Almost every snap they are covering the guy lined up as the left wide receiver and the right wide receiver.

So most of these plays are coming from slot receivers, tight ends, and half backs.

I broke down Temple’s target share and production by pre-snap position.

Just under 50% of their targets go to LWR and RWR which is a good thing for UCF’s defense.

32% of targets go to slot receivers and the remaining percentage of targets goes to inside slot receivers, tight ends and backs.

An interesting thing here… I mentioned before about Russo’s accuracy to his throwing arm side (right) of the field, if you look at the targets to left wide receivers, left slot receivers and left tight ends, you’ll see that the production is significantly lower than when targeting guys lined up on the right side of the field.

UCF’s pass defense has been very good. The issues with the non Moore and Clarke targets are more in depth than this graphic, but it still shows just how good Moore and Clarke are.

Everyone wondered how UCF could replace Mike Hughes, I think Brandon Moore’s coverage might be more impressive, just look at those numbers.

Run Game:

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Armstead’s status for this game is more important than Milton’s. I’ve said I think both will play, but Armstead may be limited.

He is so important to this run game and as a team that lives by the motto “Temple Tuff”, the run game is important to their offense.

This team is just nowhere close to the same running the ball when Ritrovato and Gardner are in the backfield. They are both in the mid to low 30’s in success rate, struggle to make guys miss and struggle to gain yards after contact.

The area you want to attack UCF’s run defense is to the left end. Armstead is the only back Temple has that has shown he can do this. Running up the middle is no good for opposing offenses against this defense and that is Ritrovato’s main game (which he doesn’t do well by the way)

Almost half of Gardner’s attempts have gone to the left end, but he’s not bee very good.

A lot of UCF’s run struggles quote on quote, have come against Devin Singletary and Darrell Henderson, easily two of the best running backs in the country, so their run defense is probably better than numbers actually show.

Armstead is really good, but he doesn’t match up with Henderson and Singletary. So in my opinion, for Temple to have any success on the ground, they need Armstead to be close to 100% because the drop off in success behind him is evident.

Luck/Starting Field Position:

This is the last thing I’ll take about. Watching the games and charting every play makes you play really close attention, so you kind of see things that don’t necessarily stand out while watching games live.

I also don’t really think this is “luck”, but I’m not sure what else to consider it.

Temple will run a lot of fake punts, and they’ve scored I believe two TD’s in the last 6 games because of this. They also have a punt return, and I believe 3 total defensive TD’s in the last 6 games. That’s 42 points, not from the offense.

Obviously all this stuff is part of football and is a product of coaching and execution, but I believe turnovers are an independent variable from game to game and if UCF isn’t prepared for fake punts, then they don’t deserve to win.

I looked at Temple’s starting field position on their 20 TD offensive TD drives.

Av average starting line of scrimmage of their own 37 is very, very good. To put this in perspective, UCF’s average starting field position is the 26. Temple’s average starting field position is their own 31 on all drives, including TD drives. It goes to show how much starting field position means to this offense.

UCF’s offense and special teams normally doesn’t allow for good starting field position for opponents though:

On 57 opponent drives, the averages starting LOS is their own 27.

A little more than 25% of Temple’s TD’s in their last 6 games have come from reasons other than the offense.

Things I feel are due for regression, water always levels out.

In the Cincinnati game, Temple was gifted 10 points on careless Cincinnati fumbles in the 1q. Cincinnati missed 3 field goals and then went for it on a 4th down because they didn’t trust their kicker. Temple won in OT.

Bottom line is, I don’t feel Temple is anywhere near as good as their 5-1 record with Russo at QB.

We’ll see what happens Thursday night, but I don’t expect UCF to commit the turnovers or have the coaching and special teams lapses that have benefited Temple so far this season.

The stats might not jump out at you, but I explained why I think Darriel Mack showed a ton of potential and UCF’s defense once again performed

Darriel Mack got his first collegiate start against ECU on Saturday and picked up his first collegiate win as UCF won their 20th straight game.

UCF’s defense was able to force turnovers all game long and played pretty good to keep some of the pressure off of Mack.

However, keeping the pressure off Mack was probably a bad thing as the offense got very stagnant in the second half and it almost cost UCF.

The numbers, passing in particular, from Mack weren’t great and a lot of casual fans will look at the box score and not be necessarily happy.

On the other hand,I actually think Mack played really good and showed a lot of promise for UCF’s QB situation after Milton.

The second quarter, the one quarter I feel like Heupel let Mack play, might have been UCF’s best offensive quarter of the season.

I took a look at some of the advanced stats from Mack’s performance as well as the defensive effort UCF put out.


70% of Mack’s passes were accurate, which is a very solid number. You’ll notice how more than half of his passes traveled 10 or less yards in the air, but he was extremely accurate on these. Heupel went with more of short passing game and getting his play makers in space, something I wish he’d do more of with Milton too.

The 0/3 in the intermediate depth range is obviously not good. Two of those came on slants to the left to Gabe Davis, where he was open and both would’ve went for big plays. With more reps and experience, Mack makes these throws and I don’t see it as a concern.

Mack was extremely accurate throwing the ball to his throwing arm side (right). 10 of 12 passes to the right or right sideline were accurate balls.

He also was great throwing deep. Both of his deep balls traveled 45 yards in the air and he had no problem getting the ball there. He missed Nixon in the end zone on his first one, but put the ball in a spot where it couldn’t be intercepted. Snelson dropped the second one in the end zone on a ball you probably couldn’t have placed better and Snelson probably catched 8/10 times.

Mack also threw a ball in the 3rd quarter I believe down the right sideline to Tre Nixon about 46 yards in the air, once again, placed perfectly, but Nixon was interfered with.

Every single attempt Mack had, he threw from the pocket. He took some big hits, but stood in there which was impressive. As a guy who is a good as a runner as he showed, it was great to see him trusting his reads and not thinking run first.

Mack did miss 4 open receivers and he had one incompletion due to a miscommunication. If you look at his raw numbers in the box score, they won’t jump out at you, but a few drops and 1 or 2 more accurate passes and he has a huge game.

Let’s look at his numbers based on receiver routes:

Definitely a wide variety, but he showed he can make all the throws. The touch might not have been there on a couple passes, the slants to davis, and the Hesock drop stand out, but let’s not forget it was his first college start.

He showed great arm strength, deep ball accuracy, and poise in the pocket outside of the first quarter which I contribute to some definite nerves. There’s not much more you can ask from Mack in my opinion.

UCF’s line did a solid job blocking for him, but getting the ball out of his hands quickly also helped limit the pressures faced.

He faced 6 pressures, 3 resulted in sacks, 2 were on blitzes. Two were on the first drive, one he probably held onto the ball a little too long, but I’d rather see him take a sack then force something.

One of the slants he missed to Davis, he was under pressure and the other two, he scrambled for a combined 20 yards, not bad.

I mentioned above, that the second quarter might’ve been UCF’s best quarter of the season. It started with the final drive of the 1q that leaked into the second.

A 16 play drive, followed by a 6 play drive, followed by a 2 play TD drive, followed by a 10 play TD drive.

All 4 resulted in points, if the first two were punched into the end zone, instead of settling for FG’s, this game is over by halftime. But, the sustained success is what makes those 4 drives so great. Being able to produce 4 drives straight, I’m not sure UCF has done maybe outside of the UConn game.

12 (60%) of Mack’s passing attempts came on these 4 drives. He had 8 of his 12 completions (66.67%) on these. 75% of them resulting in successful plays. It’s baffling to me, why Heupel was gun shy in the 2h. Mack proved he can take care of the ball and efficiently move the ball when he has his arm as a threat.

Mack’s Run Game

I think the best part about Mack playing, was one of the best runners on the team actually had the most carries.

Mobile QB’s are so scary and hard to defend in college and Mack proved that.

We all know how much Milton’s legs matter to the offense and it’s probably even more evident how much Mack’s meant.

*Doesn’t include sacks and kneel downs like box scores*

On designed QB runs, Mack was a beast. 6 out of 8 were successful, he had more yards after contact then before and averaged nearly 8 ypc. The read option game wasn’t necessarily great, but the threat was still there. He had a 77 yard (I think) TD called back late in the game that only resulted in a 17 yard gain. He’s physical, fast, and elusive which is nice to have from the QB spot.

Speaking of physical, Mack was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage 5 times, he averaged 3 ypc after contact on these, that number blows almost every running back in the country away.

Overall, I was really impressed with Mack, the 25 or so plays, the offense was open, he showed out. He was, for the most part, accurate, poised, and effective. He’s only a freshman and this was his first ever meaningful reps that wasn’t a handoff due to Milton leaving for a play.

Let’s remember Milton’s first couple of games as a college QB, you’re not going to light it up right away, but Mack showed he has potential to follow in Milton’s footsteps.


Another great performance and they really kind of saved the game after UCF got very conservative in the 2h. I charted 95 plays for ECU (a lot and very time consuming), ECU was only successful on 38 of them (40%). Anything below 45% for the defense, is really good.

In the first half, ECU was 14/43 (32.56%). UCF’s D stepped up until the offense got in rhythm. The amount of plays and score definitely had an impact in the 2h defense as ECU was 24/55 which isn’t great, but better than the 1h. However, UCF was able to come up with some massive turnovers, something you can’t rely on game to game, but you’ll take ’em when they come.

I think we all wanted to see how the defense would defend the rushing ability of a mobile QB, something that has been a bit of a concern. Well, ECU’s QB ran the ball 23 times total, only 8 were successful attempts. He averaged 3.87 ypc, 2.52 of that coming before contact.

UCF only allowed him to scramble twice, which went for 12 total yards.

Brandon Moore continued his dominance in the secondary, even though he allowed a completion in garbage time.

He was targeted 4 times. All 4 of them coming on passes over 10 yards down field, only that 1 catch was surrendered.

ECU probably did what most teams should and avoid Moore as much as possible. They picked on Nevelle Clarke a little, well at least tried to. Clarke was thrown at 9 times and allowed a 44.44% completion percentage. Pretty good. He also had a pick.

There is an area I think UCF showed they can be exploited on defense. It’s their ability to defend slot receivers.

Moore and Clarke are lockdown for the most part and it really takes out most of a passing attack.

On 11 attempts, on balls thrown inside the numbers, and not thrown at Moore or Clarke, but thrown to a receiver, ECU completed 7 passes. 8 of the times, the receiver was open and they averaged 12.55 yards per attempt on these throws. Now, 7/11 isn’t terrific, but when you look at how good UCF’s Pass defense has been, it stands out and 12.55 ypa is concerning.

To further this, on balls thrown to RB’s or TE’s, again guys Moore or Clarke are not covering, ECU was successful on 10 out 18 pass plays. These plays averaged 8.33 yards per attempt. It’s a bit nit-picky, but a 17/29 success rate definitely raises some eyes when UCF helf ECU to a 41% success rate for the game.

The D-Line and LB’s were great in getting pressure on both passes and runs. UCF had a run disruption/stop/hurry/knockdown on a third of ECU’s plays. Not one of the 32 resulted in a successful play. That’s incredible and shows how important this is.

It is a long list and a lot of people contributed to here’s a picture of the 32 plays and the players that contributed.

Titus Davis has been a beast all season.

Eriq Gilyard once again came up huge. Not only did he contribute in this category multiple times, but he had the biggest play of the game. On the ECU jump pass that resulted in a Gibson sack and Evans 95 yard fumble recovery, it was all because of Gilyard.

He struggled a bit in coverage throughout the game, but came up huge when it mattered. Almost every time, a team runs that jump pass play, the TE is always open. Gilyard didn’t bite on the run, the true freshman stayed disciplined when he could’ve sold out to stop the QB draw. Ahlers went to throw the ball, saw Gilyard just blanketed on the TE, and double clutched, allowing Gibson to make the hit.

It is something that might go unnoticed, but in the film room, Gilyard is getting all the credit, rightfully so.

Now, UCF gets a nice 10 day break before they take on Temple in a huge game. It’s a game, I think the defense has a chance to dominate again. They been performing at a high level all season.


With half the season in the books, I used analytics to break down UCF’s offense as well as taking a look at situational play calling and personnel usage

With half of UCF’s (FBS) games in the books, I thought it’d be a good time to kind of poll all of the game by game data together and take a look at how the season has been so far in whole.

I’m only going to focus on offense and will try and get to the defense next week, but both together will just be way too long because this is going to be long enough.

I want to compare some individual stuff to last season and some of Heupel’s situational play calling to kind of how he called games at Mizzou to see if anything has drastically changed.

Overall, there will be a lot of information so I’ll try and break it down by topic as best I can.

*The data I’m using from last season doesn’t include the FIU and Austin Peay games*

Passing Game: McKenzie Milton Accuracy

*Throw Aways are not included*

Like last season, overall, Milton has been extremely accurate. He’s regarded as one of the best QB’s in the country for a reason. If there is one area you can say he is struggling, it is throwing the deep ball, something he was best in the country at last season.

Still, an about 50% accuracy rate on pass attempts traveling 21+ yards in the air is nothing to complain about.

Here is his chart from last season under Frost:

He has improved massively in intermediate range (11-15).

I threw this in here to kind of compare what distance throws he made last year vs. this year.

A lot of people had mentioned to me they felt Frost called a lot of simple quick hitters.

If you take out the throw aways from last season, Milton threw 149 passes that went behind the LOS-5 yards downfield. Divide that by the 11 games and you get 13.55 attempts per game, which would be just under half of the 31.73 attempt per game average.

This season, only 9 attempts per game come in this range out of 32.2 average attempts. This are extremely high percentage throws and easy completions. These 45 plays, have hit at a solid 51% success rate. It is a great way to kind of extend the run game and get guys in space. Average yards after catch is 8.03 which shows they can really help get ahead of the chains.

Now, what a lot of people mentioned pre-season was that Heupel’s offense is going to involve more down field passing. I had said that Frost’s offense last season and Heupel’s at Mizzou both roughly attempted 1 deep pass every 5 pass plays, so there wouldn’t be much of an increase in this area.

Through the 5 FBS games, Milton is throwing a deep ball about 1 in every 6 throws, so this area is actually trending down under Heupel compared to last season.

Milton struggled throwing to the right sideline last season and it has been his weakest direction this season as well. Tre Nixon is the guy who loses the most from this. Replacing Tre’Quan Smith in the downfield passing game was going to be almost impossible. He caught 15 of 22 downfield targets last year which is incredible.

Nixon is an unbelievable talent and it has shown. He’s been targeted 11 of the 28 downfield attempts from Milton, he’s only caught 4, but has been open 3 times where Milton has missed him. Once these two get in a little more work together, this combination has the potential to be a difference maker.

I will go into depth on receiving in a little.

Offensive Line:

A big issue the last couple of games for UCF offensively has been the battle of trenches. Milton is able to make the line look better by avoiding sacks, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a major impact on the pass game and in the run game.

UCF has faced 60 blitzes on 183 designed drop-backs this season, about 33% of the time. On those plays, they are below a 50% success rate, have allowed a sack and been forced to throw it away twice. Really not terrible numbers, as blitzes are designed to do just this. They can also be great opportunities for big plays.

However, on the 123 plays where UCF has not been faced a blitz, they have allowed a whopping 30 pressures. On these 30 plays, Milton hasn’t even been able to get a chance to try and complete a pass on 33% of them. The once he is able too, he is only completing 35% of his passes.

Now, UCF has played a relatively weak schedule and this is something to think about in a potential NY6 bowl game where your opponent is much better. I think last season, this was neutralized a little by the short passing game, which I mentioned the difference in attempts above.

The line has a major impact in the run game as well.

On 191 rush attempts, UCF has allowed a run disruption on 23 of them. Roughly 12% of rushes are disrupted due to the O-Line. These are considered plays where an O-Lineman is bull rushed, misses their assignment or just completely whiffs on the block at or behind the LOS.

With UCF’s giving the bulk of their carries to a less physical back, it is not surprising at all to see the above yards per carry numbers. Taj McGowan was the only back to convert one of these plays into a successful one.

12% is not a bad percentage at all, but you can see how much these impact UCF’s run game. If you take out plays where UCF is blitzed and combine pressures on passes with run disruptions allowed, they occur on roughly 35% of plays which seems like a decently high percentage to me and clearly negatively impacts offensive production.

So who is allowing these pressures and run disruptions:

Brown and Colubiale definitely stand out, especially because Colubiale runs a route on most pass plays, so his allowed % is probably the highest on the team by far.

Wyatt and Tyler have been the best starting O-Lineman and Bailey Granier has been solid as well. Granier and Schneider split snaps at about a 50/50 split.

Definitely something to monitor as UCF has a lot of depth as this position, but there is no doubt Miller, Hudanick, Brown, and Kelton all were great last year and have a ton of experience as well. There are numerous ways blocking numbers can be improved and the biggest one is simply just get the ball out of Milton’s hands quicker, something UCF did more of last season.

The Run Game:

My favorite thing about this season has been how well Heupel has used his surplus of talent at the running back position.

For reference, here is Mizzou’s directional running last season under Heupel’s lead.

Coming in to the season, it was obvious UCF was going to try and run the ball between the tackles and we’ve definitely seen that done plenty of times even.

Here’s what we got going on here. 2 running backs with over a 70% success rate, one over 60% and one under 45%. Try and figure out which one gets the ball the most.

McRae, Taj and Otis have a combined 74 carries. AK has 67 alone. Now, contrary to poular belief, AK is actually running the ball up the middle pretty effectively. Nowhere near the effectiveness of the other guys, but that hasn’t exactly been the problem.

If you look at AK’s numbers from last season, this year is kind of trending towards the same direction. Up the middle good, not so much elsewhere. Although last season running to the RE was extremely good.

I would love to hear Heupel’s reasoning behind using AK as the premier back as I think we all would.

The numbers and the eye test can’t be more obvious.

Greg McRae went from a walk on to an absolute stud. Taj McGowan is really good and Otis is Otis.

I’ve kind of touched on this after every game so no point of going further into it.

Otis Anderson:

Coming into the season, I thought he was UCF’s most important offensive player, and I still do, despite his limited use.

I went into deep detail on his production last season and want to kind of look at how it’s been this season.

I already touched on the rushing numbers so this is primarily wide receiver focused.

This is all from last season, how he fared as a receiver from the backfield and split out, as well as being the lone RB on the field or being in either “21” or “20” personnel.

His numbers are far and away better when playing with another RB and his receiving numbers are drastically better when split out wide.

This season, he as 18 targets, only 8 receptions and only 7 successful plays as a receiver.

He has 15 targets when lined up S/W/T and 7 receptions, so he has 1 catch on 3 targets out of the backfield.

His average depth of target is 11 yards when he’s S/W/T compared to only 7 yards last season, where he was much more effective.

He has only 3 targets in “11”personnel and only 1 reception.

It’s obvious this kid is really good with the ball and showed last season how good he is as a receiver. Heupel is using him a lot S/W/T with another RB on the field which is where he thrived last season. But, 4 yards more average DOT is a significant amount and I think Otis’ skill set might suit the short to intermediate range a lot more like we saw last season.


Something I haven’t looked at all season.

So mine as well now:

So, Gabe and Nixon definitely are Milton’s two main targets this season. Snelson missed a game or he’d probably be at about the 30 target range.

Heading into the season, we all expected Snelson to be the clear #1 guy.

His numbers last season were great and with the loss of Tre’Quan, he seemed like the obvious guy. I think the full time move to the slot has had a major impact on his production. Not this it’s bad, but just that I think he’s really good and should be used more.

I say the move to the slot for a couple of reasons. If you look at the chart of Milton’s passes, you’ll notice how many of them go to the sideline. Davis and Tre are pretty much lined up outside the numbers every snap so that has a major effect on why they have a significant amount more targets.

Also, Otis and Marlon have been rotating in and when they come in and Heupel stays with “11” personnel, Snelson is the one who needs to come off.

Another big thing heading into the season, was how much Heupel uses his tight end. That was the farthest thing from true and it’s shown this season. Colubiale has been really good catching the ball, but 3 targets a game isn’t some crazy tight end usage.

I had Akins at 47 targets in 11 games last season and he might’ve actually missed one. Add in Colubiale’s and Jordan Franks’ tight end looks last season, and UCF had about 5 tight end targets per game.

Marlon Williams might be my favorite guy on the offense just because he’s so good and takes advantage of every opportunity he gets.

Flash back to last season:

15 of 21 targets caught, all for successful plays. This just screams, good things happen when the ball is thrown to this guy, good things will happen.

This season, he leads the team in catch rate and yards after receptions average. He played a huge role in both of UCF’s scoring drives against Memphis that didn’t come on 70+ yard TD plays. Bottom line is, someway, somehow, he needs to be more involved in the passing game. He’s big, fast, and physical.

I’ve mentioned I’d love to see more “10” personnel with him as kind of a hybrid tight end whenever UCF wants to use a true TE and not have them S/W.

Situational Play Calling/Personnel Usage :

Something I have not looked at, at all so far this season besides after the Memphis game where I think I made a great point.

Before I get into some of the stuff, I understand Heupel is a first year HC and as I’ve said before, no coach is anywhere near perfect no matter how long they’ve been coaching. However, he has been an OC since 2010, everything I’ve looked at/look at is from an OC standpoint essentially.

Also, comparing his first year to Frost’s first year is not fair. Heupel inherited the second best QB in the country in terms of passing efficiency and a 13-0 team with a ton of returning talent (thanks to Frost). No matter how much you hate Frost, you can’t deny that. Frost’s first season, he inherited an 0-12 team, a losing culture, no QB, and for the most part, not the right guys to fit the style of offense him or Heupel run.

Back on track… I pointed out the play calling based on where in the drive UCF was at after the Memphis game, so for the people that didn’t see that, I’ll recap real quick.

A big thing Heupel has shown and said in interviews, is the need to establish the run. This is old school football and not remotely true in correlating with success in today’s football.

However, their is definitely a need to run the ball, but “establishing the run” is BS.

If you look at this chart:

You’ll see “establishing the run” early in drives has not worked, while passing has been extremely effective. We can all agree that Heupel’s offense gets into rhythm and when it does, it looks crisp and clean. That’s when the run game is effective. If you look from play 4 of drives and on, the run game is dominate. The pass game is good too, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not what the issue is.

Time for some personnel #’s:

I was scared these numbers would look worse heading into the season. I can’t really complain too much. Two RB’s have been used 34% of plays, while I would love to see that flipped to 66, I don’t think it will happen.

It’s a small sample size, but UCF has been extremely good without a TE on the field. For all 7 snaps in “10” personnel, Marlon was on the field, all 7 were successful.

The run success out of “20” personnel is just incredible although it is a small sample size.

UCF has just been better outside of “11” personnel, but Heupel is quietly escaping his roots.

He has actually used “11” personnel about 1% less than Frost did and “21” personnel almost 10% more. Having Jordan Akins who was essentially a WR probably had a bit to do with that, but I can’t complain too much about this.

Play Calling by Down and Distance is something I’m sure everyone is interested in.

Good thing is, I made a nice and colorful chart to distract everyone from the numbers.

The only place there is really a 50/50 split between run or pass is on 1st and 10 which watching games live, most people would probably think it would be a higher run %.

Other than that, Heupel’s play calling does get a little predictable, but I also highly doubt any other team has these percentages.

The thing that stuck out to me is on plays with 11 or more yards to go. Heupel has run the ball 13 times for a solid 0% success rate. Let’s stop pretending these positive 3 or 4 yards are going to help get the drive back on track. Called pass plays have hit on 8 out of 17 attempts. Much better than 0 for 13 if you ask me.

We all know how bad UCF was on 3rd and 4th and short last season, so that is a major positive to see here.

I also took a look at 1st and 10 runs by itself because that’s probably the biggest thing people want to know just from watching games.

The run up the middle has actually been very successful. Obviously all these YPC numbers could be higher, but on 1st down, getting 4 yards a pop, you can’t complain.

This does not contradict my previous statement of using the pass to set up the run. There are more 1st and 10’s than just the first play of the drive.

This is already very long so I’m going to end on that. I have a ton more information if you’re interested in anything just ask me on here or twitter or anywhere.

If I had to give a Mid-season MVP award outside of the obvious Milton, it would probably be a split between McRae and Taj.

Best lineman I’d give to Hudanick right now. Best receiver, I’d probably go Gabe even though all 4 of them are really good, but I think Gabe is the best NFL talent on offense so I’ll stick with that.

Overall, it comes down to this offense getting in rhythm. Getting the ball in the right guys hands and being more aggressive early in drives are the two biggest things I could point out.

I watched all of Missouri’s games last season and it looks the same as this year. The good drives look really good and the bad drives are hard to watch. Need to keep the good drives really good and get the bad drives to still look average.

At 6-0 you can’t complain as a fan, but Heupel and staff always know there’s ways to get better.

I used data from Scott Frost’s play calling during UCF’s 2017 season and from the Northwestern game to explain why I think Scott Frost coached like he was 0-5 in the 4th quarter and cost Nebraska their first win of the season

The Scott Frost era has gotten off to a bit of a rough start in Lincoln, NE. A lot of that has too do with issues and problems that Frost inherited and not his ability as a coach.

I think Frost is a going to turn that program around by his third year. Adrian Martinez is a special QB. After not playing a snap in his senior year of high school, he has looked extremely comfortable and calm playing high level D1 football.

However, watching Nebraska’s game versus Northwestern live, after having watched every game he coached last season, he has no one to blame for the loss, but himself. Don’t get me wrong, there is no excuse for the defensive performance on those final two drives, but Frost called the final 3 offensive drives like he was coaching an 0-5 team.

At UCF, Frost, obviously had a team he was confident in. The passive style he coached at the end of the Northwestern game, versus the couple of close games he was in last season (Navy, Auburn, USF) in which UCF had the lead late, couldn’t be more polar opposites.

Last season, UCF ran 67 plays in the 4th quarter with an 11 point or less lead, essentially the same situation as Nebraska was in against NW.

Frost split up these calls, 28 pass and 37 run. With the lead, kind of what you can expect.

Nebraska ran 14 plays with the lead in the 4th quarter not including the TD drive that started in the 3rd quarter and leaked over.

Frost went 72% run on these plays compared to the 57% he had at UCF.

If you look at the 4 passes, Nebraska hit at a 75% success rate while out of the 10 runs, only 2 were successful.

The first play in particular I want to look at is the 4th and 1 at their own 43. With around 11 minutes to go, up by 7, Nebraska had a chance to have a drive that essentially put Northwestern out of it. It wasn’t even a yard to go, it was like 2 inches.

Frost decided to punt.

Last season, he was in almost the same exact spot.

A 4th and 1 up 7, with 8 minutes to go, at his own 35 yard line in the conference championship game. Frost went for it, and Frost got it.

Could’ve been a major turning point for Nebraska in the game and season.

However, Nebraska’s D held and they were able to get great field position that led to a FG to go up 10.

Following a long FG drive by Northwestern, they attempted an onside kick which Nebraska recovered, up 7 and left.

The drive started on Northwestern’s 46 yard line and NW had all 3 timeouts left.

Frost had 2 Drives start with 4 minutes or less, up by one score last season. Against Auburn and USF, two opponents you can argue are better than the Northwestern one he was against on Saturday.

Those two drives resulted in a missed FG and a TD so essentially two potential dagger drives. A killer mentality from Frost. Not wanting to let his defense have even a chance to let up a score to tie it.

Against Auburn, after an unsuccessful run on first down, he dialed up a 30 yard pass to put UCF in prime FG range which should have ended the game, but it was blocked. Point still remains.

Against USF, Frost ran the ball a couple of times successfully until a first down run went for no gain on his own 47. On 2 and 10 he called a pass that led to a first down. He then called two more passes that led to a TD.

So at UCF, he tried to get into scoring position no matter the clock. He conservatively ran until he was put in second and long and then he got aggressive.

Against Northwestern, he went run, run, run, punt. The first two runs went for 0 yards and the third went for 3. He was a first down away from winning the game with a QB who played great.

Instead of being aggressive, he was passive and it cost them the game. If Northwestern doesn’t touch the football again, they can’t win.

Now, you might be saying well, the run was working all game so why abandon it here. On 43 designed runs, 22 of them were successful and Nebraska averaged 5.63 ypc, so the run did work.

But, the passing attack was even better. On 34 designed dropbacks, Nebraska hit at a 56% clip and average just over 7 yards per attempts.

Breaking it down further, on first down Nebraska ran it 23 of 35 times, only 9 were successful. On the 12 pass plays, 7 of them were successful.

Nebraska faced 7 2nd and 10’s. They ran it 4 times, successful twice, while they were successful on two of three passes in the same situations.

In the end, Frost went away from what was working on the final drive in order to make Northwestern lose their timeouts.

Granted, it took an incredible 99 yard drive to tie it, but 2 minutes in college football is an absurd amount of time, timeouts left or not.

At UCF, Frost showed a killer mentality and not wanting to leave any doubt up to the defense. If he were to do the same on Saturday, Nebraska would be sitting at 1-5 and not 0-6 and a huge monkey would have been lifted off Scott Frost and this program.

To me, this is just Frost coaching like he has an 0-5 team and not the confidence he had coaching an undefeated team.


Don’t let two 4th down calls overlook the fact that Josh Heupel’s offense failed to have any sustained success: Why I think using the pass to set up the run can change this:

UCF survived on the road vs. Memphis last Saturday to continue their nation leading winning streak.

I don’t think UCF should have won this game. In my opinion, they got out-coached the whole game until Memphis’ final drive where Memphis managed the clock horribly, or this could have easily been a UCF’s first loss of the season.

To me, and a lot of people won’t agree, but UCF won this game because McKenzie Milton is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and because they have the luxury of someone with as much experience against top competition in Randy Shannon.

I will get into the defense later, but let’s talk about why, despite two great 4th down calls, Josh Heupel’s offense failed to have any sustained success and rhythm. This will get overlooked by the “gutsy” 4th down calls, but I think it’s an issue UCF has had all season and finally got “exposed” because they were on the road against a good team.

In both situations, going for it on 4th down, were kind of easy decisions. Yes, many coaches don’t have the guts to do it, but analytically speaking, they were easy decisions. With 2:51 left in the 3rd quarter, no momentum, and sign of offensive life and a defense that no one thought would hold Memphis scoreless the whole 2h you need to do anything possible to get some life back and when you’re coaching a team that’s won 18 straight, you can’t coach scared.

That being said, I love going for it in both situations and am not knocking that because it does take some guts, however, that can’t overlook the fact that Heupel’s offense did not look good at all, despite Milton playing tremendously.

UCF ran 66 offensive plays, only 25 were successful, that’s a 37.88% success rate. If you’ve followed anything I’ve posted about UCF’s offense to date, you’ll know how bad that is compared to every other game.

I will get into something that I believe is a possible reason, UCF is failing to establish any rhythm on some drives in a little.

McKenzie Milton:

If UCF has any other QB in the country, besides a handful, they lose this game. I think Milton was solely responsible for 10 points for keeping two drives alive, that UCF had no business scoring on.

The first one, was the drive at the end of the 1h where UCF was able to get a FG. Down by 16, with 2:04 left and Memphis getting the ball first to start the 2h, it is bizarre to me how Heupel can call this conservative. An outside run with AK for no gain and a penalty after the play set up 2 and 23. UCF ran down the clock to 1:37, and ran the ball again, for 4 yards.

On 3 and 19 from their own 16, Heupel was kind of forced to call a pass play to try and put Memphis in average starting field position. You’re not calling any play on 3rd and 19 trying to get a first down and you can’t convince me otherwise.  But Milton was able to find Otis 23 yards down field setting up UCF to have just enough time to get in FG range and even almost scoring a TD.

The second drive Milton showed his value was in the 4th quarter. Down 6, with a little over 13:00 left. Another negative run on first down (kind of a theme) and a play where Milton was forced to throw it away on second, set up a 3rd and 11.

Here’s the pass Milton made.

There are maybe 1% of college QB’s making this throw 20 yards down field, in those weather conditions. This play eventually led to Milton’s TD run, but without this pass, UCF doesn’t take the lead and I don’t think wins.

Milton’s accuracy was spot on this week.

He only missed 3 open guys, the pass to Nixon, I think just slipped out of his hand.

There were a couple of big drops. All three of them were big plays and I think Otis’ could have gone for 20+ yards. Nixon’s drop was a tough call as he kind of tripped out of his route on a third down play, but the throw was spot on and I think he’d say he needs to make that catch.

The pass game once again struggled under pressure. This is sad because UCF max protected with the RB and TE a lot more than they should and Memphis only brought 3 guys a lot of the time.

Colubiale continues to struggle blocking. He has had some huge catches over the last couple of weeks so it’s hard to knock him, but at some point, blocking needs to be an emphasis.

Using the Pass to Set up the run:

Alright, this is my main point this week. I think, by now, we’ve all realized how important the run game is to Heupel despite him actually knowing which RB’s to use.

There is nothing worse to hear out of a coaches mouth than “we need to establish the run” this isn’t 1990’s football anymore. This is also exactly what Heupel said in his halftime interview, down 13, on the road.

I think we can all agree, that an offense at this tempo, rhythm plays a big part and it’s why successful drives look so good and bad drives just look absolutely awful.

While watching the game over, I kind of noticed something and so I put some numbers together to see if my observation was right.

Instead of establishing the run, I think UCF needs to use Milton and the passing game to set up the run. By this, I mean, UCF needs to throw the ball early in the drive more often than they are.

First off, you have one of the best QB’s in the country.

Second off, let’s look at the #’s.

So vs. Memphis, this is what we have.

The key to me, is the first two plays. Those are the least reliant on down and distance. So, on first down, an even 50/50 play split of run and pass. Only 1 run was successful (the first play of the game) and UCF averaged 0.43 ypc. 4 passes were successful, averaging 20 ypa (a little inflated from Davis’ 75 yard TD.

0.43 ypc is basically saying, we’ll just start the drive at 2 and 10.

On the second POD, another 50/50 run/pass split. Another absolute absurd difference in success rate.

UCF was awful on third down this game, in large part to being behind the chains.

Now, when the offense got a little rhythm and some positive plays, with tempo and momentum, when they ran the ball (POD’s 4-7) they hit at a 9/14 (64.29%) rate.

You could say, we’ll it was just one game and you’d be right. So, I put every FBS opponent UCF has played this season, into one chart.

Pretty damn accurate. Now, obviously the numbers are a little better, because they’ve played better in every other game, but the notion still shows true. A 48.57% and a 36.67% success rate running the ball on the 1st and 2nd plays of drives compared to a 65.38% and a 59.26% success rate when throwing the bal.

Once again, when you get to play 4 and on, the run game all of a sudden flips and the ypc almost double.

I’m not saying I’m on to something, but I think I’m on to something.

Run Game:

Not even going to get mad this week, because this just gets proven every week, but I’ll still show the numbers.

Otis didn’t have a good game, as high as I’ve been on him this season, I have to admit that. AK was successful on only 2 of his 11 carries and the outside runs didn’t help out.

Good thing, McRae and Taj’s carries add up to AK’s total carries. Combined, McRae and Taj were successful on 7 of 11 attempts. One of McRae’s carries was 2 and 23 at the end of the 1h and one of Taj’s was a 3rd and 11 on UCF’s final drives so take those two out and they’re 7/9. Pretty good.

I’m not one of those people who thinks teams need to be run 100% on analytics and that couldn’t be more wrong. There is so much that goes into coaching in terms of play calling and personnel usage.

For instance, the 4th down decisions, why analytically, it’s the right decision, you still need to have the guts and confidence to go for it in your own territory. I don’t care what the numbers say, those, while the right decision, I’ll still tip my cap to Heupel for those. But at the same time there is just no answer Heupel can give to giving AK the majority of carries that will be right.

The numbers, the data, the eye test all support otherwise and the only answer he could even say is “I feel he’s the best guy”.


Another L for me here, although it pretty much goes hand in hand with Otis having a bad game.

Just some really gross numbers. Maybe they should just run 14 personnel every snap.

Offensive Conclusion:

I look at success rate as the biggest indicator of how an offense/individual performs because it is the most accurate assessment you can get on a per play basis. Every play, of every game has meaning, yes the 4th down plays effected the outcome more, but if other plays were better, UCF wouldn’t have been in that situation.

There is no arguing, that UCF’s offense was bad against Memphis. IMO, Heupel needs to figure something out. There is too much talent and the QB is too good for them to post numbers like this.

I was going to kind of give some lee-way because of the weather in the 2h, but Milton attempted 14 passes that weren’t throw aways in the 2h and was accurate on 10 of them. Pretty good, and pretty clear that the passing attack was not affected.


Kind of a difficult game to evaluate the defense. Most people were calling for Shannon after the 1h, but UCF didn’t play that bad in the 1h. The biggest problem was penalties, which I don’t chart because to me, they’re an independent variable and can’t dictate success on a per game basis. This was really the first game UCF jumped offsides often and committed dumb penalties which cost them about 10 points and maybe more.

They also faced the best RB in the country and I think UCF fans realize how good Henderson is now.

Memphis ran 80 plays and UCF held them to a 41.25% success rate which is very good.

In the 1h, they were 21/46.

On rushing attempts, Memphis was successful on 13/28 in the 1h and 20/49 overall.

The part where UCF struggled, was on successful plays, they allowed them to become explosive plays. 10 of the 20 successful runs went for 10+ yards.

Now, missed tackles. Tackling wasn’t too bad, but when it was, it contributed to these runs.

There were missed tackles on 8 of these 10 explosive runs. The 8 runs accumulated 171 yards (wow). Of those 171 yards, 113 of them came after a missed tackle. So, with sound tackling, that’s 58 yards on 8 carries for 7.25 ypc.

 A majority of missed tackles came from the secondary, which against Henderson is just a mis-match.

Plays with missed tackles, were 9 in the 1h and 7 in the 2h, so you can’t exactly look at that as the difference in each half.

I think the LB’s and D-Line got a lot bigger push in the 2h.

UCF got a run disruption on 6 plays in the 2h. All 6 of them, they were able to tackle the ball carrier for a loss. Eriq Gilyard, filling in for Pat Jasinski had 2 big ones, Titus Davis had 3 and Randy Charlton kicked in with one. The young guys and the vet really stepped up.

Norvell got very predictable and went run, run almost every 1st and 2nd of the 2h which allowed UCF to be a lot more aggressive as they knew he wasn’t going to let White throw.

Again, for some reason, UCF struggle to defend the run to the left end. On 16 attempts, Memphis was successful on 10 of them and averaged 11.63 ypc on these runs.

The only other thing I have is that teams need to stop throwing at Brandon Moore. He absolutely shut down Damonte Coxie one-on-one in the first half when they went at him about 3 or 4 times downfield.


As a fan, all you can ask for is a win and that’s what UCF did. However, from an unbiased perspective, I don’t think this team is as good as a lot of fans think.

To me, the issue isn’t talent on offense or talent on defense. It’s just the offense just doesn’t look good. A lot of issues that I’ve pointed out, made a difference this week because Memphis is good and UCF was on the road. It’s easy to say they scored all these points at home against bad teams so the offense is good, but that’s not how it works.

Defensively, I think UCF is better than last season, both production wise and coaching.

Offensively, in my opinion, talent wise, there is no drop off from last season.

If I were to say, Memphis only scored 30 points, you would think UCF would have won by three possessions and you can’t blame the weather because Milton threw the ball with the same accuracy in both halves.