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Charting the Tide, Week 6 | Ole Miss in Review

WARNING: Contents may cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and/or a strong desire for adult libations

The 2014 Charting Project is the brainchild of Bill Connelly; check out his college football analytics blog, Football Study Hall.

Before we get to the charting results…

…there’s something I want to talk about with respect to this team and last Saturday — the penalties, which killed drives yet again against Ole Miss. My general impression heading into the game is that we were playing very sloppy for a Saban team, with an absurd number of false starts and offensive holding calls, and what happened Saturday did very little to change that impression. Since I like hard numbers much more than I like impressions, I went back through every box score for Alabama since the start of the 2008 season* and took some notes. This is what I found:

Penalties in the Saban Era
’08 – ‘13 2014
Games 81 5
Penalties per Game 4.4 7.0
Penalty Yardage per Game 35.9 53.2
False Starts per Game 1.1** 2.4
Offensive Holds per Game 0.5** 0.8

* I skipped 2007 because that year was pretty atypical all around.
** For some reason, no play-by-play for one game in 2011, so these two are over 80 games.

Yeah, so, more penalties and more yardage, but specifically twice as many false starts and almost twice as many holds per game. We’ve accumulated 12 false starts this year, which is as many as we had in all of 2008 and 2012, and 3 more than we had in all of 2010. The occasional false start is to be expected, but this is getting kind of ridiculous. There’s no telling what play Lane would have dialed up if that late hold by O.J. Howard hadn’t occurred, negating a nifty scramble by Blake Sims on the penultimate play of the game. In general though, the closer you are to the goal line the better, and it’s possible the game turns out differently.

Did you know we used to have entire stretches of games in which no false starts or offensive holds were committed? Hell, the 2009 team wasn’t flagged for a single offensive holding call after the South Carolina game that year — 7 straight games. In all fairness, historically the line seems to be more penalty-prone earlier in the season, evening out later in the year. I guess I would have expected that to happen over the bye week, but instead we saw 3 false starts and an offensive hold on Saturday. The season’s far from over, and this is certainly not the only issue we’ve got right now, but if we want to go anywhere worthwhile at the end of the year, this one has got to be fixed now.

Now that the rant’s over, on to the download. You’ll note there’s a lot more here than there was last week, and shrewd observers will see that some of the numbers may look a little different. The main thing is I pulled in garbage time***, so the information below only reflects non-garbage possessions. I also fixed all of the row leaders to accurately reflect what was being tabulated (you saw things like 5 – 10, 10 – 15 last week, but it should have been 5 – 10, 11 – 15, etc.), and some other minor reorganizations.

*** When the score’s not within 28 points in the first quarter, 24 points in the second quarter, 21 points in the third quarter, or 16 points in the fourth.

Now, this part is very important. You’ll see there is a very large amount of information presented below. I can certainly generate all this stuff every week, but I’m not going to make such an eye-melting article if you don’t actually want to see some of this. I’ve got every section**** listed in a poll at the bottom of the article — I humbly request that you read and then vote. If there’s something that literally nobody wants to see, it wont be here next week. Thank you!

**** The Blake Sims Map of Quarterbacking Excellence is exempt, obviously.

The Goods

Confused?

  • Air Yards — The down-the-field or vertical yardage gained on a pass play as a result of the quarterback’s throw (i.e., prior to the receiver’s involvement), as measured from the line of scrimmage. So for forward passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage, the Air Yardage would be negative. This metric is also tracked on incomplete passes — underthrown balls are measured from where the ball lands, and overthrown balls from where the intended receiver is. Balls tipped at the line or thrown away are not measured. The companion statistic on completed passes is yards after catch — the sum of Air Yards and yards after catch on a completed pass equals the yardage gained on the play.
  • Blake Sims Map of Quarterbacking Excellence — Hand-crafted using the absolute finest graphical techniques of the late 90s, the Blake Sims Map of Quarterbacking Excellence breaks the field down into 9 blocks by Air Yards (Behind L.O.S, 0 - 10 Yards, Over 10 Yards) and area of the field relative to the hash the ball was placed on (Left, Middle, Right). Each block contains the frequency (number of passes to that block of the field over the number of passes at that distance from the line of scrimmage), completion percentage, and success rate. The block behind the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field contains the man himself, Blake Sims. The hashmarks are even relatively accurate!
  • Catch Rate — The number of balls caught over the number of targets for an individual, or how often a receiver makes the catch when targeted.
  • Disruptive Plays — A sum of sacks, blocked kicks/punts, passes defensed, interceptions, and forced fumbles. Think of these as things that got you multiple helmet stickers when you were playing peewee.
  • Distance Splits — The "distance" on these charts refers to the yardage required to gain a first down, not the yardage required for a successful play (see Success Rate).
  • Frequencies for Rushing and Passing Splits by Down — These numbers refer to the percentage of first down plays that were a rush, second down plays that were a pass, and so on, NOT the percentage of rushes that were on first down. For example, the sum of first down pass frequency and first down rush frequency will be 100%, but the sum of first, second, third, and fourth down rush frequencies will be well in excess of 100%.
  • Garbage Time — Defined as when a game is not within 28 points in the first quarter, 24 points in the second quarter, 21 points in the third quarter, or 16 points in the fourth.
  • Run Directions — See the figure below. Defensive letter gap terminology is on the top in blue, and offensive hole terminology is on the bottom in green. Rushes are coded as "Left Tackle" if they head through the left B and C gaps / the 3 and 5 holes, and so on.
  • RunDirection
  • Success Rate — A "successful" play is defined as gaining 70% of required yardage on first down, 50% of required yardage on second down, and all of the required yardage on third and fourth downs — required yardage is another term for the distance required for a first down on a given play. Success rate is simply how often a team is successful.
  • Target — The intended receiver on a pass play. All pass plays have intended receivers, with the exception of passes that were tipped at the line, thrown away, or otherwise thrown in such a manner as to render identification of an intended receiver impossible.

OFFENSE

BSMQE Week 6

Passing Splits
Frequency Success Rate
Down VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
1st 32.3% 33.8% 60% 54.2%
2nd 52% 44.6% 30.8% 53.3%
3rd 47.1% 48.3% 62.5% 69.0%

Observations

Unless something dramatic changes, passing down splits will be based on Blake Sims throughout the rest of the year. Also, the Blake Sims Map of Quarterbacking Excellence will be generated on a game-by-game basis; we’ll check in with season-long results at the next bye week and before the postseason.

From the map, we can see a pretty big slant toward the right hand side – we didn’t try the deep left or middle at all. There didn’t seem to be a particular part of the field that was ripe for exploitation in this one, as the success rates are all around 50% in the blocks Blake threw to often.

We found a little more success on first down throws (and a little less on third down ones), but we were significantly less effective on second down than the season average. We also threw more often than usual on this down, so I suspect we’ll see later on our overall first down success rate was down, leading to more second and longs.

Rushing Splits
Frequency Success Rate
Down VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
1st 67.7% 64.8% 23.8% 33.7%
2nd 48% 54.5% 66.7% 69.1%
3rd 52.9% 48.3% 22.2% 55.2%
Direction VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
Left End 25% 19.9% 33.3% 48.3%
Lt. Tackle 13.9% 12.3% 20% 33.3%
Middle 41.7% 39.7% 40% 43.1%
Rt. Tackle 11% 15.1% 50% 59.1%
Right End 8.3% 13% 33.3% 47.4%

Observations

As with the passing splits, success rates are down across the board, regardless of where we headed. There was a slight shift to the left side (likely a result of that one drive where we ran to the left on just about every play of the drive), but most of the directional distribution was in line with season averages. You’ll note we ran less frequently on second down, which again makes me think our first down numbers aren’t going to look pretty here in a minute.

Down and Distance Splits
Frequency Success Rate
Down VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
1st 41.9% 46.6% 35.5% 40.9%
2nd 33.8% 33.1% 48% 62.4%
3rd 23% 19.7% 41.2% 61.7%
4th 1.35% 0.7% 100% 50%
Distance VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
Less than 3 Yards 10.1% 11.3% 60% 76.6%
4 to 6 Yards 19.2% 20% 42.1% 34.9%
7 to 10 Yards 62.6% 60.7% 24.2% 31.4%
Over 10 Yards 8.1% 7.95% 25% 45.5%

Observations

Yeah, pretty much. We had less first downs in favor of more third downs, and our success rates were down across the board, leading to more downs with long yardage to go. In particular, much less successful with over 10 yards to go, probably as a result of the 3rd and 15s, 3rd and 20s we had due to penalties. Really hard to pick those up.

Formation Splits
Frequency Success Rate
Formation VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
Shotgun 50% 31.4% 48.7% 56.8%
Pistol 4.1% 15.8% 0% 58.7%
Under Center 46% 53.5% 38.2% 46.9%
Play Action 9.33% 7.24% 42.9% 53.6%
Backs VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
0 2.7% 1.3% 50% 50%
1 63.5% 61.1% 38.3% 52.7%
2 29.7% 35.9% 50% 50.9%
3 4.1% 1.7% 33.3% 40%
Receivers VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
0 4.1% 2.3% 33.3% 71.4%
1 6.8% 3.9% 40% 41.7%
2 31.1% 45.7% 52.2% 52.2%
3 36.5% 32.1% 25.9% 47.4%
4 21.6% 15.2% 56.3% 60.9%
5 0% 0.7% N/A 50%

Observations

We did a lot of funky stuff this week. We ran a lot of stuff out of the I, and I’m pretty sure we even ran stuff out of the T a handful of times, which is pretty odd. Of the formation types the Charting Project tracks, you can see we ran very little pistol this week — only three plays total, and none of them worked.

In what’s becoming a theme today, success rate’s pretty much down across the board here too. Guess that’s what happens when you play a really good team. One interesting note is that we got absolutely stoned when running sets with no wide receivers, which are typically short-yardage/goal-line packages. Success rate in those situations was almost 40% lower, which is an enormous drop. The main takeaway here is that Ole Miss’s defense was as advertised. Unless something dramatic happens to the state of Mississippi, the Egg Bowl should be a hell of a game this year.

Targets and Catch Rate
Player Targets Catch Rate
Amari Cooper 58 77.6%
DeAndrew White 15 80%
Christion Jones 14 57.1%
O.J. Howard 10 50%
Jalston Fowler 7 42.9%

Observations

This section looks a lot different from last week – remember, garbage time possessions are not included, which is why DeAndrew White moved ahead of Christion Jones despite barely playing last Saturday. You’ll also note the debut of O.J. Howard, who saw a lot more action against Ole Miss. He was a matchup nightmare (as he should be), getting wide open several times, including a 53 yard catch-and-run that was the most explosive play for the offense on the day. He also dropped 3 of his 6 targets, most notably the ball that Senquez Golson intercepted to ice the game for Ole Miss. I didn’t track any of this stuff last year, but I am beginning to wonder if Mr. Howard has a hands issue, and that’s why he wasn’t as involved until now. Who knows.

DEFENSE

Formation/Play Action Splits
Frequency Success Rate
Formation VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
Shotgun 95.1% 93.3% 41.4% 35.6%
Pistol 0% 4.8% N/A 20%
Under Center 4.9% 1.9% 0% 25%
No Huddle 73.4% 54.9% 42.6% 33.1%
Huddled 26.6% 45.1% 29.4% 16.3%
Play Action 10.9% 6.3% 42.9% 44.4%

Observations

Hey look, something we actually did better than normal! Too bad it’s something we only see 6% of the time! Ole Miss didn’t exactly have their way with us, but they were more successful pretty much across the board compared to our other opponents. Notably, they posted a success rate 10% higher than our average when running the no huddle, which is not surprising. Alabama does not have issues against the HUNH, but we do have issues against good teams running the HUNH, and 2014 Ole Miss falls squarely in that category.

One thing I will mention here is my very favorite defensive play of the game, which was a wildcat look they threw at us late in the 4th quarter. In a clear instance of Freeze outfoxing himself, he pulled a red-hot Bo Wallace and brought in Jeremy Liggins, the blocking tight end they use as a wildcat QB. Instead of, oh, I don’t know, running your 300 pound batting ram up the middle, Freeze decided to roll him out to the right, trying to run some kind of a pass to the flat. Shockingly, it didn’t work, and Reggie Ragland picked up a sack. Unfortunately Ole Miss ended up scoring the winning points to finish that drive, but this was still highly entertaining.

Passing Splits
Frequency Success Rate
Down VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
1st 32.1% 46.2% 55.6% 47.6%
2nd 52.4% 54.3% 63.6% 44.7%
3rd 71.4% 75% 40% 27.8%
Air Yards VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
Under 5 27.6% 43.8% 62.5% 32.7%
5 - 10 24.1% 19.6% 57.1% 54.6%
11 - 15 20.7% 8.9% 100% 70%
Over 15 27.6% 27.7% 37.5% 38.7%

Observations

Yeah, Good Bo definitely showed up. That would be perfect success on the longer intermediate throws. Not necessarily a first down each time, but at least getting what Ole Miss needed to stay on track. Ole Miss also lit us up in the short passing game, posting a success rate 30% higher than our average on routes under 5 yards. I was surprised the third down numbers were so pedestrian (still better than what we typically give up, but pedestrian), it seemed to me watching the game like they couldn’t miss on third down throws. That’s why you run the numbers!

Rushing Splits
Frequency Success Rate
Down VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
1st 67.9% 52.8% 10.5% 14.6%
2nd 47.6% 45.7% 50% 46.9%
3rd 21.4% 22.9% 66.7% 36.4%
Direction VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
Left End 17.7% 10.5% 33.33% 50%
Lt. Tackle 17.7% 12.3% 0% 0%
Middle 29.4% 47.4% 40% 29.6%
Rt. Tackle 17.7% 19.3% 33.3% 27.3%
Right End 17.7% 10.5% 33.3% 33.3%

Observations

We got totally gashed on third down runs, which tells me Ole Miss saw a lot of 3rd and shorts, which tells me the next chart’s going to say their first and second down success rates were pretty high. In what may be the oddest result in this article, Ole Miss’s run distribution was perfectly symmetrical, with 6 runs to the left, 5 up the middle, and 6 to the right. They were pretty successful running up the gut on us too, which is disconcerting. We apparently continue to be impenetrable to left tackle runs; I suggest someone phone up Kirby and tell him to funnel everything to those gaps from now on.

Down and Distance Splits
Frequency Success Rate
Down VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
1st 44.4% 43.3% 25% 33.3%
2nd 33.3% 33.3% 57.1% 45.7%
3rd 22.2% 22.9% 42.9% 29.2%
4th 0% 0.48% N/A 0%
Distance VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
VS.
OLE MISS
2014
Season
Less than 3 Yards 5.1% 6.1% 100% 62.5%
4 to 6 Yards 14.1% 15.7% 36.4% 26.8%
7 to 10 Yards 69.2% 67.8% 24.1% 24.8%
Over 10 Yards 11.5% 10.3% 44.4% 29.6%

Observations

We were actually pretty stout on first downs, but they made that back on second downs, and had more success on third downs as a result. The distance distribution is about in line with season averages, but Ole Miss was basically just more successful regardless of the situation. Short yardage in particular was bad, as they were successful all 4 times that came up.

Disruptive Plays
Player Passes Defensed Interceptions Sacks Forced Fumbles Blocked Kicks Total
Cyrus Jones 3 2 5
Jarran Reed 4 4
Reggie Ragland 1 3 4
Landon Collins 2 1 3
A’Shawn Robinson 1 1 2

Observations

I added blocked kicks, so we could give A’Shawn some love. The broadcasters couldn’t quite get there, but Mr. Robinson blocked the extra point that would have been the biggest play in the game if O.J. Howard had caught that last ball.

This hasn’t been talked about much, but Jarran Reed has been kind of a beast this year. He’s doing his best J.J. Watt impersonation, leading the team in passes defensed as a defensive lineman. Cyrus Jones also had a big game, collecting 2 pass break-ups and a huge, huge forced fumble that shouldn’t have counted, but would have ultimately proved the deciding points if, again, O.J. Howard had caught that last ball.

Anything else you feel is worth noting from these charts? Don’t forget to vote in the poll! And, of course, if all of the above wasn't enough for you, by all means let me know if there's something else you'd like to see!

ROLL TIDE