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Charting the Tide, Offensive Review | Charleston Southern Buccaneers

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Bo Scarbrough leads bevy of future contributors on offense

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Connelly invented all of this; check out his college football analytics blog, Football Study Hall.

But first, let’s talk about another guy that won’t be here next year.

It was Senior Day, after all.

The NCAA’s graduate transfer rule that allows players who have completed their degrees at one institution to transfer penalty-free to another, provided it has a degree program not offered at the athlete’s original school, has altered the fortunes of numerous teams since it was enacted in 2006. “Altered” covers a pretty wide range of impacts, of course — sometimes you luck out and get a Russell Wilson; other times, you get a Jeremiah Masoli. This year’s crop of name transfers has had uneven results — Everett Golson’s career as a starter appears over in Tallahassee, whereas Vernon Adams has found his way in Eugene after a shaky start — but one less-heralded move has provided immediate, consistent, and impactful results.

I’m talking about former Beaver Richard Mullaney, of course, who stepped in from day one in Tuscaloosa to provide veteran leadership to a young crop of Crimson Tide receivers, not to mention tough, clutch catches throughout the season. The clutch factor wasn’t really required Saturday — this game was over after the tenth play of Alabama’s opening drive — but the tough was, at least on this play:

Jake Coker whips out his patented double-pump intermediate ball on this one, which totally faked out the camera man, but also probably allowed Mullaney to get the necessary separation from his defender. After elevating 12 feet in the air,[1] Mullaney pulled that grab-ball-whilst-horizontal-in-midair move that ex-linemen such as myself can only dream of doing, and managed to keep a handle on the ball despite falling directly on his oh-god-i-can’t-breathe bone.[2] The other Tide receivers have demonstrably higher ceilings than Mullaney, and the brighter futures that go with him, but sometimes you just need a guy that can get just open enough when you need it. That was Kevin Norwood, and that’s Mullaney, and the 2015 Crimson Tide would not be in the position they’re in without his considerable contributions over the course of the season.

1 | Approximately.

2 | Pro tip: When you can’t think of the right word, just glom a bunch of words together with hyphens. Works every time.

A Very Special Edition of Charting the Tide

Usually, all of the stats presented in this series are adjusted for garbage time, which is defined as plays occurring when the score is not within 28 points in the first quarter, 24 points in the second, 21 points in the third, or 16 points in the fourth. Well, if I were to do that this week, we’d have only 21 offensive plays to discuss — better off than we were in the defensive review for sure, but I want to talk about Bo Scarbrough so…

…for this week only, the in-game stats are not adjusted for garbage time, but the season stats (which include the results from this game) ARE adjusted for garbage time. Let me just reprint the important bit there in big, bold letters so there’s no confusion:

THE STATS ARE NOT ADJUSTED FOR GARBAGE TIME THIS WEEK.

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.
  • 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, stuffs (tackles for loss on a ballcarrier, as opposed to a QB on a pass play), blocked kicks/punts, passes defensed/broken up, interceptions, and forced fumbles. Think of these as things that got you multiple helmet stickers when you were playing peewee.
  • Distance Splits — Aside from the quarterback performance chart (which is in terms of Air Yards), all distances refer to the yardage to go for that particular down, not how much yardage would be required for a successful play (see Success Rate).
  • Percent of Total 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.
  • Pass Direction — One the quarterback performance chart, the pass directions (left, middle, right) refer to the third of the field the ball was thrown to, as defined by the hash marks, relative to the direction the offense is moving (i.e., from the quarterback's perspective). 'Left' throws are to the leftmost third, 'middle' throws are to the area between the hashes, and so on.
  • 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 50% of required yardage on first down, 70% 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.
  • YAC — Passing Yards After Catch, the amount of yardage gained by the receiver after catching a pass. YAC + Air Yards = Passing Yards.
  • iPPPIsolated Points Per Play, the amount of Net Equivalent Points gained per successful play. This is the best explosiveness metric the advanced stats community currently has; read more about it here.
  • Line Yards — The number of rushing yards on every run attributable to the offensive line’s efforts. Read more about it here.
  • Highlight Yards — The number of rushing yards on every run attributable to the running back’s efforts. Line Yards + Highlight Yards = Rushing Yards. Read more about it here.
  • Opportunity Rate — The percentage of carries where the back has an opportunity to accrue Highlight Yards; read more about it here.
  • Running Back Rating (RBR) — An overall quality metric for running backs, this is the product of Opportunity Rate and Highlight Yards per Opportunity.
Overall Offensive Performance

Quarter Breakdown
Metric 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
Plays 21 208 9 170 14 144 16 86
S. Rate 61.9% 46.6% 77.8% 42.4% 28.6% 43.1% 68.8% 43.0%
iPPP 1.1 1.0 1.3 1.2 1.3 1.3 0.7 1.0
Pass % 42.9% 45.4% 55.6% 54.5% 46.2% 43.3% 31.3% 43.4%
P. S. Rate 55.6% 45.2% 60.0% 40.0% 33.3% 42.6% 60.0% 33.3%
P. iPPP 1.4 1.2 2.4 1.6 1.0 1.7 1.0 1.2
Rush % 57.1% 54.6% 44.4% 45.5% 53.8% 56.7% 68.8% 56.6%
R. S. Rate 66.7% 49.1% 100.0% 48.0% 28.6% 45.0% 72.7% 53.2%
R. iPPP 0.9 0.9 0.5 0.9 1.5 1.0 0.6 1.0

Observations

The starting offense played for the majority of the first half, and you can see the result in the sky-high overall success rates in the first 30 plays. After a bit of a lull in the third, Kiffin released the Scarbrough toward the end of the quarter and into the fourth, ending the game on a high note for the backups. iPPPs were relatively consistent throughout the game, with small spikes on passing in the second and rushing in the third due to big plays — a trio of 20+ yard completions in the second, and Scarbrough’s 24 yard rumble in the third.

Formation / Playcall Breakdown
Call Plays Percent of Total Success Rate iPPP
VS.
CHSO
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
Shotgun 17 28.3% 53.9% 47.1% 42.7% 1.6 1.2
Pistol 25 41.7% 25.3% 68.0% 46.1% 0.7 1.1
Under Center 18 30.0% 20.7% 55.6% 45.2% 1.2 1.0
No Huddle 45 75.0% 63.2% 57.8% 44.0% 1.1 1.2
Huddled 15 25.0% 36.8% 60.0% 44.2% 0.9 1.1
Play Action 7 11.7% 12.7% 28.6% 42.9% 1.1 1.8

Observations

Thanks to the blowout — and the fact we’re including garbage time this week — the Tide ran a lot in this one, seeing an increase in usage of the Pistol as a result. It worked really well too, the most successful option in a host of successful options against this opponent. 11 games into the season that remains the option of choice when you need 3 or 4 yards, although realistically a few percentage points here and there in success rate is not a big deal.

iPPP-wise Shotgun was the big winner this week with a 1.6. Play-action passes, despite the rather meek pass rush and uneven secondary play of the opponent, was kind of a dog, with only two successful completions at an iPPP of 1.1. You can see that is usually the Tide’s most explosive option, and I suspect what happened there was some loose officiating with the coverage. I’m not really complaining about it this week — calling a bunch of penalties on these guys who were just trying to make a play against significantly superior players would be piling on, honestly — but it still affected offensive production in its own small way.

Personnel Breakdown
Group Plays Percent of Total Success Rate iPPP
VS.
CHSO
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
12 20 33.3% 15.7% 65.0% 47.4% 1.1 1.0
11 19 31.7% 41.7% 68.4% 39.1% 1.3 1.3
10 12 20.0% 25.4% 33.3% 46.8% 1.0 1.3
21 6 10.0% 6.8% 50.0% 46.3% 0.5 0.9
20 1 1.7% 5.1% 0.0% 41.9% --- 0.9

Observations

Opted for an extra tight end on several plays this week, but other than that, nothing much to see here. The Tide will throw a lot of different groups at you, but it’s usually the same groups in the same proportions, and it usually doesn’t matter too much with respect to success rate or iPPP.

Down and Distance Matrix
Distance Metric Down
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
Short
(0-3 Yds)
Plays 1 9 5 25 2 31 1 7
S. Rate 100.0% 66.7% 80.0% 76.0% 100.0% 54.8% 100.0% 71.4%
iPPP 0.3 0.2 1.3 0.8 0.3 0.4 0.5 1.2
Medium
(4-6 Yds)
Plays 2 6 3 51 3 29 1 3
S. Rate 50.0% 50.0% 66.7% 62.7% 66.7% 41.4% 0.0% 33.3%
iPPP 0.8 0.4 0.8 0.7 0.7 1.4 --- 0.9
Long
(7-10 Yds)
Plays 26 249 10 88 4 29 0 2
S. Rate 57.7% 46.2% 50.0% 35.2% 25.0% 31.0% --- 0.0%
iPPP 1.2 1.2 1.3 1.5 1.1 2.1 --- ---
Very Long
(11+ Yds)
Plays 0 13 1 35 0 30 1 0
S. Rate --- 23.1% 0.0% 31.4% --- 13.3% 100.0% ---
iPPP --- 1.9 --- 1.8 --- 1.3 1.9 ---

Observations

5/9 on third downs! That’s… better, but probably still not where you’d want to be against an FCS squad. The good news is the Tide picked up all the short stuff at a good clip this week, so most of those non-conversions were on downs of 7 or more yards to gain, which is ok. The Tide did pick up a 4th and 13 on a 16 yard strike to Cam Sims, setting up the final points of the day.

Offensive Line Performance

Rush Splits by Down, Distance, and Direction
Metric Attempts Rush % S. Rate iPPP LY/Att.
VS.
CHSO
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
All Carries 33 57.6% 52.9% 66.7% 48.8% 0.8 0.9 4.0 3.3
1st Down 11 42.9% 55.7% 81.8% 42.7% 0.8 0.9 4.7 3.0
2nd Down 15 78.9% 59.2% 53.3% 54.2% 1.0 0.9 4.1 3.6
3rd Down 6 66.7% 36.8% 66.7% 50.0% 0.5 1.0 2.5 3.0
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
7 77.8% 80.6% 100.0% 71.9% 0.5 0.6 3.7 2.3
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
6 66.7% 51.1% 83.3% 68.9% 0.8 0.7 4.6 3.8
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
19 51.3% 51.0% 52.6% 43.5% 1.1 1.2 3.9 3.5
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
1 50.0% 38.2% 0.0% 0.0% --- --- 4.0 2.8
Left
End
6 18.2% 14.4% 50.0% 53.7% 1.3 1.1 4.2 4.2
Left
Tackle
7 21.2% 13.3% 71.4% 47.4% 0.9 1.0 4.3 2.9
Middle 14 42.4% 46.0% 78.6% 48.9% 0.6 0.8 3.9 2.9
Right
Tackle
4 12.1% 13.7% 25.0% 35.9% 1.3 1.3 3.3 3.0
Right
End
2 6.1% 12.6% 100.0% 52.8% 0.5 0.8 4.5 3.7

Observations

So, pick a down, any down. When your lowest rushing success rate is 53.3%, you’re doing something right. Actually, the only area where this line did not whip their opponent was on runs off of right tackle, which have been particularly solid as of late but was successful on just one of four attempts in this one. Of course, that’s usually manned by Dominick Jackson, who took a seat with an injury this week, permitting some snaps for Korren Kirven and Brandon Greene.

Running Back Performance

Advanced RB Splits
Metric Attempts Opp. Rate Hlt. Yds. / Opp. RBR
VS.
CHSO
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
All Carries 33 58.1% 45.2% 3.5 5.2 2.0 2.3
1st Down 11 80.0% 41.4% 2.8 4.2 2.3 1.7
2nd Down 15 53.3% 53.6% 4.6 4.9 2.4 2.6
3rd Down 6 40.0% 36.1% 2.3 9.0 0.9 3.2
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
7 60.0% 38.5% 1.3 6.3 0.8 2.4
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
6 66.7% 54.8% 2.1 2.7 1.4 1.5
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
19 57.9% 46.3% 4.6 6.1 2.7 2.8
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
1 0.0% 33.3% --- 2.1 --- 0.7
Left
End
6 66.7% 63.4% 3.5 4.6 2.3 2.9
Left
Tackle
7 57.1% 32.4% 5.5 8.9 3.1 2.9
Middle 14 66.7% 42.7% 2.3 4.5 1.5 1.9
Right
Tackle
4 25.0% 33.3% 8.0 10.1 2.0 3.4
Right
End
2 50.0% 58.3% 1.0 2.5 0.5 1.4

Observations

Not the best day when you look at it this broadly, at least in comparison to the Tide’s normal performance, but given the Tide handed off to six different running backs running behind a backup offensive line, that starts to make sense. Those backs piled up a ton of Highlight Opportunities, but were not quite as explosive as a group as Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, which depressed RBRs a tad. The craziest thing to me is that the Tide backs averaged 6.3 yards a carry on first down, nearly 2 yards more than their seasonal average, and only lost yardage on one of their 33 carries. That’s more due to the opponent than anything else of course, but it was still a nice departure from the norm.

Individual RB Stats
Player Atts. S. Rate Opp. Rate HLT Yds. /
Opp.
RBR LY/Att.
VS.
CHSO
VS.
CHSO
2015 VS.
CHSO
2015 VS.
CHSO
2015 VS.
CHSO
2015 VS.
CHSO
2015
Harris, Damien 10 60.0% 28.6% 60.0% 28.6% 1.3 4.5 0.8 1.3 3.5 1.9
Scarbrough, Bo 10 70.0% --- 66.7% --- 4.4 --- 2.9 --- 4.3 ---
Henry, Derrick 9 77.8% 48.6% 62.5% 45.3% 5.0 5.8 3.1 2.6 4.8 3.3
Clark, Ronnie 2 50.0% --- 50.0% --- 4.0 --- 2.0 --- 3.5 ---
Gore, Derrick 1 100.0% --- 0.0% --- --- --- --- --- 4.0 ---

Observations

Ahh, the good stuff. The most interesting part of this game for me was seeing what some of the backup runners could do given some actual opportunities, and we were treated to a preview of next season as a result. Drake is a senior, of course, and I can’t see a situation in which Henry does not declare for the draft after this season. Thus, it will most likely fall to Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough to carry on the Tide tradition of fielding twin hammers with which to bludgeon the opponent into submission. The comparisons to Mark Ingram for Harris seem to be apt ones, and Scarbrough looks like he came off the same assembly line that produced Henry, so… yeah, I’m already pretty stoked for next year.

They both had fine days, but of the two Scarbrough was noticeably more explosive, as evidenced by the significant disparities in their RBRs and Highlight Yards averages. Scarbrough is every bit as large as Henry is, but even adjusting for the optical illusions produced by Henry’s lankier frame,[3] Scarbrough appears to be a step or two quicker at the point of attack. I can’t imagine Scarbrough ends up being as durable and tireless as Henry seems to be,[4] but if his build and quickness permit avoiding some of the negative plays that have plagued Henry’s season that could be enormous for the Tide in 2016 and 2017.

3 | You know, where it looks like he’s jogging while he sprints past opposing secondaries.

4 | That’s a pretty lofty mark for mere mortals.

Ronnie Clark and Derrick Gore picked up a few carries between them, and they were fine. The only other back to pick up a carry was Xavian Marks, and I’ll defer discussion of him to the receiving chart.

Oh! Except for Henry, who had ten touches on the afternoon and produced 96 yards for his troubles. Watching Henry against this team was probably reminiscent of watching him in his senior season of high school, as Henry was essentially as large as the average Buc defensive lineman. I mean, just look at this:

It took most of the Buccaneer defense to finally bring him down. Ridiculous.

Quarterback Performance

Map of Quarterbacking Excellence
Air Yards Metric Left Middle Right Totals
8 5 12 25
Behind
L.O.S
Comp. % 1/1 (100.0%) 3/3 (100.0%) 3/3 (100.0%) 7
S. Rate 100.0% 66.7% 0.0%
iPPP 0.7 0.9 ---
0-5
Yards
Comp. % 2/2 (100.0%) 1/1 (100.0%) 2/2 (100.0%) 5
S. Rate 50.0% 100.0% 50.0%
iPPP 2.4 0.7 1.4
6-10
Yards
Comp. % 1/1 (100.0%) 0/1 (0.0%) 0/1 (0.0%) 3
S. Rate 100.0% 0.0% 0.0%
iPPP 1.1 --- ---
11-15
Yards
Comp. % 1/1 (100.0%) 0/0 (---) 1/2 (50.0%) 3
S. Rate 100.0% --- 50.0%
iPPP 0.7 --- 1.5
16+ Yards
Comp. % 1/3 (33.3%) 0/0 (---) 3/4 (75.0%) 7
S. Rate 33.3% --- 75.0%
iPPP 2.5 --- 2.3

Observations

Pretty accurate day for the Tide quarterbacks, as even the deeper throws were there against this particular opponent. Again, some of the defensed passes walked a fine line between good coverage and interference, but 4/7 on throws of 16 yards or more through the air is a pretty outstanding mark.

24 of the 25 attempts were split more or less evenly between Coker and Cooper Bateman, and the differences in their games were just as stark as they’ve been all season. Coker was deadly accurate at 11/13 overall, and picked up 155 yards for a tidy 11.9 YPA. Bateman was a still-solid 7/11, but only accrued 47 yards, or 4.3 yards per attempt. He was throwing to primarily Sims of course, instead of the more explosive Calvin Ridley, but his average throw only went 5.8 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Coker’s were over 13 yards through the air, and while a big part of that was an emphasis on running out the clock with a 49 point lead, a good part of it is Bateman’s arm and its limitations.

Finally, Alec Morris logged his first official pass attempt in a crimson jersey after four years in the program. It was a jet sweep, of course, but it still counts as a pass attempt!

Incompletions Breakdown
Type Count Percent of Total
VS.
CHSO
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
Misfires 3 12.0% 13.9%
Defensive Wins 3 12.0% 13.6%
Drops 0 0.0% 5.4%
Offensive Errors 0 0.0% 0.7%
Penalties 0 0.0% 1.8%

Observations

No drops this week, which is nice. The rate of misfires and defensive wins was right in line with seasonal averages, although as discussed some of those pass breakups were non-called pass interferences, which for this week is ok.

Pass Splits by Down and Distance
Metric Attempts Pass % S. Rate iPPP
VS.
CHSO
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
All Passes 25 42.4% 47.1% 52.0% 41.4% 1.5 1.4
1st 16 57.1% 44.3% 50.0% 51.2% 1.4 1.5
2nd 4 21.1% 63.2% 75.0% 41.0% 1.9 1.4
3rd 3 33.3% 40.8% 33.3% 28.4% 1.1 1.3
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
2 22.2% 19.4% 50.0% 42.9% 3.5 0.5
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
3 33.3% 48.9% 0.0% 39.5% --- 1.2
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
19 48.7% 49.0% 57.9% 42.9% 1.3 1.5
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
1 50.0% 61.8% 100.0% 38.3% 1.9 1.7

Observations

Not many yards after the catch in this one, as the Bucs were frequently in good position to make tackles soon after the catch. That depressed iPPPs quite a bit, but the success rates were high overall.

Receiver Performance

Individual WR Stats
Player Targets Catch Rate YAC/Catch Pts./Target
VS.
CHSO
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
VS.
CHSO
2015
Season
Ridley, Calvin 6 66.7% 70.8% 3.3 7.3 0.9 0.8
Stewart, ArDarius 5 80.0% 57.4% 5.5 6.2 0.8 0.5
Sims, Cam 5 60.0% 50.0% 0.7 0.0 0.5 0.5
Fluornoy-Smith, Ty 2 50.0% --- 1.0 --- 0.0 ---
Marks, Xavian 2 100.0% --- 13.5 --- 0.9 ---

Observations

The usual suspects at the top of the chart, as Ridley and ArDarius Stewart got plenty of work in the first half. Both guys did a pretty solid job, and no drops, which is great. Sims was the primary target when the backups came in, but many of Bateman’s throws to Sims were off-target.

The interesting development was Marks, who was not someone I expected to see this season at all. The track star did some nice work in the Drake role on the jet sweeps, and the assertion that he’s moving to receiver makes sense to me. He’s very quick but very small, which sounds like good slot receiver material. He also appears to be the backup punt returner to Cyrus Jones, and he has a Trindon Holliday-type quality to him that might pay dividends in a few years.

ROLL TIDE