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Charting the Tide, Defense and Special Teams | Ole Miss Rebels

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The defense played well, except for all those plays that they didn't.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

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

Everything about this game was horrible.

There were 167 charted plays in this game. All of those plays were passes, every last friggin’ one of them![1] All of those passes had ineligible receivers downfield and illegal blocking![2] Herbstreit and Fowler didn’t know which team was which for 25% of the game.[3] These refs were atrocious.[4] There may or may not have been five turnovers.[5] Oh, and the Tide lost.

1 | Ok, maybe it just seemed that way.

2 | Not all, but many! Even more than you thought! It was ridiculous!

3 | This is true. Also Kenyan Drake is the new Kenyan Drake, but the old Kenyan Drake, and also Reggie Bush.

4 | Tom Ritter is the new Penn Wagers, ladies and gentleman!

5 | This absolutely didn’t happen. Nope.

The Tide defense, however, played well when not getting shafted by illegal offensive plays that are illegal for a reason. Ole Miss managed 433 yards of offense, but 73 of those yards shouldn’t have counted, and a further 66 came via smiting, as in from the football gods. That’s 294 yards otherwise, which is more than decent against a team that came in averaging 600+ yards a game. Field position had a lot to do with that — when you start a drive from the opponent’s 17, 17 yards is all you can get — but the Tide bowed up inside the 20 on several occasions, and in general gave a great effort unfortunately ruined by poor offensive execution and special teams play.

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 Line, 0 - 10 Yards, Over 10 Yards) and direction of throw relative to the hash the ball was placed on (Left, Middle, Right — see Pass Direction for more explanation). Each header/leader contains the number of attempts for that designation within parentheses (e.g., the number in parentheses next to 'LEFT' denotes the number of attempts that were thrown to the left, regardless of distance). Each block contains the number of complete passes to that block over the total number of passes to that block, the completion percentage, the YPA, and the success rate. 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, stuffs (tackles for loss on a ballcarrier, as opposed to a QB on a pass play), 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).
  • Rate of Occurrence 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 datum tracked by the Charting Project is the direction of throw or Pass Direction. This refers to the direction the ball was thrown relative to the hash the ball was placed on, NOT the part of the field where the ball ended up. For example, on a play where the ball was placed on the left hash at the snap, a throw directly down the left hash marks would be tracked as Middle, whereas a ball thrown to the area between the hashes would be tracked as Left, and a ball thrown toward the left sideline would be tracked as Right. This is an important distinction for interpreting the Blake Sims Map of Quarterbacking Excellence.
  • 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 (SR) — 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.
  • YAC — Passing Yards After Catch, the amount of yardage gained by the receiver after catching a pass. YAC + Air Yards = Passing Yardage.
  • 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.
  • Opportunity Rate — The percentage of carries where the back has an opportunity to accrue Highlight Yards; read more about both here.
  • Line Yards — The number of rushing yards on every run attributable to the offensive line’s efforts. 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.

Individual Performance

Disruptive Plays
Player VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
Total PBU/PDs STFs INTs Sacks FFs BKs Total
Fitzpatrick, Minkah 1 3 --- --- 1 --- --- 4
Humphrey, Marlon 1 2 1 --- --- 1 --- 4
Allen, Jonathan 2 1 --- --- 3 --- --- 4
Foster, Reuben --- 2 1 --- --- --- --- 3
Devall, Denzell 1 --- 3 --- --- --- --- 3

Observations

The two newest faces in the defensive backfield continue to offset occasional lapses in judgement with big plays, as Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick are atop the chart yet again this week. Fitzpatrick broke up a late pass that could have been a difference-making interception; hopefully when those situations occur in the future he’ll be able to come down with the ball. Humphrey tallied a nice stuff on a Jaylen Walton carry around the right end in the third. Tied with them at 4 is Jonathan Allen, who collected his team-leading third sack of the year and knocked down a pass at the line on the first defensive play of the game.

Denzel Devall stuffed a Chad Kelly zone read draw attempt late in the game, his third disruptive play in the last two games. Eddie Jackson, Cyrus Jones, and D.J. Pettway all picked up stuffs, with the latter two also defending a pass apiece. Reggie Ragland and Dillon Lee both knocked down a pass, and Da’Shawn Hand rounded out the individual production by notching his first sack of the season.

Overall Defensive Performance

Formation / Playcall Breakdown
Call Plays Percent of Total Success Rate iPPP
VS.
OLE
MISS
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
Shotgun 63 96.9% 80.2% 36.5% 34.3% 1.7 1.3
Pistol 0 0.0% 1.8% --- 66.7% --- 0.8
Under Center 1 1.5% 16.8% 0.0% 28.6% --- 0.9
No Huddle 40 61.5% 46.7% 42.5% 37.2% 1.6 1.2
Huddled 25 38.5% 53.3% 24.0% 30.3% 1.9 1.2
Play Action 11 16.9% 13.2% 54.5% 50.0% 2.5 1.8

Observations

Aside from a couple of kneeldowns,[6] one Wildcat look from Jeremy Liggins, and one carry for Robert Nkemdiche that started out from under center, the Rebels spent the entirety of the game operating out of the shotgun, as HUNH teams are wont to do. This has been common for the Tide through 3 games, as combined their three opponents were in this look over 80% of the time. Ole Miss’ overall success rate of 36.5% is not that great, and is indicative of how this game went — a whole lot of middling plays offset by huge, explosive ones.

6 | Which are never included in these stats, for future reference.

The latter point is well highlighted by the iPPPs in this chart, which are all relatively high and outpace what the Tide has seen so far this year. Play-action passes in particular were quite kind to the Rebels, as they posted their highest success rate and iPPP on those plays. I will note the “Huddled” play count is so large because the combination of penalties, timeouts, drives, measurements, and situations where players needed to come out of the game was fairly high.

Personnel Breakdown
Group Plays Percent of Total Success Rate iPPP
VS.
OLE
MISS
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
11 19 29.2% 32.3% 36.8% 35.2% 0.9 0.9
10 18 27.7% 19.8% 22.2% 27.3% 1.9 1.4
20 8 12.3% 12.0% 62.5% 40.0% 3.4 2.4
12 7 10.8% 6.6% 28.6% 27.3% 1.0 1.2
21 7 10.8% 14.4% 57.1% 37.5% 1.3 1.0

Observations

Ole Miss didn’t tend to mix up personnel during drives, but with the aforementioned stoppages in play they ended up providing a number of different looks to the Tide on the evening. The two most popular were single-back sets with either three or four wide receivers, which the Rebels went to over 50% of the time. The real killer was a three wide receiver look with a single back and an H-back (20 personnel), which was successful over 60% of the time for Ole Miss and produced the biggest gains, as evidenced by a sky-high iPPP of 3.4.

Quarter Breakdown
Metric 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
Plays 15 53 13 52 23 48 14 14
S. Rate 26.7% 37.7% 30.8% 34.6% 39.1% 25.0% 42.9% 42.9%
iPPP 0.9 0.8 0.8 1.0 2.0 1.7 2.3 2.3
Pass % 60.0% 47.2% 46.2% 62.7% 66.7% 75.6% 42.9% 42.9%
P. S. Rate 11.1% 44.0% 16.7% 40.6% 50.0% 29.4% 66.7% 66.7%
P. iPPP 1.8 0.9 0.6 1.2 2.4 1.9 3.1 3.1
Rush % 40.0% 52.8% 53.8% 37.3% 33.3% 24.4% 57.1% 57.1%
R. S. Rate 50.0% 32.1% 42.9% 26.3% 28.6% 18.2% 25.0% 25.0%
R. iPPP 0.6 0.6 0.9 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.9 0.9

Observations

The Ole Miss offense did not get to operate in garbage time, as the Tide managed to get the lead back down under 18 in the fourth on their lone garbage time drive of the year. In particular, the Rebels got almost as many plays in the third as they did in the first half combined, which is what happens when you have to operate from normal field position. Somehow their overall success rate steadily increased as the game went on, a trend matched by their iPPPs and the complete opposite of what the Tide had done in their last two games.[7] Part of that is all of the big plays came in the second half, but in general Kelly and the offense settled down after halftime and got into their groove.

7 | Although only one of the previous four second-half quarters “counted”, so who knows.

That groove was mostly through the air, as expected. The iPPP on runs spiked a bit at the end of halves, but the success rate steadily dropped throughout the game when Ole Miss tried to pick up yards on the ground. Passing success rate was very low in the first half, but a couple of decent plays perked the first quarter iPPP up. After halftime, Ole Miss was doing crazy things like picking up 60+ yard pass completions on two play drives, which inflates both success rate and iPPP quite a bit. What a mess.

Down and Distance Matrix
Distance Metric Down
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
Short
(0-3 Yds)
Plays 0 1 4 10 3 13 2 3
S. Rate --- 0.0% 75.0% 50.0% 33.3% 38.5% 50.0% 66.7%
iPPP --- --- 3.4 2.1 6.7 1.9 0.1 0.2
Medium
(4-6 Yds)
Plays 2 2 2 10 4 11 0 0
S. Rate 50.0% 50.0% 0.0% 10.0% 25.0% 36.4% --- ---
iPPP 0.6 0.6 --- 0.7 0.5 0.8 --- ---
Long
(7-10 Yds)
Plays 24 61 11 26 5 10 0 0
S. Rate 29.2% 29.5% 36.4% 38.5% 20.0% 30.0% --- ---
iPPP 1.2 1.0 1.3 1.1 2.6 1.3 --- ---
Very Long
(11+ Yds)
Plays 1 5 5 10 2 5 0 0
S. Rate 0.0% 0.0% 60.0% 50.0% 50.0% 40.0% --- ---
iPPP --- --- 1.4 1.3 1.0 1.7 --- ---

Observations

Ole Miss did not have much success on first down — only eight of their 27 attempts picked up at least 50% of necessary yardage — but put up slightly higher iPPPs than the Tide’s two previous opponents on that down. 2nd and 3rd and short was lethal, as the two backbreaker touchdown throws came in those situations. The Rebels only went 4/14 on third down, which would be really great except they picked up a quarter of their offensive production for the game on those four plays. The Tide yielded once on a fourth and short, which turned out to be the Rebels’ first of five touchdowns on the evening.

Front Seven Performance

Rush Splits by Down, Distance, and Direction
Metric Attempts Rush % S. Rate iPPP LY/Att.
VS.
OLE
MISS
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
All Carries 21 44.4% 40.5% 47.6% 32.7% 0.4 0.2 2.3 2.1
1st Down 10 44.4% 50.0% 20.0% 13.8% 0.6 0.5 0.9 1.8
2nd Down 7 42.9% 35.2% 57.1% 41.2% 1.0 0.8 4.6 3.0
3rd Down 3 38.5% 26.3% 0.0% 14.3% --- 0.3 1.8 1.5
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
5 66.7% 59.3% 40.0% 35.7% 0.2 0.2 1.2 0.9
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
3 50.0% 34.8% 0.0% 0.0% --- --- 2.5 1.6
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
11 37.5% 36.8% 36.4% 23.3% 0.9 0.8 2.1 2.3
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
2 50.0% 38.9% 50.0% 50.0% 1.0 0.9 5.8 5.5
Left
End
6 28.6% 12.7% 66.7% 57.1% 0.5 0.5 3.7 3.5
Left
Tackle
0 0.0% 5.5% --- 66.7% --- 0.5 --- 2.5
Middle 9 42.9% 52.7% 0.0% 6.9% --- 0.2 1.4 1.5
Right
Tackle
2 9.5% 18.2% 0.0% 20.0% --- 0.6 1.7 2.3
Right
End
4 19.0% 10.9% 75.0% 66.7% 1.0 0.9 2.5 2.7

Observations

The Rebels’ performance on first down is what was perhaps expected for their rushing performance the entire game — a whole lot of nothin’. Unfortunately, for whatever reason runs on second down were much nastier, with a success rate up over 50% and really good push from their line. Nothing too interesting to note from the Distance section of the chart.

As expected, almost all of the Rebels’ production in this regard came on sweeps around the ends,[8] as the tackle box was closed for business on Saturday. 11 attempts between the tackles yielded just 17 yards and zero successful attempts, which is about all you can ask of a defensive line in the run game.

8 | And some scrambles from Kelly, not reflected here.

Opposing RB Performance
Metric Attempts Opp. Rate Hlt. Yds. / Opp. RBR
VS.
OLE
MISS
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
All Carries 21 41.2% 24.0% 3.4 2.5 1.4 0.6
1st Down 10 22.2% 18.5% 1.0 0.7 0.2 0.1
2nd Down 7 66.7% 37.5% 5.4 4.3 3.6 1.6
3rd Down 3 50.0% 16.7% 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.1
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
5 0.0% 0.0% --- --- --- ---
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
3 50.0% 16.7% 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.1
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
11 36.4% 23.3% 4.0 2.8 1.5 0.7
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
2 100.0% 100.0% 3.8 2.5 3.8 2.5
Left
End
6 50.0% 42.9% 3.5 3.5 1.8 1.5
Left
Tackle
0 --- 33.3% --- 2.5 --- 0.8
Middle 9 16.7% 8.0% 0.5 0.5 0.1 0.0
Right
Tackle
2 50.0% 30.0% 0.5 1.0 0.3 0.3
Right
End
4 66.7% 60.0% 6.3 4.3 4.2 2.6

Observations

Reflecting the previous chart, second down was great for those sweeps, as the Rebel duo of Walton and Jordan Wilkins found a lot of success around the edge on that down. The 3.6 RBR tells you all you need to know, but the backs averaged nearly eight yards a pop on those 7 carries. Left end was good, but right end was even better, as the backs put up an RBR in excess of 4 on those carries in this one.

I’ll pause here before going on to the secondary to give some kudos to the pass rush. In addition to producing the two sacks noted earlier, the Tide front seven hit Kelly on several occasions, almost producing two turnovers in the process. If Ole Miss’ offense did not develop as quickly as it does, that sack count might be even higher. In general it seems like the pass rush is improved this year, which should pay dividends down the line.

Secondary Performance

Opponent Quarterback Performance
Air Yards Metric Left Middle Right Totals
14 3 13 30
Behind
L.O.S
Comp. % 1/2 (50.0%) 0/0 (---) 2/2 (100.0%) 4
S. Rate 0.0% --- 0.0%
iPPP --- --- ---
0-5
Yards
Comp. % 5/5 (100.0%) 1/1 (100.0%) 1/2 (50.0%) 8
S. Rate 60.0% 100.0% 50.0%
iPPP 3.4 0.6 1.6
6-10
Yards
Comp. % 1/1 (100.0%) 0/0 (---) 2/2 (100.0%) 3
S. Rate 100.0% --- 100.0%
iPPP 1.9 --- 0.6
11-15
Yards
Comp. % 0/2 (0.0%) 0/1 (0.0%) 1/2 (50.0%) 5
S. Rate 0.0% 0.0% 50.0%
iPPP --- --- 1.5
16+ Yards
Comp. % 2/4 (50.0%) 1/1 (100.0%) 1/5 (20.0%) 10
S. Rate 50.0% 100.0% 20.0%
iPPP 2.7 1.8 7.2

Observations

A single four yard “throw” to the left and an (illegal) 20 yard throw to the right produced the bulk of the Rebel production in this game, and that’s reflected in the fairly high iPPPs in those two blocks of the chart above. Kelly was lethal on throws to the left and up the middle, going 11/17 for 212 yards on those throws, at least when they counted.[9] Throws to the right were a bit shakier, aside from the lone deep completion in that direction we’ve already discussed. The 40% completion rate on deep (16+ yards beyond the line) throws is a little high.

9 | Note throwaways and passes tipped at the line won’t show up in this chart.

Pass Splits by Down and Distance
Metric Attempts Pass % S. Rate iPPP
VS.
OLE
MISS
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
VS.
OLE
MISS
2015
Season
All Passes 35 55.6% 59.5% 37.1% 39.2% 2.4 1.5
1st 15 55.6% 50.0% 33.3% 38.2% 1.3 1.2
2nd 12 57.1% 73.7% 50.0% 40.0% 2.6 1.7
3rd 8 61.5% 64.8% 25.0% 39.3% 4.6 1.7
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
3 33.3% 40.7% 100.0% 63.6% 5.6 2.8
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
4 50.0% 65.2% 25.0% 33.3% 0.6 0.8
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
25 62.5% 63.2% 28.0% 36.7% 1.6 1.2
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
3 50.0% 61.1% 66.7% 36.4% 1.5 1.8

Observations

iPPPs are high regardless of how you slice it, which underscores how explosive Ole Miss’ passing game was in this one. The overall success rate of 37.1% is nothing to get excited about, but it doesn’t matter when half your successful throws go for 20 yards or more. The Rebels threw three times in short yardage situations, and picked up sufficient yardage each time, including the illegal pop pass. While success rates were below average on downs with 4-10 yards to go, the iPPPs everywhere else balanced that shortfall out nicely. We knew Ole Miss would need to beat the Tide through the air, and unfortunately that’s exactly what they did.

Special Teams Performance

Punts and Kickoffs Performance
Metric ALABAMA OLE MISS
Punt Hangtime 4.30 s 3.38 s
Gross Points per Punt 4.13 3.78
Net Points per Punt 4.13 3.89
Kickoff Hangtime 3.94 s 3.87 s
Gross Points per Kickoff 6.49 6.59
Net Points per Kickoff 3.98 4.11

Observations

All of that is well and good, but the only number that matters from this section is 2, which is the number of kickoffs fumbled by Tide returners in this game. Kickoff return fumbles are inherently the worst kind of turnover, as they universally result in fumble return touchdowns or possessions inside the 20 for the opponent. Ole Miss produced 10 points off these two fumbles, among the 24 they produced off turnovers on the afternoon. You may note both 10 and 24 are well in excess of six, which was the final margin of victory. It’s very much like a punch to the gut.

Bright spots? Well, punting assassin J.K. Scott made an appearance, dropping one punt at the Ole Miss 2 yard line and banging another 49 yards to flip the field. Adam Griffith had a decent game on kicks he was trying to get to the endzone, reaching it on three of four attempts with decent hangtime. The onsides kick was perfect, with ArDarius Stewart’s touch that was juuuuust shy of being illegal providing the Tide a possession on the Ole Miss 30 late in the game.

ROLL TIDE