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Charting the Tide, Defense and Special Teams | Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

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The Tide turns in its most complete defensive performance since 2011

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

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

But first, domination.

Louisiana Monroe accrued just 92 total yards of offense, which was the least allowed by the Tide since the 2012 national championship game against LSU. Monroe ran 74 plays to get those yards, which equates to 1.2 yards per play — the lowest yards per play given up by the Tide since at least 2000. The Tide notched six sacks, which was the most in a single game since the 2012 contest against Western Carolina.

Look, Louisiana Monroe is not a good team. They do not have a good offense. Their players, who played hard until the end of the game, are not remotely the same caliber of athlete that suits up for the Tide. It would be cause for concern if they’d managed to put up big numbers in this game.

The key here is that, in fact, they only managed historically low numbers on this defense. It’s hard to take much away regarding the quality of a team when they beat up on competition like this, but completely shutting an offense like this down is what an elite defense is supposed to do, and this game was the best proof yet of how elite this defense is. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as they face the first in a series of troublesome offenses Saturday in Athens.

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.

Individual Performance

Disruptive Plays
Player VS.
ULM
2015
Season
Total PBU/PDs STFs INTs Sacks FFs BKs Total
Fitzpatrick, Minkah 2 4 1 --- 1 --- --- 6
Humphrey, Marlon 2 3 2 --- --- 1 --- 6
Reed, Jarran 3 2 1 --- 1 --- --- 4
Tomlinson, Dalvin 1 4 --- --- --- --- --- 4
Allen, Jonathan --- 1 --- --- 3 --- --- 4

Observations

Another week, another chart topped by two great freshmen defensive backs in Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey. Both picked up a pass break-up and a stuff, and co-lead the Tide defense with six disruptive plays apiece. Jarran Reed had a huge game, picking up a sack, a stuff, and a tipped pass to raise his total to four. Dalvin Tomlinson got a paw on the pass eventually picked off by another exciting freshmen DB in Ronnie Harrison. Denzel Devall continued his strong play from the last couple of weeks, collecting a sack and a tipped pass. D.J. Pettway, Da’Shawn Hand, Rashaan Evans, and Tim Williams all picked up sacks, with Reggie Ragland, A’Shawn Robinson, and Keith Holcombe adding batted passes. Yeah, Keith Holcombe played significant time, yall.

Overall Defensive Performance

Quarter Breakdown
Metric 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
Plays 10 63 24 76 10 58 0 14
S. Rate 20.0% 34.9% 12.5% 27.6% 20.0% 24.1% --- 42.9%
iPPP 0.5 0.7 0.5 1.0 0.6 1.6 --- 2.3
Pass % 66.7% 50.0% 85.7% 69.4% 70.0% 74.5% --- 42.9%
P. S. Rate 16.7% 38.7% 16.7% 32.0% 28.6% 29.3% --- 66.7%
P. iPPP 0.6 0.9 0.5 1.1 0.6 1.7 --- 3.1
Rush % 33.3% 50.0% 14.3% 30.6% 30.0% 25.5% --- 57.1%
R. S. Rate 33.3% 32.3% 0.0% 22.7% 0.0% 14.3% --- 25.0%
R. iPPP 0.4 0.6 --- 0.6 --- 0.6 --- 0.9

Observations

As noted in yesterday’s offensive piece, this game was over early in the third quarter after the Tide went up 24-0.[1] As you might expect given that score, the first two and half quarters weren’t too great if you’re a Warhawks fan. The offense never cracked 20% success rate overall, and after one successful run in the first quarter, they got a whole lot of nothing on the ground. I’ll save further discussion of their rushing performance for later on in the article, because it was astonishingly bad.

1 | Fullback! Rumbling! I-Formation!

Formation / Playcall Breakdown
Call Plays Percent of Total Success Rate iPPP
VS.
ULM
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
Shotgun 44 100.0% 84.4% 15.9% 29.8% 0.5 1.2
Pistol 0 0.0% 1.4% --- 66.7% --- 0.8
Under Center 0 0.0% 13.3% --- 28.6% --- 0.9
No Huddle 27 61.4% 49.8% 14.8% 31.4% 0.5 1.2
Huddled 17 38.6% 50.2% 17.6% 28.3% 0.5 1.1
Play Action 4 9.1% 12.3% 50.0% 50.0% 0.5 1.6

Observations

ULM went no-huddle the whole game and operated entirely out of the shotgun, and you can see their overall success rate for the game was a shade below 16%. You don’t need a stats guru to tell you that’s Bad. The 0.5 iPPP isn’t anything to brag about either.

Personnel Breakdown
Group Plays Percent of Total Success Rate iPPP
VS.
ULM
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
10 20 45.5% 25.1% 20.0% 24.5% 0.5 1.1
00 13 29.5% 12.8% 15.4% 22.2% 0.5 0.9
11 6 13.6% 28.4% 16.7% 33.3% 0.7 0.9
01 2 4.5% 1.9% 0.0% 0.0% --- ---
20 1 2.3% 10.0% 0.0% 38.1% --- 2.4

Observations

One interesting wrinkle was the Warhawks’ penchant for five wide looks, which they ran over twice as often as the typical Tide opponent. It didn’t work. 10 personnel was their most frequently used and successful look. It also didn’t work. 11 personnel, which they only used six times while the game was competitive, was their most effective grouping, but really, it didn’t work either.

Down and Distance Matrix
Distance Metric Down
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
Short
(0-3 Yds)
Plays 0 1 0 10 3 16 0 3
S. Rate --- 0.0% --- 50.0% 0.0% 31.3% --- 66.7%
iPPP --- --- --- 2.1 --- 1.9 --- 0.2
Medium
(4-6 Yds)
Plays 0 2 3 13 2 13 0 0
S. Rate --- 50.0% 33.3% 15.4% 50.0% 38.5% --- ---
iPPP --- 0.6 0.4 0.6 0.7 0.8 --- ---
Long
(7-10 Yds)
Plays 14 75 7 33 5 15 1 1
S. Rate 14.3% 26.7% 28.6% 36.4% 0.0% 20.0% 0.0% 0.0%
iPPP 0.4 1.0 0.5 1.0 --- 1.3 --- ---
Very Long
(11+ Yds)
Plays 2 7 4 14 3 8 0 0
S. Rate 0.0% 0.0% 25.0% 42.9% 0.0% 25.0% --- ---
iPPP --- --- 0.6 1.2 --- 1.7 --- ---

Observations

Monroe picked up a single first down before garbage time. That probably has a lot to do with why they did not score any points. I feel like I’m mailing the article in at this point, but what can you say, really? Let’s get to the run stuff, that’s interesting at least.

Front Seven Performance

Rush Splits by Down, Distance, and Direction
Metric Attempts Rush % S. Rate iPPP LY/Att.
VS.
ULM
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
All Carries 4 22.5% 36.9% 0.0% 32.2% --- 0.2 2.3 2.1
1st Down 2 37.5% 47.6% 0.0% 12.9% --- 0.5 2.0 1.8
2nd Down 2 18.2% 32.3% 0.0% 36.8% --- 0.8 2.5 2.9
3rd Down 0 8.3% 22.0% --- 14.3% --- 0.3 --- 1.5
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
0 50.0% 58.6% --- 35.7% --- 0.2 --- 0.9
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
0 0.0% 30.8% --- 0.0% --- --- --- 1.6
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
4 30.8% 35.5% 0.0% 20.6% --- 0.8 2.3 2.3
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
0 0.0% 25.9% --- 50.0% --- 0.9 --- 5.5
Left
End
1 25.0% 13.6% 0.0% 50.0% --- 0.5 1.0 3.2
Left
Tackle
0 0.0% 5.1% --- 66.7% --- 0.5 --- 2.5
Middle 2 50.0% 52.5% 0.0% 6.5% --- 0.2 2.5 1.6
Right
Tackle
0 0.0% 16.9% --- 20.0% --- 0.6 --- 2.3
Right
End
1 25.0% 11.9% 0.0% 57.1% --- 0.9 3.0 2.8

Observations

ZERO SUCCESSFUL CARRIES. NONE.[2] Removing sacks, the Warhawk offense accumulated 24 yards on the ground, an average of about 2 yards a carry. Putrid! I really enjoyed it.

2 | Ben Luckett, who looked to me like he had some ability, picked up two late in the fourth against the third stringers.

Opposing RB Performance
Metric Attempts Opp. Rate Hlt. Yds. / Opp. RBR
VS.
ULM
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
All Carries 4 0.0% 22.2% --- 2.5 --- 0.6
1st Down 2 0.0% 17.2% --- 0.7 --- 0.1
2nd Down 2 0.0% 33.3% --- 4.3 --- 1.4
3rd Down 0 --- 16.7% --- 0.5 --- 0.1
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
0 --- 0.0% --- --- --- ---
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
0 --- 16.7% --- 0.5 --- 0.1
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
4 0.0% 20.6% --- 2.8 --- 0.6
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
0 --- 100.0% --- 2.5 --- 2.5
Left
End
1 0.0% 37.5% --- 3.5 --- 1.3
Left
Tackle
0 --- 33.3% --- 2.5 --- 0.8
Middle 2 0.0% 7.4% --- 0.5 --- 0.0
Right
Tackle
0 --- 30.0% --- 1.0 --- 0.3
Right
End
1 0.0% 50.0% --- 4.3 --- 2.2

Observations

Yup, 0 highlight yards, 0 highlight opportunities, no RBR to speak of for the Monroe backs. The lone successful carry was a Garret Smith zone read in the first quarter, and as he’s a quarterback he doesn’t show up in either of the previous charts. The defense was so upset with his insolence they sacked Smith on the next play, and five times thereafter for good measure.[3]

3 | No, really, I’m not making that up.

Secondary Performance

Opponent Quarterback Performance
Air Yards Metric Left Middle Right Totals
8 7 12 27
Behind
L.O.S
Comp. % 3/3 (100.0%) 1/2 (50.0%) 3/4 (75.0%) 9
S. Rate 33.3% 0.0% 0.0%
iPPP 0.4 --- ---
0-5
Yards
Comp. % 2/2 (100.0%) 2/2 (100.0%) 1/6 (16.7%) 10
S. Rate 100.0% 50.0% 0.0%
iPPP 0.5 0.4 ---
6-10
Yards
Comp. % 1/2 (50.0%) 1/3 (33.3%) 0/0 (---) 5
S. Rate 50.0% 33.3% ---
iPPP 0.6 0.7 ---
11-15
Yards
Comp. % 0/0 (---) 0/0 (---) 0/0 (---) 0
S. Rate --- --- ---
iPPP --- --- ---
16+ Yards
Comp. % 0/1 (0.0%) 0/0 (---) 0/2 (0.0%) 3
S. Rate 0.0% --- 0.0%
iPPP --- --- ---

Observations

Smith had a touch of the noodle arm to him, so the Warhawks only went downfield three times, none of which were successful. The majority of Smith’s completions came within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, which is perfectly fine with me. The Warhawks’ longest completed pass was 10 yards. 10 yards!

Pass Splits by Down and Distance
Metric Attempts Pass % S. Rate iPPP
VS.
ULM
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
VS.
ULM
2015
Season
All Passes 31 77.5% 63.1% 19.4% 34.4% 0.5 1.4
1st 10 62.5% 52.4% 10.0% 31.8% 0.4 1.1
2nd 9 81.8% 78.0% 44.4% 40.9% 0.5 1.4
3rd 11 91.7% 67.7% 9.1% 30.8% 0.7 1.6
Short
(0-3 Yds.)
1 50.0% 41.4% 0.0% 58.3% --- 2.8
Medium
(4-6 Yds.)
3 100.0% 69.2% 66.7% 38.9% 0.6 0.8
Long
(7-10 Yds.)
18 69.2% 64.5% 16.7% 32.1% 0.5 1.1
Very Long
(11+ Yds.)
9 100.0% 74.1% 11.1% 25.0% 0.6 1.6

Observations

ULM is definitely a passing team, as 78% of their plays were passes. Six of those 31 attempts were successful. Just to summarize: 44 plays before garbage time, seven successful, 72 yards. I know you’re used to longer discussion but I just don’t know what to say. Dominance, pure and simple.

Special Teams Performance

Punts and Kickoffs Performance
Metric ALABAMA ULM
Punt Hangtime 4.30 s 3.58 s
Gross Points per Punt 3.74 3.05
Net Points per Punt 3.32 2.72
Kickoff Hangtime 3.61 s 3.89 s
Gross Points per Kickoff 6.52 6.22
Net Points per Kickoff 3.84 4.67

Observations

Aaand we come crashing back to Earth. Unfortunately the specialists seem to still be a bit off-kilter. J.K. Scott badly shanked his first punt, but otherwise got decent hangtime on the subsequent five, and dropped the ball inside the ULM 20 on four of those attempts. His long for the day was 52 yards, but that one just skipped into the end zone ahead of the coverage unit for a touchback. Overall the combination of Scott and the coverage team yielded just one punt return yard on the afternoon.

ULM ran one successful fake punt, which I should note was not reflected in any of the charts above. That was balanced by a hilarious gaffe in which the middle shield man rotated over a shade early, causing the snapped ball to carom off his shoulder pad up the field. ULM’s punter attempted to run for the first down, which was — to quote former Tide great Eddie Lacy — a "business decision."

Kick coverage was fairly poor, although it’s hard to say if that was on the coverage unit or Adam Griffith. The embattled Tide placekicker drilled his two field goal attempts (!), but wasn’t getting much air under his kickoffs, and those line drives were returned for pretty decent yardage by the Warhawks. But all of that’s ok, because he drilled his two field goals! Roll Adam Roll!

ROLL TIDE