Our friends at Football Study Hall do a great job with advanced statistics and I just wanted to share some of the Buckeye related statistics that the guys over there have found. Today we will be looking at last year’s ball carriers (anyone who carried the ball last year) and see how many yards they gained after the line “did their job.” These are the type of plays that separate a great ball carrier from a good one.
This is going to look and sound like a new language so here are some definitions:
Highlight Yards: The portion of a given run that is credit only to the running back; after a certain number of yards, the line has done its job, and most of the rest of the run will be determined by the running back himself. For more information, start here. An important note, however: a player’s per-carry highlight yardage is now calculated as follows: Highlight Yards divided by Opportunities. In this case, Opportunities mean only the carries in which the offensive line “did its job,” i.e. carries that went at least five yards. With a different denominator, then, it is possible for a player’s Highlight Yards per carry to be much higher than his overall yards per carry.
Block Success Rate: Highlight Opportunities divided by total rushes. Basically, how many times did the offensive line get the ball carrier to the second level (five yards).
Adj. POE: POE stands for “Points Over Expected.” The idea for POE is simple: It compares a runner’s production to the production that would have been expected of an average back given the same carries against the same opponents. A runner with, say, a plus-6.0 Adj. POE produced the equivalent of a touchdown more value than the average FBS running back would have with the same carries.For more information on Adj. POE, start here.
Using the above definitions, lets see how the Buckeye ball carriers performed last season. The far column on the right “Rk” takes all of the ball carriers in the nation (roughly 1,500 players) and ranks them versus each other based on Adj. POE. Overall, we are looking at how effective the ball carrier is after the first 5 yards. It’s the difference between a negative to 5 yard gain and a back breaking play in a big game.
- Braxton Miller gains a ton of highlight yards and he is also helped by his offensive line (%50 block success rate). He mostly runs outside of the tackles, but without good blocking by the wide receivers and the line’s ability to get him past the first 5 yards he does not have a chance to make plays in the open field. Miller is using his offensive line to gain positive yardage, then he is making defensive backs miss in the open field. It sounds obvious but it takes a special talent like Miller to make the best athletes on the defensive side of the ball look foolish in the secondary.
- He was playing through injury last year but I expected Jordan Hall to have a higher Adj. POE. He never got into a good rhythm after missing the preseason and I do expect him to be better next year in the open field, using his speed and his new position.
- I thought Carlos Hyde would have lower highlight yardage due to his “power back” persona. Not only is Hyde gaining the tough yards but he is also doing a good job gaining those extra yards once he gets to the second level.
- We saw a few glimpses of Rod Smith last year and the statistics show he should get some more carries this season. If Hall or Hyde go down, Smith has shown big play capabilities and he could flourish in Meyer’s offense.
Alen Dumonjic is a writer for TheScore.com, with contributions to various other sites including The Boston Globe. He primarily studies the NFL in-depth, analyzing schemes and players, but when draft time rolls around, he studies prospects. He is a great follow on twitter for you X’s and O’s lovers @Dumonjic_Alen.
MOTSAG: Even though NFL Draft pundits have stated that Johnathan Hankins’ draft stock has fallen a bit, he should still be the first Buckeye selected in the draft. Which NFL player would you compare Hankins to and what particular scheme or specific team do you think Hankins would thrive in/for?
I think Dane Brugler of CBS Sports compared Hankins to Brandon Mebane of the Seahawks a while back and that’s the best comparison. Mebane has played the one and three-technique spots but he’s more of a one-technique, which I think holds true for Hankins. Mebane has played in a 30 front in the past but is best suited in a 40 front, which the same can be said for Hankins. As for team, maybe the Vikings, who are going to be needing defensive linemen soon and will be looking to add someone up front.
MOTSAG: Urban Meyer praises John Simon for his crazy worth ethic and love for the game, but do you see him as an eventual starter in the league or is he more of a rotational player?
I think he’s a rotational player and that’s not necessarily a knock. With the way the NFL uses sub-packages and rotates players, it’s not a bad thing to be a player who can play on a limited snap count.
MOTSAG: Who do you think represents the best value out of the Buckeye prospects based on where he will be drafted and potential upside?
After Hankins, Reid Fragel is the best value. He has a lot of upside as a pass blocker, but I would like to see him become stronger, develop his technique and become more fundamentally sound. He’s a project but has the upside you look for.
MOTSAG: Do you think Fragel could eventually develop into a solid right tackle in the NFL?
Based off of his skill-set, I do, but I think it’ll take time. He’s very raw, but has upside.
MOTSAG: Jake Stoneburner has the size and the hands to be a mismatch at the tight end position, but he never seemed to put it all together for the Buckeyes. Do you see him having more of an impact in the NFL if he is drafted by the correct team?
I do. I think he has the skill-set to develop into a solid contributor in the NFL, provided he goes to the right staff and has his head on straight. He can be a mismatch in the passing game as a flex tight end.
MOTSAG: Zach Boren is an interesting 7th round- UDFA prospect as he can play both sides of the ball and he is the type of football player that NFL coaches look for when filling out their roster. Thoughts on Boren?
Boren is an interesting prospect because he has the traits that you look for in a football player in general. He’s tough, strong and willing to do what’s best for the team. He also plays a position that may or may not be dying, however. Some teams like to use fullbacks while others do not. Perhaps he could be an option for a team like Green Bay, who could be in the market for a potential future replacement for John Kuhn, or the Houston Texans.
MOTSAG: It is likely two seasons away but what are your thoughts on Braxton Miller and his chances of succeeding in the NFL?
Miller will be one to watch simply because if Chip Kelly’s offense takes off in the pros, teams will be scrambling even more to find dual-threat quarterbacks. NFL coaches copy schemes and Kelly’s scheme doesn’t place too much stress on the quarterback, which is why Miller could be a target for some teams that run that scheme when he comes out.
Earlier today Rece Davis and Chris Spielman visited Columbus on their spring practice bus tour. They devoted today’s College Football Live segment to the Buckeyes and talked with Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller (could not find the video with Miller). Meyer reflected on last year’s team and touched on his expectations for Miller and the team as a whole for 2013. Meyer also talked about his health and taking time off this off-season for the first time as a head coach.
If you happened to miss it, check it out!
(Click headline to see full pictures, not working on the homepage)
Here are two more successful plays that are also ran out of the Pistol formation. The first is from the NFC Championship game between the 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons and the second is from the Thanksgiving match up between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. Just like the 49ers, the Redskins and Robert Griffin III run the Pistol very well. After drafting RGIII, coach Mike Shannahan went down to Baylor to visit with head coach Art Briles to learn more about the Pistol offense. The Redskins are a good example of a team that uses the passing game very well out of the Pistol, due to RGIII’s supreme arm strength and dual threat ability.
Counter: Once again, here are the 49ers running the three back “diamond” formation out of the Pistol. They used the same formation and same personnel when they ran the lead play, with Frank Gore (#21) behind Kaepernick and their two tight ends, Vernon Davis (#85) and Delanie Walker (#46) as lead blockers. This is blocked the same in Pistol as it would be in any other formation, as it is your basic counter play.
Gore has a great hole to run through because Vernon Davis kicks out the defensive end and the pulling guard gets to the second level to block the linebacker. Walker should have gotten inside the hole a little quicker, but with a patient back like Gore the play is still a success.
Gore’s patience allows Walker to double team the linebacker and he follows his blockers for a solid gain of six yards on first down. If Gore was a bit more explosive he may have been able to gain a few more yards but you cannot complain about a six yard gain and a well executed play.
Play Action: Here is a good example of how the Redskins used play action against the Cowboys for a big play on Thanksgiving. The ‘Skins lined up in their diamond formation out of the Pistol, with two backs and a tight end in the backfield along with RGIII. With RGIII’s running ability and Alfred Morris’ success running the ball, you can see that the Cowboy’s are expecting run from this formation.
When RGIII fakes the hand off to Morris, you can see the entire secondary stop to play the run. The lead blockers in the backfield and the RGIII/ Morris combination have effectively fooled the defense into thinking that they are running a lead play, while the two receivers are effectively running their routes. I am guessing that the top receiver is more of a decoy to keep the corner and the safety on his side of the field occupied, while the receiver at the bottom (Aldrick Robinson) is about to take advantage of the over aggressive safety that is peeking into the backfield.
Now that it is known that the ‘Skins are passing the ball, the secondary is already beat. Both of the safeties stopped their feet while Robinson has been running full speed and is about to defeat this cover 4 by the Cowboys. The safety on Robinson’s side should have read play action and dropped back, not stopped his feet to make a play on the running back. The top receiver has done his job to sell the route to the other safety and now the deep post will be wide open.
In cover 4, it would be on the safety to stay inside on Robinson, as it would be impossible for the corner to cover this post alone. The safety was clearly looking in the backfield and stopped his feet, which allowed this easy 65 yard touchdown pass.
Just like any other formation, play action is set up by a successful running game. If the Buckeyes use a lot of Pistol and have success in the running game, it opens up big plays like the one above. We all know the running game will be successful with Miller, Hyde and the plethora of running backs, so we shall see if Miller’s arm has improved to take shots down field against an overly aggressive defense.
If there are anymore play suggestions that you would like for me to breakdown, leave them in the comments!
This will keep B1G defensive coordinators up studying very late this offseason.
Meyer said he and some coaches went to San Francisco during the offseason to study the 49ers’ offensive sets. You’ll see pistol this fall.
— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) April 2, 2013
The Pistol offense took the NFL by storm last season, most notably by the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Collin Kaepernick. 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh used the Pistol formation at Stanford with Andrew Luck, then incorporated it into his NFL playbook. Many thought that the Pistol was just a college gimmick and an NFL fad like the wildcat formation but Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and other dual threat quarterbacks will have something to say about that.
Kaepernick excelled in the Pistol offense at Nevada under Coach Chris Ault, the creator of the Pistol offense, and Braxton Miller possesses some of the same traits as Kaepernick. When one thinks of the Pistol, they think of just the read option but in reality, a variety of running plays can be run out of the formation. There’s the read option, counter, power, lead, inside trap, quarterback sweep, and almost anything else that is run out of a pro-style formation. Also, with the quarterback at 4-5 yards, he is still a serious threat to pass the ball and that is what makes this offense very difficult to stop when it is ran correctly. I can only imagine Meyer watching 49ers’ film and salivating over the thought of Miller, Carlos Hyde and two other playmakers (B. Dunn and R. Smith in practice) in the same backfield.
Here are a few screen shots of the 49ers in the Pistol versus the Bills last year. They’re in a 2- back Pistol alignment. Kaepernick is going to put the ball into RB Kendall Hunter’s stomach and keep an eye on the Bills defensive end to see if he crashes down on Hunter or stays home to play Kaepernick. The H-Back will pull across the line of scrimmage and kick out the outside linebacker if Kaepernick keeps the ball or create the hole if Hunter gets the ball.
Running the read option out of the pistol will highly benefit Miller and the offense. We saw Miller succeed in running the read option last year mostly out of shotgun for big gains and expect the same but with more wrinkles out of the Pistol.
This is the 3- Back diamond formation of the Pistol that was seen at practice on Tuesday by 11 Warrior’s Kyle Rowland. If the two lead blockers get inside to the linebackers, that forces the safety down in run support to make the play on the running back. This play is your basic lead run play that can be run out of basically any formation. (These images below are from www.nationalfootballpost.com)
The 49ers used their two very athletic tight ends, Vernon Davis (#85) and Delanie Walker (#46) in front of Frank Gore (#21) as lead blockers. Davis got to the second level and got a good block on an inside linebacker and Gore gets a big gain up the middle with a chance to make the safety miss.
There are many, many more plays out of the Pistol that Miller will run this season. This is just a small example of two plays that the 49ers ran of out Pistol that Meyer will implement into the playbook this spring. If executed correctly by Miller and the rest of the offense, this will be an even scarier wrinkle to an already scary offense.
I’ll post a few more of these to elaborate later on and if you want me to breakdown any specific offensive plays or formations leave them in the comments!
Tip: Thursday, March 28, 7:47 pm Court: Staples Center
Watch it on: TBS Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Len Elmore, Lewis Johnson
Winner will play: No. 9 Wichita St./ No. 13 La Salle
Spread: Buckeyes -3.5
Record: 28-7 Conference record: 13-5 Neutral court: 7-0
Leaders: Points: Deshaun Thomas (19.5)
Rebounds: Thomas (6.2)
Assists: Aaron Craft (4.6)
Record: 27-7 Conference record: 12-6 Neutral court: 6-1
Leaders: Points: Mark Lyons (14.8)
Rebounds: Kaleb Tarczewski (6.1)
Assists: Nick Johnson (3.2)
Buckeyes offense vs. Wildcats defense
When the Wildcats and Buckeyes take the floor Thursday night, the glaring disparity between the two teams will be Arizona’s clear height advantage in the paint. Coach Sean Miller uses two highly touted freshmen in a rotation at power forward with Brandon Ashley (6-8) and Grant Jarrett, (6-10) alongside another highly touted freshman Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0) at center. Although they are young and inexperienced, the three big men were five star recruits and have the ability to lock down the paint. How will Coach Thad Matta arrange his lineup versus the trees in the lane? Will he give Amir Williams/ Evan Ravenel more playing time, or will they try to spread out the Arizona big men with a smaller lineup? Although Solomon Hill will most likely cover Deshaun Thomas, Thomas could have his hands full if he is down low for the majority of the game. Another intriguing match up will be Craft vs. Mark Lyons/ Nick Johnson. Lyons is Arizona’s de facto point guard but Johnson is a supreme athlete and is the much better defender. If Lyons struggles early defensively, expect Arizona head coach Sean Miller to put Johnson on Craft.
Similar to Iona, the Wildcats struggle when guarding the perimeter. They have allowed opponents to shoot 36 percent from three point land, (287th in the nation) which then turns their height advantage to a disadvantage if their opponent is hitting from the outside. Spreading the Arizona bigs out of the paint is key to scoring on the Wildcats, and if the Buckeyes can hit from the outside early, Miller will have to adjust.
Wildcats offense vs. Buckeyes defense
This is where the game will ultimately be won or lost for the Buckeyes. Craft has already manned up against the great guards from Michigan, Kansas, Duke and the others from the B1G and you can now add Mark Lyons to the list of another great guard that Craft will be shadowing today. Lyons has had a great NCAA tournament, dropping 23 points against Belmont and then 27 versus Harvard but he has not gone against an on ball defender like Craft. He thrives with the ball in his hands and he is also not afraid to take the last shot, as he hit the game winner at home against Florida earlier in the year. The knock on Lyons is that he can get a bit wild at times and force up questionable jump shots and three pointers, thus destroying Miller’s offensive philosophy. If Lyon’s feels frustrated by Craft and decides he wants to be selfish, he has the ability to lose the game for the Wildcats.
Next to Lyons, the other half of the ‘Cats back court is Nick Johnson who is very athletic and can score in bunches; expect Shannon Scott to cover Johnson. They have the big freshmen that I touched on earlier who are capable of scoring inside but their offensive games are not polished enough to really take over the game. If one were to go off, it would be Ashley as he is the most advanced of the freshmen big men offensively and could be an X-Factor. Then there is Solomon Hill, who is Miller’s do it all version of Deshaun Thomas. Hill does not score at will like Thomas but he is a solid, all around, senior forward with experience who can score from inside or outside. He makes the little plays that do not necessarily show up on the stat sheet but is tough to guard defensively.
Ken Pom ranks the Wildcats offense as the 21st most efficient in the country and they averaged 77 points per game in the regular season.
The Wildcats are most dangerous when they are playing team basketball and when Lyons is playing smart. If Craft can get into Lyon’s head and play terrorizing on ball defense, the Buckeyes’ chance of winning will be high. If Lyon’s is playing smart and taking what Craft gives him, it will come down to the final possession. I think Lyon’s will use his tournament experience (back to back Sweet 16’s with two different teams) to play smart but it will not be enough. This will be one of the better games of March Madness.
Ohio State 67
What is your prediction on this Sweet 16 match-up? Let us know in the comments below!
To learn more about Arizona from a Wildcat’s point of view, click here.
Here is Ted Skroback’s look at the Arizona Wildcats and what they bring to the table in Thursday’s matchup. Skroback has a weekly sports talk show on KAMP Radio at the University of Arizona, he is a camera operator for PAC-12 Network and has worked many sports TV productions throughout Arizona. He is a student at the University of Arizona, graduating in May with a degree in Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @Tedskro for some Buckeye- Arizona in-game banter.
THE SEASON: After a hot 20-2 start that included wins over Florida, Miami and San Diego State, the Wildcats stumbled to a 25-7 finish going 5-5 down the stretch. Arizona’s only losses came to PAC-12 teams. They dropped all three games against UCLA (lost in PAC-12 tournament semi-final), but their only loss to a non-tournament team was at USC. The Cats have bounced around the AP rankings climbing up to 3rd in the nation and never falling below 18th in the regular season. Their RPI tells the tale of the season, as they ranked 15th overall but it was the nonconference RPI which is ranked second that shows this team can play with anybody.
EIGHT DEEP: At the start of the season I called this team the deepest in the nation and I still back that theory. On Thursday they will play an eight-man rotation, but over the season they have rotated in ten men at times. The three freshmen bigs are a rotation of their own. Kaleb Tarczewski (7’-0”), Brandon Ashley (6’-8”) and Grant Jerrett (6’-10”) can pose matchup problems for smaller teams. Tarczewski (Zeus) is your typical big center, he played scared at the start of the season, but seems to have become more comfortable with using his big frame down low. Brandon Ashley has a good all around game while Jerrett is an underrated defender and will surprise teams with his shooting (40% behind the arc). These three all compliment each other perfectly with their styles of play, rarely all three will be on the court at the same time, but against the small Ohio State lineup Head Coach Sean Miller might give it a try.
The Seniors, they’ve been there before: What each of the three main seniors have been through are all stories of their own. Kevin Parrom has moved his way into the starting lineup after being considered one of the best sixth men in the country. This kid has battled mentally (loss of both his mother and grandmother) and physically (shot in the leg, once recovered from the shooting he then broke his foot upon return) that all occurred within months of each other during the 2011-2012 season.
Solomon Hill is the quiet leader for the Wildcats. Second leading scorer on the team, and the definition of consistent. He will sneak up and give this team double digit scoring per game with a handful of rebounds. Solo seems like the perfect matchup against Deshaun Thomas, but Sean Miller said Thomas will be guarded by committee.
Mark Lyons is the loud leader for the Wildcats. The Xavier transfer has been reconnected with Miller and was granted eligibility to play this season because of a loophole allowing a graduate to transfer and play right away as long as their new school has a masters program their old school did not offer. Lyons hit a slump at the end of the season, but through the first two rounds of the tournament he has scored 23 and 27 points respectively. Confidence is his greatest strength and his most glaring weakness. Miller has said he wants the ball in Lyons hands at the end of a game because he is the gutsiest player on the team. His layup/floater over manchild Patric Young in the one point win over Florida shows he can put the team on his back. The frustrations come when he chalks up deep threes in a close game 6 seconds deep into the shot clock. He was seen taunting Larry Drew II of UCLA during their second regular season matchup, which is fine I love a good taunt, but not when Larry Drew II owned Lyons. After both regular season games Lyons went 1:10 in assist to turnover ratio. This cockiness could lead to trouble against Aaron Craft. (FUN FACT: Lyons is the first ever player to appear in back to back Sweet 16’s for two different teams)
Coaching Tree: People keep saying these teams playing styles are mirror images of each other. Well, both Thad Matta and Sean Miller were assistants together at Miami (Ohio) under Herb Sendek during the ’94-’95 season. The two would eventually work together again at Xavier where Matta was the head coach and Miller became his assistant for three seasons. When Matta traveled the 100 miles up I-71 to take over the reigns at Ohio State, he let it be known that Miller should be the Musketeer’s next head coach. The only time these two coaches have squared off head to head before Thursday was when Ron Lewis hit a three to send the 2007 “round of 32” matchup between Miller’s Musketeers and Matta’s Buckeyes into overtime where OSU would eventually win and move on.
X-Factor: Mark Lyons would be the easy choice, but that’s no fun. Sophmore guard Nick Johnson is a more athletic poor mans Aaron Craft. Johnson, when he wants, can be just as good of an on ball defender as Craft. He gave fits to Jahii Carson of Arizona State who is one of the quickest guards in the country. In big games Johnson seems to always make a big defensive play down the stretch. Defensive play of the year could be Johnson’s block on what looked to be a go ahead layup in the final seconds for San Diego State, instead the Cats walked away with a one point victory. Just like Craft you have to know where Johnson is at all times when Arizona has their backs to the basket.
Bottom Line: Arizona’s Achilles heel has been defending the three all season, but they have shown improvement lately by completely shutting down Belmont in the round of 64, a team that relied heavily on threes to get to the tournament. Although the Cats don’t have a pure go-to shooter, anyone that sees playing time besides big man Tarczewski can step outside and hit an open look. They are deceivingly athletic and although a fast paced game seems to fit the smaller lineup of Ohio State, with the deep rotation and athletic big men Arizona can run with anybody. The Wildcats normally look lost against zone schemes, which won’t come into effect Thursday playing against man to man.
Prediction: Arizona plays to the skill of their opponent; this game will be close in the high sixties to low seventies. The Wildcats will out-rebound the Buckeyes, which will be the tale of the stats in this battle. Miller gets revenge against his friend in a 72-70 win.