PSU v. Illinois - drive chart

BSD - Easily bumped!

Same drill as last week, except we've got a few more stats this time around. I hope people are still willing to think about the Illinois game, even though the Minnesota game is nearly here and the Illinois game is not very fun to think about. I'll be better about getting these out shortly after when the game happens. I'm getting faster each time, it's just work got in the way last week.

(Our stats against Iowa are in parentheses for comparison)

(1) Average pass attempt length --- 8.3 yards (11.0). It's surprising that against a crappier defensive front, and an all around crappier defense, we weren't taking more shots down the field. Why go to the shorter stuff when the paper says you should be airing it our more?

(2) Average completion length --- 10.8 yards (6.6). Interesting. The average attempt was shorter, but the average completion was longer. This suggests to me Bolden was missing a lot of short throws (which we'll have something additional to say later in the post).

 (3) Average YAC per completion --- 7.0 yards (3.9). If you take away the Moye bomb, this drops to an abysmal 2.6 yards. Given that the ball was underthrown and Moye should have been tackled on the spot, or the pass broken up, this isn't an unrealistic scenario to consider. I wish I knew more about football to understand why certain others teams like Oregon, Boise State, and the SEC can produce whacky YAC.

(4) Percent thrown to the side of the field (conservative) --- 57% (71). While this stat suggests we were less conservative in the playcalling, the shorter yards per attempt say otherwise. Most of these over the middle passes were short, with the exception of the Moye bomb.

(5) Completion % for attempts under 10 yards --- 33% (77). Holy hell this is bad. Six for eighteen on passes below 10 yards!? Yikes!

(6) Completion % for attempts 10 yards and over --- 40% (19). Man, I know it's a small sample size, but this is weird. Completing more passes on longer throws?

(7) Yards per playaction pass attempt --- 13.3 yards (3.3). There were six playaction attempts, and Bolden completed the one long bomb to Moye. Without that, this is 0.

(8) Yards per standard pass attempt --- 2.7 yards (4.8). Man, all these passing statistics are making me sad.

New statistics this week! (and forever more)

(9) Yards per shotgun pass attempt - 0.9 yards. 

(10) Yards per under center pass attempt - 9.0 yards. Again, if you remove the bomb to Moye, this is only 2.9 yards and doesn't differ from the shotgun average. I still agree with most people Bolden does better in the shotgun, particularly when there is pressure coming. Can someone explain what the purpose of putting the quarterback under center is?

(11) Overall rushing playcall % - 45%. This seems balanced to me. I'd be interested to see how this compares against other opponents with inferior/superior lines.

(12) Rush % in own half of field - 40%.

(13) Rush % in opposing half of field - 58%. Okay, these stats seem completely backwards. We throw more frequently in our own half of the field when we should be thinking more cautiously? I think we all have redzone frustrations, and this propensity to run in their half of the field could be part of the problem. 

(14) Average rush yards outside tackles - 4.0 yards.

(15) Average rush yards inside tackles - 2.6 yards. Looks like we should not be running up the middle as much as we are, although to the extent the run to the outside is an exception rather than the rule, it will show better results because it catches them off guard. Still, I think the cries for some off-tackle running are reasonable.

(16) Percent of RB iso's - 26%. This statistic represents the percent of offensive playcalls that are runningback isolation plays, up the gut. This does not include anything to the right or left, but still within the tackles. This is solely that single play that makes us all cringe. I hope this numbers falls each week and asymptotically approaches zero.


This week I made an effort to identify "critical" plays on which the team failed (highlighted in red in the data). I wanted to see if the team was failing because of playcalling or because of execution. I was hoping it would be execution, because that is an easier thing to correct week to week, and is less permanent than the coaching staff.

I concluded there were four playcalling blunders and nine execution failures. These weren't small issues like just a dropped pass, or every single RB iso playcall. These were drive stalling drops, or red zone playcalls that cost us chances at touchdowns.

My four playcalling blunders were four runs up the middle in the red zone (two of which were with Redd/Green, which seems totally troublesome). The nine execution failures were 6 terrible throws by Bolden, two possessions where the offensive line didn't block anyone, and one Zug drop.

I am generally optimistic that the failures of this team are mostly player-specific, and not rooted entirely in the coaching stuff. I say this makes me optimistic because I believe these things can be corrected later this season and for 2011 and 2012.

As always, let's be proud our team is staying (mostly) out of trouble and the coaching staff takes a hard line on discipline to keep our reputation clean. Literally half of the headlines on ESPN's college football page involve some player being charged with stalking (Florida), DUI (Michigan State), agent trouble (Oklahoma & UNC), or theft (Auburn). You think Joe Paterno would put winning ahead of morals and try to get these guys back on the field as soon as possible? I wouldn't trade any amount of wins for a scummy program like a lot of the "elite" programs these days.

*Notes about data. (1) Pass length is the ball through the air distance. A 10 yard screen would be pass length of zero, with YAC of 10. (2) When sacked, I guessed whether he was trying to throw to the side or middle. (3) Does not include the Newsome drive at the end. Total yards are low for that reason also.





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