This post runs long and covers three different questions, so we're keeping the intro short this week. If you scroll down, you'll read moronic ramblings on the following:
1) Run the dive - run it again - third time is the charm?
2) Hack sucks - no he doesn't; and
3) Indiana's defense is terrible - no it's not - yes it is.
Kill The Lights
Here's your situation, as offensive coordinator. The score is 10-0, early in the third quarter. You've been gifted a first down and five at the Army 12-yard line, thanks to the once-in-a-blue-moon defensive delay of game penalty (for simulating snap counts to make our O-line false start). If you put the ball in the end zone, you're up three scores, and the game is 95 percent over.
A 1st-and-5 is a 'UUGE gift. Your entire playbook comes alive before you - play action, gadget plays, pick plays, tall receiver on short DB fades - all of it. John Donovan dials up "beef," with three tight ends, featuring Brent Wilkerson and Mike Gesicki throwing key blocks.
Here's what's great about 1st-and-5 - when you run for just two yards, you still get 2nd-and-3. On 2nd-and-3, your entire playbook comes alive - play action, gadget plays, pick plays, tall receiver on short DB fades - all of it. Everything is available. John Donovan dials up "beef," with two tight ends, featuring Mike Gesicki on the key 'trap' block.
Here's what's great about 2nd-and-3 - when you run for just one yard, you still get 3rd-and-2. On 3rd-and-2, your entire playbook comes alive - play action, gadget plays, pick plays, tall receiver on short DB fades - all of it. Everything is available. John Donovan dials up "really beef", this time with four tight ends, one of whom is #86 Albert Hall, a sometimes offensive tackle.
Here's what's bad about running "beef" three plays in a row, even when we're gifted a 1st-and-5: WE'RE NOT ANY GOOD AT IT. We spent 13 games last season being not any good at it. We've spent five games this year being not any good at it.
"Oh, but what about four games hence," you ask? Will this metaphorical desert of an offensive play become the Garden of Eden? No, it's gonna be sand (caveat clickor: Sam Kinison tube).
On the bright side, John Donovan should now, finally, without objection, posses all the evidence he needs to dump every single one of his many "beef" packages from his play sheet. Right? We really, really, shouldn't have to watch this any more this season. Please? Because if it doesn't work on three consecutive attempts against Army, then maybe - juuuust maybe - it's just not one of our strengths, and we could invest those three snaps on finding something else we do poorly.
Your Christian Hackenberg Section
We interrupt this Film Room to get Todd McShay's opinion of Christian Hackenberg's draft status.
Below is a table of all 19 Christian Hackenberg throws from Saturday. Each throw includes a link to a gif of the play. Film Room uses the wildly entrenched message board scale of "Hack sucks: yes or nope?" to grade each play.
|Snap||Play Description||Result||Hack Sucks?|
|1||5yd hitch to Godwin; Godwin slips||Incomplete||Nope|
|2||Quick hitch to Godwin; Godwin misses check||Incomplete||Nope|
|3||Checkdown to Wilkerson||Complete||Nope|
|4||Army blitzes, Hack short-arms outlet to Scott||Incomplete||Yes|
|5||4th down, out to Hamilton||Complete||Nope|
|6||Checkdown to Gesicki; Gesicki drops||Incomplete||Nope|
|7||Bubble screen to Godwin||Complete||Nope|
|8||Checkdown to Wilkerson||Complete||Nope|
|9||5yd hitch to Godwin; Godwin stays upright||Complete||Nope|
|10||Everyone covered, throws it away||Incomplete||Nope|
|11||Everyone covered, throws it away||Incomplete||Nope|
|12||5yd hitch to Godwin; Godwin stays upright||Complete||Nope|
|13||Everyone covered, throws it away||Incomplete||Nope|
|14||Hit as he throws, Godwin drops||Incomplete||Nope|
|15||Quick out to motioning Carter, nearly picked, Carter drops||Incomplete||Yes|
|16||Checkdown to Carter||Complete||Nope|
|17||Post to Godwin||Complete||Nope|
|18||Delayed wheel to Gesicki||Complete||Nope|
|19||Screen to Scott||Complete||Nope|
In addition to the Yes/Nope, you might also notice that, of the 16 pass attempts which were not tossed into the stands for lack of an open receiver, 14 of them (87.5 percent) were thrown within five yards of the line of scrimmage. So we have that going for us, which is nice.
In summary, 17 of 19 times Hack did not suck. That's an 89.5 percent did-not-suck rate. Some might argue, on pass #15, which was nearly picked off, but was ultimately dropped by Carter, that Hack was set up to fail by a questionable play design made worse by, to that point in the game, 100 percent of his throws being within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Some might argue that, and Film Room wouldn't disagree.
Fortunately, after narrowly avoiding a killer INT, we went deep on the very next series. This leads Film Room to believe that someone on the coaching staff probably was watching the game. Though we can't know that for certain, we suggest clinging to it. Hope is a good thing, Red. And, really, what more could a fan ask for?
Our Hated Rival's Awful Defense
Indiana's defense isn't horrible. Wait. Let's rephrase that.
Indiana's defense isn't always horrible. Sometimes, yes, it is horrible. Having reviewed its non-FCS snaps, Indiana's defense is actually pretty good about 88.7 percent of the time. On the other 11.3 percent of the snaps, they allow explosive plays which ruin everything. Let's look at some tables of numbers and draw wild conclusions.
|Opponent||Expl. Plays Allwd ||Expl. Yds Allwd ||Total Plays||Awfulness Rate|
As shown in the table above, the Hoosiers give up an explosive play, on average, about eight times per game. During these eight snaps, the Hoosiers blow assignments or what have you, and surrender an average of 31.6 yards. Since opponents run, on average, 73 plays per game against them, these eight snaps calculate to an 11.3 percent awfulness rate.
Last week's game against the Buckeyes underscored this premise. Ohio State ran 61 plays on offense, and totaled 517 yards. That's not good, right? (Not for IU, right.) Ohio State had 11 explosive plays which accounted for 398 of the 517 total yards - 77 percent. On the other 50 plays run by the Buckeyes, they gained 119 yards total - an average of 2.38 yards per play. Strangely, that is really good (for IU's defense. Thanks, Cardale.)
Coincidentally, Penn State's offense functions in much the same manner as IU's defense. Through five games, PSU averages just under six explosive plays per game. Because we aren't good enough to make first downs a habit, we run just under 56 plays per game, on average. So our goodness rate is 10.4 percent. It is science.
|Opponent||Expl.Plays Made ||Expl.Yds Gained ||Total Plays||Goodness Rate|
Therefore, friends, if you're expecting to watch Penn State run for 4.4 yards on each tailback carry - whether it is 1st-and-5, or not - that's not who 2015 Penn State is on offense. Nor is it who 2015 Indiana is on defense. Just ask Ezekiel Elliott, who, despite rushing for 274 yards last week on 23 carries, saw 61 percent of his attempts go for five yards or fewer - and 48 percent of them were for three yards or fewer. We need big plays this week (like every week) - round about eight should do the trick. Here's who made them so far this year:
Hit The Lights
In summary, we've reached three indisputable, incontrovertible conclusions:
1) Third dive is not the charm;
2) Hack is 89.5% good;
3) IU is awful 11.3% of the time.