Beyond the Hashes: Miami

By Chad Peltier on September 2, 2012 at 10:00a

Welcome to the Urban era. We've already witnessed maybe the catch of the year, a quarterback who threw for over 200 and ran for over 160, and a defense that managed to force -1 rushing yards.  

After the B1G's performance during opening weekend, Meyer is licking his chopsMeyer is pleased with the stats this week 

In this Stat Session reborn, I'll be taking a look at the numbers behind the game and providing numerical context for what you saw the previous day.

Throughout the season I'll track relevant and interesting statistical trends using metrics that provide a more thorough description of the team's performance. 

I'll update these numbers each week and compare these against season and career averages as well. 

Yep, that means that you get to see your old friends Quick Strike and Quick Sand, as well as a few new measures that I've been working on. 


The offense started the Meyer era off with a whimper, punting on all four first-quarter series. Then things started rolling, giving us some interesting numbers to look at: 

In particular, Meyer achieved his goal of a balanced offensive attack, with 244 passing and 294 rushing yards. I'm sure he was also pleased to not have any turnovers, though Braxton made an excellent recovery of his own fumble. The team limited penalties as well, with only one false start (even though it was still at right tackle!). 

Team Offense 
1st downs 3rd down conv 4th down conv Total Yards Passing Rushing Turnovers Penalties QuickStrike  Sacks
27 53% 100% 538 244 294 0 3-20 .659 4

So far the team ranks 45th in passing yards, 14th in rushing yards, and 9th in total points after one weekend of play - a remarkable difference from last season (even though this is only after a week of play against a cupcake opponent). 

The offensive line also gave up four sacks, though I was fairly happy with the line play throughout the day. It's difficult to say how much of that was the quality of the opponent, but Braxton generally had quite a bit of time to find receivers. 

I also calculated the "Quick Strike" metric: 

Take a team’s total number of points scored.  Divide that number by the number of plays an offense runs… and there’s your points-per-play ratio, your Quick Strike number.

This means that the Ohio State offense had .659 points per play (!) against Miami, an absurdly good number. That's even with 85 plays in the denominator! For some context, the 2011 Buckeyes averaged .394 points per play last year - a 67% increase today. 

The Clock. Speaking of number of plays run, the Ohio State offense hit 85 (!!) total plays run from scrimmage against Miami, indicative of extensive no-huddle. 

Time of possession Last year Top # of plays last year # of plays
31:26 30:40 85 62

Many were worried that the no-huddle would mean that the offense wouldn't control the clock any more, never giving the defense a rest, but it's clear that isn't so based on yesterday's performance. The offense had the ball for slightly more than half of the game, while running 23 more plays than last year's average. 

The offense's quick pace allowed for far more plays while still controlling the clock through an efficient running game. It's also important to realize that the offense would have had the ball longer if hadn't gone 3-and-out on the first four series. 


The following chart captures defensive performance and the opponent's offense: 

Team Defense
Opp 1st down opp total Yards opp pass opp rush opp turnovers Opp ToP Sacks 3&Outs OppRBSR QuickSand
12 312 313 -1 3 28:34 2 5 27% .13333

The "OPPRBSR" column stands for "opponent running back success rate", a measure of rushing efficiency that is detailed further below. Essentially, it can be interpreted that the defense forced 73% of Miami's rushes to be "inefficient" or failures. With -1 rushing yards, it was clear that Miami could only have any success through the air yesterday. 

You should be somewhat familiar with the Quick Sand metric already, but it is a measure of points per defensive play:

Maybe not the best example of throwing mechanics/feet hereBraxton showcased an improved passing attack

Quick Sand measures a defense's ability to "force opponents to run the most plays in order to put points on the scoreboard." More specifically, it is a measure of opponents' average points per play, or the number of opponent points allowed divided by the total number of defensive plays run.

The .1333 is obviously far different than the Ohio State offense, meaning that though Miami gained a lot of yards through the air and ran a lot of plays, very few of those plays produced actual points.

Another interesting note is that Spence and Washington - the two freshmen hot shot defensive linemen - were the two defensive players to record a sack yesterday. I believe that the defense would have had significantly more, but Miami's quick passing attack neutralized the pass rush more effectively.  

player analysis

Braxton and Kenny G. Braxton continued his recent trend of improved passing since the Michigan game, with 14 of his 25 passing attempts as either catchable or dead-on throws. His completion percentage is up from his career average of 54%, with a 20-point boost in QB rating too.

QBs Basic Stats
QB att/cmp comp % Yards td int rating
Braxton Miller  14/24 58.3 207 2 0 152
Kenny Guiton 5/9 55.6 36 0 0 89.2
throw chart
qb into coverage uncatchable throw away difficult catchable dead on
Braxton 1 3 1 5 7 7
Guiton N/A 2 1 N/A 5 1

It's true that Braxton was not throwing against Alabama's secondary, but the unquantifiable aspects of his passing were far better. While receivers sometimes have to slow down for a pass or wait in open zones, Braxton's decision-making was improved. He's hurt by several inexplicable drops at the beginning of the game. 

While the throw chart is based on my own judgment and Braxton had several passes that were errant or behind receivers, his decision-making and ability to scan the field was clearly improved. 

It's clear that having a live, functioning quarterback coach is vastly helping his decision-making, accuracy, and ability to read the defense. Several of his "difficult to catch" passes include a pass break-up, Devin Smith's amazing one-handed catch, and a bad spiral that got away from a receiver. 

Also interesting is that even though Braxton said last week that his ideal number of passes per game was approximately 20, he had 21 already in the first half! Clearly Meyer wanted to get some more passing practice time in against a live opponent. 

Running Backs. Because seemingly half of the team got a carry or two yesterday, this is a good week to introduce a metric from Football Outsiders called the Running Back Success Rate. This metric allows us to gauge a running back's effectiveness far better than a simple yards per carry average because of how easily skewed YPC is by big plays.

For instance, imagine a running back that has 5 carries for 100 yards. Good game, right? But what if that running back broke one play for 96 yards, and then averaged a single YPC on his other four? That certainly tells a different story. The RBSR attempts to capture how well the running back can pick up first downs and 

...represents the player's consistency, measured by successful running plays (the definition of success being different based on down and distance) divided by total running plays.

In general, a play counts as a "hit" if it gains 40% of yards on first down, 60% of yards on second down, and 100% of yards on third down. If the team is behind by more than a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the benchmarks switch to 50%/65%/100%. If the team is ahead by any amount in the fourth quarter, the benchmarks switch to 30%/50%/100%.

Additionally, in an effort to appraise the value of big play vs. grind it out running backs, I calculated yards per carry after subtracting "explosive plays", which I defined as plays that go for greater than 15 yards. Braxton took it to the house (and got close several more times), but how did he do on his non-big plays? Related, I also list the percentage of rushes that the back took for more than 15 yards.  

Rushing Stats
Rusher att total yards yPC RBSR YPC -Explosive Plays Explosive play potential
Hyde 16 82 4.8 53% 4.4 (16) 1/16
Braxton 17 163 10.2 53% 2.2 (17,33,22,65) 4/17
Dunn 7 32 4.6 86% 4.6 -
Guiton  17 14 2.8 75% 2.8 -
Boren 5 10 5 100% 5 -
R. Smith 2 17 5.7 66.7% 5.7 -

All of the running backs had great days against Miami, with Hyde displaying elite toughness (crazy yards after contact!) and Braxton adding to his growing collection of YouTube fan-made highlight video runs. 

A couple of things about this chart:

1. Every single runner on the team had a good day against Miami. When your team averages ~5 yards per carry even after removing an outlier rusher (Braxton with 10.2), then you know that you had a good game on the ground. 

2. Even though Hyde and Braxton led the way in total yards and number of carries, their Running Back Success Rates mean that only 53% of their carries were "successful" or efficient carries.

This is simply because they had more carries than the other backs (and more opportunities for "failure plays") and because Dunn, Guiton, and Rod Smith were all receiving the majority of their carries late in the fourth quarter when both sides had subbed out their first team. Regardless, these are great numbers. 

3. It's clear that the team's home-run threat on the ground is Braxton, at least until Hall gets back. 4 of his 17 carries went for more than 15 yards - close to 25%! Keeping with that division between Braxton's explosive speed and Hyde's grind-it-out toughness is how significantly Braxton's YPC drops after removing his big explosive runs. 

It's important to point out that removing those runs doesn't mean they weren't important; instead, it just reinforces that the two rushers - Hyde and Braxton - served different purposes against Miami. Using the RBSR, we see that they tied each other in efficient rushes, so both players were able to move the ball efficiently, even when taking game context into the equation. 

It will be interesting to watch the offense develop with a "scatback" at quarterback and the running backs as power backs - different than any other combination of backs that Meyer has had before. 

Finally, I'd be terribly mistaken if I didn't give a shout-out to Zach Boren, who tripled his career carries today and averaged five yards a carry. He looked every bit of the slim and powerful runner we had heard about in practice. That's not to mention his devastating blocks all day, which included his block of the safety on Braxton's 65-yard touchdown run off of the zone-read option. 

Wide Receivers. This chart attempts to capture the number of targets and catches as well as reward receivers that make spectacular catches and punish those that miss "dead-on" throws. The "+" means that Devin Smith had a catch of the year, while the minuses were all early-game misses that hit the receivers in the hands. 

wide receiver catch rate
Receiver yards catch rate +/-
Evan Spencer 54 3/6 -
D. Smith 31 2/4 -, +
Stoneburner 28 2/4  
Philly Brown 87 7/9  
Boren 18 2/3 -
Vannett 13 2/2  
Reed 12 1/1  

In particular, it's good to see Philly Brown have such a successful game. With nine targets and seven catches, it certainly looked like Braxton had developed a strong rapport with Philly, and that he's worked hard at curing his dropsies. 

It's also the mark of an improved passing attack when seven players show up in the receiving column, including 5 receivers, 1 tight end, and 1 running/full back. 

Defense. Shazier led the way for the Buckeyes with 8 tackles. The Miami passing game produced big days for the starting corners, with Roby totaling six tackles, two pass breakups, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Opposite Roby, Howard Island actually came through with 2 interceptions on the day. His two interceptions were the first multi-interception day by a single defender since Chekwa vs. Miami (FL) in 2010.

While Miami quarterback Dysert did pass for over 300 yards, I think the pass defense will get better, and I think the safeties and STARs have a bit of work to do. They blew several assignments that resulted in large first-half gains for the Miami offense. 

As mentioned, Spence and Washington led the way with sacks, though John Simon was relentless all day and narrowly missed banking some stats several times. The defensive line will pick up better numbers against different types of offenses. 

I was also impressed with Sabino, who had some seriously painful-looking hits, as well as Shazier, Christian Bryant, and Roby. 


Comments Show All Comments

gravey's picture

Well done.
Maybe a stat for the D line's pass rush.  Yes they had a lot of quick passes, but sometimes it seemed like Dysert was standing back there forever.  We may have rushed 3 sometimes, but this wasn't the freak show D-line I had been reading about on 11W all summer.

buckeye76BHop's picture

 This means that the Ohio State offense had .659 points per play (!) against Miami, an absurdly good number. That's even with 85 plays in the denominator! For some context, the 2011 Buckeyes averaged .394 points per play last year - a 67% increase today. 

I especially loved this part^^^I had a feeling offensive efficiency was better yesterday but this illustrates just how much better it actually was in comparison to last years offensive woes.  Good stuff Chad!

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Boom777's picture

Will Spence and Washington get significantly more play time with them getting the only sacks. Its early but pretty impressive that the rookies got the only sacks.

Wherever you are, there you be!

gumtape's picture

I think it was stoneburner who blocked the safety on the miller touchdown run playing from his old tight end position. The other safety was juked by the stutter step.

High and tight boo boo

buckeyedude's picture

It seemed to me that OSU going with a three man defensive front produced very little pressure on the Miami QB, especially in that first qtr. He had all day to throw the ball. It reminded me of 2nd half Tressel-coached games when OSU has the lead, and so forth.
I hope Urban doesn't do this much this season. I thought this was going to be a more aggressive defense? If OSU is going to rely on it's secondary and LBs to win games, we're going to struggle.



awwwwwwop's picture

well said.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

schooey's picture

The Vanderbilt @ Northwestern game could be very interesting. I will try to catch some that one. 

avail31678's picture

I do know that Urban said in his halftime interview that we weren't hitting the QB enough.  If he's going to throw, he should pay the price.  Someone commented about the quick throws by Miami affecting the ability to rush the QB, and I kinda agree.  It seemed like they got after him a little more in the second half (but he STILL made some good throws despite being hit or grabbed).
I was most looking forward to seeing th eD-line dominate, but for various reasons that just wasn't the highlight of the day.  I still think we'll have a GREAT line, though.  Only the first game.  Go Bucks!

onetwentyeight's picture

OK Zac Dysert is actually a bona-fide NFL prospect who will be drafted pretty early. FWIW, we will PROBABLY not face a better QB than Dysert the rest of the season (certainly not in the B1G). Yea he plays for a MAC team but Dysert is for all intents and purposes the guy who will 'carve' up our D the most this entire season. Did you SEE that terrified dude MSU threw out there? Who knows if Denard will even be walking upright by November? FACT: Danny O'brien won TWO games last year in the ACC. Total. The rest of the QBs we will face are all jokes. 

Dysert was able to get rid of the ball quickly because he's GOOD and their game plan was for him to do rapid fire short passes and underneath routes all day to negate our pass rush. Not many QBs are good enough to actually pull this off, and even though they had reasonable success with it we won by like 40+.

LouGroza's picture

The fact that Miami game planned to get the ball out of the hands of the QB so quickly kept the rush down. They were either throwing slants or rolling the pocket with quick throws. It's hard to go all in with blitzes if the ball gets thrown quickly. It could be disastrous. There is not a D line in the country that can get to a QB getting rid of the ball that quickly. They had a few drop back passes but not many. The D settled in fairly well considering they will not face a better QB. The dude could fling it. Plus they stuffed any rushing attempts. Going into a complete unknown, they did well. Graded them a B-. They will improve greatly, then look out.

poop's picture

Yep, noticed Williams and Simon dropping into coverage a lot during the game. Not going to get sacks doing that but it was the best scheme for Miami's offense. The defensive line will be awesome.

poop's picture

I think Urban could use Chad on his staff although he would probably appreciate stats that were rounded to the nearest thousandth of a percentage. Don't be average Chad!

Steve Earle Bruce Springsteen's picture

I was not worried about either line's play yesterday. The OL was markedly improved in both run and pass blocking. From what I recall, at least three of the four sacks were Braxton's fault for holding onto the ball way too long. Contrast that with last year, when pressure came the moment after the hiked the ball. When he fires the ball out of there quickly, like he's supposed to, the line will look better. There were also at least four or five times he should have been sacked but the line held up longer than it would against, say, Michigan State. They were far from perfect, to be sure, but clearly better than last season.
I find it funny that people are panicking about the DL. Miami styled its entire gameplan to neutralize Ohio State's DL. They passed 54 times and ran it 20. Those 20 rushing attempts netted -1 rushing yard. Yes, of course sometimes Dysert had time; you can't get pressure on every play. But with Miami going four and five wide for 90% of the game, keeping a fourth down lineman would have opened up a bevy of big passing plays, some of which Miami connected on in that first quarter. Rushing three and dropping eight works out well for limiting the big play downfield, not so much for pass rush statistics. Only Bollman-coached lines consistently give up sacks to three down linemen. Any competently coached line can handle it, especially with an experienced, NFL-bound senior throwing behind it.
The defensive line actually got more pressure than I expected against this offense, but Dysert was good enough to turn some of those pressure plays into first downs. How many QBs with as much starting experience as Dysert will Ohio State play this year? I'm not worried. 

The North remembers.

hodge's picture

In the interest of pure statistical fairness, you should probably deduct Millers sacks from his success rate, seeing has how the occurred on non-running plays. Though, that provides for an interesting analysis on scrambles, as well. Perhaps a "broken play success" metric is in order?

buckeyebart's picture

WOW Unbelievable ! Dude, this is awesome info. Look forward to the weekly updates.
I love this team too, Urban !
P.S. There was no first quarter, it did not even happen.

Crimson's picture

Shouldn't compare Quick Stroke against Miami versus entire season, maybe just nonconference.  Against Akron last year, it was 0.532.  It's still an improvement, but they didn't whomp a MAC team by 67% more (24% more)
Yards per carry - explosive really isn't comparable for QBs.  Agree with Hodge.
Boren had 2 rushes for 5 ypc average, not 5 and 5.
The love for Howard needs to stop.  Simon gets credit for one of the picks.  We should have some stats for how many plays Howard gave poor coverage and how many tackles he missed.
Like the numbers.  Keep it up.

zosima's picture

Great writeup!   Did anyone notice if Roby gave up any completions?  He seemed to have a monster game with a great rake and almost interception in addition to the fumble recovery.  I was a little surprised to see Dysert targetting his receiver... I am curious how close Roby is progressing in being a true lock-down corner.

Crimson's picture

I know that Roby gave great coverage all day, but I think he gave up at least one completion (with good coverage).  I can't find any stats on it though.  If we see Roby perform at this level all year (note: come from behind tackle, support in run game) then there won't be many throws near him.