To the Booth: Cal and Florida A&M By the Numbers

By Chad Peltier on September 19, 2013 at 11:15a
If all of Spence's almost-sacks were actual sacks, he'd have over ten so far

Fresh off an attempted bear raid, the Buckeyes turn their attention to the FAMU Rattlers – well, at least we hope they aren't looking ahead to Wisconsin yet. 

Before Michigan's debacle with Akron, I would have thought that Akron and FAMU were pretty similar opponents for the Wolverines and Buckeyes, but after looking over the numbers, FAMU is far worse. 

The Zips and Rattlers are the kind of teams that you should be able to beat even if every player is looking ahead, but that is exactly the mindset Urban doesn't want the team to have. Even though the Buckeyes definitely have a cupcake on their hands this week, it's what they do with that cupcake that matters – what could separate them from Michigan.

This week we'll look at how the Buckeye offense performed against Cal thanks to the charting project, then turn our attention to the Rattlers. 

Bear Hunting in California

Before we get in to the numbers, I'd just like to thank all of those who have volunteered for the charting project so far, and encourage those of you who are on the fence about contributing. FAMU would be a great game to start charting and we'd love to have more volunteers.

It was hard not to be impressed with Guiton during the game. He looked under control leading the offense, and the charting data just reinforces that observation:

Throw Away Bad Dead On Catchable
2 6 10 13

Kenny G came out on fire, throwing only "dead on" passes before a throwaway and two bad passes to end the first quarter. Though he was most likely to throw a "catchable" ball (with the caveat that grading throws is a tricky, subjective process even when the broadcast actually shows the whole play), Guiton had approximately a 4:1 ratio of good to bad passes. 

Kenny took five shots down field in just the first three quarters, connecting on two of them in the first quarter (to Devin Smith). Four different players managed to gain significant yards after catch last week, including Devin Smith (turning a 35 yard pass in to a 90 yard touchdown), Wilson (twice, including two screens in to 32 and eleven yard gains), Jordan Hall (turning two screens in to nine and eleven yard gains), and Brown, (taking a screen seven yards). 

I also took a look at third down play calls. In the first three quarters, four were runs (with an average of three yards to go) and six were passes. Almost all were out of shotgun trips. All run plays were one of the three base runs, including inside zone, Dave, and inverted veer. 

In my eyes, this is the first real taste of how Dontre will be used during his career at Ohio State, so I thought it was worth going through all of the plays in which he was the primary ball carrier: 

Down/Distance Formation Play Notes Yards
1st+10 Shotgun doublewide double slot Sweep R   25
1st+10 Shotgun flanker L, slot R Shovel Pass L   32
2nd+8 Shotgun doublewide double slot Sweep R   -5
3rd+25 Shotgun L HB Screen Dumpoff 11
2nd+9 Pistol PA WR Screen R Wilson in slot 5
2nd+11 Shotgun double twins Inverted Veer L   22
1st+10 Shotgun double twins Inverted Veer R   17
1st+10 Shotgun double twins Inverted Veer R   9

There are a couple of big takeaways here. Dontre's package of plays really is pretty small: a sweep to get him on the edge, the shovel pass, a screen to isolate Dontre against a few defenders, and the inverted veer. Designed plays for Dontre were called only on first and second down, as the third down screen was a checkdown by Guiton. Only one of those eight plays went for negative yardage.

There was only one play in which Dontre got the ball playing the position he's listed on the depth chart (at the H-back hybrid slot). Finally, Herman must have seen something during halftime, as Dontre came out running a lot of inverted veer after not running it once in the first half. On just three times running inverted veer, he picked up 48 yards.  

Hall got his yards and then some against CalHall will remain an integral part of the offense

Finally, some quick hitters: 

  • The Buckeyes ran out of the pistol for 23 plays during the first three quarters, which was about a third of the game. 
  • Guiton handled blitzes well even though Cal didn't send more than five rushers very often. On three blitzes, Guiton managed to go 2/3 for 13 yards. 
  • Play calling didn't seem to change in the red zone, apart from one series in the third quarter where Herman called three Dave plays to Hall. Otherwise, he seemed to feel comfortable throwing in the red zone with Kenny. 
  • Based on the charted plays, the Buckeyes ran 19 different plays against Cal, though there might have been minor adjustments and constraints that we missed. 

The Rattlers Are Coming

I struggled to even collect data on FAMU, as ESPN doesn't offer play-by-play data. Thanks to the official NCAA website, however, I was able to glean some basic statistics. 

FAMU's defense is far better than their offense. While the offense is 109th out of 114 in the FCS, the defense is tied for 23rd. The defense averages just 321 yards given up per game, and ranks fourth overall in pass defense at 120 yards per game. They also average two sacks per game and allow .33 points per play (the Buckeyes gave up .37 against Cal). 

Even though the Rattlers are at the top of the FCS in defense, they were still outscored by opposing offenses and give up about a half yard more than the offense gains per play. Opponents average approximately two yards per rush more than FAMU, so expect Hall, Hyde, and Wilson to get their fair share of carries. 

As for the offense, the leading rusher averages 28 yards per game and they don't have a quarterback on the roster who has completed half of their passes.

However, I'm sure there wasn't a single Wolverine fan who thought that Akron would pose even the slightest challenge against Michigan. I don't think FAMU will really test the Buckeyes either, but I have no doubt that the Rattlers will be psyched to visit Columbus and will play their best against their best opponent of the year.  

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