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

By Chad Peltier on September 26, 2013 at 11:15a
Swarming the ball carrier is the name of the game

This week has a pretty interesting juxtaposition: the third overall rushing attack in the country and, well, a total of 50 rushing yards in a game. Florida A&M was as bad or worse than expected (and we have the numbers to prove it), while no one is quite sure just how good the king of the conference is right now. 

Sure, they beat up on the undisputed worst team in the Big Ten and went toe to toe with perhaps the fifth-best team in the Pac-12. Is that the Big Ten's kind of king?

Of course not. Below I'll preview the Wisconsin game statistically (surprise: the Badgers can run the ball) and break down the charting data from Florida A&M. So let's get on with it.  

The Sacrificial Lamb

I'm going to concentrate on the first two quarters of charting data, as the first half was kind of like a spring game. Theoretically, we should get a sense of 1. what the Buckeyes needed to work on offensively and defensively, and 2. what the coaches wanted to make sure was on film for later opponents.

Offensively, it was clear that the Buckeyes wanted some work on their dropback pass game (and it's extremely possible that the gameplan would have been the same if Miller had started). In the first quarter, half of Kenny's 26 passes were three-step drop passes, with a few tunnel screens, rollouts, and playaction passes mixed in. Interestingly, only one of those thirteen passes was to the left side of the field. Kenny certainly favors the right. 

The vast majority of these (17) were with the tightend (Heuerman throughout most of the first quarter, then more Vannett in the second) split out wide as a wide receiver. They primarily operated out of the shotgun open trips left, with the tightend split out wide and a presnap movement by the runningback from the pistol and next to the quarterback. 

There are many advantages to splitting the tightend out wide, including the matchup between slower linebackers or smaller defensive backs and the Buckeyes' large and quick tight ends, as well as having a fantastic blocker on the edge (along with Evan Spencer) to help outside runners. While inside zone was and will be the staple of the running game, the Buckeyes now have the blocking and personnel needed to effectively threaten with plays like inverted veer, outside zone, and quick screens to get skill players on the edge quickly. 

In the process of setting school records on touchdown passes, Kenny had a fairly good day passing the ball:

Catchable Bad Dead On
11 8 15

26/34 quality passes is about on pace with his typical performance, as was his accuracy and targeting. I just started keeping track of which said of the field Kenny typically passes to, but I would guess that he typically favors the right side of the field in other games as well. His misses were all on difficult intermediate-to-long throws of 10, 15, 30, 17, and 10 yards. 

It was not a day for yards after catch like I expected, with the most significant gainers listed below:

  Vannett Heuerman Heuerman Brown Wilson
Air Yards 1 5 5 13 0
Yards 12 11 18 18 7

Despite 34 points in the first quarter, none of them were off of explosive plays. That's what turnovers and field position will do for you. In fact, the three first-half (non-Ezekiel Elliot) explosive plays came on the same play (inside zone read) to three different runningbacks (Hyde, Hall, and Smith). The Buckeyes increasingly went vanilla throughout the game, working with their base 11 personnel and running their base run game. 

On to Wisconsin

With multiple threads in our forum and stories on the front page about how legit Wisconsin's run game is, I wanted to see if the numbers offer a definitive answer. Some are saying that Melvin Gordon and James White are the best backfield in the country, but I want to see if there is any hard evidence to support this claim.

As Kyle has already written about, the Badgers aren't the only team capable of running the ball, as this is a matchup of the third- and sixth-best rushing attacks in the country.

That FAMU defender looks like he's welcoming Hyde in to the endzoneThe Buckeyes can run the ball pretty well too.

Below are some numbers on the Wisconsin offense versus the Ohio State defense, courtesy of Football Outsiders (ranking in parentheses).

Ohio State's defensive numbers were definitely buoyed by facing Florida A&M last week, but Wisconsin had UMass and Tennessee Tech to improve its numbers as well. S&P adjusts for opponents, but it is a little early to make definitive statements about strength of schedule with so few data points.

  Succ. rate Pts/Play Rush S&P Pass S&P Std. Downs Pass Downs
Wisconsin O 52.4% (15) .77 (5) 1.4 (3) 1.2 (38) 1.4 (9) 1 (26)
Ohio State D 33.8% (20) .35 (8) .59 (13) .75 (16) .76 (20) .58 (10)

Here is the Wisconsin defense against the Ohio State offense:

  Succ. Rate Pts/Play Rush S&P Pass S&P STD. Downs Pass Downs
Wisconsin D 37.6% (38) .37 (16) .66 (22) .8 (27) .84 (30) .58 (8)
Ohio State O 54.6% (11) .72 (14) 1.2 (7) 1.3 (19) 1.2 (15) 1.4 (5)

The offenses have the edge in nearly every matchup, except in the matchup between the Wisconsin passing attack and the Ohio State pass defense, where Ohio State holds the edge. It's also important to note that the average difference between units is greater for the Ohio State offense vs. Wisconsin defense than it is for the Wisconsin offense vs. the OSU defense. In short, there should be plenty of points according to these basic numbers. 

However, those raw numbers ignore what style of offensive both teams played against. Ohio State has yet to play a rushing powerhouse, but Cal was the only offense that has put up more than two touchdowns against the Buckeyes this season. That Cal offense featured the short pass and quick screen horizontal pass game and close to 100 plays. Wisconsin does not have that kind of offense. 

Regardless, Wisconsin's run game is formidable. Any team that averages 7.99 yards per carry is dangerous on the ground – but that's kind of normal for Wisconsin, right? Well, almost eight yards per carry is above what their offense normally produces (averaging nearly 5.5 YPC for the last four years), but there is still time to regress to the mean. The Buckeyes intend to make that happen on Saturday. 


Comments Show All Comments


Thanks for the info Chad.

Well, almost eight yards per carry is above what their offense normally produces (averaging nearly 5.5 YPC for the last four years), but there is still time to regress to the mean. The Buckeyes intend to make that happen on Saturday.

I'm Sure the Silver Bullets will take care of it!

"Woody is a God-fearing man. It's good to know that he's afraid of somebody." --Archie Griffin

FitzBuck's picture

I feared Cal's O more than Wisky's.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

holtzy's picture

I'm really not too concerned about this game.  I think by the end of it, Wisconsin won't know what hit them.

Doc's picture

I've noticed over the last three weeks that Kenny G favors the right side of the field as well.  It became very noticeable to me during the second half of the Cal game.  Last week it was on full display.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

buckguyfan1's picture

It will be won in the trenches... 

Our boys will be ready!

Hovenaut's picture

All night. 
No matter how the game evolves, trench warfare will always have a huge impact in determining who wins and who loses. 

buckeyepastor's picture

Good point about the average rushing yards for Wisky.   I would guess that in years' past, if you looked at how they did against their typical non-conference cupcakes, they were around 8 yards per carry then, too.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

ejoceans's picture

Don't get cocky guys! This will be the first real test our boys have had so far this year.  I hope to god we come ready to play this smash mouth team.  This used to be our bread and butter but IDK now.  I'm really excited to see how we fair against a decent team.  O   H   BABY

Lets do this Brutus

Frostybuck88's picture

Am I confident?  Absolutely.  Am I concerned?  Not really.  Cautious?  You bet... this game always has a history of being tight, hard hitting, and won in the fourth quarter.  If Braxton can deliver a rust-free performance, this offense is going to be impossible to stop for an entire four quarters.  If we play gap-sound, fundamental, tackling machine defense, we win big.  Therefore I am confidently and optimistically cautious!  Go Bucks!

The Dude abides...

Seattle Linga's picture

This is the year that we spank them so people will stop the talk about how every one of these games is always so close. It would be great to see a three score difference.