Friday, November 7, 2008

VANDERBILT'S OFFENSE HAS BECOME, WELL, OFFENSIVE

With the Florida game a day away — and in the spirit of offenses that make big plays — let's take a look at the Commodores shockingly diminishing ability to gain 10 yards or more at a time.

Sure, you only need to average 3.34 yards on three plays to get a first down. But remember what it was like when Chris Nickson had eight long runs against Miami in the season opener? Or when, right after the big fumbled punt recovery against South Carolina, he went 31 yards to Brandon Barden and broke the Gamecocks' backs? Or when, late in the first half and down 13-0 against Auburn, Mackenzi Adams threw a quick first down pass to Sean Walker, a first down pass to Barden, and then that huge touchdown pass to Justin Wheeler?

Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? Things changed after that Auburn win:

First five games (5-0): 55 plays of 10+ yards
• 32 runs (17 by quarterbacks, 9 by running back, 6 by receiver)
• 23 passes (16 to receivers, 7 to tight ends)
• Plus 4 punt returns and 5 interception returns of more than 20 yards each

Last three games (0-3): 16 plays of 10+ yards
• 5 runs (2 by quarterback, 2 by running back, 1 by receiver)
• 11 passes (8 to receivers, 2 to tight ends, 1 to running back)
• No punt or interception returns of 20 or more yards

I think you can attribute the drop-off to the following factors:
• The mysterious disappearance of Chris Nickson and his game-breaking skills
• The ability of SEC defenses to slam the door on our running game (combined with the lack of emergence of five regular starters on the offensive line and a reliable running back to spell Jared Hawkins)
• The season-ending injury to TE Austin Monahan, which has allowed defenses to focus on Brandon Barden

I'll leave it to others to second-guess our play-calling (any takers?). But I will say this: the fault lies squarely on our offense. The defense has performed brilliantly, especially under pressure, and has given the team a chance to win every game. Special teams have been good but not perfect — and it had to be perfect to win the Duke game.


Anyway, here's a closer look at our game-by-game offensive breakdown, highlighting our lack of plays that span at least 10 yards:

MIAMI (OHIO): 14 PLAYS
• 8 carries by QB (Nickson 13,59,14t,35,10,13,17,11)
• 2 carries by RB (Hawkins 13,14)
• 1 carry by WR (Walker 25)
• 2 passes to WRs (Nickson-Walker 49, Nickson-Reinert 13)
• 1 pass to TE (Nickson-Barden 11)

SOUTH CAROLINA: 7 PLAYS
• 2 carries by RB (Hawkins 12,13t)
• 1 carry by WR (Walker 29)
• 2 passes WRs (Nickson-Wheeler 11, Nickson-Graham 16)
• 2 passes to TEs (Nickson-Barden 31t, Nickson-Monahan 18)

RICE: 14 PLAYS
• 4 carries by QB (Nickson 14t,13,15,17)
• 3 carries by RB (Hawkins 14,14,10)
• 3 carries by WRs (Moore 24,13, Graham 27t)
• 3 passes to WR (Nickson-Walker 10,13,17)
• 1 pass to TE (Nickson-Barden 15)

OLE MISS: 7 PLAYS
• 1 carry by QB (Adams 17)
• 2 carries by RB (Hawkins 22,40)
• 1 carry by WR (Graham 11)
• 1 pass to WR (Adams-Graham 12)
• 2 passes to TE (Nickson-Monahan 12, Adams-Monahan 10)

AUBURN: 13 PLAYS
• 4 carries by QB (Nickson 20,17, Adams 23,12)
• 8 passes to WR (Adams-Walker 11,11,12,32 Adams-Wheeler 15t,13,18 Adams-Smith 12)
• 1 pass to TE (Adams-Barden 12)

MISS STATE: 3 PLAYS
• 1 carry by WR (Walker 15)
• 2 passes to WR (Adams-Walker 21, Adams-Wheeler 16)

GEORGIA: 6 PLAYS
• 1 carry by RB (Hawkins 14)
• 1 pass to RB (Hawkins 10)
• 4 passes to WRs (Adams-Walker 11, Adams-Graham 18t, Adams-Smith 12,15)

DUKE: 7 PLAYS
• 2 carries by QB (Adams 17,12)
• 1 carry by RB (Hawkins 13)
• 2 passes to WR (Adams-Walker 79t,26)
• 2 passes to TE (Adams-Barden 14,21)

1 comment:

Greg M said...

Great data. Thanks for the breakdown