A couple years ago, I started charting the A&M offense (borrowing from Brian Cook's excellent work over at mgoblog) in a work jokingly called Review the Hell Outta. It's long and completely the work of an amateur, but I hope it gives some perspective on just how well each part of the offense is performing, and I even throw in some fancy excel bar graphs for yall visual learners. So without further rambling, here is 2012's 1st edition of RTHO.Offensive Line
Every successful offense starts with the big guys up front doing a good job of protecting the quarterback, and the o-line has been touted as the main strength of the offense, led by the stellar tackle duo of Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. So how did the line do in its first performance of 2012?
- Overall, the o-line performance was acceptable but not exceptional. A&M only ran 39 pass plays (8 of which were screens), and the line was good a little over 2/3 of the time.
- Giving up 4 sacks on just 31 dropbacks is too much.
- Joeckel and Matthews both struggled at times with the speedy Florida DEs, Jake more so than Luke. Each got beat both inside and outside.
- The line as a unit did a good job of accounting for all blockers, outside of 1 snap where Patrick Lewis and Jarvis Harrison did not pick up a blitzing come straight up the gut.
The 1st career start of redshirt freshmen Johnny Manziel was clearly the main story of the A&M offense. And although it was clear he did not have a full grasp of the offense and was very reluctant to stay in the pocket and progress through his 2nd and 3rd reads, he performed relatively well. But before we look at how he graded out, let's look at just where Johnny was throwing the ball.
- As expected, the bulk of the targets were short (8 behind the LOS and 15 more within 10 yards) with an emphasis to the right side of this, due to Johnny being right handed and Mike Evans being the most effective receiver lined up to the right of the formation.
- Just 5 pass attempts beyond 10 yard and only a single attempt more than 20 yards downfield, the sideline go route that Evans almost hauled in over 2 defenders.
- Only 2 passes over the middle, a quick slant and a broken play where Johnny found a WR who lost his defender after he broke the pocket.
And the QB chart.
- Johnny dropped back 38 times (the extra pass attempt was on a reverse by Kenric McNeal, which isn't charted) and on pass attempts beyond the LOS, graded out at 83%.
- His main struggle was throwing the fade to the back corner of the endzone, coming up a bit short to Kenric and overthrowing an open Swope. He did have a nice fade to Evans that would have been a TD if not for excellent coverage by the CB.
- The only bad play I held Manziel accountable for was his last snap, a 3rd and 13 on the last drive where he scrambled instead of throwing it downfield. I'm sure the staff emphasized to Johnny the need to take care of the ball, but with the game on the line, you have to let the ball fly and give a WR a chance to make a play. Even though he had a couple nice scrambles earlier in the game, with the way the play developed tucking the ball and running was the wrong decision. It was a learning experience for the freshman and I am confident he will be making the right decision at some point in the near future if presented a similar opportunity.
We've looked at the first 2 components of the passing game - the protection by the O-line and the QB delivering the ball on target - which just leaves us with the receivers. The easiest way to look at the chart is...
- 3 - routine....should never drop these
- 2 - difficult....low, behind, high. you hope to see 40-50% catch rate
- 1 - circus catch....anything here is gravy
- 0 - impossible....charted for targets, not held against WR
Overall, a really good day for the A&M pass catchers, with just a single drop on a "3" and 3/6 on the "1"s and "2"s.
- Mike Evans was a revelation. Over a 3rd of all the targets went to the redshirt freshman who consistently got free of coverage, used his size to create yards after the catch, and was inches from making a spectacular catch at the end of the 1st half (note: I gave him credit for hauling in the pass for charting purposes, because 1. I do what I want, and 2. having a heel on the sideline should not count against the effort and ability he showed).
- Highly-touted true freshman Thomas Johnson looks like the real deal. His highlight one-handed catch along the sideline while absorbing a blow from the CB shows why people are confident he will be a star before leaving Aggieland.
Ryan Swope got 8 targets, but he was a non-factor on the day, doing most of his work at the LOS and struggling to get meaningful YAC. Swope has yet have a great game against an elite secondary and Saturday was no different. If this offense wants to take off, Swope needs to be the guy that takes the quick slant or hitch, turn up field instantly and turn a 4-yard pass into a 8-15 yard gain. Swope also had the lone drop on a routine pass, but was able to dig up a ball out of the dirt.
- EZ, EZ, where art thou?
- The tight end duo of Hicks and Lamothe only saw 1 target all day.
- All 3 RBs looked comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield and utilizing blocking downfield.
While most discussion of the airraid offense focuses on the passing game, A&M has a talented backfield, including an ultra-athletic QB, that needs to be effective to open up the passing opportunities for our green signal caller.
- A&M ran the ball 30 times vs. 39 pass plays.
Christine Michael got almost half of the carriers, but 3/4 of his attempts went for 4 yards or less, mostly due to ineffective OL blocking
- Manziel was explosive in the 1st half, but struggled as Florida adjusted their defense and gave him less running lanes.
- Trey looked special, and if the OL can get him into the secondary, he's going to have a ton of highlight runs. He probably needs more than the 6 total touches.
- Ben ran very aggresively, and hopefully they get more carries as the season goes on as a 3rd guy in the offense.
Overall, the offense looked pretty good considering it was a season-opener where we were breaking in a new scheme and a freshman at QB against an elite defense. As long as Manziel develops a better grasp of the offense, the skill players get more comfortable with what the scheme is asking of them, and Kingsbury and Sumlin find new ways to utilize their most explosive playmakers, the A&M offense should put up plenty of points.
Hopefully this was helpful and as the season progresses, we will have a bunch of data to compare. Comments? Questions?