Reviewing the Hell Outta the A&M Offense

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, mattywatty01 knocked one out of the park with this detailed post telling you just how badass this year's offense has been. Now I'm gonna try to follow that up by just trying to put the ball in play, because I too have charted every play by the A&M offense.

Now you may be asking yourself, "Wac, I just spent my lunch break/smoke break/morning dumptime reading matt's analysis, and ain't nobody got time to read the same thing twice." And well, that's a good point. But dammit, it's A&M football and isn't nice to hear over and over just how good this offense is. Plus, our methods aren't quite the same.


  • we both watched the same game
  • we both focused purely on the offense
  • we both stopped charting during garbage time


  • where as matty's charting is purely objective (focusing on yards per play, 1st downs, passer rating, etc.), my approach is more subjective (how well did the line protect, how accurate was the pass, how tough a catch did the WR make, etc.). I'm a numbers guy at heart, and while the final product is quantitative, my analysis for the most part is qualitative.
  • our total number of plays charted are different (he has 338, I have 366). 2 possible explanations - one, our interpretation of when garbage time starts may differ slightly; and two, I chart plays that result in penalties (both offensive and defensive). I do that second part because a mysterious holding call away from the ball shouldn't negate the fact that one of our guys made a sick catch.
  • while his graphs look all professional and what not, mine were crudely done using good ol' Microsoft Excel :(

So grab another cup of coffee, find a project you can charge the next 15 minutes to and let's get going. (**Please note that I am not a trained scout, so my opinions are most likely wrong, but hey I waste an exorbitant amount of time watching and rewatching football, so the least I could do was share my thoughts with the group).

Offensive Line

The sucess of our offense all starts up front, and we got one of the best lines in the nation. Here's is how the OL has graded out so far on passing downs.

(clean protect rate is the percentage of times the OL gives Johnny enough time to go through his reads free of heavy pressure, disregarding quick screen plays; sack rate is the percentage of times that pressure allowed by the OL leads to a sack)

The ability of this OL to consistenly keep pressure off of Johnny has been amazing. We all had at least some doubt that a pass-heavy offense would work against SEC defensive lines, but as long as we keep churning out NFL-caliber front lines, this offense is going to put up huge numbers. Looking at individual lineman...

  • Jake Matthews hasn't missed a beat switching over from RT to LT. I have him down for being bullrushed once against Rice and getting beat on a spin move against Arkansas. Otherwise, he's been a brick wall.
  • Jarvis Harrison has continued his solid work from last year. He also was victimized by a bullrush against Rice (that DL was strong), a miscommunitcation issue with the C against Sam Houston and whiffed once against Arkansas.
  • Jumping to RG and our first new starter, Germain Ifedi joined the bullrush party against Rice on one snap, got called for a hold against SMU and let another SMU defender go free (Brandon Williams decided to let this guy continue his free run to the QB). He also got beat off the line by an Arkansas defender (another salty front 4)
  • Ced Ogbuehi slid out to RT and has done a pretty good job of sealing the right side. He's been beat off the edge 3 times so far, and also got beat by a bullrush against Arkansas.
  • The backs and TEs have done a great job when asked to help with pass protection. Outside of Brandon Williams, no other guys have registered a negative mark, and Brandon has only a missed assignment and a snap where he was off balance at the point of attack and got blown up.
  • That leaves Mike Matthews. The smallest guy on the line stepped into some big shoes taking over for senior Patrick Lewis at center and has produced mixed results. He's done a great job with tempo, and the front 5 as a unit has been on the same page almost every snap; on the flip side, he has seemed to run into some snapping issues lately, whether it's snap infractions or high snaps (a problem against Arkansas) or a weird skyrocket snap against SMU. These issues should solve themselves as the season progresses.

    The bigger issue is with his size/strength. Twice against Alabama and against Arkansas, he got blown up off the snap. Since the center is the only guy having to snap the ball, he's at a disadvantage relative to other linemen, so we cut him some slack. But I think the concerns about his size (listed at 285 lbs, 15 lbs lighter than the next smallest OL) and strength have been somewhat validated. Now this is not to say he hasn't done a good job, because he has. This is just a part of his game that will get much better as he gets bigger and stronger as an upperclassman.


Off-season narrative: Johnny is partying too much when he should be practicing!

In-season narrative: That boy good!

After a quiet first game against Rice that saw him miss the beginning of the game due to suspension and the end of the game due to a look-at-me ref, Johnny has caught fire.

Downfield success rate is a modified version of completion percentage independent of the receiver. What I'm looking at is how accurate Johnny is on passes downfield (ignoring screens to RB/WR, which have inflated this era of QB's completion%). You can see Johnny has been getting better and better every game. He's also working with a new crop of receivers, so I expect these numbers to keep getting better as the season progresses and they get more comfortable in the system.

Bad play rate is looking at times where the QB throws into double coverage or doesn't read a LB dropping back into coverage, or holds onto the ball for too long and takes a sack. Along side his athleticism and accuracy, this is an area where Johnny really excels. He just seems to make the right plays, a credit to both his instincts and to the work Sumlin, Kliff and Jake Spavital have done making Johnny the best QB in the nation.

The only thing I've dinged Johnny for is not seeing that Sam Houston LB on his interception, leaving a solid pocket against Arkansas resulting in a sack, and his hailmary pass to Ed Pope against Bama. Yes, it was completed, and yes it was on 3rd down where an INT can sometimes act as a punt. Even so, I still believe it showed somewhat poor judgment heaving that ball up into heavy traffic. But if that is one of the worst things he's done this year, then he's doing a damn good job.

Here is a complete breakdown for every QB ...

(total: number of dropbacks; DO: dead-on; CA: on-target catchable ball, with screens in paren.; 50: somewhere between catchable and inaccurate, a jumpball or low/behind receiver; IN: inaccurate; TA: thrown away; BP: bad play, with plays that result in interceptions and sacks in paren.; PR: play breaks down due to pressure; BA: batted ball:SCR: scramble: MIX: QB and WR get routes mixed up)

Now where is Johnny throwing the ball?

While we are still less than half way through the season, and a single game can significantly impact the overall numbers, we can see Johnny's growth in the system, both spreading the ball around and going deeper more often.

In 2012, 53% of his passes beyond the line of scrimmage went to the right side of the field, indicating a reliance on his two main WR (Swope and Evans) who happened to line up to Johnny's right the majority of the time. This year, only 36% of his downfield passes are to the right. One reason for this has been the emergence of Derel Walker. Johnny seems much more comfortable dumping the ball off to him than he did with EZ lining up in the same spot last year.

John is also going downfield more often.

  • In 2012, just 25% of his passes beyond the LOS went 20+ yards. That number is up to 28%.
  • Intermediate balls (10-20 yards) are also up, from 27% to 30%.
  • Accounting for every pass thrown (beyond and behind the LOS), 41% of his passes in 2012 were beyond 10 yards. This year, that number is up to 46%.


Now it takes more than a great OL and a heisman-winning QB to make a good passing attack, you gotta have guys on the back end making plays. And this year's crop of receivers have been excellent.

  • 3 - routine catches, no drops allowed
  • 2 - marginal passes, low/behind/high/tight coverage, where we are hoping for 50%;
  • 1 - inaccurate passes that require an extraordinary effort by the WR, think of Jaquay Williams catching a flyroute with one hand tied behind his back
  • The "0" column is for balls that absolutely cannot be caught, thrown out of bounds or batted down or 10' over the receiver, and are charted only to identify targets)
  • Target% - percentage of overall passes to a particular receiver
  • Drop% is the number of category 3 balls that the receiver drops.
  • No surprise, Mike Evans leads the way in targets. His target% is down from 27% last year to 21% this year, but as matty pointed out yesterday, he is absolutely killing it when the ball is thrown his way.

    And his hands continue to be his best asset, along with his size. No drops this year after a 5% drop rate last year, a perfect 6/6 on 50-50 balls and 2 type-1 catches, including that jump ball in the back of the endzone surrounded by Arkansas defenders.
  • Malcome Kennedy is right behind Evans, catching those short & intermediate passes that Ryan Swope made a living off of last year. Swope's target% in 2012 was 23% and Malcome is right around that number (21%)
  • Derel Walker has come on lately, after a very quiet 2012. He has taken over for EZ wide left and has shaken off some early drops to become a viable weapon in this passing attack.
  • The tight ends continue to be a non-factor this year, seeing just 2% of the targets, the same number they saw last year.
  • Running backs are right around their 2012 numbers - 12% this year vs 11% last year. Personally, I would like to see Brandon Williams get the ball out in space a few more times.

So that's what I got. If you made it this far, pat yourself on the back and take another 15, on me.

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