Big plays: Key factor undermining UVA football through first third of 2015 season

UVaHelmet_1I thought the issue with the UVA offense through the first third of the 2015 season was what it was able to do outside of the big plays to keep the chains moving.

Turns out, after an academic exercise going through the play-by-play of the first four games of the season, that it’s the discrepancy in big plays.

First, to definitions. I broke down as my “big plays” passes of 10 yards or more, and runs of eight yards or more.

I got to eight on the runs because – give me second and two, and I can do some things to move the ball downfield.

Definitions out of the way, I went through the play-by-play summaries, then added things up.

What I was looking for was a sense of how the UVA offense does on the other plays – runs under eight, passes of nine or less.

My thinking: Virginia relies too much on the big play, and doesn’t do enough outside of the big play to move the ball consistently.

What I found: from the numbers, Virginia’s opponents have similar issues moving the ball consistently outside of the big play.

I also found, again, as I spelled out in the lede, that the issue is actually the amount of big plays.

First, the aggregate numbers.

UVA offense through four games

  • Overall: 255 plays, 1,398 yards, 5.5 yards per play
  • Big plays: 45 plays, 1,009 yards, 22.4 yards per play
  • The rest: 210 plays, 389 yards, 1.85 yards per play

Opponents through four games

  • Overall: 280 plays, 1,781 yards, 6.4 yards per play
  • Big plays: 66 plays, 1,382 yards, 20.9 yards per play
  • The rest: 214 plays, 399 yards, 1.86 yards per play

 

Now, to the averages.

UVA

  • Overall: 63.75 plays, 349.5 yards
  • Big plays: 11.25 plays, 252.3 yards
  • The rest: 52.5 plays, 97.3 yards

Opponents

  • Overall: 70 plays, 445.2 yards
  • Big plays: 16.5 plays, 345.5 yards
  • The rest: 53.5 plays, 99.8 yards

 

Analysis
Opponents have run 25 more plays through four games, roughly six per game. They also have 21 more big plays through four games, roughly five per game.

Bottom line: Opponents create more big plays, and outgain UVA by more than 90 yards a game in the big-play category.

 

Game 1: UCLA 34, UVA 16

UVA

  • Overall: 69 plays, 336 yards, 4.9 yards per play
  • Big plays: 11 plays, 178 yards, 16.2 yards per play
  • The rest: 58 plays, 158 yards, 2.72 yards per play

UCLA

  • Overall: 71 plays, 503 yards, 7.1 yards per play
  • Big plays: 18 plays, 403 yards, 22.4 yards per play
  • The rest: 53 plays, 100 yards, 1.89 yards per play

 

Game 2: Notre Dame 34, UVA 27

UVA

  • Overall: 68 plays, 416 yards, 6.1 yards per play
  • Big plays: 15 plays, 321 yards, 21.4 yards per play
  • The rest: 53 plays, 95 yards, 1.79 yards per play

Notre Dame

  • Overall: 64 plays, 460 yards, 7.2 yards per play
  • Big plays: 20 plays, 389 yards, 19.5 yards per play
  • The rest: 44 plays, 71 yards, 1.61 yards per play

 

Game 3: UVA 35, William and Mary 29

UVA

  • Overall: 52 plays, 373 yards, 7.2 yards per play
  • Big plays: 10 plays, 295 yards, 29.5 yards per play
  • The rest: 42 plays, 78 yards, 1.86 yards per play

William and Mary

  • Overall: 65 plays, 371 yards, 5.7 yards per play
  • Big plays: 12 plays, 215 yards, 17.9 yards per play
  • The rest: 53 plays, 156 yards, 2.94 yards per play

 

Game 4: Boise State 56, UVA 14

UVA

  • Overall: 66 plays, 273 yards, 4.1 yards per play
  • Big plays: 9 plays, 215 yards, 23.9 yards per play
  • The rest: 57 plays, 58 yards, 1.02 yards per play

Boise State

  • Overall: 69 plays, 443 yards, 6.4 yards per play
  • Big plays: 16 plays, 375 yards, 23.4 yards per play
  • The rest: 53 plays, 68 yards, 1.28 yards per play

 

– Story by Chris Graham



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