Big plays: Key factor undermining UVA football through first third of 2015 season
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.
- Overall: 63.75 plays, 349.5 yards
- Big plays: 11.25 plays, 252.3 yards
- The rest: 52.5 plays, 97.3 yards
- Overall: 70 plays, 445.2 yards
- Big plays: 16.5 plays, 345.5 yards
- The rest: 53.5 plays, 99.8 yards
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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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