UCLA's Offensive Production v. Houston: Play-calling, or Talent & Execution?

Bumped. Good starting point for an interesting discussion. - BN eds.

The most interesting part of the eye-test debate on the last game for me has been the discussion of:

Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard?

Watching the game live, I felt like the bigger difference in our offense in one game vs Houston, compared with last season's offense, was Fauria and Rosario making big catches in coverage: our tall receiving threats were able to haul in the ball when it was there for them, even if they were fairly well covered schematically.

Some quick and dirty analysis of play-calling follows the jump.

[note 1: this is based on the ESPN play-by-play; any errors there will be errors here too]

[note 2: the categories below are based on the final result of the play - rush vs pass - even though some of those rushes were likely designed as pass plays]

Overall play-calling balance:  42 rushes, 30 passes.

Comment: this looks pretty good, and certainly more balanced than last year.

1st Down plays: 23 rushes, 11 passes

Comment: this looks a bit more predictable

1st Down plays excluding last drive down 10 with 2 mins to play: 23 rushes, 8 passes

Comment: in the last drive we are out of options and are likely going to be passing every play to preserve clock; removing that from the analysis, we look like our run/pass mix on first down is pretty similar to last year, not 'mixing it up' particularly.

3rd Down plays: 3 rushes, 9 passes

Comment: combined with the 1st down stats, seems to be painting a classic Run, Run, Pass scheme.

3rd Down plays, YTG 4 or fewer: 2 passes, 1 rush

Comment: Tiny sample size, but potentially interesting if it held over a longer period of time - I feel like we would have run the ball in this situation last year.

3rd Down plays, YTG 5 or more: 2 rushes, 7 passes

Comment: both these rushes were Brehaut; one was a 17 yard run on 3rd & 18 (pass play scramble with Houston playing very deep), another was an 11 yard run on 3rd & 7 (don't recall whether this was a designed run or not)

Overall (tentative) conclusion: our offensive performance against Houston was more about our playmakers' execution and less about our playcalling. Coaches have done a good job in the offseason, it appears - CMJ seems to have done a good job with the receivers; CJM seems to have got the Tight Ends going; CRN seems to have got RIchard Brehaut to harness more of his natural ability and make some better reads/progressions/decisions. Props to them for the preparation; to my mind, the jury is still out on whether their playcalling is catching defenses off-guard.

This analysis is clearly very simplistic and doesn't reflect any variety within the types of run or pass plays called; I'm sure people better versed in that will speak up this week, or after we have more film to go on. I appreciate corrections to any factual errors above.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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