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Blitzin' BVG

by Pat, Right behind you, Thursday, November 20, 2014, 23:20

I was curious about the decline of the defense. More specifically, just how much blitzing is the defense doing and has it changed at all? So I went ahead and charted it. Consider this the return of Chart Friday.

First up, the percentage of plays when ND blitzed on defense as a function of the total number of plays in that particular game. There were a few surprises, like the UNC game and the unevenness of the blitz percentages game to game. As for the percentages, I'm not sure if the numbers are above or below what folks thought they might be. I don't think the descriptor "Tenuta-esque" is fair though based on these numbers.


My next thought was that not all blitzes are created equal. Some leave BVG fist-pumping his way in to our hearts. Some leave a slow guy from Northwestern running free into the endzone. So I categorized each blitz result as "good", "bad", or "ugly". Basically, good meant the play yielded 3 or fewer yards or things like sacks and turnovers. Bad meant the play went 4-9 yards. Ugly meant 10+ yards. Maybe that's a bit aggressive on the "ugly" label. Anyway, here's the chart.


As you can see, the good did far better in recent games than I would have guessed. A lot of the big plays for Northwestern, for example, came when ND wasn't blitzing. Also, the Stanford numbers are kind of crazy.

I have a few other random thoughts based on skimming through the games to get the numbers. I'll try to add them some point tomorrow.

Also, sorry the colors are so drab. But it's late and I'm tired so it is what it is.

charts, stats


One further thought

by Mike (bart), Friday, November 21, 2014, 09:52 @ Pat

This is a nice counterweight to the fear that we have another Tenuta on our hands. Not only have our blitzes mostly not been telegraphed, but the skyline of that chart indicates that BVG has indeed been laboring to put together opponent specific gameplans from week to week.

It will be interesting to see how greatly those bars homogenize down the stretch run, now that we're in jalopy mode


Great work man.

by Joe ⌂ @, North Endzone Goal Line, Friday, November 21, 2014, 09:46 @ Pat

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how the hell did you find time to chart all that?

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, November 21, 2014, 09:31 @ Pat

Great work!


a few other random thoughts from doing this

by Pat, Right behind you, Friday, November 21, 2014, 08:49 @ Pat

First, the murky gray area is that on a lot of snaps the defense would threaten a blitz with guys like Jaylon or Schdmit or Morgan all right up on the line of scrimmage before they dropped back in to coverage. So not technically a blitz, but they also weren't starting the play in the same position as when they were in more base defense. Does that have an impact? Not sure.

Also, I did see a lot of linemen dropping back in to coverage when linebackers would blitz. Plenty of time Jaylon or Schmidt would blitz while the ends dropped back in to coverage. And I do recall seeing it happen when Morgan was in so I don't think it completely disappeared spesh. Something to look for this weekend I suppose.

As for dropping back in to coverage, it seemed that they had Okwara do that a lot. I'm not really sure why because he doesn't seem terribly good at it. He's a pretty stiff player. He's not all that great rushing the passer either, but he never appeared to do much when back in coverage. Meanwhile, I think Blankenship is going to be pretty good once he adds a bit more bulk. He looks like a skinny TE out there but mixes it up pretty well.

It's pretty crazy watching games like the Michigan and Stanford game right next to the ASU and especially Northwestern game. Guys have to be pretty banged up because they are moving a lot slower than those first few games of the year.

Teams seem to be running right at Jaylon a lot more, pulling linemen to get in his way and try and slow him down. I guess they finally realized that he can chase them down from behind when they try to run away from him.

A lot of the big runs up the middle the past two games didn't frequently happen against the blitz. It was just Morgan getting blocked out of the play a whole lot. He is aggressive and is a lot more athletic than I thought he was. He's going to be great. But right now he's tentative and letting the linemen get their hand on him. And with Jarron dinged up, once the back got past Jones and Morgan was being blocked/held by linemen, well, there are all those 10+ yards right up the middle. But when Morgan either guessed right or the lineman was a step slow, Morgan made some plays that Schmidt can never make. If he puts it together he's really going to be good.

As for the various types of blitzes, Farley is pretty sneaky good off the edge. He has a good sense of timing and disguising his blitzes. He's pretty physical too getting through blocks. Meanwhile, the safety blitzes I don't think ever worked. Maybe once. Either it is Redfield and Shumate being too tentative, or the blitz design having them start too far behind the LOS, or something. But they just weren't effective blitzes.


really great stuff

by Mike (bart), Friday, November 21, 2014, 09:14 @ Pat

One thing that isnt clear to me is how prescriptive we are with blitz fakes. Obviously guys arent totally freelancing out there, but it wouldnt necessarily be wise to choreograph all of our fakes either. When guys get banged up/worn down, dilligent work on fakes is usually one of the first things to go; a very bad thing for BVG'S scheme, obviously.

You also present pretty much the first ray of hope for improvement seen in the past 2 weeks. If Morgan can pull it together we might survive.

The safety thing still makes no sense to me, though. Shumate is a better fill player than Collinsworth, and Tranquill is less effective the farther he gets from the line. I hope this is just a "Senior Day vs. a frosh QB" thing, because that pair doesn't have a chance of slowing down USC.


I'd be curious to see this compared to non-blitzing plays

by Jeff (BGS), A starter home in suburban Tempe, Friday, November 21, 2014, 06:44 @ Pat

That will help normalize the results a bit.

I think the key metric on blitzes is how often they result in ending a drive (or give up first downs). Your breakdown is probably a very good proxy for that, and might even be a better metric.

At night, the ice weasels come.


Great job. One thing I've noticed...

by Spesh ⌂ @, Los Angeles, Friday, November 21, 2014, 06:44 @ Pat

is that it seems the zone blitz has practically disappeared from the callsheet. Earlier in the year we saw Trumbetti, Utopo, Day, and others dropping into short zones. One time Day even covered a wheel route.

But not anymore. I wonder if the injuries are forcing the blitzes to become less exotic and diverse, which is making it easier for offenses to prepare for them.

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