Thanks to the brain trust at Fox Sports Net, I finally got an almost full game tape of the TCU game yesterday afternoon. If you are like me and were in DKR, you got home and found the better part of the first half cut out due to the Aggie game going three overtimes.
I work for Fox Sports
Last night was the first time I got a chance to actually quantify some of the things that I saw in person that intrigued me. First, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Muckelroy and Norton are clear difference makers on the defensive side of the ball. The amount of snaps they receive at the expense of Babino and Killebrew will be the difference between a top 10 and top 35 defense for Akina and MacDuff.
Plus/Minus for Football
To quantify Muckelroy’s impact, I borrowed the basketball stat known as Plus/Minus and applied it to the TCU game. For those of you not familiar with Plus/Minus stats, it is essentially a way to quantify each player’s contribution to the team’s outcome. In basketball, it is how many points up or down the team is while that player is on the floor.
It is not as perfect a stat for football since, for one, there are twice as many variables (players) on the field at the same time, but it can still be worth charting. All caveats aside, here is the data for the TCU game.
TCU ran 69 offensive plays for 251 net yards (3.6 ypp) in 12 possessions and turned the ball over two times offensively. The other two turnovers were essentially special teams turnovers (fumble on kickoff and fumbled snap on punt), so the offense actually turned the ball over twice. They went "three and out" five of the twelve possessions (41.7%).
Muckelroy was in the line-up for portions of four of the twelve possessions. If you are trying to track it at home, I believe he first entered the game during the drive that started with 7:38 on the clock in Q1 about where they got to midfield (I missed exactly when he first entered the game), played the entire series that started at 14:56 in Q2, 14:09 in Q4, and 9:43 in Q4.
By my count, Muckelroy had 17 snaps at LB (24.6% of total defensive snaps) in those four possessions.
In those 17 snaps, TCU rushed the ball eight times (2 of 8 were sacks) for -6 yards. In the 9 pass plays, they were 4 for 9 for 22 yards. So, when Muck is on the field, TCU’s yards per play were 0.9. By a matter of mathematics, when he was not on the field, TCU averaged 4.52 yards per play. But wait, it gets better.
The four possessions Muck played ended with one fumble recovery, two "three and outs", and the muffed punt attempt which resulted in a TD return by Foster. So in only a quarter of the entire defensive snaps, Muck’s defense accounted for 40% of the three and outs, two of the three sacks, one of the two true offensive turnovers, and forced another fumble that was recovered by TCU.
As an aside, and ironically enough, Muck was in position to stop the fourth down conversion in the first quarter, and missed the tackle behind the line of scrimmage. He can not wear a Superman jersey yet, but clearly, Muckelroy is making an impact and deserves to see his snaps go up.
Watch the interception return for the touchdown. Colt never sees the guy cutting off the flat (who is placed there deliberately, make no mistake), but past him, Sweed’s guy has already jumped the stop route. It’s a double jump. If Colt’s ball had gotten through, it would have gone into the next DB’s hands.
I will take this one better than that.
Roll your DVR to about the 7 minute mark in the second quarter. It is right after the great Finley grab over the middle for 17 yards where they threw a flag for what looked like the 28th offensive Pass interference call. It is first and ten from the Longhorn 30.
We line up in essentially our base formation: two wide outs left (wide side of field), one wide right on short side of the field (Sweed), TE is at EOL on left side and RB is to the the left of Colt – basically no one other than our RT can protect a blitz from the short side of the field. What happens?
TCU blitzes off Sweed’s corner. Sweed and Colt read the blitz and connect on the 4 yard stop route. That is the hot route for a corner blitz on Sweed’s side. We show our hand. Now, grant it, Sweed almost slips Roach’s tackle which would have resulted in at least 40 more yards or maybe even a 70-yard touchdown. But we showed our hand. Dick Bumpas knows how we will react the next time they blitz from this formation. We have no choice but to cut off our routes as Charles is not capable of coming across the formation to pick up the free blitzer and the RT can’t take his DE and the blitzer.
We showed our ONLY hot read in this formation.
The next four plays, the same formation combination shows its face two more times. TCU fakes a blitz once more to see how we will react. They don’t sell it and Colt ignores the fake.
Then, the fifth play…there it is. Two wide outs left (wide side of field), one wide right on short side of the field (Sweed), TE is at EOL on left side and RB is to the left of Colt. TCU actually is in a 3 man front which makes the blitz look even more formidable from the short side of the field.
Well, you know what happens from there, Pick 6 for Torrey Stewart of TCU. Ouch. We were deeked and it happened five plays before Stewart actually intercepted the ball.
While you are tooling around with your DVR, check out two defensive plays in particular. I promise it will be worth the effort.
At 1:18 left in Q2, TCU just picked off Colt for the second time and now have the ball at our 28. They run a play action, crossing route directly where our LBs should have dropped into coverage. Check out two things: Count the number of false steps toward the line both Bobino and Killebrew make before they recognize it is a play fake, and watch the angle Bobino makes to get back to his drop – He actually runs in a circle.
At 13:09 left in Q4, we have TCU backed up deep in their end. Momentum has clearly turned in our direction. It is second and 14 from their 6. Muckelroy and Bobino are clearly misaligned at the snap – so clearly, in fact, they look like a FB and RB in the I formation. One of them is at least three steps out of position pre-snap. Honestly, I have no idea which one is at fault.
When the ball is snapped, watch how quickly Muckelroy reads the RB screen. It is sensational. Now contrast that with Bobino who started directly in front of him.
By the way, anyone who can film capture off of their DVR, please feel free to email the plays I have referred to above.