Watching the Offense from 2015, Part 4: Bowling and Looking at Stats!

Going Bowling!

After a disappointing regular season just short of the disastrous AU was seemingly limping into the Birmingham Bowl to face the upstart Memphis Tigers who were looking for their 2nd win over an SEC team for their season. The Tigers had a talented 1st round grade qb and a potent offense and with how Auburn had struggled over the year on offense it was not a sure thing that Auburn could win in a shootout.

However, unaccounted for to some folks (except maybe AU fans, players and coaches) players who had previously been injured were now getting healthy again and for the 1st time in a while it appeared Auburn would have close to a full complement on offense. The question remained though.... Even if Auburn was mostly healthy on offense again could they get past their own struggles to have an effective enough game to beat the Memphis Tigers?

Ya'll know how this one ends :)

Note: apologies on getting this out later than I had at first planned! Not much in the way of excuses other than being tired, lazy and helping take care of a stray kitten! Hand counted/calculated the stuff I was keeping track of myself or variations on stuff I found elsewhere so if you see something off let me know and I apologize in advance! In addition to the vids from WarRoomEagle and ESPN stats I also got stats this time from

Yet another note, there are a lot more screenshots in this fanpost as opposed to others because I had copy pasted a bunch of stuff from cfbstats into my notes and gotten them aligned and everything but when I pasted them in here they did not line up on preview and just looked bad.... So, I just screen-shotted the images, loaded them online and linked them here.

Also I don't think I've mentioned it before but full respect to the players who play this game. I can't do what they do and it seems almost unfair the sometimes negative stuff I say when evaluating things when I can't even come close on athletic ability or talent level. So props to them on what they do and go through for us fans. And to any that by some miracle happen to read this I don't mean to offend, I'm just evaluating things as I see them in a way that I hope is entertaining, factual and interesting.

Many thanks to the twitter replies I got when asking for some help with some stats!

Neutral Site Memphis Tigers - W - 31 - 10

ESPN Stats for the game.

TOP: 34:17

Speed Sweeps/reverses: 4
- Good yardage (4+): 2
- For loss of yards or no gain: 2
- For minimal gain:

Dropped balls/could have got that:
- If caught would have been a 1st down:

White Red Zone stats:
- Comp-Atts:
- Passing TDs:
- 1st downs:
- Turnovers:
- Mistakes:

Turnovers: Ints - 3, Fum -

White runs:

JJ runs: 2

Ints or could have been ints by JJ:

- Killed drives (may share with others):
- Wiped out 1st downs:
- Wiped out scores:
- Everything else:

WR blocking: 4:28-4:36 (I guess he got in his guy's way a bit but didn't really get on him)

Play calling: 3:38-3:50 I don't mind trying a trick play per se though I doubt the necessity of this one. They make up for it with the fake punt though :)

Barber getting the nod at first for RB though Roc gets the first carry on a sweep.

White pretty sharp in his passing.

Nifty run by Kerryon for his score.

Not a well executed trick play at 3:38-3:50. Not sure if Smith just let it rip without looking cause he was supposed to do it that way, if there was a miss-communication or what but that didn't work out.

4:10-4:17 Oddly underthrown ball by White... Maybe that leg still bugging him a bit? He was also intercepted twice.
- 1 was just a well defended play on 4th down, maybe should have just taken the sack at 5:02-5:12.
- 5:43-5:52 Not sure if he threw that one badly or just well covered but still not characteristic from what we saw of White previously.

6:54-7:00 low/miss-handled snap kills a drive.

8:04-8:09 It's been said but nice block by Cox there to help spring Smith.

JJ again showing better decisiveness in his runs this game compared to the 1st 3 games.

After about the 5:30ish or so point of the 3rd quarter AU's offense seemed to get itself fully on track.

Roc gets some carries to finish the game as AU runs out the clock.

AU's offense had some of the usual issues through part of the game but later in the 2nd half got itself together very well to end the game on a dominating note.

Overall Some Stats:


General Stats:


Some Situational Stats:


Other rushing situational Stats:


Other passing situational stats:


My Stats and Some Stuff I was Curious About:

Total Speed Sweeps/reverses: 50
- Good yardage (4+): 26
- For loss of yards or no gain: 11
- For minimal gain: 13

Total dropped balls/could have got that: 43
- If caught would have been a 1st down: 28

- Occurred in White's games: 29
-- Would have been a 1st down in White's games: 18

- Occurred in JJ's games: 15
-- Would have been a 1st down in JJ's games: 10

- White total attempts: 143
-- % of could have got that balls: 20% app

- JJ total attempts: 157
-- % of could have got that balls: 9.5% app

- Total attempts: 300
-- % of could have got that balls: 14.3% app

Overall penalties: 29
- Killed drives (may share with others): 5
- Wiped out 1st downs: 3
- Wiped out scores: 2

Overall turnovers: 12 Ints, 5 Fumbles

White and JJ Stats:

Total ints or could have been ints by JJ: 11

YPG under JJ: 346.7
YPG under White: 397.1

YPG under JJ before White: 329.3
YPG under JJ after White: 357.75

YPG under White before injury: 388.5
YPG under White after injury: 414.5

PPG under JJ: 26.7
PPG under White: 28.3

PPG under JJ before White: 26.3
PPG under JJ after White: 27

PPG under White before injury: 30
PPG under White after injury: 25


White Overall Red Zone stats:
- Comp-Atts: 3-10
- Passing TDs:
- 1st downs: 2
- Turnovers: 1
- Mistakes: 2 (high snap and no pass on another)
- 1 TD pass of his called back due to penalty.
- White not in top 100 in cfb stats in the so he doesn't show up...


Overall Thoughts:

We Were Not Good....

Obvious I know, but bear with me.

How we ranked in most categories on offense was anywhere from "Ok" such as being ranked 35th in rushing to "Abysmal" like being ranked 111th in passing yards per game... Even in some of our "Ok" categories such as rushing yards are mitigated by other ranks within the same category such as yards per carry being ranked 70th... Other things are telling such as being ranked 80th in TDs and tied for 7th in FGs which tells me we had a good kicking game but had issues scoring TDs...

The Running Game was Decent but had Issues.

Our overall stats on the running game tell a tail of a decent running team but that ypc average though... After watching the offense over the course of these games again and combined with what the stats seem to be indicating I think that while the running game was decent there were 4 issues that kept it from being "great".

1. The blocking was inconsistent. The YPC being relatively low combined with the ranks on 3rd and short (Att (10), Yards (48), Avg (94), TD (15), 1st Downs (13)) and the red zone (Att (6), Yards (10), AVG (43), TDs (19)) tell a tale of a running game struggling to find room running the ball. While success was still had at a decent clip rush yards per carry was either mediocre or just plain bad as the runners just were not getting yards easily.

2. Our best running back was not running the ball most of the year. Peyton was a solid back but he wasn't as powerful as Jovon (Jovon may be faster than him too...) and he wasn't as fast as Roc. Both of the aforementioned backs were limited by injury and/or other things throughout the year. I imagine if both had been healthy (or not in the doghouse) that the running game would have been better.

3. The qb was not a dynamic enough or consistent enough of a running threat. I realize this is kind of a "duh" thing but given how relatively little we ran the qb compared to previous years the defenses were able to mostly just key in on the running backs. Part of this was JJ being a bit tentative running the ball early year, then White just was a much better passer than runner, then White was hurt and although JJ was running more decisively late year I imagine the coaches didn't want him running it too much since we didn't have a good qb option behind him that was healthy.

-Comparison: (Note: including sacks) 2015 JJ and White ran the ball 77 total times. In 2014 Nick ran it 153 times. In 2013 Nick ran it 172 times.

4. Last but maybe not least, the passing game did not get the running game the support it needed. If other teams are limiting your opportunities to beat you on the ground by stacking the box or playing to the run most of the time and your passing game is still not taking advantage (Ranks for passing: PYPG (111), PAttemptsPG (115), Pass Yards (105), TDs (115), YPAttempt(54), Comp% (66)) then you have issues... For comparison's sake the 2013 passing offense of AU ranked relatively close to their peers at that time compared to how the offense ranked among their peers in 2015 but 1 of the stats stick out, that being the Yards Per Attempt being ranked 18 (8.5 ypa) in 2013 compared to a rank of 54 (7.4 ypa) in 2015. So basically when we did have opportunities in the passing game AU was not able to take advantage of them enough to make teams mind it.

The Passing Game was Just... Bad....

I mean the stats and accompanying rankings just spell it out. While watching the games there were bright spots at times but between JJ's early season issues, White and the offense taking time to come together, WR ball skill issues, White getting injured, coaching decisions and personnel issues it just ended up being overall bad for the year... On a year when the running game was going to turn out to not be enough to carry us we needed the passing game to be MUCH better than what it was.

White (and the passing game) Were Badly Hampered by the Receivers.

Total dropped balls/could have got that: 43
- If caught would have been a 1st down: 28

- Occurred in White's games: 29
-- Would have been a 1st down in White's games: 18

- White total attempts: 143
-- % of could have got that balls: 20% app

- Offense total passing attempts: 300
-- % of could have got that balls: 14.3% app

Are you kidding me?!?!? I don't know on comparisons but having a 20% chance of any of your throws being dropped or missed by a Receiver just seems terrible to me.... 14.3% chance for a drop or missed ball on both qbs isn't that much better... I like Craig, great recruiter and pretty good qb coach going by his results under his pupils there, heck I wouldn't have minded Lashlee getting replaced by him at qb coach. But as a receiver coach.... Well, Sammie and Bray turned out fine and we got decent production from Duke in 2014 and maybe the new guys he helped bring in would have helped him get some more clout but I'll just say for right now I don't mind a change at the WR coaching spot.

Just Stop Complaining About the Sweeps Already...

By my count below:

Total Speed Sweeps/reverses: 50
- Good yardage (4+): 26
- For loss of yards or no gain: 11
- For minimal gain: 13

Over half of them went for good yardage with only about 1 in 5 or so going for no yards or a negative gain. I'll grant that it may have been called too much so it wasn't as successful as it could have been, but overall it was successful about half the time which for a "gimmicky/trick" play isn't too bad I'd argue. Just my opinion, if you disagree feel free to comment and explain why (I am by no means a football expert so more knowledge or other opinions are welcome :) )

JJ vs White Last Year, Oddly Closer Than You'd Think.

Nothing too surprising here. The general opinion of JJ being pretty bad at the start, White being a better passer but getting hurt and JJ doing "ok" but not "great" bears out. White simply outdoes JJ on the eye test passing the football and in parts of the stats as well such as passing yards and yards per attempt.

A few things stick out to me in this comparison though and I think makes this a more interesting comparison.

While White was the better passer and was improving before his injury a major eyesore on his stats are his stats in the red zone and inside the opponents 40 yard line. JJ just outperforms him in both categories and it's not really close...

White Overall Red Zone stats:
- Comp-Atts: 3-10
- Passing TDs:
- 1st downs: 2
- Turnovers: 1
- Mistakes: 2 (high snap and no pass on another)
- 1 TD pass of his called back due to penalty.
- White not in top 100 in cfb stats so he doesn't show up...


This doesn't even take into account JJ running the ball in these areas where I think he had 5 TDs and White had 0.

Another point in JJ's favor is his running ability. Eye test wise JJ got better with it as the year got along. In addition is JJ's improvement from the beginning of the season to late season on turnovers and decision making.

Granting all that however something else sticks out that gives JJ a hard time on his stats. He played the 3 toughest defenses AU played last year in LSU, UGA and Bama. Taking those games out and comparing stats with White before he was injured or the SJSU game where he didn't pass too much:


YPG (didn't calculate but JJ 4 games and White 3 games simple math and all that) and turnovers JJ lags behind and ahead of White. Still, other key stats are comparable or better than White's such as TDs, Yards per Attempt and Comp%.

So would JJ have overcome his issues enough for AU to win a couple of games than when White started we lost or would the disaster of the beginning of the season continued? If White had started at the beginning of the season and avoided injury would AU have won a few more games as the offense accustomed itself to White? Or in any case would things have turned out about the same?

It's an interesting thought question but in the end admittedly useless... What happened happened... I'm not saying either qb was better than the other, but both had diametric differences in results in different areas that make their performance a lot closer than I think folks give credit for.

Bottom line: White was a better pure qb and passer but had major issues in scoring situations, JJ was a worse pure qb and passer but a better runner and much more productive in scoring situations.

Coaching Was Meh But...

There is plenty of blame to go on the coaches for various things. Simply put they at times made a not-ideal situation worse. Such as putting White in the game vs UGA for a few drives, questionable play calls at times and getting things to this point from prior misses/decisions. However the combination of factors that they had to play call and make decisions on all year were daunting. From JJ's early season play, unreliable WRs, inconsistent O-line, White's injury, all the other injuries and etc they were in a fix all year.

Every time it seemed as if they were starting to get things figured out something else would inevitably go wrong.

(AU Coaches)

Offense and defense looking good? Great! Wait, JJ has issues as does the rest of the offense... Ok, let's put White in, but he's inexperienced.... White is pretty sharp isn't he!! But he's having some problems in the red zone and scoring position... Ok, we'll just run the ball when we get there or try some cute stuff! Yeah Duke will get his attitude in order soon and he'll start reeling in balls all day long from White. What do you mean Duke BROKE DAMPEER'S JAW!?!?! Well that sucks...

Hey, things are going pretty well apart from our receivers dropping/missing a 5th of White's passes. Wait, WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHITE'S HURT!?!?! Crap, well he's still game to play Ole Miss, ok doke. And Ole Miss is stacking the box in the red zone and White's a statue with his injury... Ok, let's try JJ *collective offensive coaches throw up*....

Well that went well against A&M we may be ok. Crap, offense is struggling a little against UGA and the Center is hurt, ok put Dampeer in he should be... Wait... Oh yeah, broke jaw.... *voice from somewhere* "Put White in!", yeah White got us a spark before he can do it again!!! Wait... OH NUTS THAT WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA WHOSE *(&$##(*@#??@#$# IDEA WAS IT TO PUT WHITE IN!?!?! *no one fesses up*. Well &*$(#$& Well at least we'll beat Idaho and get bowl eligible...

Hey! Bama has a weakness we can exploit in the running game if we put Leff in for our big package!!! Hehe, let's wet the field and run this. This'll at least keep it close maybe? Hey now! We are running the ball on bama!! Yeeeeeeaaaahhhhh!! Hmmm, missed a FG and missed on a couple of opportunities in bama's territory but heck we'll keep running this in the 2nd half and be just fine! Yep we'll wear em down and take em out in the 4th same as 2013! WHAT DO YOU MEAN LEFF GOT HURT!?!!? &*%@#($*%#@*($#@)($ F it! We're going deep! Hey it worked!!! And now it's not... And we lost, crap.

(Au Coaches End)

Ok I had a bit too much fun above I'll admit... But the point stands. One thing after another kept happening that the coaches kept having to deal with. Once again admittedly that all still falls on the coaches as far as developing and recruiting the right folks but it still bears mentioning.

Closing Thoughts:

That. Sucked. There were bright spots at times but it is unavoidable to come to the conclusion that the offense overall just did not perform well at all. There were failures or issues at all levels of the offense at every position.

WR - Duke dis-missal , replacement for Coates and Bray, ball skill issues.

TE - Inexperience and perhaps talent issues.

OL - inconsistent play, new starters.

HB/FB - inexperience.

QB - Mental issues, turnovers, red zone production, inconsistency and injury.

RB - Injury issues.

Coaching - off and on play calling/decision making, prior responsibility for development and recruiting in problem spots and lack of good HUNH.

With all of that plus everything I've noted and talked about in previous posts what in the world can you say? Now, I could end it here and move on to my final final note and what to expect on the next part. But dwelling on the negative is too easy and bypasses a couple of things...

First, the Memphis game. We finally got to see what an offense with a relatively healthy White at the helm and Jovon carrying the load looked like along with JJ and Kerryon stepping in during situations where White isn't at his best. There were a few issues to start with but they got it together and ended the game on 3 straight TD drives and a last 1 to melt the clock out. It was beautiful.

Finally, with how many issues we had on offense how did we win 7 games? It's true you can point to an improved defense but stats for them weren't very good overall either if memory serves. So HOW!?!?

I think it's something you can't really quantify well or see with stats too well, I think it was simply this: These players and coaches didn't give up. An easy reaction would be "so what?" but it's said that trial and trouble show you a person's true mettle and God bless these folks but they kept fighting through everything! Through all the injuries, questionable coaching, inexperience, inconsistent play, breakdowns and issues these kids kept playing their hearts out... Not just the offense but the whole team!

I am not an AU alumni, but I have appreciated the AU creed and the values that AU has espoused. It has helped keep me a fan past being raised as a fan into adulthood. There are 2 parts of the creed that I think of when I think of this 2015 AU team: "I believe in work, hard work" and "I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid". I don't know how to best articulate what I feel about this team... I don't have the athletic ability to handle the training they go through and if I did I don't know if I could handle it... And even if I could how could I have handled everything those guys went through this past year? It truly touches my heart that through all their setbacks and problems that this team NEVER. BROKE.

This team goes into the off-season with major questions to be answered, but through a season of issues and problems AU competed and the team gritted out 7 wins in the toughest conference in CFB only getting blown out once. Given everything that happened this gives me hope.

Thank you so much for reading if you made it this far! Once again I wrote a half novel apparently.... Hope ya'll got some enjoyment out of it. The next part will be the last for this series, it will be covering what answer or potential answers AU may have for it's trouble for 2015 in 2016. Apologies again for being late on when I said I'd try to get it out!

God bless and War Eagle!

We're all just trying to have a good time here. Don't be a jerk, and we won't have a problem with you. War Eagle!