FanPost

Watching the offense from 2015, Part 1: Hopes Quickly Dashed... Games 1-3

Introduction:

Hi everyone! I've been a bit football starved for a while and to help assuage that I've been watching some of WarRoomEagle's offense vs defense videos from this past year. This along with my tendency to write alot in my regular posts on the articles put in my mind an idea to perhaps do a fanpost series on my observations/notes of the offense over the course of last year game-by-game. Since my football knowledge is not the best in the world I decided I'd try breaking it up into a few parts covering sections of the season and some thoughts over the course of the whole season as opposed to 1 fanpost of observations per game as I figured that my analysis and details may not be up to snuff. So I guess the point of this will be to cure some of my own football starvation, maybe generate some conversation amongst everyone (if I even get views lol) and maybe give some ideas for the regular writers on here in the meantime for when the season gets closer up. Hopefully I'll have done all of the posts by next weekend but we'll see what happens :)

The reason I went with the offense is it interested me more as far as the problems there. While the defense was fairly consistent and improved the offense was up and down and weird all year. That plus I felt talking about the offense would be a bit less of a hassle as it seemed to be easier to talk about as opposed to the defense. I guess if folks actually like what I put up enough I could try to do one on the defense but we'll see. It'll depend on how this stuff gets received and if I get football starved enough before the season begins to try to generate some more discussion.

I realize some of the thoughts and other items may also have previously been mentioned in the "Season of Murphy" series by the folks here so apologies in advance if I just re-hash some of that same stuff. If you haven't read that yet there's a lot of good stuff there!

Hope ya'll enjoy it!!!

P.S. a couple of things real quick. I'm not sure I caught every sweep or got the counts completely accurate on each thing I was trying to track, so bear with me and if I did get it wrong please let me know in a comment. Not helping is sometimes a regular sweep may be done by a running back as opposed to a speed sweep/reverse like I was trying to track. Also I may be being unfair with the "Dropped balls/could have got that" as the receivers at times got ROCKED hard on those. Lastly, if anything does not seem clear, ya'll have a question and/or a suggestion for these posts to look better please leave a comment.

If I didn't mention it, credit to WarRoom Eagle on the videos. Visit his channel on youtube as he has some cool stuff! I checked myself on stats against ESPN so time of possession, links to their stats and verification on some other things comes from there.

WarRoom Eagle's channel.

Neutral Site, Louisville - Win - Final Score: 31 - 24

ESPN Stats for the game.

TOP: 29:10

Speed Sweeps/reverses: 6
- Good yardage (4+): 4
- For loss of yards or no gain: 2
- For minimal gain:

Dropped balls/could have got that: 1 (1 at 4:00-4:05 I can't tell if tipped or if he could have got it).
- If caught would have been a 1st down: 1

Ints or could have been ints by JJ: 5

Turnovers: Ints - 3, Fum - 0

JJ runs: 5

Penalties: 5
- Killed drives (may share with others): 2
- Wiped out 1st downs: 2
- Wiped out scores: 1
- Everything else: 2

WR blocking: I did not see anything obvious.

Play calling: It was all right, nothing terribly obvious. A little predictable with the runs on 1st down maybe.

Roc ran all right but got hurt.

Jovon ran well but got hurt.

JJ... Sharp at times, off at times and terrible at others... He has a pretty deep ball that he throws.

O-line inconsistent with some holding and some issues getting a push but at other times doing pretty good.

JJ ran it a bit more than I remembered, maybe he should have run another time or two but there was 1 play where he should have handed off though it may have been a designed play action.

Barber now on the scene!

Overall the offense had some flow but was hamstrung by turnovers, penalties and mistakes.

Vs JSU - W - Final Score: 27 - 20

ESPN Stats for the game.

TOP: 23:37

Speed Sweeps/reverses: 1 (I feel like I missed one or two?)
- Good yardage (4+):
- For loss of yards or no gain:
- For minimal gain: 1

Dropped balls/could have got that: 3
- If caught would have been a 1st down: 3

Ints or could have been ints by JJ: 2 (not counting 1 on the free play)

Turnovers: Ints - 2, Fum - 1

JJ runs: 4

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

WR blocking: 0:15-0:19 (!?!), 2:38-2:45 (miss...), 9:00-9:05 (who's blocking for Barber?)

Play calling: Kinda meh, not horrendous. Head scratcher on why Roc was in for Barber on that late fumble.

O-line with some major blocking issues at times. They didn't start doing "good" until late.

JJ was pretty bad for the first 3 quarters or so. He did have some sharp throws at times and he was clutch late though.

Thomas had issues finding room and getting yards on some of his runs. He had a good day receiving and had a reception on TD. He did have a bad fumble late.

Barber was the man in that game.

Stat wise it was a better game than the Louisville game but the look and feel of the offense I thought was worse.

@ LSU - L - Final Score: 21 - 45

ESPN Stats for the game.

TOP: 26:23

Speed Sweeps/reverses: 5
- Good yardage (4+): 3
- For loss of yards or no gain:
- For minimal gain: 2

Dropped balls/could have got that: 3
- If caught would have been a 1st down: 1

Ints or could have been ints by JJ: 2

Turnovers: Ints - 1, Fum - 1

JJ runs: 9 (Note: ESPN had 12 runs listed for JJ but I think 3 were sacks).

Penalties: 2
- Killed drives (may share with others):
- Wiped out 1st downs:
- Wiped out scores:
- Everything else: 2

WR blocking: Nothing obvious that I saw.

Play calling: Other than the almost routine runs on 1st down nothing obviously bad.

A lot of plays hitting the outside or going near the tackles.

That JJ backwards pass was just bad. If memory serves he had a guy open deep on that play too... It ended up killing a decent drive.

The O-line did a better job than last game but it still had some problems blocking at times including giving up some sacks. 7:06-7:11 (WHO YOU BLOCKING MAN!?!?)

Jovon makes an appearance but he's ineffective (ankle maybe still bothering him?).

Roc has a decent day with some good runs and a catch or 2.

JJ perhaps didn't have as bad a game as the previous games but it was still pretty bad. He did have a good run for a TD and a couple of TD throws.

In the 1st half the offense would have some promising drives that would get close to mid-field or so before miss-cues, mistakes or a turnover would just kill them.

In the 2nd half the offense did a bit better but LSU may have had 2nd teamers in there making life easier.

Overall another bad game.

Overall thoughts:

What the *($%@*(@($##@@!!! was wrong with JJ!?!?

In all honesty I could probably have titled this first fanpost of this series as: "WTF JJ!?!?!?!" and I may not have caught much flak at all for it. As some of my other thoughts I hope will show though I think he got a bit too much of the blame. However, the fact of the matter is that JJ was the guy at the most important position on the field in almost any offense and even more so for Malzahn's offense so it starts with him.

Where did this guy, or this guy, or even the guy that would come in relief or in key moments to throw a pass go!?!?! Something was just wrong with JJ in those first 3 games. He had issues reading or even seeing the defense, going through his progressions, hitting wide open guys at times and overall just not playing well. The facts are the facts and through 3 games JJ had 6 interceptions and 1 fumble and he could have had 3 or 4 more!

In fairness the old JJ would show up from time to time with some sharp throws and he was especially clutch late in the JSU game where he had key throws down the stretch to tie the game Overall through 3 games JJ also had 7 total TDs, 532 total yards and approximately a 61% completion percentage. Not great but not terrible either and if not for some drops and some penalties killing big plays JJ could have had some better stats.

There are a good many theories, postulations and dialogue on what was wrong with JJ with some of them pretty out there. It could have been a combination of things or just one big thing but the bottom line is the old JJ we thought we knew did not show up at the start of last season.

O-line struggles

Where to begin... I guess if you wanted to sum up the O-line in these first few games the word "inconsistent" would be best. On some plays they would block reasonably well and perhaps even very well but on others we seemed to have trouble getting a push or get everyone to block right... I'm sorry but even with the shuffling we did against JSU we still should have been able to run the ball more consistently on them for the whole game instead of just late in the game.

Penalties

Penalty wise there were not as many as I remembered but some of the ones we did have (at least in the Louisville game) hurt a lot. By my count in the Louisville game we had 2 drives killed by penalties one of which wiped out a TD that could have put the game away. In fairness to the lineman in question though it looks like there was some miss-communication on blocking that helped cause that.

The WRs...

Meh... In fairness I'll admit you can't always tell how hard they were working on getting open or blocking dudes in the vids. As far as more visible stuff in total I counted 7 drops/could have got that balls most of which (5 by my count) would have resulted in first downs and helped kill several drives. There was also a few instances of receivers not getting on a guy and blocking them. I'm not sure how this compares to other years but this is the kind of thing that if you don't do it limits the number of explosive plays you'll have which if it happens multiple times in a game builds up. Spoiler alert! The play of these guys will come up again...

Injuries

On the face of things the offense at this point in the season hadn't gotten hit as hard as the defense with their losses before the season and to this point but in the very first game both Roc and Jovon had gotten banged up. I'm not sure how things would have been if both had stayed completely healthy but it couldn't have hurt I would think.

The Disappearance of the Duke

Where the heck did Duke go??!? I'll admit he had at least some catches but for someone who seemed as big a play maker in 2014 and was supposed to be the go to guy last year his absence from the offense was mind-boggling. It could be he was double covered, it could be JJ's and the rest of the offense's struggles limited his opportunities or maybe he was having an attitude problem but man alive where were you Duke?!?

Play calling

The play calling was not as bad as I first remembered though it wasn't really good either. It was a bit easy to call at times with our propensity to run the ball on first downs but overall there were not too many head scratching calls. Even the complaints folks have had with how often we ran the speed sweep/reverse don't seem as founded with a total of about 12 being run, 7 going for decent yardage, 3 for minimal gain and 2 going for a loss or no gain. There were still some odd things like putting Roc in relief of Peyton late in the JSU game which ended up with a fumble but not too much that was obvious.

In fairness to the play calling I'm not sure how much else could have been done between JJ's issues and the other struggles of the offense.

Any Positives??!?

Weeelllllll.... I guess the emergence of Peyton Barber was the biggest positive for the offense. Without him we are potentially looking at being 0-3 to start the year last year. The guy was the man for us in these first few games.

Apart from Peyton I'm really not sure... Everyone else was just inconsistent or downright bad.

Closing thoughts

Well this turned out a bit longer than I would have thought... At this point the team was at a crossroads with some decisions to be made. To put it lightly the offensive performance was unacceptable through the first few games. In addition JJ's confidence was seemingly shot. If you are Gus do you turn it over to White or try to get JJ to play through it? With some winnable games upcoming and a decidedly unsettled fanbase it makes sense what direction Gus decided to go but a small part of me wonders if it was the best one. In the end all we have are the results but it's an interesting thought I think.

In a season that had such high hopes the crumble and fall of those expectations felt like a skyscraper falling to a good many folks I imagine. After 3 games it was an easy thing to wonder if AU would even manage a winning season with how the offense was playing. In conclusion of these first 3 games the offense while maybe not a dumpster fire was simply not good at all and desperately needed something to go right.

Well for the next part I'm planning on going through the games White started during the mid-season of last year. Hopefully I can keep my word count a bit lower this time (I doubt it with 5 games > 3 games). For anyone who read through this to the end I hope you enjoyed it and I thank you for reading!

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!