Red Zone Woes

By the eye test, the production inside the red zone so far this year has been pretty paltry. Our inability to score points inside the twenties most certainly cost us the game against JMU, was damning to the cause against Boise State and made last week's game against BC a lot tighter than it should have been. I went back watched and re-watched each one of our red zone plays and charted them for you (after the jump). Here are my conclusions, leave any of your thoughts below.

  • The designed runs out of the shotgun are averaging 0 yards an attempt! (-3, 2, 1, 0, 4, -4) It is beyond my comprehension why they're still being run. There's not even an outlier to support the idea that if run enough a big gain will come.
  • Ignoring extra points and two point conversions the Hokies have scored 72 of a possible 108 (66.67%) points in 18 red zone attempts: 9 touchdowns and 6 field goals.
  • Where's the Wild Turkey?
  • Most of the time the opposing defense seems to know what's coming before the snap. Here are my ideas to break up the monotony: we need to throw more from under center and call more screens, draws, options and play action passes (with better fakes by Tyrod). We aren't doing enough to keep defenses off balance. While it's very true there's only one football, the asset to having a stable of playmakers is the threat of any one of them touching the ball.
# Line Down Distance Formation RB TE WR Defense Type Play Player Result
1. BSU 1 1 Goal Goal Line 3 2 0 Goal Line Rush Iso Ryan Williams 0
Darren Evans lines up to the right side of the formation at wing, and motions left before the snap. Hand off to Williams, carried between the left guard and center. The defensive line drives the offensive line back and blows the play up before it can get started.
2. BSU 1 2 Goal Goal Line 3 2 0 Goal Line Rush Off Tackle Ryan Williams 1-TD
This time Darren Evans lines up at wing to the left of the formation. Boise looks to stop the run between the center and right guard and Ryan Williams lowers his shoulder and scores a touchdown off tackle.
1. BSU 16 1 10 I 2 1 2 4-3 Rush End Around Danny Coale -3 (10 yard personal foul)
Tyrod audibles pre-snap, fakes the handoff to Ryan Williams and instead gives it to Danny Coale on a sweep. Josh Oglesby misses the block on the outside linebacker who keeps contain and makes the play in the backfield.
2. BSU 9 1 Goal I 2 1 2 4-3 Rush Dive Josh Oglesby 0
Tyrod tries to catch the Boise defense off guard, hurrying up to the line. Linebacker shoots the gap and stops the play cold.
3. BSU 9 2 Goal Shotgun 1 1 3 4-3 Rush Read Option Tyrod Taylor -3
Dyrell lines up to the right side of formation, and motions across. Tyrod fakes the handoff to Roberts on the end around and tries to get the right edge. A missed block stops the play in the backfield.
4. BSU 12 3 Goal Shotgun 1 1 3 4-3 Pass Tyrod Taylor -5 sack
The pass protection breaks down quickly with only pressure from the four down linemen. The middle linebacker blitzes late and sacks Taylor.
5. BSU 17 4 Goal Field Goal Chris Hazley Missed
1. BSU 14 1 10 Shotgun 2 1 2 4-3 Rush Flanker Sweep David Wilson 2
David Wilson takes the flanker sweep toward the right sideline and is lucky to gain a couple of yards. Boise State reads and reacts right away.
2. BSU 12 2 8 Shotgun 1 1 3 4-3 Pass Flood Tyrod Taylor 12-TD
The receivers are aligned in trips to the left. The pass protection breaks down almost immediately, Tyrod finds his safety valve, Ryan Williams, for six points.
1. BSU 18 2 7 I 2 1 2 Nickel Rush Iso Ryan Williams 9
Powerful rush between Warren and Brooks for Ryan Williams. It was quick hitting and was blocked right. Brooks successfully picked up blitzing linebacker.
2. BSU 9 1 Goal I 2 1 2 4-3 Rush Off tackle Ryan Williams 2
Boise State reads Williams going outside Blake DeChristopher and stones him.
3. BSU 7 2 Goal I 2 1 2 4-3 Strong Rush Tyrod Taylor 6
Play action, tight coverage, Tyrod calls his own number and goes right through middle of the box.
4. BSU 1 3 Goal Goal Line 3 2 0 Goal Line Rush Off tackle Ryan Williams 1-TD
Darren Evans lines up to the right side of the formation at wing, and motions left before the snap. Hand off to Williams, there's no one outside DeChristopher and it's an easy six.
1. BSU 19 1 10 I 2 1 2 4-3 Weak Rush Iso Ryan Williams -2
Isolation play, Younger makes his block, Williams tries to carry it outside DeChristopher but it's blown up by the linebacker immediately.
2. BSU 21 2 12 Shotgun 2 0 3 4-3 Pass Tyrod Taylor / Dyrell Roberts 5
Ryan Williams motions out of the backfield into the right side slot. Tyrod throws a quick pass to Dyrell who coming out of the left slot took a step backwards and towards the sideline and is closed on immediately.
3. BSU 16 3 7 Shotgun 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Post Tyrod Taylor Incomplete
Danny Coale motions from the left to right slot, Boykin runs a post pattern and can't bring down a high ball.
4. BSU 16 4 7 Field Goal Chris Hazley Good
# Line Down Distance Formation RB TE WR Defense Type Play Player Result
1. JMU 10 1 Goal Shotgun 2 1 2 4-3 Rush Sweep Ryan Williams 1
Both Ryan Williams and Darren Evans line up flanking Tyrod in the shotgun. Coale off the line on the right side motions into the slot on the left. From Tyrod's left Williams takes the hand off the sweep, tries to get the corner, but it's strung out nicely by JMU.
2. JMU 9 2 Goal Shotgun 2 0 3 4-3 Pass Out Tyrod Taylor / Jarrett Boykin 9-TD
Evans and Williams both flank Tyrod in the shotgun. This time Williams lines up to the right and Evans to the left. Williams motions to become the inside man on the now trips left formation. Tyrod throws a high ball to Boykin who makes a nice grab on the out route.
1. JMU 17 1 10 Ace 2 2 1 4-3 Rush Off Tackle David Wilson 2
Wilson lines up alone in the backfield. Younger is playing on the end of the line doubling as the second tight end. Wilson tries to carry behind the right tackle but the play the line backer fills after a short gain.
2. JMU 15 2 8 I 2 1 2 4-3 Pass TE Seem Tyrod Taylor / Kenny Younger 2
A lazy play action fake by Tyrod. He makes a quick decision to dump the ball off to Kenny Younger in the flat.
3. JMU 13 3 6 Shotgun 2 1 2 Nickel Pass Tyrod Taylor Incomplete
Evans and Williams flank Tyrod out of the shotgun. JMU blitzes both linebackers and Tyrod overthrows Evans next to the sideline in the flat.
4. JMU 13 4 6 Field goal Chris Hazley Good
1. JMU 17 1 10 I 2 1 2 4-3 Rush Iso Ryan Williams 3
Ryan Williams plows ahead for a couple of yards.
2. JMU 14 2 7 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 Rush Counter Ryan Williams 3
Ryan Williams gets to the outside on the counter but isn't able to turn it up field.
3. JMU 11 3 4 Shotgun 1 1 3 Nickel Rush Trap Ryan Williams 0
There's no space to run inside the tackles and Williams is stopped before he can get started.
4. JMU 11 4 4 Field Goal Chris Hazley Good
1. JMU 20 3 5 Shotgun 1 1 3 4-3 Strong Rush Scramble Tyrod Taylor 3
It looks like it was a a designed pass but Tyrod saw some space in the middle of the field and thought he could make a play with his feet. The running lane closed up fast.
2. JMU 17 4 2 Shotgun 1 0 4 Nickel Pass Tyrod Taylor Incomplete
A gutsy and decent play call considering the circumstances. Boykin drops a catchable ball on a post that would have been six.
1. JMU 12 2 1 I 2 1 2 4-3 Rush Counter Darren Evans 2 Fumble Loss
We all know how this one ends.
# Line Down Distance Formation RB TE WR Defense Type Play Player Result
1. ECU 19 1 10 Shotgun 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Tyrod Taylor Pass Interference
Tyrod under throws what looks to be a little post to Dyrell, there's contact both ways but that pass interference call goes our way.
2. ECU 4 1 Goal I 2 2 1 4-3 Rush Counter Ryan Williams 2
Good push by the right side of the line, Williams just can't break through for a score.
3. ECU 2 2 Goal Goal Line 3 2 0 Goal Line Rush Off tackle Ryan Williams 2-TD
Williams lines up behind Younger in the backfield. Evans is the last man off the ball on the left side of the formation. Williams needles his way for six behind a pulling Greg Nosal.
1. ECU 14 1 10 - - - - - Pass - Tyrod Taylor Incomplete
Tyrod overthrew Andre Smith in the back corner of the end zone. The ball was just a little high and out of Smith's reach.
2. ECU 14 2 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 Strong Rush Stretch Darren Evans 7
Andre Smith motions from the right side of the formation to be the second tight end on the left. Powerful carry by Evans that was nicely blocked by the left side of the line.
3. ECU 7 3 3 I 2 2 1 4-3 Rush Stretch Darren Evans 7-TD
The left side of the offensive line and Kenny Younger created a beautiful wall for Evans to run behind. It's an easy six.
1. ECU 3 1 Goal Goal Line 3 2 0 Goal Line Rush Toss David Wilson 3-TD
Wilson just takes the pitch to the weak side, breaks about four tackles and wills himself into the end zone.
1. ECU 19 2 7 Shotgun 2 0 3 Nickel Rush Inside Zone Darren Evans 4
Evans and Wilson are back in the shotgun. Evans takes the handoff, grabs some yards but can't get to the second level.
2. ECU 15 3 3 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 Rush Counter David Wilson 7
Terrific pulling and blocking up front provides Wilson a nice funnel for a big rush.
3. ECU 8 1 Goal - - - - - Rush - David Wilson 8-TD
ESPN 3 was late showing the play and never showed another replay. From memory it was a misdirection run that Wilson was able to take in for an easy six after ECU over pursued.
# Line Down Distance Formation RB TE WR Defense Type Play Players Result
1. BC 3 1 Goal Goal Line 2 2 1 Goal Line Rush Stretch Darren Evans 3-TD
Evans is able to carry the ball to the pylon even though BC was able to push back his blockers.
1. BC 12 1 10 Ace 1 1 3 4-3 Stretch Darren Evans Illegal Substitution No Play
Evans takes the handoff outside Lanier but doesn't get anywhere.
2. BC 12 1 10 I 2 1 2 4-3 Rush Iso David Wilson 3
Nothing fancy, the Hokies are running right into the teeth of the BC front seven.
3. BC 9 2 7 I 2 1 2 4-3 Rush Iso David Wilson Holding
The receivers end are lined up the right side of the field, Andre Smith to the left. Another isolation ran behind Younger and Smith. BC's defensive tackles waltz past the right side of the line and blow it up in the backfield.
4. BC 18 2 16 Shotgun 1 1 3 4-3 Rush Scramble Tyrod Taylor 6
The pocket begins to collapse and Tyrod turns a negative into a positive with a nice gain.
5. BC 12 3 10 Shotgun 1 1 3 Nickel Pass - Tyrod Taylor Incomplete
Lanier whiffs on his block and Tyrod completely under throws a pass to Coale and is lucky that it wasn't picked off by Herzlich.
6. BC 12 4 10 Field Goal Field Goal Chris Hazley Good
1. BC 10 1 Goal I 2 1 2 4-3 Rush Iso Darren Evans 0
Another run right into the gut of the BC front seven that's bounced back. At this point I'm thinking, hoping, this is a learning lesson in toughness for the offensive line.
2. BC 10 2 Goal Shotgun 1 1 3 4-3 Rush QB Choice Darren Evans -4
Tyrod runs to the right on what looks to be a QB choice. There's nowhere for him to go so he hands the ball to Evans who coming back is stuff for a loss from the backside pressure.
3. BC 14 3 Goal Shotgun 1 1 3 Nickel Rush Scramble Tyrod Taylor 3
Tyrod drops back to pass, Lanier gets worked again and he's forced to scramble.
4. BC 11 4 Goal Field Goal Field Goal Chris Hazley Good
1. BC 16 2 5 I 2 1 2 4-3 Rush G Darren Evans 1
Jaymes Brooks pulls to the left and Evans tries to follow. He can't.
2. BC 15 3 4 Shotgun 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Tyrod Taylor Incomplete
Trips to the right side, Tyrid overthrows the wide receiver screen to Dyrell Roberts, who had blockers in front of him.
3. BC 15 4 4 Field Goal Field Goal Chris Hazley Good

Comments

We almost always

run it on the first play in the red zone. The opposing team can count on it. That is why it looks like we are telegraphing the plays. It is all about statistical tendencies. There are only two expections this year so far. Last year was the same.

I think the current offensive philosophy is based on the following:
1. The passing game is shaky as TT is not accurate enough in tight space, especially on short passes, so lets avoid a possible interception.
2. If we run we should be able to hold onto the ball and at least get a couple of yards per play to kill some time and get a field goal.
3. If the defenders are getting tired we should be able to run on them to score.
4. We should be able to at least get a field goal out of the effort.

The problem with this philosphy, and therefore the play calling, is that it is defeatist. It lacks confidence. The philosophy and attitude needs to change. If Bud can convince the D that they will make the stop, prevent scores, and turn it over, why can't the O believe we will score a touchdown every time? I don't think the team at this point believes it can score and the coaching doesn't seem to give them confidence. They need to believe they can and will run up the score on any opponent. That is how we got to the title game in 1999. I could be all wrong about this and the problem is just poor execution. Poor execution is either a lack of talent or lack of preparation (phyiscally and mentally).

Sure, we all want to score TDs and enough field goals can win some games but it doesn't show we are a strong team that can score when we really need to or want to and can put games out of reach. Ever notice how over the last few years we are never quite comfortable that we are controlling the outcome even when we have a lead? We need a killer instinct on offense, not just defense!

#Hokies

O Line

I really think it once again it boils down to our O Line. Beamer and Stinespring believe we are a physical offensive team. They believe that we should be able to pound it in in the red zone, but the truth we are not a physical team. Stop acting like our team is something else and instead try to work with what we have.

Agree

Up front we can't magically go from being finesse zone blockers to maulers. And that was a huge chunk of the problem I saw. The linemen were trying to wall off defenders instead of driving them off the ball. The zone blocking works well when there is a lot of field to work with, but not when the defense is loading the box and is too close for comfort. The lanes get filled too quickly to break off long gains.

they must also believe

that the OL is superior athletes and technicians than the d fronts or they wouldn't call predictible plays.

so easy play recognition, but inferior athletes who can't zone block well equals shit.

the guilty parties are beamer - philosphy, stiney play calls, newsome - coaching them down and the OL not being that good. no one in that list doesn't have blood on their hands and this goes deeper than red zone too.

i put 0 blame on the skill guys.

I have a positive, though

You're right about 100% of what you said... but it was nice that we could pass the ball to the TE... Andre Smith caught more passes vs. BC (4) then he did in all of 2009 (3).

But you're exactly right, Eric.

Also agree

We don't have the personnel for the offensive scheme they insist on running. The coaches fall back on "we have won 10 games per year for 6 years" to justify staying with the current offensive scheme. Last year we had some good, not great, linemen leave to the NFL and I think that has hurt the running game this year.

I think the play calling is obvious. TT doesn't sell the play action very well. The blocking scheme seems easy to read for run versus pass. Maybe TT or the backs are showing something the defenses pick up on. Whatever the problem we don't seem to have an answer for defenses stacking the box.

#Hokies

as i posted on gobblercountry

it's effn sweet, that rodgers came down to teach stiney so many red zone plays, only to use the same 3 vt already had.

i bit hook, line and sinker on that crap fed to us.