Short game needs work.

While I concur with Seth Emerson that “Aaron Murray… could throw a dozen interceptions on G-Day and kick his head coach in the hip, but Murray will still be the starting quarterback on Aug. 31 at Clemson”, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things in Georgia’s passing game that couldn’t stand improvement.

Take a look at Bill Connelly’s latest post about the quarterback charting data his bunch compiled from last season, for instance.  Here’s part of the pass distribution data for a group:

Notice that about 57% of Murray’s passes are thrown less than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage and are fairly evenly distributed in the three sub-groups.

Now here’s the completion rates for those passes.

Throws behind the line of scrimmage are completed at a fairly meh rate compared to his peers, but check out the completion rate for Murray’s throws within four yards downfield. That’s pretty bad, relatively speaking.

Now look at his completion rate on throws 15-19 yards past the line.  He killed those.  The thing is, those throws made up less than ten percent of his completions.  He threw twice as many passes of 0-4 yards.

Now, obviously the lower completion rate on those isn’t all on Murray.  You have to factor in drops, for example.  But I wonder if some of it’s due to pass protection and throws being batted down (height and pocket awareness matter too, of course), and if some of it’s due to predictable play calls in certain circumstances.  (With regard to the latter, that’s hard to tell from the situational stats.  Check out Murray’s completion ratio on third down and short.)

In any event, it’s something worth looking at.  And maybe it’s worth chunking a few more intermediate-length passes this season.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

35 responses to “Short game needs work.

  1. TomReagan

    For the past 5 or 6 years or so, it seems like Georgia’s offense has been the closest thing to the old Al Davis Raiders’ vertical passing game in either college or professional football. We take more deep shots, or at least it seems like we do, than any other team in the country. And our deep balls aren’t the type that Kevin Sumlin or Dana Holgorsen teams take–we’re just running fly routes and deep posts off of isolation run fakes.

    Throw in our love for toss sweep, and we may as well have Dooley on the sidelines yucking it up with the Godgather.

  2. Scorpio Jones, III

    0-4 yards?….would those not be mostly check downs or sack avoidance throws? Yes, I know about the tunnel screen, throwing to the fullback etc, but most of these very short passes are thrown under extreme duress are they not?

    • If that’s the case, why are so many other QBs’ completion rates better than Murray’s? Wouldn’t they have the same duress?

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Yes…except McCarron, maybe….it seems the throw Murray has the toughest time with is to the fullback in the flat, which is a pretty long throw, just not far past the LOS…and it may be he has a tough time seeing him.
        And, since this thing is part of the “package” it would be a big help if he hit them regularly.

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          And….McCarron is good bit taller than Murray, And…his offensive line….well, you know….I’d say it is a combination of O line and height that causes the problems…but what do I know?

        • Cojones

          Fullback in the flat wouldn’t usually be in the 0-4yds territory would it? There is something else here and at least one of the readers on here will see it clearly.

          How about 3/4 completed at 15-19 yds? That’s a hot stat to me. If you are going to get that yardage that consistently, how much of that yardage is representative of yac yds?

          • Go back and read Bill’s piece carefully. He’s tracking the distance of the throw, not the distance of the play.

          • WF dawg

            That gaudy stat at 15-19yds is probably in part because we throw that back shoulder pass so well. It’s a joy to watch.

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            Depends on where the fullback is….I know the ones that consistently seem to be badly thrown….not caught for whatever reason…are either behind or right at the line of scrimmage.

  3. Irwin R Fletcher

    I’d love to see a game by game distribution of his completion rate in 0-4 yards. I think it would be interesting to see if there was any evidence of correlation to line size or to winning games.

    Regardless, the throw that immediately comes to mind is the pick against Nebraska. I think that was behind the line, but what sticks out to me is that maybe Murray can be too smart for his own good in those situations. He almost trusts the play and the timing of it so much, that he doesn’t read and react on those short yardage passes. If that is indeed the case, whether that is a function of necessity (O-Line) or a function of overconfidence in your play’s ability to create the open receiver and the planned time is an interesting question.

  4. AusDawg85

    Hutson Mason can hit the short ones. And it is Springtime. Just saying….

  5. Rafael Belliard

    That chart is completely and utterly worthless. They charted 12 games for McCarron and two for Teddy Bridgewater. We have no idea which 7 games they chose for Murray, but I’m assuming they didn’t go back and rewatch the Buffalo and FAU games.

    While I appreciate how much time it takes to do stuff like that, that data isn’t worth the paper it isn’t printed on.

  6. Always Someone Else's Fault

    BC admits that the sample size varies, and it is worthless if you are attempting to make definitive comparisons QB to QB – say, Bridgewater to McCarron.

    But to say the data is completely worthless and useless in all contexts just because it only charts 7 of Murray’s games instead of every one of them seems like a seems like a misunderstanding of what BC is attempting to accomplish here. I find the data to be an intriguing snapshot and a damned clever methodology.

    • Rafael Belliard

      I just charted 7 games each for Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. In Todd’s 7 games, he averaged 4.7 ypc. Keith Marshall averaged 9.6. Without knowing which games are charted, the stats are pointless.

      You can’t make any sort of meaningful statement about 7 random games, especially when those stats are compared against other players from other arbitrarily chosen games.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        BC’s crew charted every pass thrown by AM over 7 games, which represents more than half the season. We can argue all day whether not the resulting data is conclusive, indicative, or merely suggestive, but it’s pure nonsense to argue that it’s meaningless unless the other 5 games are charted as well.

        Now, as for Gurley and Marshall, if you went back and watched the game tape for both players to see under what conditions each and every carry was executed – which hole, what type of blocking scheme, etc. – then you would have a much more complete picture of how each back achieved his YPC average. Much more telling, yes?

        If I tried to use the data to argue that McCarron was better than Murray, then, yes, the data would be worthless for that purpose. The key phrase there is “for that purpose.” Arguing that data is worthless “for any purpose” just seems way excessive to me.

        • Rafael Belliard

          Do you think the stats would be meaningfully different in the following two sets of 7 games for AM?
          A: South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt;
          B: FAU, Tech, Kentucky, GA Southern, Ole Miss, Buffalo, Nebraska

          Assuming you’d agree that set B is wildly better than set A, how in the world can one possibly make any sort of legitimate point about those numbers? The chart is hilarious. 2 games for Teddy Bridgewater. 3 games for Tahj Boyd. 5 games for EJ Manuel. 6 games for Colin Klein.

          If they picked the 2-6 easiest games vs. toughest games on the schedule, the numbers could be completely different. How do you know they weren’t selecting games purely to prove some sort of point? You don’t.

          I guess you’re correct that the numbers do (allegedly) show the percentages that a quarterback completed passes at different lengths is arbitrarily chosen games against defenses of unknown strength. However, I vigorously disagree that the information can be used for any sort of analysis.

          • Always Someone Else's Fault

            South Carolina
            Ole Miss

            Those are the 7 games they watched tape on AM. Yes, I would like to see Missouri, Vandy and Tech added to that list for a complete picture, but I’ll take data from those 7 as a compelling snapshot of what Murray accomplished as a passer this season. Again – not conclusive, but definitely worth looking at and pondering.

            Again, you seem to have this default assumption that these numbers exist to compare Murray to other passers. I don’t see anyone using the data for that purpose or arguing that it should. The data set here is clearly useful. We agree to disagree.

            • Rafael Belliard

              Where did you get that info?

              • Always Someone Else's Fault

                Research. Cross referenced the teams charted and frequency charted with the schedules of teams on the list. The two Lousville games are Florida and Syracuse. The two Syracuse games are Louisville and USC.

                The 7 listed teams are the only teams in the data pool to appear on Georgia’s schedule.

                Email also works.

              • Cojones

                Raf-Marshall ended up higher ypc for the year than Gurly. What did that small slice of data say that refutes that? Jus’ askin’.

  7. The other Doug

    Applying these percentages to Florida’s rush & pass attempts from you get this nugget:
    Florida only completed 8 passes of greater than 15 yards on 827 rush/pass attempts.

    I know the numbers are not exact, but that explains why their offense got throttled as the season wore on.

    • The other Doug

      For comparison UGA had 54 completions greater than 15 yards.

    • Cojones

      Before that game was played predictions on here were that it would be another Boise St dink, dink, dink. from FU . We stated that because FU’s pattern was already showing and It proved to continue through the year (and probably through next year).

  8. 69Dawg

    The fact that AM has a hard time throwing the screen pass and to the fullback in the flat is general knowledge to anybody that has watched him play. It has become a joke to the good folks in section 329, we just laugh it off. I don’t know if it is his inability to find the receiver in the mass of lineman or that we just execute the screen poorly from the start but he misses a lot. He also sometimes throws the short pass too hard and the receivers can’t handle it. He has made for quit a few happy linebackers in his career. Still he is a good QB and I would not trade him. He can throw that long pass with any of them.

  9. shane#1

    Just one question, if Murray has a problem throwing passes behind or around the line why throw them? Since he is vertically challenged and there are a lot of big people milling around in there isn’t that asking for tipped balls and interceptions? I never liked passes to the flats on one’s own side of the fifty anyway. I have seen too many pick sixes like that, and not just from Murray. A deep throw that’s intercepted is not that different from a punt, throw it short and it could be a disaster.

    • The other Doug

      We need to force the defense to defend the entire field to open up the deeper stuff.

      • shane#1

        I agree, but risky passes aren’t the only way to force the defender’s hand. A couple of good RBs, a mobile QB and some TEs that can get down field can put a lot of pressure on a D. Add in some fast WRs and a QB that can make the back shoulder throw and that seems to me to be plenty for a DC to think about. Do the things that Murray does well and screw the rest of it.