Connor Halliday and the Wazzu offense had something of a coming out party in Memorial Coliseum, taking advantage of a young, injury riddled California Golden Bear defense to the tune of 570 yards. Halliday went 41 of 67 (61.2%) for 521 yards, spreading the wealth between 8 receivers and 3 running backs.
Let's take a look at some breakdowns of how Halliday put this together.
On its surface, all the numbers look pretty solid. The yard per target (YPT) rates are a little low for Z due to a poor completion rate, but other than that, nothing really stands out. If we remove a 72-yard TD by Vince Mayle from the X data and a 68 yard TD by Marcus Mason from the F data, the overall numbers look a lot less pretty. Stats for this game got a huge boost from a few big plays (I'm sure Mark will have a more detailed look in his WR breakdown later this week), and fortunately big plays are part of the game.
Aside from those few explosives, Halliday was a short-yardage surgeon on Saturday. We mapped out how he diced up the Cal defense, quarter by quarter. The charts have four colors; red - completion, blue - incompletion, green - touchdown, black - interception. The spots are placed where the receivers either caught the ball, or were when the pass was incomplete. There weren't any throwaways. The numbers in the spots are their chronological order. I didn't include data for pass interference, or other penalties that negated the play. In the table below I included the total yardage from the reception, and the routes. These aren't the plays, just the routes they ran. I didn't try to parse out whether it was an option route, dig they broke off, flattened corner, or anything else like that.
"Vert - BS" is a back shoulder throw at a vertical route; "Mo." is motion; "PA" is play action; "Sc." is scramble
|1||2||COMP||Z||Marks||13||Verts - BS|
|1||3||COMP||Z||K. Williams||2||Fly sweep|
|5||1||COMP||X||Mayle||4||PA - Screen|
|5||4||INC||Z||Marks||PA - Vert|
|5||7||COMP||F||Caldwell||7||PA - Swing|
|6||10||COMP||Y||Ratliff||12||Mesh - Cross|
|6||11||COMP||Z||K. Williams||2||Fly sweep|
|8||17||INC||Z||Marks||Hitch - Post|
|8||18||COMP||F||Mason||68||PA - Swing|
|11||4||COMP||Z||Marks||7||Verts - BS|
|11||9||INC||H||Bartolone||Mesh - Cross|
|13||17||COMP||X||Mayle||3||PA - Screen|
|13||1||INC||Z||Marks||PA - Vert|
|13||2||INC||Y||Cracraft||Y - Cross|
|15||9||INC||Z||Marks||PA - Vert|
Halliday was extremely successful in the short yardage passing game, hitting 80% of his targets within five yards. The completion percentage dropped off to 58% for the intermediate routes. His fantastic 10-for-12 third quarter effort for routes between five and fifteen yards stood out when compared to the other quarters, and is the sole reason he ended above 50% in that range on the day.
Obviously the deep ball is going to be a lower percentage throw, but there's still some room for improvement on the 27% completion rate. Getting that within the 33% to 40% range would really make the offense deadly, and the Cougs were nearly there -- it wasn't for lack of opportunities. A couple of deep attempts, where Gabe Marks had a step, were just a tad overthrown, and a few pass interference calls took away what would've been solid opportunities for a catch.
What shouldn't surprise anybody familiar with this offense is that 83.5% of Halliday's targets were within 15 yards, and the highest producing routes, in terms of total yardage, came from routes ran closest to the line of scrimmage. Again, this is helped (massively) by Mason's incredible TD scamper off a swing pass.
Halliday carved up the Bears on the underneath routes, and benefited from some yards after catch that was missing for the first few games of the season. When the receivers (and running backs) start making plays with the ball, the offensive production immediately skyrockets. If Halliday can continue to hit the short stuff at a high rate, and stretch the field even just a little more efficiently (2-4 completions), this offense could really be a lot to handle for any of the defenses remaining on the schedule.
This is the first time I've done charts like this. What do you think? Are they worth doing again? Have any suggestions for improving them?
And any thoughts on what you see in the data above?