Tuesday, October 12, 2010

6 Week Mini-Snapshot: Is it Just UF's Offense?

The Gators are 4-2, and many fans believe that lackluster offensive playcalling is to blame for much of the team's woes. Voicing displeasure about the way offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has run the offense is quickly becoming a tradition much like the Gator Walk. So, is it really his fault? How do the Gators stack up on both sides of the ball when compared to the first 6 games of last season?

Of course, stats can be a bit misleading because an inefficient offense will place strain on even the best defense, but I have found a few data sets that I thought were insightful.

2010 Yards per Game: 323, 140 rush yds, 183 pass yds(6.42yds/att)
2009 Yards per Game: 470, 259 rush yds, 210 pass yds(8.9yds/att)

2010 Sacks Allowed(6gms): 7
2009 Sacks Allowed(6gms): 13

2010 3rd downs: 32/74, 43%
2009 3rd downs: 43/74, 58%

2010 Red Zone Efficiency: 21/27, 139pts, 13 rush td, 6 pass td, 2 fg
2009 Red Zone Efficiency: 24/30, 131pts, 10 rush td, 5 pass td, 9 fg

2010 Opponent Red Zone: 15/19, 80pts, 5 rush td, 4 pass td, 6 fg
2009 Opponent Red Zone: 9/12, 39pts, 2 rush td, 1 pass td, 6 fg

2010 Total Yards Allowed: 1840
2009 Total Yards Allowed: 1370

2010 Scoring Defense: 121pts, 20.17pts/gm
2009 Scoring Defense: 52pts, 8.6pts/gm

2010 Sacks by Defense: 13 sacks
2009 Sacks by Defense: 16 sacks

2010 INTs by Defense: 13
2009 INTs by Defense: 7

2010 Tackles for Loss: 37
2009 Tackles for Loss: 35

At first glance you can see that the offense is indeed lagging behind where it was at this point last season. It's gaining roughly 140 less yards per game, and despite the belief that there would be a more wide open passing attack there's been a drop of about 2.5yds per attempt. Pass protection, which some people have focused on, is actually a bit better so far this season, though, that obviously doesn't take into account the poor snaps that have occurred with alarming frequency.

Another trouble area is on third down. Granted, the offense has seen a number of 3rd down and intermediate or long situations, but it's converting roughly 15% less on 3rd than it did last year. I believe that just boosting that conversion rate would help immensely.

Red zone efficiency is at about the same point through 6 games, though, getting that up from the current 77% to 80%+ would be nice.

Looking at these stats it would appear that the offense probably does need to stretch the field a little more, and do a better job of converting 3rd downs. But what about on the other side of the ball? Has the buzz created by the criticism of Addazio drowned out questions about the defense?

As you can see, the defense is allowing close to 80yds more per game. On top of that, they're surrendering over 20pts per contest when at the same point in '09 they were giving up an average of 8.6. Those kind of jumps aren't exactly good.

And while it's nice to see almost double the interceptions through this year's first 6 games, it's not good to see that red zone defensive performance has plummeted. Opponents have scored roughly twice as many points from inside the red zone so far this year, and last year's bend but don't break ability has looked more sieve-like in the opening 6 weeks.

So what can be done to solve these problems? First, Florida's offense definitely has to play better. They don't have to score a ton of points or rack up a massive amount of yards. Though, that certainly wouldn't hurt. They do need to improve their performance on 1st and 2nd down so that they can be in a position to convert more 3rd downs. Just doing that would help sustain drives, and give the defense time to rest and make adjustments.

Second, the defense has to tackle better. In watching the first 6 games I can't remember a UF defense missing so many tackles. 2007 had some, but that unit was mostly plagued by young players learning on the fly and getting caught out of position(though, that's happened more than once in 2010). If the defensive players can get back to the basics and make good tackles instead of being overly aggressive and just throwing a hand out, then I think they can back down that yards allowed stat and start shrinking the field a bit. As it is now, getting into the red zone has been much too easy for UF's opponents.

Hopefully, there will be noticeable improvement in these areas as the season progresses, or else the Gators could find themselves out of the SEC race within the next few weeks.

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