Play Analysis--Cal Offense Vs. Nevada Part 6 (Last One!)

This is my final play analysis for my project of analyzing every play of the 2nd drive against Nevada. This project began as a way to turn my awful feelings regarding the Cal offense into legitimate and productive conclusions. We all, I'm sure, felt like the offense was horrible and stagnant; but was it the OL? the playcalling? really good defense?

I wanted to know for sure, so I decided to take one of the stinkiest drives of the day, one that in 6 plays went all of 2 yards, and really break it down and assign blame.

In this final post, I analyze the final play of the drive and then summarize what I think we've learned. There are also cats. Links to the other posts and the fateful 3rd and long after the jump!

3rd and 14 from the Cal 42.

How did we get here? Check out the first five posts in the series:

Play One: A read-option disrupted by a stunting DT.

Play Two: An unsuccessful underneath slant pass to the TE.

Play Three: An underneath pass to the RB that gets a first down.

Play Four: A play-action swing pass to the WR that fails due to gravity.

Play Five: A play-action pass to the TE on an out route that is misthrown.

Big time play here. A first down will extend the drive, keep Nevada off the field, and increase our chances for winning! Gut check meme time. Will we be cat or baby?

Cat attack baby remix (via jfeala)

Okay. Now that we're in the spirit, let's get this play going!

We come out in the no-huddle again. Quick! Cat ambush strike force awesome before they know what we're doing!

Doh. A penalty for 12 men on the field. Not much to analyze here but the pleading way Bridgford is begging somebody to get off the field. That's what I look like when I'm trying to get my cats to quit tearing up the furniture and use their expensive, and neglected scratching post instead. If the analogy holds, whomever Bridgford is talking to has his claws in the couch and is looking at Bridgford with a cute, but uncomprehending, ignorance.

3rd and 19 from the Cal 36 yard line.

Okay, let's try it again. Cat or Baby? Which will we be?

Here's the video:

Um. I think someone's diapers need changed.

So, the play wasn't successful. It was some kind of pass that Bridgford sort-of throws away. There's a holding penalty as well. And coupled with the 12-men on the field penalty, this is pretty much as fail boat a play as it gets. Two penalties and a incomplete throw-away pass that still almost gets picked.

What the hell happened? Let's look closer, shall we?

Here's the pre-snap:



I can't see the numbers, but we clearly have 5 players wide, and the QB in the shotgun. KA is at the top of the screen. There may or may not be a cat in the bushes.

The defense is in their 4-3 look again. With one exception, this has been the defense Cal has seen the whole drive. But is it zone or man? Will there be a blitz? The next picture should be revealing.



This is just after the snap, and it appears the defense is going into their standard 4-deep zone. We have seen it on almost every play of the drive so far. They rush 4, drop the linebackers into 3 zones short, and the secondary takes the 4 deep zones. There may be wrinkles to this--the announcer seems to think they are in man defense here, but I'm not sure why.

So what are the routes? This is my reconstruction based on the evidence available. There may be some inaccuracy with the bottom two routes, as I can't see them at all.



The receiver at the top of the screen, KA, is on a fly route, I think, but comes back to the ball when Bridgford gets in trouble.

I think Bridgford targets the receiver running the post pattern (the second from the top) first. The receiver was probably trying to get between the middle deep zones. The LB chases him and vacates his zone, but you can see him, #42, at the end of the play trying to return to his zone (I think).

A lot of this is obviously speculative. You see what I'm trying to work with here, right?

Okay, so it looks like the QB is trying to get the ball deep downfield to one of two deep routes. Obviously this doesn't happen. Why? The answer is on the line.

Here's a close-up video of the Nevada pass rush:

It's not a great video, I know. Did I mention I'm using only the crappy software that came pre-installed on my computer to do this? I'm sure you couldn't tell.

When we look at the pass rush, it's a pretty standard 4-man rush against a 5-man line. Yet the RT gets beat by the DE. How does this happen?

Let's do this comic book style:



The DE first shows a speed rush to the outside. This has been our RT's weakness in the past. But the RT is ready for it, and shifts to the right.

Then this happens.



Ruh roh. The DE jukes the TE RT, and cuts back in, but that's not all!



Not only does the DE cut back inside, but he raises his right arm to the heavens. This is what I think is called a swim move, because it looks like the DE is doing a freestyle crawl with his arm. Why is the swim move effective?

It gets his shoulder past the RT's shoulder, meaning that the RT suddenly finds himself behind the DE. And you can't block someone from behind him, you can only hold him. Which is a penalty. Which is what the RT does.

Still, it leads to this:



The DE jumps out in front of the play and the QB pulls down the ball. Not only does the DE disrupt the pass, but he's also held by the tackle, meaning the play doesn't work in two ways.


With absolutely no evidence, I'm going to say that Bridgford had a man open on the deep post route and was about to hit him in stride for a touchdown. What kills this play is that the DE makes an excellent cut and swim move on our senior standout RT.


1. Nevada's D-line, in this instance, clowned our O-line. A four man rush shouldn't produce that much pressure against a five-man blocking scheme.

2. On obvious passing downs, MSG needs help. I've read before that our RT has trouble with quick pass-rush DEs. Here, we see evidence of it--he just isn't shifty enough to handle their best pass rusher (and we will see better this season). I wonder if we don't see more double teams on the outside, and see if our LT can handle the one-on-one.

3. Having written that, it strikes me that the pass-blocking assignments might be geared for a left-hander (Maynard). If Maynard was in, the double-team would have been on the blind side. With Bridgford, the righty, he couldn't see that the RT had been beat until it was cat ambush time.

4. Nevada appears to be in soft and deep zone coverage yet again. There were passes to be had, but the pressure forced Bridgford out of the pocket.


Okay, that's it for that play, and for the drive! So what about this awful awful drive?


1. We wanted to throw it short and to the left.

On the five passing plays, Bridgford reads the left side of the field every time. It seems like I referred to #42 (Nevada's ROLB) more than any other player. We really wanted to attack his zone, but weren't able to complete passes.

2. We never really tried to run.

On this drive, even though we opened up with a read-option, we followed it with five consecutive passing plays into cover 4 zone coverage. Two of these had to do with down and distance, but the other three could have been runs. Given that there were only 7 defenders in the box, and 4 playing at least 10 yards deep, I would have liked to have seen more attempts to attack with the run.

3. Bridgford had trouble with accuracy.

4. The O-Line still has work to do.

The RT, in particular (MSG), misses a block on the read-option that isn't really his responsibility, but still blows up the play. And then, on the 3rd and long, as we've just seen, gets beat. Otherwise, the line held up okay, but were not really tested. I worry about what happens when they face more blitzes.

5. The no-huddle seemed to disrupt the offense more than the defense.

One drive-killing penalty. And some really ugly execution on the super-fast up-to-the-line quick plays. Bridgford did not audible once during the drive, and probably wasn't allowed to.

So, in sum, who do I blame for this drive? I think that it is obviously execution problems, but I also think that the offense's job could have been made easier by more balanced playcalling between rush/pass, and by more intuitive play design (routes should not run into each other, play-action should be designed to fool the defender responsible for the main passing target).

But these are my totally unprofessional opinions.


Thanks for reading and for the support! This was a fun first attempt at play analysis! I wanted to get it done before the next game (superstitious about it really), and here it's finished with a half-hour to spare.

And I have to say, this analysis did make me feel a whole lot better. Not about Cal's offense, which was abysmal here, but about being able to know what went wrong. It is no longer free-floating angst, but specific and determinate. Somehow, strangely, that helps.

Go Bears! And may I never have to do something like this again!

The opinions expressed in a FanPost are, in every way, reflective of the opinions of every California Golden Blogs Marshawnthusiast. Moreover, they are reflective of every employee of SBNation, including Tyler "Blez" Bleszinski.

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