October 20, 2014

Updating Tajh Boyd by Area of Field (and other interesting tidbits)

In a remarkable season for Tajh Boyd, perhaps one of the most remarkable items is the balance between the left and right sides of the field.

Boyd threw 170 passes – exactly – to each side of the field and the yardage gained is within 14 yards. Obviously, some of that is dependent on the defense, some is luck, some is timing, some is injuries,etc. That said, one would think there is some correlation to Chad Morris attempting to achieve not only a balanced run/pass mix, but a passing game that is not predictable.

You would also think that this balance would be less likely with the absence of Sammy Watkins in three complete games and 98% of the bowl game. But that speaks to the season Nuk Hopkins had. The numbers show Hopkins was targeted over 50 times on each side of the field (and once a game or so in the middle).

Other interesting tidbits from the Chick-fil-A Bowl and season:

• Heading into the bowl Boyd was 10 of 18 for 108 yards on passes between 6 and 10 yards downfield to the left side of the field. An average of 1.5 passes per game to this area. Against LSU Boyd was 7 for 7 for 65 yards throwing to this area. Whatever Boyd and/or Morris noticed was exploited. An area they had thrown to 4.8% of the time was targeted 14% of the time against LSU.

• On the right side of the field it was the 11-15 yard range. Clemson had attempted 17 passes to this area in the first 12 games (4.5%). Boyd was 3 of 6 (12% of passes) for 54 yards against LSU in this area.

• One area Boyd had much success during the season, but 0 against LSU was the deep (21 yards and +) right side. Boyd entered the game having completed a remarkable 17 of 27 passes for 5 touchdowns in this area, but was 0 for 3 against LSU. Perhaps this is where Watkins and Bryant were missed.

• Not all passes behind the line of scrimmage are bubble screens, but there’s a reason that Clemson runs these plays – they work. Combining all areas of the field Boyd completed 88 of 96 (91.7%) of his passes where the receiver was behind the line of scrimmage for 643 yards. That works out to 6.7 yards per play.

• Those 96 passes represent 22.5% of Boyd’s total passes – almost one fourth of Clemson’s passes are behind the line of scrimmage.

• Another 111 passes (26.0%) were between the line of scrimmage and 5 yards downfield. On these passes Boyd completed 78 (70.3%) for 597 yards with 8 touchdowns and 1 interception. That works out to 5.4 yards per play which is significantly less (19% less) than the passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage.

• Simple math tells us 207 of Boyd’s 427 passes (48.5%) were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage and these passes account for 166 of Boyd’s 287 completions (57.8%) and 1,240 (31.1.%) of Boyd’s 3,896 passing yards.

• The above also means that Boyd is completing 80.2% of passes within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage and on all other passes he is completing 55.0% of his passes.

None of this is meant to imply that Boyd can’t throw the ball downfield. On the contrary, you’d be hard pressed to find a college quarterback that throws a better deep ball as evidenced by Boyd’s numbers on passes over 20 yards:

• 34 of 67 (50.7%) for 1,287 yards (19.2 yards per attempt), 15 touchdowns (22.4% of attempts) and 6 interceptions.

One final note that I found interesting, though I’m not sure what it means (and maybe it means nothing): As a right-handed quarterback Boyd has higher completion percentages to the left side (vs. the right side) of the field for every interval up to 15 yards. Being right-handed myself, I would think he would be more comfortable throwing to the right side and therefore more accurate in that direction. It doesn’t appear to be due to a specific receiver as both Hopkins and Watkins catch passes on either side. Perhaps someone with more knowledge in this area can shed some light on it, assuming there is light to be shed.

Note: The totals and targets for each side of the field are on page 2 of the document below.

Boyd by Area 2012.2xls

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