Before we start this article, we must first restate this very important fact: UCLA’s spring game provided a very basic, bare-bones preview of what the team will look like in 2017. The coaches repeated this statement both before and after the game, assuring the viewers and the fans that this “Spring Showcase” is far from the final product for the 2017 season.
But no matter how much the coaches try to dumb down this game, the reality is that it is still a four-quarter game with live tackling. Thus, we are able to chart it and extract data from it.
While this data probably won’t give us a fair and adequate preview of what to expect from UCLA’s new offense in 2017, it certainly gives us a place to start.
Here’s a full breakdown of UCLA’s offensive play selection and personnel usage for the spring game.
OVERALL BREAKDOWN OF THE TWO OFFENSES
Blue team (coordinated by Jedd Fisch)
-No. of offensive plays: 46
-No. of designed pass plays: 34
-No. of designed run plays: 12
-Total yards: 207
-Yards per play: 4.5
White team (coordinated by Jimmie Dougherty)
-No. of offensive plays: 48
-No. of designed pass plays: 23
-No. of designed run plays: 25
-Total yards: 221
-Yards per play: 4.6
-11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR): 27 plays (58.7 percent)
-12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR): 11 plays (23.9 percent)
-21 personnel (2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR): 8 plays (17.4 percent)
-11 personnel: 17 plays (40.4 percent)
-12 personnel: 14 plays (33.3 percent)
-21 personnel: 11 plays (26.2 percent)
***seven plays for the white team weren’t tracked due to a broadcast blackout
-Shotgun: 28 plays (61 percent)
-Under center: 18 plays (39 percent)
-Under center: 23 plays (56 percent)
-Shotgun: 18 plays (44 percent)
PASS GAME BREAKDOWN
-Average pass distance: 6.3 yards past line of scrimmage
-11 incompletions (four due to dropped passes)
-2 sacks, 2 QB scrambles
-Average pass distance: 7.9 yards past line of scrimmage
-9 incompletions (two due to dropped passes)
-1 sack, 1 QB scramble
As we can see from the “average pass distance” statistic, the blue team wasn’t really taking a lot of deep shots on Saturday (only 6.3 yards of air distance per pass attempt). That theme remains consistent with what we saw from Fisch during his time in Jacksonville – there are a lot of quick timing routes, but not too many double moves by the wideouts. Considering the shoddy state of UCLA’s offensive line, this quick-pass strategy is probably the most efficient (double moves often take too long to develop).
That being said, the lack of a deep-passing threat is definitely a concern for UCLA at this point. One of the longest throws of the day for the blue team – a 14-yard corner route from Josh Rosen to Caleb Wilson – was intercepted. Outside of that, Rosen had two of his 15+ yard pass attempts dropped by Eldridge Massington.
Overall, the blue and white teams combined to go 3-for-13 on pass attempts of 12+ yards in the spring game – including three dropped passes and that lone Rosen interception.
One more thing to note in the passing game: We saw some play-action bootleg plays, which was no surprise. Not only did we see a lot of these play-action bootlegs during spring practices, but we saw a good amount of them when studying film of Fisch’s offense in Jacksonville. The play-action bootleg provides a good counter to the halfback stretch/outside zone running play, which we will discuss in the next section.
RUN GAME BREAKDOWN
-Rush attempts: 14 (12 designed runs, 2 QB scrambles)
-Rush yards: 66
-Yards per carry: 4.7
-No. of QB run plays: 4
-QB rush yards: 36
-QB rush yards per carry: 9.0
-No. Of HB run plays: 9
-HB rush yards: 37
-HB rush yards per carry: 4.1
-No. of WR run plays: 1
-WR rush yards: -7
-WR rush yards per carry: -7.0
-Rush attempts: 25 (24 designed runs, 1 QB scramble)
-Rush yards: 119
-Yards per carry: 4.8
-No. of QB run plays: 2
-QB rush yards: 11
-QB rush yards per carry: 5.5
-No of HB run plays: 21
-HB rush yards: 96
-HB rush yards per carry: 4.6
-No of WR run plays: 2
-WR rush yards: 12
-WR rush yards per carry: 6.0
Fisch didn’t really try to run the ball much on Saturday, but he did show a wrinkle of what he’ll bring to the table: the “outside zone” run.
In layman’s terms, the outside zone run is basically a halfback stretch run. We saw quite a few of these outside run plays when we examined Jedd Fisch’s past offensive schemes before the start of spring camp.
While Fisch didn’t call a high number of outside zone plays for the blue team on Saturday, the few that he did call worked to a tee.
On the three outside zone/HB stretch plays the blue team ran, they gained 15 total yards (or 5.0 yards per carry). Conversely, the blue team only gained 4.1 yards per carry on nine rush attempts that went between the tackles.
The white team had some success with the outside-zone run play as well. On the four such carries that the white team had, it gained 20 total yards (or 5.0 yards per carry).
Also, Jimmie Dougherty and the white team showed some of the jet-sweep action that we saw from Fisch during his time in Jacksonville.
HOW WERE THE SKILL PLAYERS USED?
Here’s a breakdown of how Fisch and Dougherty used their respective skill players in the spring game:
Running backs (blue team)
Soso Jamabo: 21 snaps out of 46
Nate Starks: 17 snaps
Khalil Muhammad: 8 snaps
Giovanni Gentosi: 8 snaps at fullback
Running backs (white team)
Bolu Olorunfunmi: 24 snaps out of 41
Jalen Starks: 14 snaps (8 at running back, 6 at fullback)
Brandon Stephens: 10 snaps
Justin Rittman: 5 snaps at fullback
Wide receivers (blue team)
Theo Howard: 31 snaps
Darren Andrews: 26 snaps
Audie Omotosho: 24 snaps
Eldridge Massington: 23 snaps
Christian Pabico: 13 snaps
Nathan Fernea: 2 snaps
Wide receivers (white team)
Jordan Lasley: 37 snaps
Alex Van Dyke: 35 snaps
Demetric Felton: 10 snaps
Dymond Lee: 7 snaps
Stephen Johnson: 5 snaps
Brad Sochowski: 5 snaps
Damian Alloway: 1 snap
Tight ends (blue team)
Caleb Wilson: 29 snaps
Devin Asiasi: 26 snaps
Alex Rassool: 2 snaps
Tight ends (white team)
Jordan Wilson: 41 snaps
Austin Roberts: 16 snaps