Sep 6, 2011

Boise Game Analysis: 78% of plays were shotgun formation

That's right.  I just wasted about 20 minutes fast forwarding through each play to figure that out.  78% of all offensive plays in Saturday's game were out of the shotgun formation.  Does that sound like UGA football to you?

Honestly, the stat by itself doesn't really matter that much.  Sure, Georgia is traditionally a power-I team that runs the ball with a lead fullback and then passes from under center, usually with a play-action fake.  But it isn't necessarily bad to try new things more often... as long as they work.  The problem isn't that 78% of plays were out of shotgun; the problem is that when good old fashion play-action passes and under center plays actually worked, we abandoned them and returned to the flashy deep snap.  The problem is that our offensive play calling has recently had a tendency to stick to things that don't work, and abandon things that have success.

Here are some more quick stats I compiled:

Total Plays in Game: 60
Total Plays Under Center: 13
Plays Under Center in 1st Half: 6/30
Plays Under Center in 2nd Half: 7/30


Passing out of shotgun: 13 of 23 for 182 yards, 2 TD 1 INT, 14 yards per pass
Passing under center: 3 of 6 for 54 yards, 0 TD 0 INT, 18 yards per pass

Sacks: 6 of 6 sacks on Murray were in shotgun formation

The funny thing here is I (un)fondly remember the Arkansas game from last season, a loss which I blamed mostly on atrocious offensive play calling for the first 3 quarters.  I argued that we repeatedly attempted play-action passes without mixing things up, and it was obvious to the defense what we were doing.  I called for more shotgun plays to give Murray better sight of rushing defenders and the play as it develops, and when we began to pass from the shotgun in the 4th quarter, the offense suddenly began to improve.

This time, it was exactly the opposite.  We came out determined to play some newfangled hurry-up shotgun offense.  Goodbye to the old Georgia power-running and play-action days, we're here to trick you with speed and finesse.  Unfortunately, it didn't work too well from the start, and the offense struggled severely from penalties, jitters, and plain old lack of execution.


The most revealing drive of the game was the first of the 2nd half.  Georgia decided to do something different.

Georgia at 11:01
1st and 10 at UGA 15
Aaron Murray pass complete to Orson Charles for 12 yards to the Geo 27 for a 1ST down.   (I-FORM PLAY ACTION)
1st and 10 at UGA 27
Aaron Murray pass complete to Orson Charles for 28 yards to the BoiSt 45 for a 1ST down.   (I-FORM PLAY ACTION)

1st and 10 at BSU 45
Richard Samuel rush for 3 yards to the BoiSt 42.   (I-FORMATION)

2nd and 7 at BSU 42
Aaron Murray pass complete to Aron White for 14 yards to the BoiSt 28 for a 1ST down.   (I-FORM PLAY ACTION)

1st and 10 at BSU 28
GEORGIA penalty 5 yard False Start accepted.   

1st and 15 at BSU 33
Isaiah Crowell rush for 3 yards to the BoiSt 30.    (SHOTGUN)

2nd and 12 at BSU 30
Aaron Murray pass incomplete.    (SHOTGUN)

3rd and 12 at BSU 30
Aaron Murray sacked by Jamar Taylor for a loss of 6 yards to the BoiSt 36.     (SHOTGUN)

4th and 18 at BSU 36
Blair Walsh 54 yard field goal MISSED.

DRIVE TOTALS: GEORGIA drive: 7 plays 49 yards, 03:40 GEORGIA FGA

Notice the formations listed to the right of each play in parentheses.  So for four plays in a row, Georgia played under center in I-formation, just like the good old days, and quickly moved down the field.  The ESPN commentators even happened to come on the screen with a graphic showing how Aaron Murray's numbers last year were significantly better when passing from the I-formation rather than shotgun.  The offense quickly gained 54 yards on 3 play action passes (with one run mixed in to keep the defense honest).  This was a sudden, incredible momentum for the UGA offense which had been struggling all night.  But then, it's as if Mike Bobo suddenly changed his mind, and the offense returned to shotgun formation.  THREE plays in a row of shotgun followed, stalling the offense completely, and then a missed field goal attempt to end the drive.

It doesn't take a genius or a blogger with too much time on their hands to watch that game and see what was working offensively.  That same non-genius could easily determine that we didn't try nearly enough of what was working, and we repeatedly tried to force what wasn't working.  Why?  Because that's the tale of Georgia's offensive play calling in recent years.

Also of note, although the other three under center passes were incomplete, one of them should have been a 15 yard gain and was a perfect pass to a wide open #12 (names will not be named) who dropped the ball.

Finally, all 6 sacks on Murray happened during plays from the shotgun.  Re-watch those I-formation play-action plays and see how much more time Murray had to find his receiver and make a good pass.  It makes it all the more sad that we continued to ignore what was successful and tried to force the shotgun to work.


There's a slightly interesting difference in the rushing stats as well, as you can see below in Isaiah Crowell's rushing numbers:

Rushes from I-formation: 4 for 19 yards, 4.75 yards per carry
Rushes from shotgun: 11 for 41 yards, 3.72 yards per carry

So not only the passing game benefited greatly from the change of formation.


I really could rant a lot more about the game, but pretty much everything worth saying has been said by countless reporters, message board posters, and bloggers.  I hadn't seen a statistical analysis of the offensive problems yet, though, so I figured I could make a contribution.  Once again, I hold the opinion that offensive play calling was a HUGE detriment to our game plan, and greatly contributed to our loss.  If UGA's offense was allowed to run plays that set them up to succeed, I think we could have won that game.  If these mind-boggling play calls continue, I'm afraid Georgia will struggle more and more.  Not every game can be won based on talent alone.


  1. Very interesting analysis. I would be interested to see if that trend went into the other losses. If so, it is like Bobo can't get out of his game plan even when he has parts of it that are working. He just has to keep with it. I wonder if presented with detailed evidence of such would allow him to break this habit and start being an effective OC.

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed this. I called the post game call in show and told Tony and Kevin this very thing....down to the drive that you explained above and they just laughed at me. I didn't expect much different from them because of where they get their check but they really must be sick of the kool aid by now. If I can predict Bobo's plays with 60-70 percent accurace each game, then defensive coordinators with plenty of resources that make a half million dollars a year can surely do it with 80-90 percent accuracy. C'mon guys....this ain't rocket science, it's football!

  3. This is the type of stuff bloggers should be blogging about that help the team solve problems. Good job.

  4. you failed to mention that the sack on the last play came after the sideline play call audible and the D was showing blitz. The play call was for a pump fake double move route. Nice work Bobo!

  5. Great analysis!!! I was screaming at the game to run out of the I. Only reason the stats on rushing out of shotgun are even close is because of Boykin's 80 yard run.

  6. we need to get out of gun....the audible to the double move when Murray was sacked for final time was mind boggling....let me think , defense is blitzing, i will call for double move.....idiot...Richt better take over OC duties or he will see the door along with Bobo...i would fire Bobo or relegate him to QB coach duties

  7. Nice analysis, keep uploading more blog about different guns.