Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dink and Dunk | by Jay

One of the complaints we talked about after the game: with the Aztecs throwing so much (59 passes attempted), how come we didn't ring up more sacks? Where indeed was the vaunted "Tenuta Effect?"

One hypothesis: knowing that the heat was on, QB Ryan Lindley was coached to get rid of the ball, at all costs. And that he did. Our old buddy Bill actually grabbed his stopwatch and timed the release on Lindley's passes in the first quarter. It went like this (measured in quarter-seconds): 2, 2, 2.5, 2.75, 2, 1.75, 1.75, 2, 1.75, 1.75, 1.75, 1.75, 2, 3, 2, 2, 3 (rolled out), 2.5, 2, 1.75, 2, 2.25, 1.75, 2, 1.75, 1.5.

The average is 2 seconds per throw if you throw out one high and low. On one of the 3 second holds, Lindley bails out of the pocket after about 1.5 seconds. There was nary a five- or seven-step drop; he got rid of the ball very quickly. For a blitzer coming off the edge, it was hard to do anything but try and disrupt the pass in the lane. (And we did get some hands up, and in his face, as the game went on, forcing some hurried, unsteady throws.)

Credit Lindley and Coach Long for the strategy (and the blitz pick-up, too), but that short passing game manifested itself in a paltry 4.6 yards-per-pass attempt. It's halfway decent ball control, but it's not terribly efficient.

I'm really curious what lessons opposing offensive coordinators are going to draw from this game, and how they might attempt to neutralize the Irish pressure. Will they want to copy the Aztecs? Should we expect Michigan to hit us with a barrage of short passes this Saturday?