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EMU’s offense at the goal line

November 6, 2011

EMU went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 at Michigan, but Javonti Greene couldn't quite make it. (Photo by Kenneth Bailey)

Inspired by a comment left on this morning’s recap of the Ball State game, I thought I’d take a quick look at EMU’s offense at the goal line. I’ve defined this for today’s purposes as all plays beginning on or inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. This is only a quick look, so I haven’t gone back and reviewed offensive formations, personnel, or the details of each play.

Vs Alabama State at the beginning of the third quarter (2 runs, 0 passes, TD):
1st-goal, ALST8: D. Sherrer rushed up the middle for 2 yard gain
2nd-goal, ALST6: D. Sherrer rushed left for the TD

At Michigan, second possession of the first quarter (4 runs, 0 passes, no score):
1st-goal, MICH7 J. Greene rushed to the right for 4 yard gain
2nd-goal, MICH3 J. Greene rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
3rd-goal, MICH2 J. Greene rushed to the right for 1 yard gain
4th-goal, MICH1 J. Greene rushed to the right for no gain

At Michigan, third possession of the first quarter (2 runs, 0 passes, FG):
1st-10, MICH11 J. Greene rushed to the right for 3 yard gain
2nd-7, MICH8 J. Fleming rushed to the left for 2 yard gain
3rd-5, MICH6 J. Greene rushed to the left for 2 yard gain
4th-3, MICH4Β K. Fulkerson kicked a 21-yard field goal

At Penn State, early in the fourth quarter, after an interception by Brad Ohrman (3 runs, 0 passes, FG):
1st-goal, PSU9 A. Gillett rushed to the right for 2 yard gain
2nd-goal, PSU7 A. Gillett rushed to the right for 5 yard gain
3rd-goal, PSU2 A. Gillett rushed to the left for 2 yard loss
4th-goal, PSU4 K. Fulkerson kicked a 21-yard field goal

Vs Akron, beginning of the second quarter (1 run, 0 passes, TD):
1st-10, AKR15 D. White rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
2nd-9, AKR14 D. White rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
3rd-8, AKR13 D. White rushed to the right for 12 yard gain
1st-goal, AKR1 D. White rushed up the middle for 1 yard touchdown. K. Fulkerson made PAT

Vs Akron, end of the second quarter (1 run, 1 pass, FG):
1st-goal, AKR10 A. Gillett incomplete pass to the left
2nd-goal, AKR10 East. Michigan committed 15 yard penalty
2nd-goal, AKR25 A. Gillett rushed to the right for 15 yard gain
3rd-goal, AKR10 A. Gillett rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
4th-goal, AKR9 K. Fulkerson kicked a 26-yard field goal

Vs Akron, beginning of the third quarter (1 run, 0 passes, TD):
3rd-17, AKR32 A. Gillett passed to G. Hoskins to the left for 30 yard gain
1st-2, AKR2 D. White rushed up the middle for 2 yard touchdown. K. Fulkerson made PAT

Vs Akron, early in the fourth quarter (1 run, 0 passes, TD):
1st-10, AKR16 A. Gillett passed to D. Scott to the right for 12 yard gain
1st-goal, AKR4 A. Gillett rushed up the middle for 4 yard touchdown. K. Fulkerson made PAT

At Toledo, early in the fourth quarter (1 run, 0 passes, TD):
2nd-6, TOL23 A. Gillett passed to C. Welch to the left for 17 yard gain. Toledo committed 3 yard penalty
1st-goal, TOL3 D. White rushed to the right for 3 yard touchdown. K. Fulkerson made PAT

At Central Michigan, late in the first quarter (3 runs, 0 passes, TD):
2nd-3, CEMI15 J. Greene rushed to the left for 6 yard loss
3rd-9, CEMI21 A. Gillett passed to G. Hoskins down the middle for 16 yard gain
1st-goal, CEMI5 J. Greene rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
2nd-goal, CEMI2 J. Greene rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
3rd-goal, CEMI1 D. White rushed up the middle for 1 yard touchdown. K. Fulkerson made PAT

At Central Michigan, end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter (3 runs, 0 passes, TD):
1st-10, CEMI13 A. Gillett rushed to the right for 6 yard gain
2nd-4, CEMI7 J. Fleming rushed up the middle for no gain
3rd-4, CEMI7 A. Gillett rushed to the right for 5 yard gain
1st-goal, CEMI2 J. Greene rushed up the middle for 2 yard touchdown. K. Fulkerson made PAT

At Central Michigan, early in the fourth quarter after a blocked Central Michigan punt (2 runs, 0 passes, TD):
1st-goal, CEMI6 J. Greene rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
2nd-goal, CEMI5 J. Greene rushed up the middle for 5 yard touchdown. K. Fulkerson made PAT

Vs Western Michigan, early in the first quarter (3 runs, 0 passes, no score):
1st-10, WMU14 D. White rushed to the left for 8 yard gain
2nd-2, WMU6 D. White rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
3rd-1, WMU5 D. White rushed to the right for no gain
4th-1, WMU5 Player rushed to the left for 4 yard loss

Vs Ball State, near the end of the fourth quarter (5 runs, 0 passes, FG):
1st-10, BAST30 D. Sherrer rushed to the left for 18 yard gain
1st-10, BAST12 D. White rushed up the middle for 6 yard gain
2nd-4, BAST6 D. Sherrer rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
3rd-1, BAST3 D. Sherrer rushed up the middle for 2 yard gain
1st-goal, BAST1 A. Gillett rushed up the middle for no gain
2nd-goal, BAST1 D. White rushed to the left for 4 yard loss
3rd-goal, BAST5 A. Gillett rushed up the middle for 3 yard gain
4th-goal, BAST2 East. Michigan committed 5 yard penalty (delay of game; declined)
4th-goal, BAST2 K. Fulkerson kicked a 20-yard field goal

Altogether, that’s 32 runs and just 1 pass. Of 14 possessions that went to or inside the 10, EMU made 8 touchdowns (57%), 4 field goals (29%), and failed to score twice (14%). By comparison, they’ve had 12 possessions that went to or inside the 20 but not to the 10, from which they made 8 touchdowns (67%), 2 field goals (17%), and failed to score twice (17%). EMU is more likely to score a touchdown from a play that starts between the 10 and 20 than from a play that starts inside the 10. It’s clear that the play-calling becomes ultra-conservative as EMU nears the goal-line, and it’s also clear that this ultra-conservative play-calling is hurting, rather than helping.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kenneth Barna permalink
    November 6, 2011 5:42 pm

    Dear cmadler,
    I totally agree with your last sentence. I mentioned this philosophy, of smash mouth football, to Kevin K. in another posting on this site. I know that players are bigger and faster, then in my days, but the other team is bound to have bigger and faster players too.
    I don’t understand with Gillett’s run ability, why not use that as a double threat. Run to the outside, and if he has the hole, take it, if not, pass for it. Now I would not do this everytime we get down near the goal line, but if we use it, and score a few times, the other team is going have to protect against it, and it may open those dives into the middle of the opposing defense.

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