Continuing on with the 2006 Holiday Bowl analysis, we’re examining Dunbar’s playcalling within various personnel packages to see if he lacked variety and balance.
First we’ll look the 21 personnel package (two backs, one tight end, [two wide receivers is implicit]). The 21 personnel package was used the most in the Holiday Bowl. Out of the 32 offensive plays that we are counting, the 21 personnel package was used 13 times (40.6% of the time). Of those thirteen 21 personnel package plays, Dunbar called: 2 draws, 5 regular runs, 1 play action pass, 3 regular dropback passes, and 2 screen passes. The chart below shows the playcalling.
21 Personnel Package Play Types
Obviously, Dunbar has a slight tendency to call runs when using 21 personnel (this is because 21 personnel usually means Cal is in the I-Formation with the FB in front of the RB for a more powerful and threatening run game). But other than that small tendency, Dunbar does a fabulous job of mixing up various types of plays in the game. In fact, I would say this playcalling pie chart is almost near perfection. Another playaction pass play might have been nice, but otherwise this is exactly the kind of BALANCE that we want to see every game.
Next we’ll look at the second most popular personnel package used by Dunbar, the 11 personnel package (1 RB, 1 TE, [3 WR is implicit]). Of the 32 plays that we are counting, the 11 personnel package was used 9 times (28.1% of the time). If we had counted the plays called when Cal was on offense right before the halftime break, Cal would have used the 11 personnel package 8 more times for a total of 17 plays. But remember, we’re not counting those two-minute offense plays because they represent a different style of offense and playcalling ideology (Dunbar is calling riskier and more aggressive plays to score before halftime). So of those nine 11 personnel package plays, Dunbar called: 2 draws, 3 runs, 0 play action passes, 3 pass plays, and 1 screen pass. The chart below shows the information just given.
11 Personnel Package Play Types
The first thing you probably noticed about Dunbar’s playcall types from the 11 personnel package is that there were no play action passes. Normally, that is not a good thing but in this case it’s actually permissible. Let me explain. For the most part, when Dunbar uses the 11 personnel package, he uses it with the quarterback in shotgun. In fact, of the 9 plays where Dunbar used the 11 personnel package, the quarterback was in shotgun 6 of the 9 times. Most teams do not play action out of shotgun because the shotgun is designed for passing plays. If teams were to playaction the runningback would (in most cases) be running east-west to gain yardage and not enticing the defense to respond as quickly as they would when the RB is running north-south. Thus the playaction fake from shotgun does not cause the defense to "bite" down as hard on the fake as a playaction play from the I-formation or a regular direct handoff play from under center. In most cases, time is better spent just passing from shotgun than getting too tricky and developing a playaction play from shotgun. So… with that information in mind, you can now see why it’s not a big deal that no playaction plays were executed from shotgun.
The other points to notice in the above graph is the aforementioned balance in running and passing from shotgun (44% pass, 55% run), and the use of deception plays (screens and draws) to keep the defense off balance.
Another way to keep the defense off balance is by keeping a good balance between running and passing on various downs. Of the 32 offensive plays we are considering, Dunbar faced 19 first downs (over half of the downs we were faced with were 1st and 10 or 1st and Goals!!!). Of those 19 first downs, Dunbar ran the ball 9 times and passed the ball 10 times (47.4% run, 52.6% pass). This is exactly what we want to see - none of this "always run on first down" crap.
As for 2nd and long, Dunbar faced this situation 4 times. If you recall, in my Tennessee analysis I noted that against Tennessee Dunbar utilized the 11 personnel package in all the 2nd and long situations he encountered. This was bad because that game Dunbar had a tendency to put the QB in shotgun and pass when using 11 personnel - essentially we were tipping our hand to the defense. Against aTm, Dunbar utilized 11 personnel three out of the four downs, and 21 personnel the one remaining down. Not bad. This at least shows Dunbar was trying to get away from his tendency to give a passing look all the time. But what plays did Dunbar call during these four downs? They were two draws (one from gun and one from under), a run (from shotgun), and a screen (from gun). Do you see what he’s trying to do here? Dunbar might have done a little self scouting because he called plays that went against his usual tendencies. By drawing from shotgun he’s showing a passing formation (his tendency), an initial passing look after the snap (his tendency), and then runs the ball (not his tendency, this play resulted in a 6 yard gain). By drawing from under center, he’s showing a running formation (not his tendency), an intial passing look after the snap (his tedency), and then runs the ball (not his tendency, this play resulted in a 1st down). By running from shotgun, he’s showing a passing formation (his tendency), and then immediately running at the defense (not his tendency, and another first down)! And by screening from gun, he’s showing a passing formation, fakes a broken play, then takes advantage of the defense (this play resulted in a first down).
Now, normally I would break down Dunbar’s playcalling tendencies on 3rd and long but unfortunately Dunbar wasn’t really faced with any 3rd and long situations! The longest 3rd down that Dunbar faced within the 32 plays that we are considering, was a 3rd and 3! Holy hell! Isn’t that sweet? But it even gets better, of those 32 plays Dunbar only encountered 3rd down TWICE. Talk about ownage. Texas A&M was getting hit so hard by our players (literally), and by Dunbar (figuratively) that they just couldn’t stop us! Need a cold hard fact to believe me? Then how ’bout this? Cal averaged 8.5 yards PER PLAY against aTm. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t get much better than this. Whatever the coaching staff and the players were doing, it sure was working. In fact, it might have been just been perfect.
Check back in a day or two for Part III of the 2006 Holiday Bowl analysis!