Nearly a week after ushering the annual November sadness into College Station, Shea Patterson gets the opportunity to turn Vanderbilt apathy into “You know, Ted, that kind of annoyed me” on Saturday night in Nashville. While it’s probably a reach to assume a true freshman could turn in a second straight 400-plus total yard game, I wouldn’t give you the side eye if you told me you thought it will happen. Patterson was just that good last weekend.
As we look ahead to the impending broken champagne bottle fight with the Commodores, let’s review Patterson’s passing performance from last weekend to see where the Ole Miss offensive coaches might ask him to attack Vandy’s sturdy defense. Here is an expertly designed chart that shows Patterson’s stats when throwing to certain areas of the field. As a reminder, these are the areas into which the ball was thrown, which means a 5-yard pass on this chart could have ended up as a 25-yard gain (AHEM, A.J. Brown).
As you can see, most of Patterson’s throws were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and he was very good at delivering those passes. He was also effective at some of the deep shots, which were against one-on-one coverage and very favorable matchups for Ole Miss.
While we can fanboy and fangirl all over this chart, we need to examine how the numbers on the chart came to pass. During his Monday press conference, Hugh Freeze said that Ole Miss basically ran four plays during the second half. While those four plays had multiple options and were run out of different formations, the same concepts were there.
To get a better understanding of what he meant and what Ole Miss might do against Vanderbilt, let’s look at some plays from the second half against Texas A&M.
We pick things up late in the third quarter, which was when Ole Miss decided it was time to stop doing dumb things (LOOKING AT YOU, HUGH FREEZE AND YOUR INSIDE-THE-10 INSANITY). Ole Miss has two wide receivers lined up on the short side of the field. Texas A&M is in a two-high safety look that will devolve into some form of Cover Two zone.
Take note of the formation, as it would not be the last time we would see this.
Ole Miss attacks this defense by running a smash concept, which is where the outside receiver runs a hitch and the slot receiver gets vertical on a corner route. To give Texas A&M even more things to process, Shea Patterson also sells the possibility of a run.
On that side of the field, Texas A&M is in zone coverage, which explains why the cornerback sits down at the 14-yard line. Ole Miss’ outside wide receiver hits the brakes, while the inside receiver pushes down the field.
It worked out fairly well.
Four plays later, ON THE SAME DANG DRIVE, Ole Miss throws out the same formation, only this time the receivers are lined up on the wide side of the field. Texas A&M’s safeties are within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, thanks to Ole Miss’ moderately successful running game, which means the Aggies are playing man coverage across the board.
As you can see, the same play develops, but against man coverage.
At this point, Patterson knows he has Van Jefferson open. The corner is giving him the corner route, which means it’s a matter of whether Patterson can make the throw and Jefferson can make the catch.
Though Jefferson did not make the catch (UGH), take a look at when Patterson threw the pass.
And here’s where Jefferson caught up to the ball.
MARGINALLY OK, IMO.
Moving on to a different formation, but with Texas A&M still trying to use a two-high safety look, here’s Ole Miss putting three receivers on the wide side of the field, leaving Damore’ea Stringfellow in one-on-one coverage, with possible safety help.
Once again, Ole Miss’ running game, which was effective enough, gives Texas A&M’s safety pause long enough that he can’t help on the outside.
As the great Hal Mumme taught his quarterbacks, if your vertical receiver is even with or past the cornerback, throw it up.
And how did that turn out?
THIS WAS GOOD OFFENSE, ACCORDING TO THE SPREADSHEETS.
Later in the fourth quarter, Ole Miss used a formation it had lined up in earlier, but one in which they had only run the ball. If you’ve ever watched Baylor, they love putting their outside receivers beyond the numbers to stretch the field horizontally.
Ole Miss doesn’t usually do that, but they try it here and decide to throw it. Based on where the safety is lined up, there’s no way he can help any cornerback, unless it’s a deep ball.
A.J. Brown drives away his man and is now in a position to get the ball in the open field.
On the very next play, Ole Miss runs one of its four second-half plays we’ve seen them run now three times in this little exercise.
I DON’T LIKE TEXAS A&M’S CHANCES HERE, BOB.
Just for the sake of recalling something awesome, here’s Shea Patterson letting the ball go at the 39...
And here’s Van Jefferson catching it in stride in the opposite corner, six yards deep in the end zone.
Your thoughts, Van Jefferson?
While Ole Miss didn’t run a variety of plays, the ones they did run were very effective in the second half (side note: Hal Mumme once only ran 12 total plays - 9 pass, 3 run - for the last half of a season). Freeze mentioned his desire to expand the number of plays this week, which most likely won’t be anything Vanderbilt hasn’t seen before, but they’ve never seen Patterson run them. Whatever Freeze and company choose to do on Saturday night, let us hope they stick with running what’s effective, regardless of variety, because I do not need going insane in my life.