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Virginia Tech Football's Lack Of Red Zone Offense

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When Tyrod Taylor left the Virginia Tech Football program following the 2010 season, the Hokies lost a certain element in their offense, it also marked the decline of Tech's Red Zone scoring.

Jonathan Ernst

Over the past two seasons I found myself on the edge of my seat, biting my fingernails every time the Hokies got past the 50 yard line and inched closer to the Red Zone. Once at or inside the 20 yard line my palms perspired and my hands shook with nervousness. Tech almost never capitalized on entering the Red Zone. It seemed easy enough to just pound the rock with the running back or Logan Thomas until they crossed the goal line, right? Not so much. The Hokies ran the same plays one after another in utter failure, looked sloppy and inconsistent while playing with a short field, missed easy field goals, and drove fans like me crazy.

Points have been hard to come by in recent years. The defense would do just enough to keep Tech in the game, but the offense never capitalized off stops, turnovers, and possessions inside the Red Zone.

2013 Red Zone Statistics


Split


Games


Attempts


Scores


Score%


TD


TD%


FG


FG%


All Games


13

42

31

73.81

23

54.76

8

19.05

Home


6

25

18

72

14

56

4

16

Away/Neutral


7

17

13

76.47

9

52.94

4

23.53

Wins


8

30

21

70

16

53.33

5

16.67

Losses


5

12

10

83.33

7

58.33

3

25

vs. ranked teams (AP)


3

5

4

80

2

40

2

40

vs. unranked teams (AP)


10

37

27

72.97

21

56.76

6

16.22

(Ranked Opponents: Alabama, Duke, UCLA)

2012 Red Zone Statistics


Split


Games


Attempts


Scores


Score%


TD


TD%


FG


FG%


All Games


13

41

36

87.80

21

51.22

15

36.59

Home


6

22

21

95.45

15

68.18

6

27.27

Away/Neutral


7

19

15

78.95

6

31.58

9

47.37

Wins


7

24

23

95.83

15

62.50

8

33.33

Losses


6

17

13

76.47

6

35.29

7

41.18

vs. ranked teams (AP)


2

6

5

83.33

3

50

2

33.33

vs. unranked teams (AP)


11

35

31

88.57

18

51.43

13

37.14

(Ranked Opponents: Clemson and Florida State)

2011 Red Zone Statistics

Split


Games


Attempts


Scores


Score%


TD


TD%


FG


FG%


All Games


14

70

52

74.29

35

50

17

24.29

Home


6

30

23

76.67

15

50

8

26.67

Away/Neutral


8

40

29

72.50

20

50

9

22.50

Wins


11

60

46

76.67

34

56.67

12

20

Losses


3

10

6

60

1

10

5

50

vs. ranked teams (AP)


3

10

6

60

1

10

5

50

vs. unranked teams (AP)


11

60

46

76.67

34

56.67

12

20

(Ranked Opponents: Clemson (played in regular season and ACC Championship Game) and Michigan)

2010 Red Zone Statistics


Split


Games


Attempts


Scores


Score%


TD


TD%


FG


FG%


All Games


14

52

56

90.32

40

64.52

16

25.81

Home


7

36

32

88.89

25

69.44

7

19.44

Away/Neutral


7

26

24

92.31

15

57.69

9

34.62

Wins


11

50

47

94

35

70

12

24

Losses


3

12

9

75

5

41.67

4

33.33

vs. ranked teams (AP)


4

13

12

92.31

10

76.92

2

15.38

vs. unranked teams (AP)


10

49

44

89.80

30

61.22

14

28.57

(Ranked Opponents: Boise State, North Carolina State, Florida State, and Stanford)

2009 Red Zone Statistics

Split


Games


Attempts


Scores


Score%


TD


TD%


FG


FG%


All Games


13

53

47

88.68

32

60.38

15

28.30

Home


6

24

20

83.33

15

62.50

5

20.83

Away/Neutral


7

29

27

93.10

17

58.62

10

34.48

Wins


10

45

40

88.89

28

62.22

12

26.67

Losses


3

8

7

87.50

4

50

3

37.50

vs. ranked teams (AP)


4

11

9

81.82

6

54.55

3

27.27

vs. unranked teams (AP)


9

42

38

90.48

26

61.90

12

28.57

(Ranked Opponents: Alabama, Nebraska, Miami, and Georgia Tech)

2008 Red Zone Statistics

Split


Games


Attempts


Scores


Score%


TD


TD%


FG


FG%


All Games


14

48

43

74.14

27

46.55

16

27.59

Home


6

28

20

71.43

11

39.29

9

32.14

Away/Neutral


8

30

23

76.67

16

53.33

7

23.33

Wins


10

46

35

76.09

21

45.65

14

30.43

Losses


4

12

8

66.67

6

50

2

16.67

vs. ranked teams (AP)


3

12

10

83.33

6

50

4

33.33

vs. unranked teams (AP)


11

46

33

71.74

21

45.65

12

26.09

(Ranked Opponents: Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Cincinnati)

2007 Red Zone Statistics

Split


Games


Attempts


Scores


Score%


TD


TD%


FG


FG%


All Games


14

46

42

91.30

28

60.87

14

30.43

Home


7

24

22

91.67

16

66.67

6

25

Away/Neutral


7

22

20

90.91

12

54.55

8

36.36

Wins


11

41

38

92.68

24

58.54

14

34.15

Losses


3

5

4

80

4

80

0

0

vs. ranked teams (AP)


5

9

8

88.89

7

77.78

1

11.11

vs. unranked teams (AP)


9

37

34

91.89

21

56.76

13

35.14

(Ranked Opponents: LSU, Clemson, Boston College (Played in regular season and ACC Championship Game), and Kansas)

So what can we take away from the data?


It becomes evident that during the 2007-2010 seasons, Tech’s score percentage in the Red Zone was consistently better that the 2011-2013 seasons. It’s also clear that Tech’s Red Zone offense was better versus AP ranked opponents. I believe this is highly due to the fact that the Hokie football teams of 2007-2010 simply had better and more talented players.

In 2007 we saw the emergence of Tyrod Taylor during the LSU game. The shifty dual-threat quarterback added a different element to Tech’s offense. He extended plays with his legs, allowing his receivers time to get open, and made the plays necessary to put up points. Taylor could beat teams with his legs and his arm. This came into play in the Red Zone where he could decide to run or pass. Here are some examples:

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Tyrod Taylor, Best of the 2010 ACC Championship Game (via techsideline)


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2009 Virginia Tech vs. Nebraska - The Comeback (HD) (via vtplaybacktv)

These teams also had more talented skill position players and better offensive linemen with the likes of Eddie Royal, Josh Hyman, Josh Morgan, Justin Harper, Danny Coale, Jarrett Boykin, Brandon Ore, Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, David Wilson, Greg Boone, Duane Brown, Blake DeChristopher, Sergio Render, Jaymes Brooks, and Ryan Shuman. The skill position players were more talented and were able to make more plays than more recent players. The offensive line was bigger and more physical, allowing for more of hardnosed running game.

Granted, Logan Thomas had David Wilson, Danny Coale, and Jarrett Boykin at his disposal for the 2011 season, but the team was still only able to muster a 50% touchdown percentage in the Red Zone.

It is clear that with a more dynamic quarterback, more talented skill position players, and a stronger offensive line, Tech’s Red Zone offense was drastically better. Over the years these elements have taken a hit which could be related to recruiting woes and losing in-state talent to UVA and out of state schools.

If the Hokies want to win games, they are going to have to find a way to score points when the opportunities present themselves, which means scoring in the Red Zone.

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