Cougars Have Abandoned The Left Side

TDECU 40 minutes until kickoff
TDECU 40 minutes before kickoff / photo by Mario Puente

When I put together D’Eriq King’s spray charts on Monday, I made sure to make individual charts for the second half in each game. But then the King redshirt story broke and I forgot about my second half charts.

I went back today to look at the four charts and some things stand out. Here are the four charts in gif form:

That’s glaring. In the first two games, King is almost exclusively focused on the left side. But in the last two games, he isn’t going left at all.

He throws 11 balls beyond 10 yards in the first two games (not counting the balls thrown away). 10 go to the left and none of those are completed. Here’s just the 2nd halves of the first two games:

In the next two games, he throws 10 passes beyond 10 yards to the right side after the halves. Three of them were dropped while two more were completed.

To date, UH has not completed a pass beyond 9 yards to the left side in any second half this season. How does that happen? And if you notice, the throws to that side get more scarce as the season wears on: 10 vs. OU, 8 against PV, 3 vs. Wazzu, and 1 vs. Tulane.

That’s a big red flag. So I went back and looked at every play in the second half for the last two games and guess what? It’s not just throwing it: in 66 plays in those halves, we’ve basically abandoned the left side of the field.

Here are the plays to the left side in the second halves:

– a screen behind the LOS
– 32-yard pass over WR head
– an end-around to Stevenson
– 13-yard pass over WR head
– 25-yard run
– King on a draw for a TD
– 7-yard run
– a screen behind the LOS

That’s just 8 plays run to the left side (12%). Three more plays were read-options that King took to the left side in the Tulane game because they were cheating over quite a bit.

That means, called or not, you’re going to the left side less than 17% of the time after halftime the last two weeks. It appears that Tulane and Wazzu figured it out.

To make matters worse: two of those plays above (25-yard run and King TD) were the last two offensive snaps of the Wazzu game. So you basically went all half with four plays to the left and only ran two plays to that side in the Tulane second half.

And in those last two games, you had 0 completions beyond the LOS to the left (and somehow, 0 attempts in the Tulane game). To me, that gives a huge piece of the answer as to why you haven’t been successful after halftime. You’ve basically surrendered half the field.

King is not even seeing the leftside of the field in pass plays in the last two weeks but it’s not just an issue throwing it. Does Dana have blinders on as a play-caller? Are we seeing something on film? And if you are, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the film. The Cougars have scored just 1 TD in the second half in the last three weeks combined.

I’m very curious to see how it plays out on Saturday with Clayton Tune.

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