UNC Now

UNC and the big play: By the numbers

UNC held Clemson to eight “explosive” plays, but Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson made the most of those.
UNC held Clemson to eight “explosive” plays, but Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson made the most of those. Robert Willett - rwillett@newsobserver.com

I wrote a story that ran today about what college football coaches like to describe as “explosive” plays – and how UNC created more of those in the loss at Clemson, but also how the Tar Heels have allowed a load of them through their first four games.

First, a definition of what “explosive” play is. UNC's coaching staff defines it as a run of at least 12 yards and a completed pass of at least 16 yards. Maybe plays of that length – 12-yard runs and 16-yard passes – don't seem all that explosive to you, but that's the definition we're working with here.

I went back and counted up the number of UNC's explosive plays through four games this season, and the number of explosive plays the Tar Heels have allowed, according to the staff's definition of the term. It wasn't all that pretty, as you might expect.

UNC has generated 28 explosive plays. And it has allowed 48 explosive plays.

The good news? The Tar Heels are trending in the right direction, at least.

They finished with a season-high 10 explosive plays in the loss at Clemson last weekend. Conversely, UNC allowed eight explosive plays, the fewest it has allowed since giving up eight in the season-opening victory against Liberty.

The story I linked above goes into some of the big-play (nay, explosive-play) numbers, but I didn't have the space to go on and on about it. The kind of space, for instance, I have here. So I thought it might be illuminating to share something I'll call: UNC and explosive plays: By the numbers.

Here we go:

EXPLOSIVE PLAYS …

… ALLOWED BY DOWN

16 – explosive plays UNC has allowed on first down.

16 – explosive plays UNC has allowed on second down.

16 – explosive plays UNC has allowed on third down.

… ALLOWED BY DOWN DISTANCE

32 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when opponent needs at least 10 yards for a first down.

6 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when opponent needs at least 15 yards for a first down.

3 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when opponent needs at least 20 yards for a first down.

… ALLOWED BY TYPE

17 – explosive running plays UNC has allowed, for an average gain of 23.8 yards.

31 – explosive passing plays UNC has allowed, for an average gain of 30.1 yards.

… ALLOWED BY QUARTER

9 – explosive plays UNC has allowed in the first quarter.

15 – explosive plays UNC has allowed in the second quarter.

11 – explosive plays UNC has allowed in the third quarter.

13 – explosive plays UNC has allowed in the fourth quarter.

… ALLOWED BY SCORE MARGIN

7 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when score is tied (including when it's 0-0).

12 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when leading by 7 or fewer points.

2 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when leading by 27 points.

10 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when trailing by 7 or fewer points.

5 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when trailing by between 8 and 10 points.

8 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when trailing by between 15 and 22 points.

4 – explosive plays UNC has allowed when trailing by more than 22 points.

… ALLOWED BY OPPONENT

8 – explosive plays UNC allowed against Liberty, for an average gain of 18 yards.

13 – explosive plays UNC allowed against San Diego State, for an average gain of 26.4 yards.

19 – explosive plays UNC allowed against East Carolina, for an average gain of 28.9 yards.

8 – explosive plays UNC allowed against Clemson, for an average gain of 37.4 yards.

… ALLOWED BY DISTANCE OF PLAY

2 – explosive plays UNC has allowed that gained least 74 yards.

4 – explosive plays UNC has allowed that gained between 50 and 59 yards.

9 – explosive plays UNC has allowed that gained between 30 and 44 yards.

13 – explosive plays UNC has allowed that gained between 20 and 29 yards.

Now for UNC's offense. Here are the explosive plays the Tar Heels have generated:

(MORE) EXPLOSIVE PLAYS

… MADE BY DOWN

10 – explosive plays UNC has made on first down.

13 – explosive plays UNC has made on second down.

4 – explosive plays UNC has made on third down.

1 – explosive plays UNC has made on fourth down.

… MADE BY DOWN DISTANCE

15 – explosive plays UNC has made when it needs at least 10 yards for a first down.

1 – explosive plays UNC has made when it needs between 11 and 14 yards for a first down.

1 – explosive plays UNC has made when it needs 15 yards or more first down.

… MADE BY TYPE

9 – explosive running plays UNC has made, for an average gain of 16.6 yards.

19 – explosive passing plays UNC has made, for an average gain of 34.1 yards.

… MADE BY QUARTER

5 – explosive plays UNC has made in the first quarter.

4 – explosive plays UNC has made in the second quarter.

8 – explosive plays UNC has made in the third quarter.

11 – explosive plays UNC has made in the fourth quarter.

… MADE BY SCORE MARGIN

1 – explosive play UNC has made in a tied game.

2 – explosive plays UNC has made when it leads by 7 or fewer points.

3 – explosive plays UNC has made when it leads by between 13 and 20 points (all vs. Liberty).

8 – explosive plays UNC has made when trailing by 7 or fewer points.

5 – explosive plays UNC has made when trailing by between 10 and 15 points.

9 – explosive plays UNC has made when trailing by 20 or more points.

… MADE AGAINST EACH OPPONENT

7 – explosive plays UNC made against Liberty, for an average gain of 19.7 yards.

3 – explosive plays UNC made against San Diego State, for an average gain of 44.7 yards.

8 – explosive plays UNC made against East Carolina, for an average gain of 26 yards.

10 – explosive plays UNC made against Clemson, for an average gain of 31.6 yards.

… MADE BY DISTANCE OF PLAY

2 – explosive plays UNC has made that gained at least 75 yards.

1 – explosive play UNC has made that gained between 50 and 74 yards.

1 – explosive play UNC has made that gained between 40 and 49 yards.

3 – explosive plays UNC has made that gained between 30 and 39 yards.

10 – explosive plays UNC has made that gained between 20 and 29 yards.

So there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know, probably, about UNC and big plays.

Andrew Carter is the UNC athletics beat reporter for The News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer. Follow him on Twitter at @_andrewcarter .

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