Film Room: Charting Dalton Sturm vs. Charlotte

We took a nice hard look at Dalton Sturm's evening vs. the Charlotte 49ers, in a game that made history for UTSA as the Roadrunners became bowl eligible for the first time. Sturm was actually replaced in the fourth quarter by Jared Johnson, who guided the Roadrunners to 13 points and put the game out of reach. Here is what we saw from Sturm in 3/4 of Saturday night's game. 

As a precursor, Sturm's numbers were 18 completions 33 attempts for 286 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. Not a bad evening. Certainly an slight uptick over the rest of Sturm's November. Sturm's 286 yards were a career high. Here's Sturm's passing chart:

Right off Sturm did/does do a good job of spreading the field. We'll talk more about this later, but that's pretty even distribution to all parts of the field. We charted each of his 39 drop backs, aside from his completions and attempts, Sturm was sacked three times and broke contain to scramble three times. Among his incompletions, Sturm had six drops and two throw aways. Here are some other interesting tidbits/notes:

Under the Gun  

One of the things we like about Frank Scelfo's offense is that utilizes both conventional sets and spread sets. In that vein he plays his quarterbacks under center and in the gun. As a general rule, we don't mind the gun, but we don't like its exclusive use. 

A lot of coordinators and head coaches like the shotgun because the quarterback never loses eye contact with the defense (other than catching the snap) and because quarterbacks tend to be more comfortable in the shotgun, standing up, making quick reads. Plus most quarterbacks colleges recruit today play a majority of snaps from the shotgun.

We prefer a variation as it does a number of positive things for the offense. First taking the snap from under center allows a quarterback to vary his launch position. You can use 3, 5, 7, or the Dan Fouts infinity drop. The defense doesn't have a consistent target off the edge or aiming point and that works to actually slow a rush down.

Also, because a quarterback doesn't take a drop in a shotgun set, or at least doesn't take as aggressive a drop, we've noticed that quarterbacks who play in the shotgun are less comfortable with the concept of "climbing the pocket," i.e. moving back towards the line of scrimmage after hitting their plant step to avoid the rush and extend plays inside the pocket. Lastly, and aside from the benefits to the running game, the fact that a lot of college quarterbacks use the same "clap cadence" or hand signals gives the defense the ability to anticipate the snap more easily than they would with the more conventional cadence and the lost art of the hard count. 

Scelfo must script a certain number of plays to start the game to give him a look vs different personnel groupings and sets. Sturm dropped back from under center six times in his first fourteen attempts. From that point forward, Sturm threw from the shotgun 23 of his next 25 attempts. For the record, when under center Sturm completed 3 of 7 for 97 yards and in the gun he completed 15 of 26 for 189. 

Scelfo's offensive scheme is different from the Bear Raid or other "spread" concepts that have become popular as Briles disciples have progressed the offense around the country. Scelfo's shotgun passing schemes still force a quarterback to read a progression and as we've stated earlier, use the entire field. We like this approach over the Bear Raid's "hit it or quit it," one read approach.

Scelfo's offense runs a true progression system, even out of the shotgun. 


Of Dalton Sturm's 39 passing attempts, Charlotte brought pressure, or more than four rushers, just twelve times or just below a third of the time. Of those occasions, Charlotte brought a fifth rusher five times, a sixth rusher six times and a seventh rusher once. 

Against an extra rusher(s), Sturm was surprisingly efficient, completing seven of eleven passes for 78 yards and one sacked. One of his incompletions was a smart throw away near the goal line on a third down that kept UTSA in a manageable field goal distance. 

When the 49ers were able to get home on their rush and alter or force Sturm to move and throw on the run, regardless of the number of rushers, Sturm completed four of nine passes for 105 yards. That number is bolstered by the 73 yard touchdown that came off play action but also occurred with a disintegrating pocket. 

When the pocket was "clean," i.e. when either no rusher forced Sturm to alter his launch point, or when he was given sufficient time to pick out someone downfield but couldn't due to coverage, Sturm was fourteen of twenty-four for 181 yards. 

Attempts Completions Comp. % Yards Yds Att
Pressured 9 4 44% 105 11.7
Clean 24 14 58% 181 7.5

All in all, because Sturm is a plus athlete in the pocket, pressure didn't effect his ability to deliver the ball on time and on target. 

2 Minute

A couple last points, Sturm was asked to execute a two minute drill at the end of the first half and he did so almost flawlessly. With no timeouts and 1:45 on the clock, Sturm drove the Roadrunners 71 yard to the 49er seven yard line. 

On the drive Sturm was five of seven for 69 yards and worked the entire field. We can't emphasize enough how important that is to winning offense. By contrast, we charted Tyler Jones of Texas State and noted the Bobcats closed parts of the field for the defense by their own schemes.  

The Roadrunners used the field from boundary to boundary and, more importantly, stretched Charlotte vertically. A lot of offensive coordinators are afraid to ask their quarterbacks to throw to the middle of the field, among the traffic, but defenses are now geared to pressure the perimeter and the middle of the field is where those big beautiful linebackers roam the earth, praying that no one makes them cover. Using the whole field also pressures safeties by expanding their coverage areas.

To be clear, the Roadrunners didn't score on the drive, more a product of a bad tactical decision by a receiver in not getting to the boundary and out of bounds than anything else, but Sturm looked very competent moving the ball down the field without any timeouts and against the clock. 

Odd and ends

Sturm threw five balls to running backs as opposed to twenty six to receivers or tight ends.

Lastly, Sturm was benched in the fourth quarter and as we look back at it it was as much for a change of pace as anything else. Johnson came in, UTSA went to spread, zone read look and exclusively out of the shotgun and Charlotte couldn't shift gears to deal with it. 

In the second half Sturm was 3-6 for just 17 yards, but included in that were two clear drops to start the second half. 

It'll be interesting to see how Scelfo and Frank Wilson use Sturm and Johnson in the bowl game with fifteen practices to add wrinkles. 


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Posted on November 29, 2016 and filed under UTSA, Southwest Round-Up.