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Boston College Football: Creating Explosive Plays on 1st Down

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Last month we took a look at the numbers and determined which down BC quarterback Patrick Towles was most successful passing in an attempt to try and figure out how the Eagles could jump start the passing game

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Last month we took a look at the numbers and determined which down BC quarterback Patrick Towles was most successful passing in an attempt to try and figure out how the Eagles could jump start the passing game. The following was as excerpt from that article which was written after four games.

A case could be made that BC is missing out on the potential for success on first down by not passing enough. Quarterback Patrick Towles actually has had his best success passing on first down compared to any other down. Below is the breakdown of how Towles has performed on each down:

1st down- 14-of-27, 308 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 169.53 passer rating

2nd down- 12-of-20, 101 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, 118.92 passer rating

3rd down-15-of-36, 163 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, 74.15 passer rating

Now we have four more games of data to look at and the results are pretty similar to the data from the first four games. Towles continues to have his highest completion %, highest yardage, highest number of touchdown passes and highest passer rating on first down.

1st down- 30-of-57 (52.6% completion), 529 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 137.43 passer rating

2nd down- 22-of-44 (50% completion), 265 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, 108.09 passer rating

3rd down-35-of-74 (47.3% completion), 347 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interception, 94.66 passer rating

This week we decided to peel away another layer of the onion and take a look to see if Towles puts up more big plays depending on the down.  The numbers say that Towles connects on big plays the most often---gross overall and in terms of percentage---on first down.

1st down-16 passing plays of 15 yards or more

2nd down-9 passing plays of 15 yards or more

3rd down- 6 passing plays of 15 yards or more

When you break out by percentage of attempts that end up in passing plays of 15 yards or more you see similar numbers:

1st down- 28%

2nd down-20%

3rd down-8%

When it comes to passing plays of 25 yards or more we see similar numbers from Towles as well:

1st down-6 plays of 25 yards or more

2nd down-4 plays of 25 yards or more

3rd down- 1 plays of 25 yards or more

Percentage of passing attempts that ends up in play of 25+ yards

1st down- 10%

2nd down-9%

3rd down-1%

We all know that BC is going to have to have a lot of things go its way in order to upset Louisville this weekend. One of those things is creating explosive plays in the passing game as you can’t make a living on cracking the rock against a defense that has as good of a front four as Louisville. It will be intriguing to see if Addazio takes some shots passing on first down more than 26% of the time, which is the percentage that BC has thrown on first down this season. Interestingly enough, that rate is the highest % that BC has thrown on first down during the Addazio era.