Joe Licata: Classic Goldilocks Situation

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

In the story of Goldilocks, the titular trespasser tries porridge among other things, and finds one dish to be too hot, one to be too cold, and finds one that is just right. In 2012 many thought Licata was used too little, during the BGSU game I argue he was used too much, but with the talent leaving, a lot of Licata might be just right for UB's future.

While the style of play may have been a frustrating flashback, the 2nd half of the Bowling Green game gave UB fans a semi-promising sneak preview into the Oliver-less future. UB's offensive star shifts from Running Back to Quarterback, which may mean more passing and less running.

I charted 22 instances in 2013 where Joe Licata threw the ball 4 or more consecutive times. I included times when Licata threw to end a drive and then threw to start the next drive as consecutive. Three times, the number of consecutive Licata dropbacks hit double digits, 11 vs Stony Brook, 11 vs Toledo, and 25 vs Bowling Green. UB was 6-4 in games with 1 or more instances of 4 straight dropbacks, and 3-2 with 2 or more instances.

UB 2013 didn't need to throw it often due to a smothering defense, a dominant run game, a young Quarterback and playing often with a big lead. Obviously, the UB offense saw better results when they did not have to throw the ball so often (with the exception of Toledo, where they got better with more throwing). To my surprise, Licata handled the lack of diversity very well, and it gives hope to a Licata dominated future.

Completion %/Yards Per Attempt/Yards Per Completion

Season Total - 59.1% / 6.98 / 11.8

Consecutive drop backs - 59.1% / 6.14 / 10.4

All other drop backs - 59.1% / 7.48 / 12.6

These stats show Licata has the ability to find the open man no matter the playcalling tendencies, however without the run mixed in, the open man gain 2 yards less on average.

TD/Att, INT/Att, Sack/Att

Season Total - Licata threw a TD on 5.6% of his attempts, an INT on 1.9% of his attempts and was sacked once for every 23 attempts.

Consecutive drop backs - TDs 3.6%, INTs 2.9%, Sacks 1 for every 27 attempts

All other drop backs - TDs 6.8%, INTs 1.3%, Sacks 1 for every 21 attempts

This is where I am concerned for Licata. When passing consecutively his sack numbers go down, but he throws less TDs and more interceptions. Because Licata is in no way a scramble threat, teams can legitimately rush 3 or 4 men, bracket the stars and force a Matt Weiser or a Devon Hughes to make the big 3rd down play.

Last Week and Next Year

Against Bowling Green while mixing runs and passes Licata was 6 for 17 (35%) for 63 yards and was sacked once for every 4 attempts, the run game was also not faring too well. The decision to throw 25 consecutive times produced a 15% increase in completion percentage and doubled Licata's yards per attempt. Per the season stats, sacks were reduced but the switch brought no Touchdown passes but did lead to an interception.

I believe 25 consecutive passes was the wrong way to go last week, (I'm not sure if I wrote it already or not, but I have and will keep refering to it as Quinn going Natti) but I understand that it may be the future of UB's offense. After looking at the numbers, I'm ok with that. Licata has proven himself to be the most capable QB we've had since Willy and as long as his maturation process increases the TDs and lowers the already low INT number, I think we just might have some fun Saturdays in Amherst in the coming years.

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