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Analytics: Braelon Allen & Chez Mellusi Will Run Wild for Wisconsin Football

Find out why Braelon Allen and Chez mellusi will run wild for Wisconsin Football in 2023. It’s all because of Phil Longo’s Offensive Scheme.



Star Wisconsin Football Runningback Braelon Allen
Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) answers questions during Wisconsin Badgers football media day at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023. - Mike De Sisti / The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

I’m back with Part Four of my Pre-Season Series: TOP 10 Wisconsin Football Stats you need to know for the 2023 Season!

For Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 

Theme #7: Wisconsin Football RBs Braelon Allen & Chez Mellusi are Salivating for Light Boxes:

Remember these stats?


  • % of ATTs vs. Heavy Boxes (7 or More In Box) = 22%
  • % of ATTs vs. Light Boxes (6 or Less In Box) = 78%


  • % of ATTs vs. Heavy Boxes (7 or More In Box) = 27%
  • % of ATTs vs. Light Boxes (6 or Less In Box) = 73%

Yes, those are the actual stats. An exact inverse in terms of facing Heavy Boxes vs. Light Boxes.

The fact Longo is bringing this amount of Light Boxes to Wisconsin Football has to have Braelon Allen & Chez Mellusi salivating for the running lanes they are about to see this Season!

Running lanes that will have much fewer defenders occupying space, as you’ll see in the graphic below. This does a fantastic job highlighting how Wisconsin & Braelon/Chez faced about 78% of their Rushes vs. Heavy Boxes in the 2021-2022 Seasons. And the inverse situation for UNC and Phil Longo ran offenses!


Braelon + Chez & Wisconsin Football YPA vs. Light Boxes:

Given each of them will be facing an increased amount of Light Boxes. We should see how they’ve performed over the past two seasons Vs. Light Boxes!! First, let’s examine YPA by Run Direction for Braelon and Chez individually. Then, we’ll look at the YPA by Run Direction for the two RBs as a combination.


Looking at Chez, you can see some interesting themes show:

  1. He’s a much better runner toward the left side of the O-Line
  2. Versus Light Boxes & on the left side, he has better YPA
    1. Versus Light Boxes on the right side, he has worse YPA?!?

Now Let’s look at Braelon.


Looking at Braelon, you can see some interesting themes show:

  1. He’s much more consistently seeing better YPA vs. Light Boxes
  2. He’s the opposite of Chez, running better toward the right side of the O-Line

Braelon + Chez:

Looking at both as a combination backfield:

  1. You can see consistent YPA outperformance vs. 6-Man Boxes
  2. Both Players seemed to struggle on runs “Outside Right”
    1. RT position was a turnstile pretty much all of 2022

In conclusion, YPA outperformance vs. Light Boxes certainly is there. But it doesn’t stand out as significantly as you might think based on the data.

However, we know it has to have a significant impact, so we should investigate other areas where it might have a larger impact. One area that immediately came to my mind is the percentage of runs for zero or negative gains. These runs are most often referred to as “stuffed” runs.

Braelon + Chez & Wisconsin Football Stuff Rate vs. Light Boxes:

Okay, so we know YPA is an important factor in Football statistics. But when running the football, is Stuff Rate a more important factor to consider? To know that answer, let’s look at a Scatter Plot of Stuff Rate (Stuff%) & EPA/ATT.

What is EPA/ATT? I’ll get into that in much more detail later in this Pre-Season series. But essentially, it’s a metric that shows the value of a play in terms of Expected Points Added. Said another way, EPA tells you if you positively impact the expectation of your team scoring. Where you’ll receive a number >0. Or if you’re negatively impacting the expectation of your team scoring, where you’ll receive a number <0. So EPA/ATT is an aggregation metric much like YPA.

But what we want to know is how does it correlate with the Stuff Rate? Well, we can see how it does in the chart below:

And what we see here is a really strong negative correlation. Meaning as your Stuff Rate increases or gets worse, your EPA/Att goes down. This is all fairly intuitive stuff, but what EPA does is pretty neat. It can also show that “Breakout” runs which skew YPA,  hide the impact “Stuffed” Runs have on an offense.

This is something that we will see in the next chart. Which will highlight Stuff Rate (Stuff %) and YPA in a similar scatter plot view.

A much less pronounced negative correlation. That means YPA, as a metric, hides some of the negative impacts an RB/O-Line/Scheme can have on offensive performance when it causes or allows a high % of runs to be stuffed for Zero-Negative Gain.

For a UW example that highlights this, take the two runs Braelon Allen had last season vs. Illinois State and Ohio State of 88 & 75 yards per ATT. Both of those extremely influenced his YPA. But those are outliers that might not impact his overall EPA/ATT. Because stripping out that run vs. Ohio State, he was 22 for 90 Yards….which is nothing to write home about!

So as a statistic, YPA can hide overall poorer performance with a few positive outliers that skew the measure. But what we saw in the first graph is a more accurate representation of a player’s influence on the game! This means for an RB/O-Line/Offense, running the ball effectively means limiting the number of runs you get stuffed for Zero or Negative gain. Instead of having a high YPA which CAN BE SKEWED.

Let’s see how this manifests with Chez & Braelon and if Lighter Boxes helps limit Stuff Rate!!!


Some oddities come through in Chez’s data. You see a reduction in Stuff rate across 3/4 Run Directions is lower. Which is odd and nothing like I would have thought.

Let’s look at Braelon.


Okay, this makes much more sense.

Honestly, this is pretty amazing right here. If you don’t load the box and we run it inside the tackles, you will not Stop Braelon Allen for a Zero or Negative play.

Incredible. This will truly be a double-edged sword for defenses. With the RPO game, defenses will be in a pretzel! Do you load the box to stop him, knowing Mordecai can pull it and lazer it to one of the WRs ANYTIME?

My guess is no. Which means…Braelon will be chewing up yards. All damn game!

Braelon + Chez:

Right, this looks better regarding matching the hypothesis to the data uniformly. If you have fewer defenders in the box on these two, you’ll have a tough time stopping them for a Zero or Negative Play. This means they’re making a play that will help move the chains and improve the likelihood of scoring!!

As I said in Part 2 of this series, Longo is a Master at his craft in terms of creating an environment in which his players can succeed. And what I’ve tried to convey through this post is it will be evident in the running game for Wisconsin Football this year by lightening up the box. Because he has been blessed with two 4-Star and Veteran RBs who have PROVEN they can gash opposing defenses! Whether it’s a Heavy Box or not, it doesn’t matter. And they’ll have many more opportunities to go against Light Boxes. And if they don’t? Defenses will pay for it by giving up Big Plays in the passing game!!!

Whichever poison a defense picks. Load or Lighten the Box. Longo, Braelon + Chez & the Wisconsin Football Offense are set up for a HUGE year!

On Wisconsin!

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Gard Your Fickell is a leading authority on Wisconsin Badgers analytics, specializing in dissecting the intricate data behind football and basketball. With a deep passion for the game and an analytical mindset, Gard Your Fickell offers readers a unique perspective on the Badgers performance.