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Analytics: Will Wisconsin Football Run Wild Under Phil Longo?

Here is an in-Depth Analysis of Phil Longo’s Run Game and why that approach will differ from how Wisconsin Football ran the ball under Paul Chryst.



Wisconsin Badgers football offensive coordinator Phil Longo speaks at local media day.
Wisconsin Badgers offensive Coordinator Phil Longo answers questions during Wisconsin Badgers football media day at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.

I’m so excited to bring you Part Three of my Pre-Season Series: TOP 10 Wisconsin Football Stats you need to know for the 2023 Season!

For Part 1 & Part 2

Theme #8: Phil Longo’s Run Game

There has been a ton of talk around Phil Longo & the “Air Raid” Offense he’s bringing to UW. But as most of you are aware, he’s historically been about 50% Run & 50% Pass. This is a BIG difference when you compare it to UW/Paul Chryst, who we’re 63% Run & 37% Pass over that same time period:

So we’re still going to see UW run the Football. But what will it look like, and how will it compare to UW under Paul Chryst?

Longo vs. Wisconsin Football – Men In Box:

Through this series and our analysis of Phil Longo’s Offense. We know one of the key differences that his scheme creates is many more looks vs. Light Boxes (6 or Less In Box). It’s a STARK contrast vs. Wisconsin Football


We can see a near inversion of %s vs. Heavy Boxes (7 or More In Box) & Light Boxes (6 or Less In Box) :

Wisconsin (Under Chryst):

  • % 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%

This is incredible. And it should come as no shock that the YPA data tells you running against a 7 or More Man Box is suboptimal. At Least for Longo…

For Wisconsin Football from 2017-2022, they had a BETTER YPA on Runs vs. Heavy Boxes….thank Jonathan Taylor & Braelon Allen for that.

But it still can’t match the efficiency of Running vs. Light Boxes for the majority of your attempts:

This is why Wisconsin has finished 102nd, 71st & 66th in Total Yards/Play, according to Team

Will Longo Alter Run Direction Tendencies for Wisconsin Football:

No, not really.



Both Longo & Wisconsin Football had similar tendencies regarding Run-Direction.

  1. Outside
  2. Inside
  3. Middle

Again, I’d like to highlight the VAST difference when you add Box Heaviness as a factor:

UW had its Running Backs plowing into Heavy Boxes non-stop. It’s incredible that Jonathan Taylor never *showed* injury concerns in college.

The same can’t be said for Braelon or Chez, who have missed a combined 9 Games over the past 2 Seasons due to Injury. Obviously, Chez has the massive majority of those lost games. But Braelon would/should have missed an additional game vs. Minnesota in 2021, where he was quite obviously battling an injury!

It makes you wonder…is it just luck. Taylor handled the ball as much as anyone in CFB history & barely got scratched. Meanwhile, a bruiser like Braelon, who you would expect to feed off the physicality. Has seemed to have been hampered by it late in Seasons. But its a big enough issue that you hear Luke Fickell address it specifically at B1G Media Days. Where he called out that he’d like to see Braelon Average 18 for 140 (skip to 6:00 in) in 2023. This would imply, in a 14 Game Season, 252 ATT for 1,960 YDS. Which is ~5 fewer ATT/G but 40 More Yards/G!!

This means his YPA will need to skyrocket!

What will this impact on Wisconsin Football YPA:

If Braelon Allen is going to achieve such a gaudy stat line, It will need to come through a large YPA improvement.

We’ve seen how that looks in Total & when you factor in Men-In-Box. This should bode well for Braelon & Chez going into this season. But why not look at the same data considering Run-Direction to see if there’s a certain run direction that shows even larger outperformance.


A few interesting things stick out to me when we get to this level of detail:

  1. Longo’s Teams are effective in running toward the Outside
  2. Longo’s Teams are also effective at running on the left side of the O-Line
    1. This holds even with Heavy Boxes!!

Braelon Allen & Chez Mellusi:

This is what everybody wants to know, how will Braelon & Chez capitalize on this shift in the Run-Game? And I hate to tell you, but you’ll have to wait to find out!!

I’ll be breaking this down in my next post! Which should be coming Thursday or Friday this week. So stay tuned into all things @Badger_Notes.


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.