3/18/2013 11:38 AM (edited)
Question: 

When running a WR out of the Shotgun, which is understood to essentially be a Jet Sweep-type of play, does the 3.0 game engine determine which direction the player runs (left to right, or right to left) depending on their position (WR1, WR2, etc.), and use that in factoring how the play plays out? 

I'm wondering because the basic play-by-play will say what direction the WR ran, left or right (oddly enough, the expanded play-by-play only says the WR "rushes wide"), but at times the direction given seems...unlikely.

For example, on one play the WR2 will be said to have rushed left, which looking at the Offensive Formations diagram for Shotgun would be as expected. But then on another play, the play-by-play will say that the same guy lining up at the same WR2 position rushed to the right, which by the diagram would mean that he ran to the QB, took the handoff, turned around and ran back to the side he came from.  

 I'm not even sure Oregon would run that play.

So does the WR's running direction matter?  Does the 3.0 game engine take it into account? Or is the direction info in the (basic) play-by-play just cosmetic?
3/18/2013 12:24 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs-Q0JmWjj0
3/18/2013 6:55 AM
Heh! That's exactly the cartoon I was thinking of when I read the play-by-play.
3/18/2013 11:14 AM
The 3.0 engine does not take direction into account, but actually neither did 2.0 or 1.0.  The confusing part about 2.0 is that it will give directional text in the pbp.  I have been removing any such text from the 3.0 pbp so as to not convey something that isn't actually happening.  I must have missed the left/right text in the WR rushing plays.

So to answer the underlying question, there is no left or right direction in the engine, but rather just "to the outside".  This is because we only know which players are to the outside, but not necessarily which side they are on.  You could go by the diagrams and formation settings and maybe define which side a player is playing on, but since you can't set settings to say which side a rush goes to or which side a blitz comes from and all the other things that could be tied to left/right or strong side/weak side, we take that into account with the simulation of the play and all players on the outside contribute.

I'm sure it would be more realistic to have players set to the left or right, but the complexity it adds to the plays and the settings just isn't worth it.  So there is a level of abstraction within the simulation to take this into account and the engine will look at the match up of all those players to the outside rather than assuming something about their positioning.

3/18/2013 11:36 AM
Cool. Thanks, norbert. In reading your Anatomy of a Play post, I considered that might be the case. I love running a spread zone read-ish offense, so just wanted to be sure how it broke down.

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