Leafing Through Pages: Analysis of Sports and Other Topics

12/15/2009

The Keys to Winning College Football Games

It’s common knowledge that statistics like turnover differential, points allowed per game, and stopping the running game are key factors in amassing victories at the NFL level but let’s take a look at possible winning factors for teams at the college football level. I used this site: College Football Team Stats for the following numbers. Very invaluable resource.

Points Allowed per Game
Combined Record of Top 20 Teams: 195-52 (78.95%).
Combined Record of Low 20 Teams: 67-186 (26.48%).

Average Team Passer Rating
Combined Record of Top 20 Teams: 194-53 (78.54%).
Combined Record of Low 20 Teams: 78-163 (32.37%).

Points per Play
Combined Record of Top 20 Teams: 191-55 (77.64%).
Combined Record of Low 20 Teams: 64-177 (26.56%).

Rushing Yards per Game Allowed
Combined Record of Top 20 Teams: 184-60 (75.41%).
Combined Record of Low 20 Teams: 86-169 (33.73%).

Turnover Margin per Game
Combined Record of Top 20 Teams: 172-74 (69.92%).
Combined Record of Low 20 Teams: 90-152 (37.19%).

Average Yard per Play on Offense
Combined Record of Top 20 Teams: 169-76 (68.98%).
Combined Record of Low 20 Teams: 69-172 (28.63%).

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12/13/2009

Construction of a Run-And-Shoot Offense

Filed under: Pro Football — David Hunter @ 12:52 PM
Tags: ,

Many people are aware that a run-and-shoot offense needs speed, agility, and football intelligence. Here’s a look at how the offense was constructed through 3 teams that utilized the run-and-shoot in the NFL during the early 1990’s. Note that for Detroit, Mouse Davis was OC while in Houston, Jack Pardee had just become head coach. Jerry Glanville was the head coach of Atlanta and was the only squad to utilize a lot of RBs and include TEs on the roster.

1989 Detroit Lions
4 QB: 6’3 200, 6’2 196, 6’4 217, 6’0 230
4 RB: 5’10 225, 5’9 184, 5’9 184, 5’8 203
11 WR: 5’9 167, 6’3 190, 5’11 175, 6’2 204, 5’7 182, 6’1 180, 5’9 170, 5’8 168, 5’7 166, 5’9 180, 5’11 190

1990 Detroit Lions
3 QB: 6’3 200, 6’0 230, 6’2 205
2 RB: 5’8 203, 6’3 225
8 WR: 5’9 167, 5’8 167, 5’11 175, 5’10 192, 6’1 192, 5’7 182, 5’7 165, 5’7 166

1990 Houston Oilers
2 QB: 6’3 202, 6’3 218
4 RB: 5’8 212, 5’9 190, 5’10 209, 5’11 222
8 WR: 5’11 184, 5’9 168, 5’9 178, 5’8 162, 5’9 170, 6’2 201, 5’7 142, 5’7 145

1991 Atlanta Falcons
3 QB: 6’2 225, 6’2 212, 6’1 217
6 RB: 6’1 220, 6’0 234, 6’1 210, 5’10 195, 5’10 209, 5’7 201
7 WR: 6’2 207, 5’9 170, 6’0 184, 5’7 166, 5’10 188, 6’1 188, 5’9 169

One thing that immediately becomes clear is that size shrinks down incredibly at the WR position. Many of the WRs would be considered smurfs (ironically, Darren Sproles of the San Diego Chargers would probably have been drafted as a potential inside W or Y receiver for a run-and-shoot team given his speed and agility in the open field and good ability to catch the ball.

Here’s how I would construct a current run-and-shoot offense if given the parameters above and the ability to select any talent in the NFL today.

2009 Run-And-Shoot Squad
First I’ll need quarterbacks that are not only intelligent but have very good ability to scramble out of the pocket.

3 QB: 6’0 209 (Drew Brees), 6’4 217 (Alex Smith), 6’3 205 (Josh Johnson)

I’ll need small running backs who are very shifty in the backfield but strong enough to break tackles and can chip block at the very least or split out in a 5 WR set.

3 RB: 5’9 198 (Ahmad Bradshaw), 6’0 203 (Reggie Bush), 5’8 202 (Kevin Faulk)

And finally I’ll need smaller WRs who have very good speed/agility and separation ability to keep defenses on their heels. These guys would be considered slot WRs at best on most rosters. I’ve also had to convert several RBs in order to “meet” the smaller size that rosters above had.

10 WR: 5’6 185 (Darren Sproles), 5’11 186 (Danny Amendola), 5’9 185 (Wes Welker), 5’10 190 (Davone Bess), 5’10 200 (Santana Moss), 5’9 171 (Roscoe Parrish), 5’10 180 (Eddie Royal), 6’0 185 (Johnny Knox), 5’9 205 (Jerome Harrison), 5’8 195 (Leon Washington)

12/10/2009

Should FBS Teams Be Wary of FCS Teams?

Many college football fans follow big time FBS programs such as the Florida Gators, USC Trojans, Oklahoma Sooners, and Texas Longhorns. Ask them about a very well known FCS program such as Appalachian State, Montana, or Richmond and you’ll likely get a quizzical look or if verbose, the “question” asking roughly, “Isn’t that a Division II school?”

Needless to say, there’s certainly a distinction between the level of FCS and Division II and Division III football. Many fans see the annual FBS vs. FCS matchups as boring with the FCS opponents far below the talent level/quality of the big time FBS teams. After all, they’re all gonna get blown out of the building anyway so why schedule them, right? But is that really the case? Let’s take a look at the 2009 season.

Week 1
– Villanova defeated Temple 27-24. Won by 3 points.
– Hawaii defeated Central Arkansas 25-20. Lost by 5 points.
– East Carolina defeated Appalachian State 29-24. Lost by 5 points.
– Michigan State defeated Montana State 44-3. Lost by 41 points.
– Northwestern defeated Towson 47-14. Lost by 33 points.
– West Virginia defeated Liberty 33-20. Lost by 13 points.
– Pittsburgh defeated Youngstown State 38-3. Lost by 35 points.
– Air Force defeated Nicholls State 72-0. Lost by 72 points.
– Boston College defeated Northeastern 54-0. Lost by 54 points.
– Oregon State defeated Portland State 34-7. Lost by 27 points.
– Wyoming defeated Weber State 29-22. Lost by 7 points.
– Mississippi State defeated Jackson State 45-7. Lost by 38 points.
– Marshall defeated Southern Illinois 31-28. Lost by 3 points.
– William & Mary defeated Virginia 26-14. Won by 12 points.
– Arkansas defeated Missouri State 48-10. Won by 38 points.
– Richmond defeated Duke 24-16. Won by 8 points.
– Houston defeated Northwestern State 55-7. Lost by 48 points.
– Southern Mississippi defeated Alcorn State 52-0. Lost by 52 points.
– Texas Tech defeated North Dakota 38-13. Lost by 25 points.
– UL Lafayette defeated Southern U 42-19. Lost by 23 points.
– Arkansas State defeated Mississippi Valley State 61-0. Lost by 61 points.
– Kansas State defeated Massachusetts 21-17. Lost by 4 points.
– Louisville defeated Indiana State 30-10. Lost by 20 points.
– South Florida defeated Wofford 40-7. Lost by 33 points.
– Central Florida defeated Samford 28-24. Lost by 4 points.
– Vanderbilt defeated Western Carolina 45-0. Lost by 45 points.
– SMU defeated Stephen F. Austin 31-23. Lost by 8 points.
– Arizona State defeated Idaho State 50-3. Lost by 47 points.
– Fresno State defeated UC Davis 51-0. Lost by 51 points.
– UNLV defeated Sacramento State 38-3. Lost by 35 points.
– Georgia Tech defeated Jacksonville State 37-17. Lost by 20 points.
– Iowa defeated Northern Iowa 17-16. Lost by 1 point.
– North Carolina defeated Citadel 40-6. Lost by 34 points.
– Florida defeated Charleston Southern 62-3. Lost by 59 points.
– Kansas defeated Northern Colorado 49-3. Lost by 46 points.

Week 2
– Akron defeated Morgan State 41-0. Lost by 41 points.
– Rutgers defeated Howard 45-7. Lost by 38 points.
– Colorado State defeated Weber State 24-23. Lost by 1 point.
– Maryland defeated James Madison 38-35. Lost by 3 points.
– New Hampshire defeated Ball State 23-16. Won by 7 points.
– Illinois defeated Illinois State 45-17. Lost by 28 points.
– UL Monroe defeated Texas Southern 58-0. Lost by 58 points.
– Northern Illinois defeated Western Illinois 41-7. Lost by 34 points.
– New Mexico State defeated Prairie View 21-18. Lost by 3 points.
– San Diego State defeated Southern Utah 35-19. Lost by 16 points.
– Florida State defeated Jacksonville State 19-9. Lost by 10 points.
– California defeated Eastern Washington 59-7. Lost by 52 points.
– Oklahoma defeated Idaho State 64-0. Lost by 64 points.
– Cincinnati defeated SE Missouri State 70-3. Lost by 67 points.
– Arizona defeated Northern Arizona 34-17. Lost by 17 points.

Week 3
– Wisconsin defeated Wofford 44-14. Lost by 30 points.
– Missouri defeated Furman 52-12. Lost by 40 points.
– Central Michigan defeated Alcorn State 48-0. Lost by 48 points.
– Wake Forest defeated Elon 35-7. Lost by 28 points.
– Louisiana Tech defeated Nicholls State 48-13. Lost by 35 points.
– Ohio defeated Cal Poly 28-10. Lost by 18 points.
– South Florida defeated Charleston Southern 59-0. Lost by 59 points.
– Memphis defeated Tennessee-Martin 41-14. Lost by 27 points.
– TCU defeated Texas State 56-21. Lost by 35 points.
– Mississippi defeated SE Louisiana 52-6. Lost by 46 points.

Week 4
– Connecticut defeated Rhode Island 52-10. Lost by 42 points.
– Kansas State defeated Tennessee Tech 49-7. Lost by 42 points.
– Tulane defeated McNeese State 42-32. Lost by 10 points.
– Baylor defeated Northwestern State 68-13. Lost by 55 points.
– Duke defeated NC Central 49-14. Lost by 35 points.
– Syracuse defeated Maine 41-24. Lost by 17 points.
– Tulsa defeated Sam Houston State 56-3. Lost by 53 points.
– Western Michigan defeated Hofstra 24-10. Lost by 14 points.
– San Jose State defeated Cal Poly 19-9. Lost by 10 points.
– Utah State defeated Southern Utah 53-34. Lost by 19 points.
– Oklahoma State defeated Grambling State 56-6. Lost by 50 points.

Week 5
– South Carolina defeated SC State 38-14. Lost by 24 points.
– Boise State defeated UC Davis 34-16. Lost by 18 points.

Week 6
– Buffalo defeated Gardner-Webb 40-3. Lost by 37 points.
– North Carolina defeated Georgia Southern 42-12. Lost by 30 points.
– Rutgers defeated Texas Southern 42-0. Lost by 42 points.
– Penn State defeated Eastern Illinois 52-3. Lost by 49 points.
– Miami defeated Florida A&M 48-16. Lost by 32 points.

Week 7
– Michigan defeated Delaware State 63-6. Lost by 57 points.

Week 9
– Clemson defeated Coastal Carolina 49-3. Lost by 46 points.

Week 10
– Georgia defeated Tennessee Tech 38-0. Lost by 38 points.
– Kentucky defeated Eastern Kentucky 37-12. Lost by 25 points.
– Auburn defeated Furman 63-31. Lost by 32 points.
– Mississippi defeated Northern Arizona 38-14. Lost by 24 points.

Week 11
– Army defeated Virginia Military Institute 22-17. Lost by 5 points.
– Minnesota defeated South Dakota State 16-13. Lost by 3 points.
– Navy defeated Delaware 35-18. Lost by 17 points.

Conclusion: Yeah, there were a lot of blowouts with FCS teams losing quite a lot of games by more than 3 TDs at the very least. But that of course was to be expected, especially when you see an FCS team going up against Florida or Oklahoma.

I’ll also bet you’re looking at the W-L record and snickering to yourself. Those silly FCS schools only won 5 games! Out of the 87 games played, they only won 5.7% and isn’t the whole point of football to win games? But you’re not quite looking hard enough.

Ignoring the fact that literally all of the FBS vs. FCS games were road games for the FCS schools, in part due to the monetary gate they would receive being higher, they also had a good percentage of their games kept close.

Of the 87 games played, there were 22 games that were either lost by 14 points or won by as much as 10 points. That comes out to 25% of all games played! And often times on the road against much bigger schools fan attendance wise. If we’re bump that up to a loss by at least 20 points, that percentage jumps up to 36% of all FBS vs. FCS games (31) over the 2009 season.

So while FCS teams won’t be winning 20% of their matchups anytime soon, they’ll certainly be keeping games close and forcing FBS teams to be careful of how far they overlook them, even if the fans continue to.

12/06/2009

The Big Play Ability of the Run-and-Shoot

Filed under: Pro Football — David Hunter @ 12:25 PM
Tags: , , ,

The run-and-shoot offense is often described as basketball on turf or more commonly, an offense that can score at any given moment (usually meaning a big play). Just how true was that? The criteria used will be based on TD plays, whether they be passes or runs, over 20 yards (essentially at the opponent’s red zone minimum). A big play offense should result in bigger plays scoring as opposed to “methodical” offenses that drive down the field, chew up clock, and score from within the red zone. I’ll compare the 20+ scores to scores inside the 20.

1989 Detroit Lions: Out of 34 TDs scored, only 7 (21%) came outside of 20 yards.
1990 Detroit Lions: Out of 43 TDs scored, only 14 (33%) came outside of 20 yards.
1991 Detroit Lions: Out of 35 TDs scored, only 10 (29%) came outside of 20 yards.

So in 3 years, Detroit scored 112 offensive TDs and 28% (31) came outside of 20 yards.

Let’s see how the Houston Oilers, with a better QB in Warren Moon, did.

1989 Houston Oilers: Out of 39 TDs scored, only 10 (26%) came outside of 20 yards.
1990 Houston Oilers: Out of 47 TDs scored, only 15 (32%) came outside of 20 yards.
1991 Houston Oilers: Out of 40 TDs scored, only 11 (28%) came outside of 20 yards.
1992 Houston Oilers: Out of 37 TDs scored, only 4 (11%) came outside of 20 yards.
1993 Houston Oilers: Out of 34 TDs scored, only 7 (21%) came outside of 20 yards.

So in 5 years, Houston scored 197 offensive TDs and 24% (47) came outside of 20 yards.

That covered the Detroit Lions and Houston Oilers but there was a third team using the run-and-shoot offense during this period, the Atlanta Falcons. Mouse Davis once described them as using the “purest” form of the offense so maybe they scored more on bigger plays?

1990 Atlanta Falcons: Out of 32 TDs scored, only 8 (25%) came outside of 20 yards.
1991 Atlanta Falcons: Out of 36 TDs scored, only 16 (44%) came outside of 20 yards.
1992 Atlanta Falcons: Out of 38 TDs scored, only 14 (37%) came outside of 20 yards.
1993 Atlanta Falcons: Out of 29 TDs scored, only 9 (31%) came outside of 20 yards.
1994 Atlanta Falcons: Out of 31 TDs scored, only 8 (26%) came outside of 20 yards.
1995 Atlanta Falcons: Out of 32 TDs scored, only 12 (38%) came outside of 20 yards.
1996 Atlanta Falcons: Out of 35 TDs scored, only 5 (14%) came outside of 20 yards.

So in 7 years, Atlanta scored 233 offensive TDs and 31% (72) came outside of 20 yards.

So over three teams, the run-and-shoot often accounted for roughly 25 to 30% of their offensive TDs coming from 20 or more yards. Let’s compare that to “great” offenses such as the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, 2000 St. Louis Rams, 2004 Indianapolis Colts, and 2007 New England Patriots to see if the run-and-shoot was more big play or less big play than the all-time greatest offenses ever.

1998 Minnesota Vikings: Out of 58 TDs scored, only 25 (43%) came outside of 20 yards.
2000 St. Louis Rams: Out of 62 TDs scored, only 13 (21%) came outside of 20 yards.
2004 Indianapolis Colts: Out of 61 TDs scored, only 20 (33%) came outside of 20 yards.
2007 New England Patriots: Out of 67 TDs scored, only 17 (25%) came outside of 20 yards.

It’s interesting to note that the greatest offenses scored a ton of TDs but also were in the same range as the run-and-shoot offense in terms of the percentage of big plays over 20 yards. The difference was the sheer volume of TDs scored. Also interesting to note that the Atlanta Falcons, the “purest” form of the run-and-shoot in Mouse Davis’ eyes was also the team employing the offense that had the best definition of being a big play offense. Also the Oilers, the most successful of the run-and-shoot teams, was also the least prone to scoring on the big play.

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