Behind the Numbers - Rushing Stats

Behind the Numbers - Rushing Stats

Submitted by CollegeFootball13 on September 19th, 2009 at 11:52 PM
There are a lot of statistics floating around the world of College Football. Some intriguing, some important, some useless, some hilarious. Behind the Numbers is a semi-regular look at just a few of the statistics that you may or may not be aware of, with a little bit of a dissection of each. Enjoy.

Today's Focus: Rushing Stats (Rush YPG)

(Full NCAA Rankings)

Players of note: Ralph Bolden, Purdue (1st, 178.5ypg); Jahvid Best, Cal (6th, 140.5ypg); Armando Allen, ND (23rd, 105.5ypg); Caulton Ray, MSU (99th, 61ypg)

Why It's Important:

Because.. it tells you how many rushing yards a player has per game, on average. Pretty self-explanatory here. Generally the more yards a player rushes for per game, the better they are.

Why It's Flawed:

It just measures yards. A big, bruising back that gets the ball on third and short situations or inside the ten yard line can be just as valuable as a quick running back who gets big yards but can't break tackles. What would you rather a running back's stat line be -- 6att, 25yds and 3 TDs or 30att, 200yds and no scores? One gets you points, the other gets you valuable field position that can turn into yards.

Also, it doesn't take into account the number of rushing attempts. YPC does this, but you'd have to look into two or three different stat lines to really see the effectiveness of a RB.

ALSO, it doesn't take into account fumbles. 200yds in a game is all well and good, but if all that field position is wasted because he fumbled 3-4 times, it doesn't help at all.

So any one stat for a RB will be leaving out a lot of the story.

Applying this to Current Statistics

Ralph Bolden, Purdue: 178.5ypg (#1)
Definitely a great YPG average, good enough to be #1 in the nation after two games, but a look at his YPC tells a different story. Bolden averages 7.14ypc, still a respectable number, but not nearly #1 in the nation. In fact, second through sixth leading rushers in terms of YPG have a higher YPC average than Bolden. His 50 carries are the second highest in the top 10.

It's pretty obvious that between two equally talented rushers that have the same YPC average, whoever gets more carries per game will have the higher YPG average. Hence the flaw.

Robert Turbin, Utah St: 148.0ypg (#4)
Obviously an extremely small sample size here, as Turbin has only played one game so far (Utah), but he's listed here for another reason. That 148yds was garnered on only 13 carries, earning him a 11.38ypc average, the best of anyone in the Top 25 of YPG.

Reggie Arnold, Arkansas St:
104.5ypg (#25)
Arnold, while not dominant in either YPG or YPC (8.04), is extremely efficient in terms of points earned with his carries. He's had 26 carries thus far, and has scored 5 touchdowns. Almost 20% of the time this guy's had his hands on the ball out of the backfield he's been in the endzone.

So three different stat lines, all pretty damn good in their own way.

An Alternative

Along the lines of my Quarterback Efficiency Rating, I've come up with a Rushing Efficiency Rating (RER). It's much more than YPC or YPG, it's a combination of the major aspects of a running back's game that is contributes to their overall efficiency.

Here's the first draft of the formula:

                           (Yards) + (Touchdowns x 10) + (Fumbles x -10)

So a big bruiser who might not rack up 8-9ypc but is solid with ball control and in the red zone who's usually good for a few scores:

10att, 40yds, 3 TDs (RER: 7.00)

Has an RER that's similar to a speed back who might rack up the yards, but is prone to a mistake here and there and might not always get the ball on the goal line:

28att, 170yds, 2 TDs, 1 Fumble (RER: 6.79)

Applying the RER to Last Season's Backs

Rank (YPG)
Donald Brown, ConnecticutJR18 5.68 160.236.17
Shonn Greene, IowaJR20 6.03 142.316.68
Jahvid Best, CaliforniaSO15 8.14 131.678.92
Javon Ringer, Michigan St.SR22 4.20 125.924.76
MiQuale Lewis, Ball St.JR22 5.39 124.006.07
Chris Wells, Ohio St.JR8 5.78 119.706.17
Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma St.SO16 6.45 119.627.12
Vai Taua, NevadaSO15 6.44 117.007.08
Tyrell Fenroy, La.-LafayetteSR19 6.08 114.586.92
LeSean McCoy, PittsburghSO21 4.83 114.465.51
*HUGE difference is made in the RER because I couldn't find fumble statistics. Any help there would be greatly appreciated and the RERs would be updated for more accuracy.

Quite the shakeup in the YPG rankings when the number of carries is taken into account, as well as the number of touchdowns. YPC numbers, on the other hand, are nearly identical. If the fumbles were taken into account, this would surely be a bit different, but until I can find those stats this is all we have to go by.

Thoughts? Comments? Fumble statistics? Let me know.

Behind the Numbers will be back soon with another look at a stat from the world of College Football. Any stats you want to be examined a little closer? Or even just a stat you've been interested in for a long time? Let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to get to it in the next few installments of BtN. Thanks for reading!

Behind the Numbers (9/16) Part II - A Possible Alternative to Efficiency Rating?

Behind the Numbers (9/16) Part II - A Possible Alternative to Efficiency Rating?

Submitted by CollegeFootball13 on September 16th, 2009 at 2:28 PM
This is a follow up to this post. If you haven't yet, read that first.

So quite a bit of discussion has opened up in the original post about the Efficiency Rating only taking into account the passing efficiency, and in today's College Football world, quarterbacks are much, much more than that.

In this post I'll take a closer look at the current efficiency rating and how it turned out last year in terms of ranking the quarterbacks, as well as taking a stab at my own Quarterback Efficiency Rating, which will hopefully take into account the broader, tangible aspects of a quarterback's game.

Last Season's Results

Top Ten in Passing Efficiency - 2008
Player, School
1Sam Bradford, OklahomaSO 180.8410.02
2David Johnson, TulsaSR 178.698.9
3Colt McCoy, TexasJR 173.758.07
4Tim Tebow, FloridaJR 172.378.23
5Zac Robinson, Oklahoma St.JR 166.847.43
6Mark Sanchez, Southern CaliforniaJR 164.648.29
7Chase Clement, RiceSR 163.928.31
8Graham Harrell, Texas TechSR 160.047.97
9Case Keenum, HoustonSO 159.917.96
10Chase Daniel, MissouriSR 159.447.11
*Rank is only out of these ten players
(For comparison's sake, Pat White's QER was a 6.3)

Most of the names on the list are pretty obvious ones. The who's who of College Football Quarterbacks last year. Bradford, McCoy, Tebow, Robinson, Sanchez, Harrell, and Daniel all had phenomenal seasons and were in the spotlight of College Football because of it.

Johnson, Clement, and (to an extent) Keenum, however, weren't mentioned too much. They don't play at high-profile programs, and don't play against Grade-A competition, but you can't make an argument that they had great seasons. is David Johnson a better quarterback than McCoy, Tebow, and Sanchez? Almost certainly not. He is a good passing quarterback, however, and his rating shows that.

Key Players Not in Passing Efficiency Top 10
26Pat White, West Virginia 142.35
39Michael Desormeaux, La.-Lafayette 135.01
75Julian Edelman, Kent St. 118.83

Maybe a bit of a stretch to call White, Desormeaux and Edelman "Key Players", but there's a method to my madness. Edelman, Desormeaux, and White had the 11th, 32nd, and 52nd highest rushing yards per game, respectively.

Obviously this didn't suddenly make them some of the best quarterbacks in the nation, as none of the three were invited to the Heisman Ceremony, but it's just an example of the aspects of the game that Passing Efficiency doesn't take into account.

Quarterback Efficiency Rating?

So if Passing Efficiency isn't a great way to evaluate the overall quality of a quarterback, what other ways are there?

Well.. there aren't too many.

So I took a stab at my own Quarterback Efficiency Rating. It has its flaws but it's a more comprehensive, all-encompassing look at what a quarterback does and evaluates them based on a multitude of other statistics, beyond just passing.

Quarterback Efficiency Rating (QER)

      (Completions) + (Passing Yards x 0.5) + (Passing Touchdowns x 50) +
   (Interceptions x -25) + (Rushing Yards x 0.5) + (Rushing Touchdowns x 50)
                            (Rushing Attempts) + (Passing Attempts)

In this formula, not only is the best possible rating just over 100 (no one would ever realistically reach over 100, or even close to 100) for an easier analysis of the rating, but a pocket passer:

26/32, 280yds, 3 TDs (QB Rating: 9.875)

Has a comparable rating to a dual threat or even a running quarterback:

14/21, 150yds, 1 TD, 10att, 96yds, 2 TDs (QB Rating: 9.26)

There's no arguing that, in this example, the pocket passer had a better game, but at least with the QER they were about on the same level, whereas the Passing Efficiency Rating would have given the pocket passer a 185.7 rating, and the dual threat quarterback a 142.4.

Again, not perfect. But neither is the Passing Efficiency Rating. It might not make it into NCAA Recordkeeping, but it might help us in the bloggosphere rate quarterbacks on more than just their passing ability.

That's all for this installment of Behind the Numbers, please feel free to let me know if you have any constructive advice for the QER. Thanks for reading!

Behind the Numbers (9/16)

Behind the Numbers (9/16)

Submitted by CollegeFootball13 on September 16th, 2009 at 12:21 AM
There are a lot of statistics floating around the world of College Football. Some intriguing, some important, some useless, some hilarious. Behind the Numbers is a semi-regular look at just a few of the statistics that you may or may not be aware of, with a little bit of a dissection of each. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Part Two is here. Includes an alrernative to Passing Efficiency.

Today's Stat: Passing Efficiency

(Full NCAA Rankings)

Players of note: Ryan Mallett, Arkansas (1st, 210.25); Jimmy Clausen, ND (3rd, 196.31); Kirk Cousins, MSU (6th, 186.71); Tate Forcier, Michigan (21st, 161.69); Terrelle Pryor, OSU (79th, 116.92)

Why it's important:

It's pretty much the golden standard for measuring the (wait for it) efficiency of a quarterback. It's not flawless by any means, but overall is a pretty good indication of how good a quarterback is. Once there's a good sample size (at least 100 attempts), it's pretty safe to say that a player in the top 20 of the efficiency ratings is a good quarterback, and a player outside the top 50 isn't quite as high-caliber.

Why it's flawed:

Passing Efficiency measures just that -- efficiency. How efficient something or someone is usually boils down to how much of 'x' they can do in 'y' amount of tries. It's no different in the world of college football. The equation for Passing Efficiency in College Football is as follows:

(Completions x 100) + (Yards x 8.4) + (Touchdowns x 330) - (Interceptions x 200)


So while all of that stuff on top is really important, it really boils down to how many passes the quarterback has attempted. For example:

Quarterback A plays basically the whole game and racks up some pretty good numbers, but in the red zone gets bruised up and comes out for a play.

Quarterback B comes in for that one play and throws an eight yard touchdown pass, and is right back on the bench, and remains there for the rest of the game.

Quarterback A's stats: 28/35, 310yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Quarterback B's stats: 1/1, 8yds, 1 TD

Go ahead and take a stab at each quarterback's rating. Or just scroll down a bit and look at the actual answers, you cheater.

Quarterback A's Efficiency Rating: 246.2
Quarterback B's Efficiency Rating: 497.2

Quarterback B, the backup who came in for one play, isn't necessarily a better quarterback than Quarterback A.. there's actually a good chance that he's a good deal worse. His efficiency rating, however, is more than twice that of Quarterback A, who had a damn good day throwing the ball. However because that one pass attempt that he did have was a successful one, his Efficiency Rating is about 287 points higher than the current highest rating in Division 1.

Applying this to current statistics:

Ryan Mallett: 17/22, 309yds, 1 TD (210.25)
In the one game he's appeared in so far, Mallett has only attempted 22 passes (remember, the smaller the sample size the more skewed the rating), and completed 17 of them. A 77% completion percentage is second only to Sean Canfield (OSU, NTOSU), who has the 14th highest efficiency rating. He only has the one touchdown and has yet to throw a pick (not as important as you'd think, as you'll see later). Not stellar numbers by any means, but he did pretty well against Missouri State.

Jimmy Clausen: 40/60, 651yds, 7 TDs (196.31)
Not too much to say here, the efficiency rating is pretty well deserved so far. Quite the interesting comparison to Mallett's numbers, however. Clausen's numbers are obviously superior in every way but completion percentage. Clausen is clearly the superior quarterback here, yet because of the small sample size in Mallett's case, he has the higher rating.

Tate Forcier: 36/53, 419yds, 5 TDs, 1 INT (161.69)
Tate's numbers compared to his rating are also pretty interesting. He actually has a higher completion percentage (67.9) than Clausen (66.7), has a respectable touchdown percentage (9.43% of his passes are touchdowns, compared to Clausen's 11.7%), and only has the one interception. However even if we take that interception away (it wasn't even his fault!), Forcier's rating doesn't improve too dramatically. If the pass fell harmlessly to the ground, his rating would be a 165.5, good for 17th. If the pass was completed for a 15 yard gain his rating would be a 169.7, putting him in 16th.

The Takeaway

Quarterback Efficiency Rating is an effective way to rank the overall efficiency of quarterbacks, especially later in the season once there is a decent sample size of attempts to go by. Until then, however, it's a stat that's easily skewed by a few attempts going for big yards and touchdowns. We all know Quarterback A in the example above had a better game than Quarterback B, but the formula for efficiency rating doesn't. Quarterback B did complete 100% of his passes, and 100% of his attempts went for touchdowns.. the thing is there was just the one attempt. Therein lies the flaw.

Just for fun, try to guess which stat line would garner the higher efficiency rating. Answers are at the bottom of the post.

                         Situation 1                                           Situation 2
     A. 25/30, 250yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs     l     A. 30/40, 300yds, 1 TD
     B. 15/17, 140yds, 1 TD                 l     B. 10/12, 100yds, 2 TDs                  
                                                        Situation 3
                                        A. 20/24, 200yds, 2 TDs, 4 INTs
                                              B. 20/40, 250yds, 5 TDs

Behind the Numbers will be back soon with another look at a stat from the world of College Football. Any stats you want to be examined a little closer? Or even just a stat you've been interested in for a long time? Let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to get to it in the next few installments of BtN. Thanks for reading!

Situation 1- A: 162.0 B: 176.8; Situation 2- A: 146.2 B: 208.3;
Situation 3- A: 147.5 B:143.75