read option [Fuller]
I am determined this spring to mine every possible stat for every possible insight. This week I delved into quarterback rushes. Not sacks. I wanted to know which offenses tended to have their quarterbacks take off, or planned runs for them into their game plans.
Baseline: here's Michigan and their opponents last year. Sacks and yardage lost to them are not counted, but I couldn't tell from scrambles and QB sneaks, or stuff like if he took off for 10 yards on 3rd and 15 that defenses are happy to give up:
|Season Avg||vs Mich|
|Opponent||QB Rush||Yards||QB Rush||Yards|
Indiana, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Kansas State ran option games. Minnesota's offense was QB power running (thing it is like: Michigan's 2010 offense when Rodriguez gave up on trying to make Denard into a zone reader). According to the UFR database Minnesota quarterback running plays vs Michigan were as follows: 7 QB powers; 2 draws; 2 zone read keepers; a false zone arc sweep thing, a QB sneak, and 7 scrambles.
The stats can't tell the difference between this kind of offense and a dedicated Richrodigan spread 'n shred. There aren't many teams who run this as their base offense, as simple as it may be, but a lot of teams have a mobile change-of-pace quarterback and a small package built around him. Notable teams who deployed a second guy:
|Player (2014 Elig)||Team||% of Snaps||% Will Pass||Rush||Pass|
|Austin Boucher (graduated)||Miami(NTM)||51%||73%||80||211|
|Austin Gearing (So.)||35%||35%||129||70|
|Drew Kummer (Jr.)||14%||71%||22||55|
|Nate Sudfeld (Jr.)||Indiana||61%||94%||22||338|
|Tre Roberson (Jr.)||38%||62%||84||139|
|C.J. Brown (11th year Sr.)||Maryland||73%||72%||119||303|
|Caleb Rowe (Jr.)||26%||91%||14||136|
|Philip Nelson (transferred)||Minnesota||59%||72%||79||200|
|Mitch Leidner (So.)||38%||51%||89||91|
|Gary Nova (Sr.)||Rutgers||68%||93%||25||328|
|Chas Dodd (graduated)||32%||87%||21||143|
|Tommy Armstrong (So.)||Nebraska||39%||68%||63||135|
|Ron Kellogg III (graduated)||31%||90%||16||141|
|Taylor Martinez (graduated)||30%||77%||34||116|
|Trevor Siemian (Sr.)||Northwestern||63%||92%||29||315|
|Kain Colter (graduated)||36%||50%||98||99|
|Braxton Miller (Sr.)||Ohio State||72%||65%||150||276|
|Kenny Guiton (graduated)||25%||74%||39||110|
I included Rutgers to show Chas Dodd wasn't a Drew Henson-ian run threat except in comparison to Gary Nova.
[Jump: Okay spread zealots, do teams with running QBs have an advantage?]
Is an offense where the quarterback's a run threat inherently better?
The operating principle behind QB power and option offenses is if the defense has to account for your quarterback as a run threat, that opens up room for other players to operate. It should follow that teams who use their quarterbacks as regular run threats will have an appreciable advantage in offense over those who don't. Apologies to the spread zealots: very much no. Here are last year's FBS teams by % of plays by their QBs that not passes or sacks:
Warm colors are teams whose quarterbacks ran enough to be considered a likely threat, with the scattered red dots to the right representing the committed option teams. You'll note there's almost no difference. An r-squared of 0.0008 is a big strong "there is no correlation" between how often you run with your quarterback, and how good you are at accruing yardage.
Again, hard to tell if that's "my quarterback will scramble" or "I put some option in my offense." Michigan State and Florida State have different offenses but had almost exactly the same QB-will-run ratings. The difference was FSU had the Heisman winner at quarterback and MSU floundered until they settled on a freshman and playing safe-ball with him.
What I can't account for here is the talent on hand. Ohio State had all the right parts (senior offensive line, all-conference skill players) to make their offense very dangerous. They were joined in the ranks of 7+ YPA by "my QB will run sometimes" offenses in Baylor, Oregon and Texas A&M, but that blue dot all the way on the left is pro-style Alabama. What those teams had in common was great offensive players. Miami (No not THAT Miami) ran their QB more often than the Buckeyes, but had terrible offensive players and thus the second-worse offense in the country.
But maybe it cuts down on turnovers?
I also looked to see if running with your quarterback will lead to more scoring (because the safeties have to run support?) or less scoring (because more defenders are between the ball and the goal line?). Also I tried the Woody-Bo belief that taking away throws to have your quarterback tuck and run will cut down on turnovers. To account for fumble randomness I used all fumbles by the offense and halved them, then added interceptions. Result:
No. Friggin. Difference. Maybe a tiny bit on the turnovers but an r-squared of 0.0903 says there's very little correlation.