Inside the Numbers, Part 2: The Citadel’s 2018 4th down decision-making, plus Red Zone stats, 3rd down conversion info, SoCon discussion, and more (including coin toss data!)

This is Part 2 of my annual “Inside the Numbers” post. Why is it in two parts? Well, because it is a big ol’ pile of words and numbers, and couldn’t be contained in just one post.

If you happened on this part of the writeup first, you may want to first go to Part 1 for the introduction. You can read Part 1 right here.

Referenced throughout this post will be The Spreadsheet.

Let’s start this part of the post with the Red Zone, an area of the field which apparently got that moniker from none other than Joe Gibbs.

  • The Citadel’s offensive Red Zone touchdown rate in SoCon action, 2016: 64.5%
  • The Citadel’s offensive Red Zone touchdown rate in SoCon action, 2017: 43.3%
  • The Citadel’s offensive Red Zone touchdown rate in SoCon action, 2018: 66.7%

Better, much better. 2017 was a disaster in the Red Zone, but in 2018 the Bulldogs finished a respectable 4th in the league.

There is still room for improvement, though. My suggestion: figure out why scoring from inside the 20-yard line against VMI is so difficult.

In the last four games against the Keydets, The Citadel has only scored 6 touchdowns in 20 trips to the Red Zone. That is maddening. The ability to finish drives is paramount when the coveted Silver Shako is on the line.

When all games are taken into account, the Bulldogs had a Red Zone TD rate of 63.6% last season, good for 42nd nationally (they were 90th in 2017). Davidson, which scored touchdowns on 35 of 40 trips inside the 20-yard line, led FCS (87.5%). Also in the top five: Robert Morris, Jacksonville, North Dakota State, and North Carolina A&T.

While it helps to be proficient in the Red Zone, it isn’t an automatic indicator of success. Davidson, the subject of some discussion in Part 1 of this post, had crazy offensive numbers but was 6-5 overall (still a sizable improvement over previous years for the Wildcats).

Meanwhile, Robert Morris scored TDs in 29 of 37 Red Zone opportunities, but finished 2-9, which can happen when opponents average 43.5 points per game. Jacksonville allowed 38.7 points per game, and thus JU wound up 2-8.

On the other hand, North Dakota State and North Carolina A&T won a lot of games, as did UC Davis (6th in this category), South Dakota State (7th), San Diego (8th), Kennesaw State (10th), and Princeton (11th).

Samford was 12th, Furman 15th, Mercer 34th, South Carolina State 46th, VMI 58th, ETSU 68th, Presbyterian 71st, Wofford 73rd, Elon 90th, Western Carolina 92nd, Towson 94th, James Madison 96th, Chattanooga 98th, Charleston Southern 101st (after finishing 6th nationally in 2017), and Alabama State 124th and last (at 34.5%).

Eastern Washington had the most Red Zone opportunities in FCS, with 76 (converting 65.8% of them into TDs). James Madison had the second-most RZ chances in the subdivision (69); the Dukes also finished second in Red Zone opportunities in 2017.

Presbyterian only entered the Red Zone 17 times last season, fewest in FCS.

As far as FBS teams are concerned, UCF led the way, with a TD rate in the Red Zone of 79.7%. Following the Knights in this category were Miami (OH), Houston, Washington State, and Navy.

Other notables: Clemson (6th), Army (tied for 16th), Georgia Southern (19th), Alabama (30th), Oklahoma (32nd), Coastal Carolina (75th), South Carolina (tied for 100th), Southern California (109th), LSU (119th), and Arkansas (130th and last, at 43.2%).

The top five in Red Zone chances: Alabama (79 in 15 games), Syracuse (75 in 13 games), Clemson (75 in 15 games), Ohio (72 in 13 games), and North Carolina State (71 in 13 games).

Oklahoma was 7th, Army tied for 24th (as did Georgia Tech), South Carolina tied for 34th, and Akron finished at the bottom (only 21 times inside the 20-yard line in 12 games).

  • The Citadel’s defensive Red Zone touchdown rate in SoCon action, 2016: 66.7%
  • The Citadel’s defensive Red Zone touchdown rate in SoCon action, 2017: 81.8%
  • The Citadel’s defensive Red Zone touchdown rate in SoCon action, 2018: 58.6%

Again, this was a big improvement from 2017. The Citadel finished 3rd in the SoCon in defensive Red Zone TD rate.

The best defensive team in conference play in the Red Zone was Chattanooga, followed by Furman.

Nationally, The Citadel finished 36th in defensive Red Zone TD rate (the Bulldogs were 117th in 2017). North Carolina A&T, with a 31.0% rate, topped FCS. The Aggies were followed by North Dakota State and three northeastern programs — Holy Cross, Colgate, and Dartmouth.

James Madison was 6th, Chattanooga 7th, South Carolina State 19th, Elon 29th, Mercer 60th, Charleston Southern 61st, ETSU 63rd, Furman 65th, Western Carolina 78th, Wofford 81st, Samford 105th, Towson 106th, VMI 112th, and Morehead State 124th and last (opponents scored 42 TDs in 49 Red Zone possessions against the Eagles — 85.7%).

Quick note: Furman’s defense allowed touchdowns on 14 of 25 Red Zone trips in conference play (56%). The Paladins’ non-league opponents, however, scored on 85.7% of possessions that ventured inside the 20, which is why nationally FU is a bit lower (62.5%) than in the SoCon stats.

That discrepancy is a sample-size issue, though, and one I thought worth mentioning. Thanks to a cancellation caused by Hurricane Florence, Furman only had two non-conference opponents, and they were Clemson and Elon. Clemson was 4 for 5 scoring TDs inside the 20-yard line, and Elon was 2 for 2.

The more you know…

Princeton’s opponents only made 17 trips to the Red Zone in 10 games, fewest in all of FCS. Colgate, Dartmouth, and North Dakota State were also stingy when it came to letting teams get close to their respective end zones.

The Citadel was 61st overall, facing 41 Red Zone possessions in 11 contests. VMI tied for allowing the most opponent appearances inside the 20, with 61 in 11 games, sharing that dubious mark with Robert Morris and Northern Colorado.

Mississippi State led FBS in defensive Red Zone touchdown rate, at 29.4%. Others in the top 5: Auburn, Michigan State, Oregon, and Clemson.

Alabama tied for 56th, South Carolina was 65th, and Coastal Carolina was 103rd. None other than Oklahoma (!) finished last. The Sooners allowed TDs on 45 of 54 Red Zone trips by their opponents (83.3%).

The fewest Red Zone appearances by their opponents: Fresno State, with just 27 in 14 games. The most allowed: Connecticut, with 67 in 12 games.

  • The Citadel’s offensive 3rd-down conversion rate in SoCon play, 2016: 50.4%
  • The Citadel’s offensive 3rd-down conversion rate in SoCon play, 2017: 38.7%
  • The Citadel’s offensive 3rd-down conversion rate in SoCon play, 2018: 45.3%

The Bulldogs finished second in the league, behind Samford (48.2%). The league average in 2018 was 39.7%. The Citadel also had the most third down conversion attempts in SoCon action.

This was another category in which Davidson (55.6%) finished first in FCS. Princeton, North Dakota State, and Yale joined the Wildcats in the top 5. Kennesaw State was 6th, Samford 10th, and The Citadel 22nd.

Furman was 24th, Western Carolina 27th, Wofford 40th, Towson 42nd, Chattanooga 44th, ETSU 61st, Elon 62nd, Mercer 72nd, VMI 92nd, Presbyterian 93rd, South Carolina State 115th, Charleston Southern 119th, and Savannah State (which is moving to D-2) 124th and last, at 23.7%.

Army led FBS in 3rd-down conversion rate (57.1%). Boise State was 2nd, followed by Alabama, Oklahoma, and UCF.

Clemson was 20th, Georgia Tech 26th, South Carolina 41st, Coastal Carolina 42nd, Air Force 50th, Georgia Southern 70th, Navy 76th, North Texas 84th, New Mexico 85th, Florida Atlantic 119th, and Rice 130th and last at 28.7%.

  • The Citadel’s defensive 3rd-down conversion rate in SoCon action, 2016: 33.3%
  • The Citadel’s defensive 3rd-down conversion rate in SoCon action, 2017: 33.3%
  • The Citadel’s defensive 3rd-down conversion rate in SoCon action, 2018: 35.1%

For the fourth consecutive year, the Bulldogs were very solid in this area.

Wofford led the league, at 30.4%. VMI, which allowed league opponents to convert third downs at a 48.1% clip, was last.

North Carolina A&T topped FCS with a defensive 3rd-down conversion rate of 25.4%. Jacksonville State, Weber State, Harvard, and Sam Houston State completed the top 5.

Wofford was 25th overall, The Citadel 38th, South Carolina State 44th, Elon 55th, Samford 68th, Furman 74th, Chattanooga 75th, Charleston Southern 85th, Towson 91st, ETSU 93rd, Presbyterian 95th, Western Carolina 106th, Mercer 109th, VMI 118th, and Butler (which definitely didn’t do it in this category) 124th and last, at 53.6%.

A brief comment: The Citadel opens its season this year with games against Towson and Elon (the latter on the road). It is clear the Bulldogs need to maintain these advantages in 3rd-down conversion rate on both sides of the ball. Another thing that has to happen for The Citadel to win either of those games, of course, is to force its opponents to face more third downs in the first place.

Miami (FL) allowed its opponent to convert only 25.3% of third down attempts last season, good enough to lead all of FBS. The Hurricanes were followed by UAB, Mississippi State, Army, and Cincinnati, with Clemson finishing 6th.

Alabama was 24th, Georgia Southern 62nd, South Carolina 70th, Air Force 94th, Coastal Carolina 115th, Navy 122th, Georgia Tech 129th, and Louisville 130th and last (51.9%). Bobby Petrino just couldn’t rally the defense on third down; hard to believe, isn’t it?

  • The Citadel’s defense in 2016 in SoCon action: 21 sacks, 29 passes defensed in 211 pass attempts (13.7% PD)
  • The Citadel’s defense in 2017 in SoCon action: 13 sacks, 24 passes defensed in 205 pass attempts (11.7% PD)
  • The Citadel’s defense in 2018 in SoCon action: 29 sacks, 27 passes defensed in 287 pass attempts (10.5% PD)

Note: Passes defensed is a statistic that combines pass breakups with interceptions (but plays that result in sacks are not counted as part of the PD rate).

The Bulldogs led the league in sacks last season. Notice the large increase in pass plays faced by The Citadel in 2018; VMI accounts for a good chunk of that differential, and then Samford’s Devlin Hodges never quit slinging the pigskin against the Bulldogs, either.

The Citadel had 24 “hurries”, down slightly from 2017. I’m not a huge fan of that stat, because I’m not completely sure it is consistently interpreted by all game scorers.

The Citadel’s “havoc rate” was 19.9%, up a little from 2017 (when it was 19.4%). The definition of havoc rate: tackles for loss, forced fumbles, and passes defensed, all added together and then divided by total plays.

I do not believe there is a website that compiles havoc rates for FCS teams, but Football Outsiders does track the statistic for FBS teams, so that can be a little bit of a measuring stick. A havoc rate of 19.9% would have been good enough to tie Penn State for 8th nationally in FBS in 2018.

Naturally, that 19.9% was for conference games only. For the entire season, The Citadel’s havoc rate was 19.1%.

I compiled the havoc rate for the nine SoCon teams, counting all games played and not just league contests. In the table below, “TFL” stands for tackles for loss; “FF” refers to forced fumbles; and “INT/PBU” combines interceptions with passes broken up.

Team TFL FF INT/PBU Def. Plays Havoc rate
ETSU 92 10 69 840 20.4%
The Citadel 83 12 34 675 19.1%
Furman 59 11 40 680 16.2%
Chattanooga 57 16 52 779 16.0%
Wofford 70 8 48 806 15.6%
Samford 61 9 42 790 14.2%
WCU 62 11 45 837 14.1%
Mercer 60 10 40 834 13.2%
VMI 52 3 38 837 11.1%

 

Some of the raw totals were really close, as you can see.

The top 5 “havoc rate” teams in FBS in 2018: Miami (FL), Alabama, Clemson, Michigan State, and Texas A&M. The Hurricanes had a havoc rate of 24.2%.

Louisville finished last in havoc rate, at 9.1%, well behind even Connecticut and Georgia State (which tied for next to last).

In this section, I’m going to discuss “big plays”. There are different definitions of what constitutes a big play. My methodology is simple (maybe too simple); I define “big plays” as offensive plays from scrimmage resulting in gains of 20+ yards, regardless of whether or not they are rushing or passing plays.

  • The Citadel’s offensive plays from scrimmage resulting in gains of 20 or more yards, 2016: 26 (15 rushing, 11 passing)
  • The Citadel’s offensive plays from scrimmage resulting in gains of 20 or more yards, 2017: 36 (21 rushing, 15 passing)
  • The Citadel’s offensive plays from scrimmage resulting in gains of 20 or more yards, 2018: 26 (13 rushing, 13 passing)

In 2016, 19 of the 26 big plays by the Bulldogs’ offense in conference play either resulted in touchdowns or led to touchdowns on the same drive. In 2017, however, that number fell to just 17 of 36, as the Bulldogs were woeful in the Red Zone.

Last year, 18 of 26 big plays directly or indirectly resulted in TDs, as The Citadel all but matched its 2016 numbers.

The Bulldogs need to increase their number of long running plays this season. There should be at least two big plays each game on the ground. Three per game would be even better.

  • Plays from scrimmage of 20 yards or more allowed by The Citadel’s defense, 2016: 28 (9 rushing, 19 passing)
  • Plays from scrimmage of 20 yards or more allowed by The Citadel’s defense, 2017: 32 (10 rushing, 22 passing)
  • Plays from scrimmage of 20 yards or more allowed by The Citadel’s defense, 2018: 37 (10 rushing, 27 passing)

In 2016, 18 of 28 big plays given up led directly or indirectly to touchdowns. In 2017, 25 of 32 allowed long gainers ultimately resulted in TDs.

Last year, 23 of 37 big plays allowed immediately or eventually led to touchdowns. That isn’t a terrible rate, but 37 sizable gains given up in eight league games is obviously too many. The Bulldogs cannot afford to give up major chunks of yardage like that.

  • The Citadel’s offense on 4th down in league play in 2016: 8 for 16 (50.0%)
  • The Citadel’s offense on 4th down in league play in 2017: 8 for 19 (42.1%)
  • The Citadel’s offense on 4th down in league play in 2018: 16 of 27 (59.3%)

  • The Citadel’s defense on 4th down in league play in 2016: 5 for 9 converted against (55.6%)
  • The Citadel’s defense on 4th down in league play in 2017: 3 for 7 converted against (42.9%)
  • The Citadel’s defense on 4th down in league play in 2018: 6 for 14 converted against (49.9%

The 4th-down conversion rate for SoCon teams in league play was 56.6%.

The increasing aggressiveness on 4th-down calls by the Bulldogs is noticeable and, in my opinion, promising.

For the season, The Citadel attempted 38 4th-down conversion tries, and was successful on 23 of them (60.5%). Nationally, only VMI (45) and Southern Utah (44) attempted more among FCS teams.

The Bulldogs’ 23 made conversions ranked second overall to Southern Utah (which converted 28 times, succeeding 63.6% of the time). VMI was 21 for 45 (46.7%).

North Dakota State led the subdivision in success rate on 4th down, at 85.7%; the Bison only attempted to convert 7 fourth downs, making 6 of them. Other high-percentage 4th-down teams: Princeton, Mercer, Dartmouth, and Furman. Others in the top ten included Kennesaw State (8th) and Western Carolina (9th).

Of the top nine teams, however, only Kennesaw State (34 tries) and Princeton (23) attempted as many as 20 4th-down attempts. Mercer had 10 conversion attempts; Furman, 13.

I think there is a real advantage to be gained by succeeding on 4th down, particularly in volume. For the proof of that, all anyone has to do is look at Army, which attempted 36 4th-down tries (tied for 4th in FBS) and converted an amazing 31 of them.

Making 86.1% of so many 4th-down attempts is incredible, and a big reason why the Black Knights won 11 games, especially when you factor in the fact that Army also led all of FBS in 3rd-down conversion rate (at 57.1%).

Here is one way to think about it: Army attempted 196 third-down conversions last season, making 112 of them. However, the Black Knights eventually picked up a first down 31 times after not succeeding on third down. If you throw those into the mix, Army wound up moving the chains 73% of the time after facing a third down — which is a staggering rate.

One key reason for Army’s success on 4th down: 23 of those attempts were 4th-and-1 plays. The Black Knights made 21 of them.

Which team’s offenses weren’t good on 4th down? Well, Penn was 0 for 8 on 4th-down attempts. Then there was Howard, which converted a pedestrian 36.1% of the time, but went for it on 4th down a lot, winding up 13 for 36 on the season. Only VMI (24) had more failed 4th-down conversion attempts, and as noted above the Keydets tried more of them than any other team.

Lane Kiffin ordered up the most 4th-down tries in FBS, as his Florida Atlantic squad attempted 44 of them. At 28.6%, San Jose State had the worse 4th-down conversion rate in that subdivision.

Gentlemen, it is better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football.

John Heisman, who was possibly a bit overzealous when it came to ball control

When evaluating fumble stats, one of the guiding principles is that teams generally have a 50-50 chance at the recovery.

  • The Citadel’s offensive fumbles in SoCon action, 2016: 12 (lost 5)
  • The Citadel’s offensive fumbles in SoCon action, 2017: 17 (lost 7)
  • The Citadel’s offensive fumbles in SoCon action, 2018: 16 (lost 8)

  • The Citadel’s defensive forced fumbles in SoCon action, 2016: 13 (recovered 8)
  • The Citadel’s defensive forced fumbles in SoCon action, 2017: 9 (recovered 5)
  • The Citadel’s defensive forced fumbles in SoCon action, 2018: 12 (recovered 5)

Obviously, the defense must work hard to get luckier. Perhaps the team can search local fields for four-leaf clovers.

On average, SoCon teams lost 5.55 fumbles in league play.

  • Penalties enforced against The Citadel in SoCon action, 2016: 45
  • Penalties enforced against The Citadel in SoCon action, 2017: 43
  • Penalties enforced against The Citadel in SoCon action: 2018: 43

The average number of total penalties against SoCon teams in league play was 48. The Citadel actually had the fewest penalties in the conference, but there was a catch: the Bulldogs were assessed more major infractions than most, resulting in 57.8 penalty yards per game (5th-most in the SoCon).

  • Penalties enforced against The Citadel’s opponents in SoCon action, 2016: 33
  • Penalties enforced against The Citadel’s opponents in SoCon action, 2017: 26
  • Penalties enforced against The Citadel’s opponents in SoCon action, 2018: 37

For the first time in many years, the Bulldogs did not rank last in this category, as their opponents were actually called for more penalties last year than the norm. However, the penalty yardage assessed against The Citadel’s opposition was still below average.

  • Punts by The Citadel while in opposing territory in 2016, SoCon action: 1 (in eight games)
  • Punts by The Citadel while in opposing territory in 2017, SoCon action: 5 (in eight games)
  • Punts by The Citadel while in opposing territory in 2018, SoCon action: 4 (in eight games)

I think the Bulldogs should have gone for it on two of the four punts, to be honest, but in the end all of these moves more or less worked out for The Citadel. Perhaps the most questionable punt came in the season opener against Wofford, but the Terriers threw an interception just two plays later that set up a Bulldogs TD, so it is rather hard to argue with Brent Thompson’s decision.

The bottom line is that I’m glad there were only four.

  • Punts by The Citadel’s opponents while in Bulldogs territory in 2016, SoCon action: 1 (in eight games)
  • Punts by The Citadel’s opponents while in Bulldogs territory in 2017, SoCon action: 5 (in eight games)
  • Punts by The Citadel’s opponents while in Bulldogs territory in 2018, SoCon action: 2 (in eight games)

Don’t ask me why VMI punted on 4th and 15 at The Citadel’s 27-yard line late in the second quarter, then decided to go for it on 4th and 8 from its own 33 on the opening drive of the third quarter (in a tie game).

Ah, 4th down. That toddlin’ down…

Defining some terms (courtesy of Football Outsiders):

– Deep Zone: from a team’s own goal line to its 20-yard line
– Back Zone: from a team’s own 21-yard line to its 39-yard line
– Mid Zone: from a team’s own 40-yard line to its opponent’s 40-yard line
– Front Zone: from an opponent’s 39-yard line to the opponent’s 21-yard line
– Red Zone: from an opponent’s 20-yard line to the opponent’s goal line

On the spreadsheet I have categorized every fourth down situation The Citadel’s offense had in Southern Conference play (see the “4th down decisions” tab).

The Citadel punted on six of seven occasions in which it had a fourth down in the Deep Zone. The exception came against Furman, a “desperation” attempt down two scores with less than a minute to play.

In the Back Zone, the Bulldogs punted 9 times and went for it 5 times — against Wofford (2nd quarter, 4th-and-1, trailing by three scores), Chattanooga (4th quarter, 4th-and-2, game tied), Mercer (1st quarter, 4th-and-1, down 7-0), East Tennessee State (less than 2 minutes to play, 4th-and-5, down by 3 points), and Samford (early in the 4th quarter, 4th-and-1, trailing by 6).

The Citadel converted three of those. The successful pickup against Samford led to a 60-yard go-ahead touchdown run on the very next play. The 4th-down pass attempt versus ETSU did not go nearly as well, to say the least. The run versus UTC would have resulted in a first down, except it was fumbled away.

In the Mid Zone, the Bulldogs punted 19 times and went for it on 4th down five times, making two of those. One of the two successful conversions was a “desperation” attempt.

In the Front Zone, The Citadel had two punts (both mentioned earlier), one made field goal, and went for it nine times, converting seven of them. Six of the seven conversions were on 4th-and-1 or 4th-and-2; the other was on 4th-and-3. The two failed tries were on 4th-and-4 and 4th-and-8.

In the Red Zone, The Citadel attempted six field goals (making five), and went for it seven times (making a first down and/or touchdown on four of those).

That is an improvement over previous years. In the four preceding seasons, the Bulldogs were 2 for 8 going for it on 4th down in the Red Zone (not counting overtime games).

I also have listed what SoCon opponents did on 4th down versus The Citadel.

In the Deep Zone, it is fairly simple. Opponents punted on all eleven occasions they were faced with a fourth down.

In the Back Zone, there were 14 punts and two conversion attempts. Earlier, I mentioned VMI’s somewhat bizarre 4th-down try. The other attempt was a late-game “desperation” effort by Samford that was not successful.

In the Mid Zone, opponents punted seven times. There was one 4th-down attempt, a late-game try by Western Carolina while down 14 points. It was 4th-and-10, but the Catamounts pulled it off anyway, completing a 20-yard pass for the first down.

In the Front Zone, there was the aforementioned punt by VMI (from the Bulldogs’ 27), and five field goal attempts (two successful). On 4th-down tries, opponents were 4 for 8.

There were seven field goal attempts by the Bulldogs’ opponents in the Red Zone, with six of them sailing through the uprights. There were three 4th-down tries:

  • VMI, down 7-0 early in the 1st quarter, rushed for nine yards on 4th-and-1 from The Citadel’s 15-yard line (and scored on the next play).
  • Western Carolina, down 14 points with three minutes to play, threw an incomplete pass on 4th-and-2 from The Citadel’s 4-yard line.
  • Samford, down 15 points with just over a minute to play, threw an incomplete pass on 4th-and-2 from The Citadel’s 8-yard line.

(Note: as discussed before, overtime games are not included in these tabulations.)

A few years ago, The Citadel seemed to embark on a policy of deferring the option to the second half every time it won the coin toss. The Bulldogs won the coin toss 4 times in SoCon play in 2015, and deferred on each occasion.

In 2016, The Citadel won the coin toss 6 times in 8 league games. In five of the six games in which the Bulldogs won the toss, they deferred, just as they had done in 2015. The exception was at Western Carolina, where The Citadel elected to receive after winning the toss.

In 2017, The Citadel was 5-3 in coin toss contests, and deferred all five times it won.

So what did the Bulldogs do last year? Well, they won the coin toss four times. On two of those occasions, both at home, they deferred — but on the road at VMI and at Western Carolina, they elected to receive the opening kickoff.

I’m not sure why, unless the home/road situation was a factor. However, it had not been an issue in prior seasons.

Someone should ask Brent Thompson about this. It is certainly something that must be investigated. If necessary, Congressional hearings should be held.

There is a tab on the spreadsheet that lists game-by-game attendance (home and away) and game length (in terms of time). Home games at Johnson Hagood Stadium took on average 12 minutes less to play than contests the Bulldogs played on the road.

This was an almost complete reversal from 2017, when home games were on average 11 minutes longer than road matchups. That is because last season’s road games averaged 3:15, while the year before they clocked in at just 2:54 — a 21-minute difference. Perhaps more teams having instant replay capability resulted in increased game length.

I’m ready for football season. Isn’t everybody?

Inside the Numbers, Part 1: The Citadel’s 2018 run/pass tendencies and yards per play statistics, with some SoCon and FCS discussion as well

Other recent posts about football at The Citadel:

– Football attendance at The Citadel — an annual review

– 2019 preseason rankings and ratings, featuring The Citadel and the rest of the SoCon

– During the 2019 football season, which teams will the Bulldogs’ opponents play before (and after) facing The Citadel?

– Homecoming at The Citadel — a brief gridiron history

Also of interest from around the internet:

The time a couple of cadets swiped an elephant and took it to a football game

Brent Thompson talks to SportsTalk

The Citadel was picked to finish 7th in the SoCon by both the coaches and media polls

Thompson wasn’t impressed with those polls

Bulldogs punter Matthew Campbell is on the “Watch List” for the FCS Punter of the Year award (presented by the Augusta Sports Council)

“Meet the Bulldogs” is on August 24

This is Part 1 of a two-part post that focuses on select statistics on the 2018 football season. As was the case last year, I broke it down into two parts.

Part 2 can be found here.

I’ll also be releasing a couple of other stats-oriented posts in the (hopefully) near future. When I do, I’ll link them in this spot.

[Link when available!]

In recent seasons, I have written about play-calling tendencies by The Citadel’s coaching staff; I’ll continue to do that this year. I like to compare statistics over a rolling three-year period.

For this post, I’ll take a look at the 2018 season stats, and compare/contrast them with those from the 2016 and 2017 campaigns. All three campaigns have featured Brent Thompson as head coach, so there is some consistency there.

My focus will be on the following:

  • down-and-distance run/pass tendencies (for The Citadel and its opponents)
  • yards per play numbers (offense and defense, rushing and passing)
  • select defensive passing stats (including sacks, hurries, and passes defensed)
  • success in the “red zone” (essentially defined as scoring or preventing touchdowns)
  • plays from scrimmage of 20 yards or more (“big plays”), and how they impact TD drives
  • fourth-down decision-making (for The Citadel and its opponents)
  • situational punting for The Citadel and its opponents (i.e. punting from inside the 50-yard line); I’m generally not a fan of this tactic
  • the all-important coin toss (with a curious change in philosophy for The Citadel!)
  • attendance and time-of-game information

Some of these items will be in Part 1, while others will be in Part 2.

First things first: The Spreadsheet

One thing you will notice is that almost all of the statistics in the spreadsheet are broken down by game. In other words, if you wanted to know about The Citadel’s yards per pass attempt versus Mercer (outstanding), or the Bulldogs’ Red Zone numbers against VMI (not good for the second straight season), or The Citadel’s time-of-possession for every quarter of every SoCon game this season, or any number of other things that you always wanted to know, but didn’t actually know that you wanted to know — well, this is the spreadsheet that you never dreamed about because you have really lame dreams.

If you didn’t want to know about any of those things, you should re-evaluate the priorities in your life.

The statistics that follow are (unless specifically noted) based on league play, and only league play. It’s easier and fairer to compare numbers in that way. The Citadel’s on-field success or failure will be judged for the most part on how it does in the Southern Conference, not against its out-of-conference slate.

The league schedules over the last three years looked like this:

  • The Citadel played eight games in 2016 versus Southern Conference opponents. The league schools that year: Mercer, Furman, Western Carolina, Chattanooga, Wofford, East Tennessee State, Samford, and VMI (with ETSU joining the league for football that season).
  • In 2017, the Bulldogs played the same SoCon opponents as they had in 2016. The Citadel faced East Tennessee State, Samford, Chattanooga, and Furman on the road, while playing Mercer, Wofford, VMI, and Western Carolina at home.
  • Last season, The Citadel’s league opponents remained unchanged. At home, the Bulldogs played Chattanooga, East Tennessee State, Furman, and Samford; away from Johnson Hagood Stadium, The Citadel faced Wofford, Mercer, VMI, and Western Carolina.

Caveat alert: I am reasonably confident in the overall accuracy of the statistics, though I am definitely capable of making mistakes. The SoCon included league-only stats on its website for the second year in a row, which was helpful.

I am happy to report that this year, the play-by-play data summaries were much cleaner. The glitch that affected kickoffs has been fixed, which was a blessing. Other than a weird (but easily navigable) hiccup in the Mercer game summary, and some minor issues in a couple of other summaries, I didn’t have too much trouble compiling the data I needed.

As additional references, here are the links to the spreadsheets from 2017, 2016, and 2015.

2017: Link

2016: Link

2015: Link

Some definitions:

– 2nd-and-short: 3 yards or less for a first down
– 2nd-and-medium: 4 to 6 yards for a first down
– 2nd-and-long: 7+ yards for a first down
– 3rd-and-short: 2 yards or less for a first down
– 3rd-and-medium: 3 to 4 yards for a first down
– 3rd-and-long: 5+ yards for a first down

The first number that will follow each down-and-distance category will be the percentage of time The Citadel ran the ball in that situation in 2018. Next to that, in parenthesis, is the run percentage for The Citadel in 2017, and that will be followed by the Bulldogs’ run percentage for that situation in 2016 (which will be in brackets).

For example, when it came to running the ball on first down, the numbers looked like this:

– 1st-and-10 (or goal to go): 84.3% (81.1%) [86.0%]

Thus, The Citadel ran the ball on first down 84.3% of the time last year, while the Bulldogs ran the ball in that situation 81.1% of the time in 2017. The Citadel ran the ball 86.0% of the time on first down during its 2016 campaign.

Overall, the Bulldogs ran the ball 83.7% of the time in 2018, after rushing 77.9% of the time in 2017, and on 85.6% of all offensive plays in 2016. This return to running on more than four-fifths of all offensive plays can be attributed to not having to pass as much in late-game situations, which was the case in 2017. The Bulldogs did not face significant deficits last season in the way they occasionally did the year before.

Here are the rest of the down-and-distance categories (in terms of rush percentage):

– 2nd-and-short: 75.0% (88.9%) [94.1%]
– 2nd-and-medium: 88.0% (87.2%) [96.1%]
– 2nd-and-long: 87.6% (76.9%) [83.8%]
– 3rd-and-short: 96.2% (91.7%) [100.0%]
– 3rd-and-medium: 88.2% (83.9%) [88.5%]
– 3rd-and-long: 70.2% (57.6%) [68.1%]

There were naturally a few called pass plays that turned into runs. However, if the result of a play was a sack, that counted as a passing down even if a pass wasn’t thrown. For the season, Bulldog QBs were sacked 6 times in league play (after being sacked 10 times in 2017), for a loss of 38 total yards.

  • In the past three seasons, the Bulldogs have faced 3rd-and-short 78 times in league play, and have thrown the ball just three times, including once last season (against VMI; the pass was not completed).
  • While The Citadel threw the ball more often on 2nd-and-short last year, beware of small sample sizes: 3 of the 7 times the Bulldogs did so were against ETSU, with two of those passes coming on The Citadel’s final drive, while trailing and running out of time.
  • To sum up, last year on 2nd-and-short and 3rd-and-short, the Bulldogs went back to pass eight times. The results were not good; The Citadel was 2-7 throwing the ball for 28 yards, with one sack/lost fumble. The Bulldogs have to take better advantage of the surprise element when passing in those down-and-distance situations.
  • The Citadel threw the ball on first down far more often versus ETSU and Furman than any of its other SoCon opponents. Twenty of the Bulldogs’ 35 first-down passes came against those two squads.

In this section, I’m listing what The Citadel’s conference opponents did in down-and-distance situations over the last three seasons.

Overall, conference opponents rushed on only 42.4% of their plays from scrimmage against the Bulldogs in 2018, after doing so on 53.5% of their plays in 2017 and 49.7% of their plays in 2016. On first down, league teams rushed 44.0% of time, as compared to 62.5% two years ago and 56.2% in 2016.

Here are the rest of the down-and-distance categories (in terms of rush percentage). The 2017 numbers are in parenthesis, while the 2016 stats are in brackets.

– 2nd-and-short: 73.7% (81.8%) [75.9%]
– 2nd-and-medium: 46.4% (61.0%) [47.9%]
– 2nd-and-long: 39.7% (41.5%) [44.8%]
– 3rd-and-short: 83.3% (78.6%) [66.7%]
– 3rd-and-medium: 41.7% (46.7%) [36.4%]
– 3rd-and-long: 27.8% (22.6%) [27.3%]

Some of the differences between last year and the previous two seasons can be attributed to game situation circumstances (i.e., The Citadel trailed more often in 2017 than in the other two years).

Another factor is VMI’s transition to the Air Raid, which markedly changed things in a couple of categories. Notably, the Keydets called pass plays on first down a remarkable 37 out of 40 times against the Bulldogs.

  • Teams that passed more than they rushed against The Citadel were 1-4 against the Bulldogs (Chattanooga won; Mercer, VMI, Western Carolina, and Samford all lost).
  • In 2017, Mercer did not attempt a pass versus the Bulldogs on either 2nd-and-short or 2nd-and-medium. Last year, the Bears faced six of those particular down-and-distance situations, and threw the ball on four of them.
  • VMI was the only SoCon squad to pass the ball on 3rd-and-short against The Citadel, doing so twice.
  • Samford did not run the ball once versus The Citadel on 2nd-and-medium, 3rd-and-medium, 3rd-and-long, or on 4th down.

In the next few sections of this post, I’m going to alternate offensive and defensive numbers.

  • The Citadel’s offense in 2016 in SoCon action: 72.1 plays per game, 11.4 possessions per game
  • The Citadel’s offense in 2017 in SoCon action: 70.1 plays per game, 12.1 possessions per game
  • The Citadel’s offense in 2018 in SoCon action: 69.0 plays per game, 11.6 possessions per game

*Overtime possessions are not included in any of the conference-only statistics, for the sake of consistency (and avoiding statistical sample size issues).

**I don’t count a drive as an actual possession when it consists solely of a defensive TD via a return, or when it is a defensive turnover that ends the half or game. I also don’t count a drive as a possession when the offensive team doesn’t attempt to score (such as a kneel-down situation). That accounts for any possession discrepancies between my numbers and a game summary.

Last year, the Bulldogs had a time of possession edge in league play of almost six minutes (32:55 – 27:05), which was the second season in a row TOP for The Citadel declined slightly. In 2017, the Bulldogs kept the ball for 33:10, while in 2016 they held it for 33:41.

The Citadel held the ball longer than its opponents on average in three of the four quarters in 2018, with the second quarter being the outlier. The Bulldogs won the TOP battle in every game except one (Furman, the second consecutive season the Paladins had the edge in that category).

Nationally (counting all games, not just conference matchups), the Bulldogs finished fifth in total time of possession per contest, behind Cal Poly, Portland State, Wofford, and Yale. In the previous two seasons, The Citadel had finished first (2017) and second (2016) in TOP.

The bottom three teams in the FCS for time of possession per game were VMI (third from last), Brown (second from last), and Prairie View A&M (last, at 24:26).

  • The Citadel’s defense in 2016 SoCon play: 57.6 plays per game, 11.4 possessions per game
  • The Citadel’s defense in 2017 SoCon play: 58.8 plays per game, 11.8 possessions per game
  • The Citadel’s defense in 2018 SoCon play: 62.3 plays per game, 11.5 possessions per game

VMI and Samford each broke the 80-play mark against the Bulldogs’ defense, but The Citadel won both of those games anyway. The 89 offensive plays run by Samford were the most faced by The Citadel in at least the last five years, and probably longer than that. By way of comparison, Charlotte’s offense ran “only” 88 plays in the wild 63-56 2OT game The Citadel had with the 49ers in 2014.

The school’s official record book states the most plays run by an opponent against the Bulldogs is 99, by Davidson in 1972. The Bulldogs won that game 25-16, despite committing seven turnovers (the Wildcats only managed to score three points after all of those takeaways, and also committed five turnovers themselves).

Another memorable aspect of that matchup with Davidson: The Citadel was assessed a fifteen-yard delay of game penalty before the contest even started. The team was penalized because the band was late getting off of the field.

Annual note: while NCAA statistical records count sack yardage against rushing totals, the NFL considers sack yardage as passing yardage lost. I take the NFL’s position on this, because it makes much more sense. Thus, all conference statistics included in this post count sack yardage against passing stats.

  • The Citadel’s offense in 2016 in SoCon games: 5.58 yards per play, including 5.28 yards per rush and 7.4 yards per pass attempt
  • The Citadel’s offense in 2017 in SoCon games: 5.38 yards per play, including 5.24 yards per rush and 7.0 yards per pass attempt
  • The Citadel’s offense in 2018 in SoCon games: 5.36 yards per play, including 4.89 yards per rush and 7.8 yards per pass attempt

The rushing yards per play numbers were down by a fairly significant margin. They did trend upward towards the end of the season, however.

– 2016 passing for The Citadel in eight conference games: 83 pass attempts for 615 yards (two interceptions)

– 2017 passing for The Citadel in eight conference games: 114 pass attempts for 797 yards (five interceptions)

– 2018 passing for The Citadel in eight conference games: 90 pass attempts for 701 yards (three interceptions)

That 2018 line isn’t going to match up with the SoCon official totals, mostly because of the sacks issue, and also because it doesn’t include a nine-yard pass completion in overtime against Chattanooga. As I mentioned earlier, overtime statistics are not included (because they tend to radically skew the numbers).

While it was somewhat disappointing that The Citadel couldn’t break the 8-yard per pass attempt barrier in SoCon action, the Bulldogs actually fare well in this category when compared to the rest of the league. I ran the numbers for each of the nine teams in conference play, taking sacks into account. Here are the results:

 

Furman 8.44
The Citadel 7.80
Wofford 7.45
Samford 7.40
Mercer 6.95
Western Carolina 6.76
Chattanooga 6.10
ETSU 5.49
VMI 5.19

Because The Citadel does not throw the ball very often, however, it still needs to improve in this area. That may seem counter-intuitive, but the fact is that when the Bulldogs do toss the pigskin into the air, they need to really make it count.

Let’s take a look at The Citadel’s per-play stats from a national perspective (all of FCS, and including all games, not just conference play). I’ll include stats from select FBS teams as well, concentrating (in that subdivision) on schools that run the triple option, teams of local interest, and a few others.

The Bulldogs’ offense was 84th nationally in yards per play, with a 5.23 average (all games). Davidson led FCS, averaging 7.79 yards per play while running the curiously named “gun-spread” offense.

This was just one of several offensive categories in which the Wildcats (a much-improved 6-5 last year) finished near (or at) the top of the subdivision; winning a game by a 91-61 score can certainly help your stats, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Davidson also had seven other games in which it scored at least 40 points; the Wildcats were 4-3 in those contests.

Davidson was followed in the yards per play department by South Dakota State, Eastern Washington, North Dakota State, and Princeton, all of which enjoyed outstanding seasons in 2018. SoCon teams in the top 50:  Wofford was 13th, Samford 20th, Western Carolina was 23rd, and Mercer was 33rd.

Kennesaw State was 11th, Hampton 22nd, Towson 34th, Elon 63rd, Charleston Southern 101st, South Carolina State 103rd, Presbyterian 111th, and VMI 112th. Bucknell finished 124th and last, averaging just 3.49 yards per play.

Oklahoma led FBS in yards per play again last season, with a mind-boggling 8.60 average. Other FBS rankings in this category of interest: Alabama (2nd, at 7.76 yards per play), Clemson (3rd), Memphis (4th), Mississippi (5th), UCF (9th), Appalachian State (14th), South Carolina (24th), Georgia Tech (39th), Georgia Southern (53rd), Coastal Carolina (59th), Air Force (tied for 72nd), Army (79th), Navy (tied for 101st), Florida State (110th), New Mexico (tied for 116th), Central Michigan (130th and last, at 3.78 yards per play).

The Bulldogs’ overall yards per rush was 38th-best in FCS, third in the SoCon behind Wofford (8th) and Western Carolina (20th).

The FCS top five in yards per rush attempt: Davidson (7.44 yards/rush), Eastern Washington, Princeton, South Dakota State, and North Dakota State (the same top five for overall yards/play). Kennesaw State was 9th, Towson 33rd, Elon 47th, Mercer 49th, Charleston Southern 53rd, ETSU 54th, Furman 69th, South Carolina State 72nd, Presbyterian 99th, Chattanooga 100th, VMI 121st, and Fordham 124th and last, averaging only 1.71 yards per rush.

I should point out (not for the first time) that these national rushing numbers include sacks. You may recall that in 2017 Mississippi Valley State actually finished with a negative rushing total, due to a ton of sacks (and some less-than-stellar actual rushing). This past year, the Delta Devils managed to finish in the positive column (115th nationally).

Oklahoma’s amazing offense led FBS in yards per rush at 6.57, just ahead of Clemson. Memphis, Wisconsin, and Ohio rounded out the top five.

Illinois was a somewhat surprising 6th, followed by Georgia, UCF, and Appalachian State. Georgia Tech and Maryland tied for 10th. Others of note: Georgia Southern (17th), Alabama (23rd), Army (31st), Navy (32nd), Air Force (tied for 41st), Coastal Carolina (48th), South Carolina (58th), Ohio State (tied for 76th), New Mexico (tied for 113th), Florida State (129th), and San Jose State (130th and very much last, at 2.07 yards per rush).

In terms of yards per pass attempt, The Citadel finished 18th nationally in FCS, at 8.3 yards/attempt. (That obviously includes all games.)

Another triple option team, Kennesaw State, led FCS teams at 9.73 yards per attempt. North Dakota State was 2nd, San Diego 3rd, Davidson 4th, South Dakota State 5th, and Furman 6th.

Wofford was 28th in the category, while Mercer was 31st, Western Carolina 36th, and Samford 37th. Towson was 46th, Elon 63rd, VMI 109th (with 19 interceptions, most in the subdivision), Charleston Southern 119th, and Bucknell last (at 4.95 yards per attempt).

In case you were wondering, Bucknell finished 1-10 last year.

Oklahoma completed the FBS yards-per-play triple crown by leading in yards per pass attempt, at 11.3, just ahead of Alabama (11.1). The Crimson Tide had a slightly better passing rating, thanks to a tiny edge in TD-to-interception ratio.

Two triple option teams also had great stats in this area. Army finished third in yards per pass attempt (10.6), and Georgia Southern finished 9th (8.8). In addition, the Eagles went the entire season without throwing an interception, the only FBS team to do so (Cal Poly also went INT-free in FCS).

Georgia Southern threw ten TD passes in 117 attempts. On the other hand, Rutgers had only five TD tosses in 351 attempts, tied for the lowest number of touchdown passes in FBS (with Navy, which passed the ball 223 fewer times). The Scarlet Knights also led FBS in interceptions thrown, with 22, and tied with Central Michigan for an FBS-worst 4.5 yards per pass attempt.

  • The Citadel’s defense in 2016 in SoCon action: 4.94 yards per play, including 4.61 yards per rush and 5.3 yards per pass attempt
  • The Citadel’s defense in 2017 in SoCon action: 5.69 yards per play, including 4.87 yards per rush and 7.5 yards per pass attempt
  • The Citadel’s defense in 2018 in SoCon action: 6.18 yards per play, including 5.69 yards per rush and 6.5 yards per pass attempt

The Bulldogs were better against the pass in 2018 than they were the season before, though not quite at the level as they were in 2016. The Citadel only had one truly bad game against the pass in league play, against Chattanooga (but it was definitely bad).

The yards allowed per rush stat is concerning. The Citadel got burned on some big rushing plays, particularly against Wofford and Western Carolina. The Bulldogs also gave up a 41-yard scramble to Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges, which really bumped up the opponent’s yards per rush for that game, especially since SU only had 15 rushing plays in the entire contest.

Nationally in FCS (stats are for all games, of course), The Citadel was 104th in defensive yards allowed per play (6.44). Colgage led FCS in this category, at 3.85 yards per play. Also in the top five: Dartmouth, Drake, Georgetown, and North Carolina A&T.

Colgate undoubtedly had an excellent defense, but also was the beneficiary of playing four of the bottom five teams in yards per play (Bucknell, Fordham, Georgetown, William and Mary). Having said that, the Raiders only lost two games all season (to Army and North Dakota State) and beat James Madison in the FCS playoffs. Colgate was a very solid club.

Georgetown managed to finish in the top 5 in defensive yards per play, and the bottom five in offensive yards per play. That strikes me as a novel accomplishment.

The Hoyas (5-6 in 2018) were sturdy against the pass, and other than Dartmouth and Colgate, nobody ran the ball — at least, not successfully — against Georgetown all season. The Hoyas’ offense often had trouble moving the football too, however.

Other teams of varied interest: Kennesaw State was 6th, James Madison 10th, North Dakota State 18th, Wofford 21st, Charleston Southern 23rd, ETSU 28th, Chattanooga 33rd, Samford 38th, Elon 50th, South Carolina State 65th, Towson 76th, Furman 87th, Presbyterian 91st, Mercer 102nd, Western Carolina 105th, VMI 113th, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff 124th and last (allowing 8.55 yards per play, far and away the worst average in FCS).

Mississippi State was the top FBS defense in yards per play (4.13). Clemson was 2nd, followed by Miami (FL), Appalachian State, and Michigan State.

Alabama was 24th, Georgia 25th, Georgia Southern 48th, South Carolina tied for 56th, Army tied for 59th, and Connecticut deader-than-dead last at 130th, allowing 8.81 yards per play. As noted by multiple members of the college football media, Oklahoma only had the second-best offense last season — because the best offense was whatever team played UConn in a given week.

Among all FCS squads, The Citadel was 68th in yards allowed per rush (4.53). Keep in mind (sorry for repeating this) this number does not separate sacks, which are included in the NCAA’s rush statistics (thus accounting for the wide difference from the SoCon-only numbers presented above).

The top five in this category: Maine (2.42 yards allowed per rush), Dartmouth, Drake, Georgetown, and Alcorn State.

Colgate was 6th, North Carolina A&T 8th, James Madison 9th, Kennesaw State 11th, Wofford 12th, North Dakota State 18th, ETSU 28th, Chattanooga 38th, Eastern Washington 40th, Charleston Southern 41st, Samford 42nd, Elon 48th, Monmouth 53rd, Furman 63rd, Towson 79th, South Carolina State 90th, Davidson 95th (basically the opposite of Georgetown when it came opponents running the football), Western Carolina 98th, Presbyterian 112th, VMI 113th, Gardner-Webb 122nd, and Cal Poly 124th and last (7.51 yards allowed per rush).

In the land of FBS, Clemson’s defense allowed only 2.51 yards per rush, leading the nation. The Tigers were followed by Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Mississippi State, and Utah.

Air Force was 17th, Florida State 20th, Alabama 21st (Dante Smith’s 14.4 yards-per-carry put a dent in the Crimson Tide’s average), Georgia Southern 43rd, Georgia 49th, South Carolina 78th, Georgia Tech 89th, Coastal Carolina 127th, and Connecticut 130th and last (7.67 yards allowed per rush).

Tangent: speaking of that game against Alabama, let’s just revisit one stat from it, shall we? From SB Nation:

Nick Saban’s defense had given up fewer than 100 yards on defense in the first half all season. The Citadel had 149 yards of total offense in the first half alone.

I had not seen that statistic before last month, when I encountered it while doing some research. It is kind of amazing. Just remember, though, that in 2018 The Citadel’s best half of football against a team from the state of Alabama came during Homecoming. Never forget that.

The Citadel was 113th in opposing yards per pass attempt in 2018. Again, that number is a bit different from the SoCon stats listed earlier because of the sacks issue, but it is also true the Bulldogs struggled against the pass in two of their three non-conference games, against Alabama (allowing 14.3 yards per pass attempt) and Towson (11.9).

There is no doubt this will be a point of emphasis for The Citadel when the Bulldogs face Tom Flacco and Towson in the season opener.

Colgate led FCS in defensive yards per pass attempt, at 5.06. Also in the top five: Prairie View A&M, Dartmouth, North Carolina A&T, and Campbell.

Georgetown was 7th, Kennesaw State 12th, James Madison 21st, ETSU 33rd, Wofford 39th, Chattanooga 47th, South Carolina State 53rd, Samford 55th, Elon 58th, Presbyterian 67th, Charleston Southern 70th, Towson 82nd, Furman 91st, Mercer 101st, Western Carolina 103rd, VMI 117th, Davidson 121st (basically the opposite of Georgetown when it came to defending the pass, too), and Arkansas-Pine Bluff 124th and last (allowing 11.03 yards per pass attempt).

Mississippi State led FBS in opposing yards per pass attempt (5.6). Miami was second, followed by Temple, Notre Dame, and Penn State.

LSU was 9th, Michigan 10th, Georgia 17th, Clemson 26th, Alabama 30th, South Carolina 55th, Georgia Southern 68th, Army 80th, Georgia Tech 85th, Navy 113th, Coastal Carolina 118th, Air Force 122nd, and Connecticut 130th and last (allowing 10.7 yards per pass attempt, and also winning the reverse defense triple crown).

That concludes Part 1 of Inside The Numbers.

Part 2 will include offensive/defensive statistics for Red Zone play and 3rd-down conversion rates. Also discussed: sacks, passes defensed, fumbles, penalties, punts, big plays, 4th down decision-making, a comparison of league attendance and game length, and (what everyone has been anxiously awaiting) coin toss strategy.

Link to Part 2