College Football Week 11, 2021: Tuesday notes and observations

Brent Thompson’s Monday press conference

Wofford game notes

Willie Eubanks takes aim at the NFL

A quick summary of Wofford’s season to date:

The Terriers have a record of 1-8 with two games remaining, this Saturday’s contest against the Bulldogs and a trip to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina on November 20.

Wofford won its season opener at Elon, prevailing 24-22 after partially blocking a 46-yard field goal attempt by the Phoenix with eight seconds remaining. The next week was the Terriers’ bye week. Since then, Wofford has lost on eight consecutive Saturdays by an average score of 35-18.

Going back to the spring campaign, the Terriers have lost eleven straight SoCon games.

Here is my working spreadsheet for FCS statistics:

FCS statistics for games through November 6, 2021

It wasn’t the easiest week for compiling stats. Among other things, the NCAA’s website screwed up the total number of games played for several teams, leading to a lot of errors. I think I found all of them. 

This week features an NCAA attendance update, and the spreadsheet includes a tab for those numbers. The NCAA attendance totals are still missing two games, which I’ve noted at the bottom of the tab. It is not inconceivable there are a few more games missing (in terms of attendance; the other statistics should be okay).

I’ve also included a tab for the ever-popular onside kick numbers, a category dominated by Presbyterian. Incidentally, PC’s game at Valparaiso on Saturday resulted in one of the more entertaining box scores of the season; if you’re a true stats nerd, you might want to check it out: Link

In summary, the spreadsheet includes three offensive and three defensive tabs, including one each for Red Zone possessions; a separate tab for defensive interceptions; and tabs for punting, turnovers, penalties, time of possession, onside kicks, and attendance.

Neither The Citadel nor Wofford has had a good year on the field, and that is reflected in a lot of these numbers. I’ve listed some of the more relevant stats for each school below, along with the top five and bottom five in FCS for each category; I also occasionally note other SoCon schools that are high (or low) in those areas.

Also, for the uninitiated: I include sack numbers in passing statistics, rather than running stats. That is what the “adjusted” part of adjusted yards per rush and adjusted yards per pass is referencing.

Offense

– Yards per play (national average: 5.42; there are 128 teams in FCS)

  • Top 5 in FCS: Eastern Washington (7.30 yards per play), Southeastern Louisiana, South Dakota State, Incarnate Word, Nicholls State
  • Bottom 5 in FCS: Bucknell (3.38), Lehigh, Houston Baptist, Grambling State, Wagner
  • Wofford is 65th (5.37), The Citadel 89th (5.06). ETSU is 14th, Mercer 15th.

– Adjusted yards per rush (national average: 4.73)

  • Top 5: Sam Houston State (6.63), Nicholls State, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, ETSU
  • Bottom 5: Georgetown (3.02), Bucknell, Cal Poly, Robert Morris, Alabama State
  • Wofford is 30th (5.22), The Citadel 64th (4.65). Mercer is 11th, Chattanooga 17th.

– Adjusted yards per pass (national average: 6.12)

  • Top 5: Davidson (10.20), Kennesaw State, Eastern Washington, Southeastern Louisiana, South Dakota State
  • Bottom 5: Lehigh (3.51), Bucknell, Grambling State, Houston Baptist, Wagner
  • The Citadel is 37th (6.66), Wofford 85th (5.70). Mercer is 11th, ETSU 24th.

According to the NCAA’s “raw” stats, The Citadel is 8th nationally in yards per pass attempt (8.53). However, the Bulldogs also have the 5th-worst sack rate against in FCS (12.1%). Those sacks really have an impact on the actual yardage gained on pass plays.

The Citadel’s quarterbacks have been sacked 16 times this season, while attempting 116 passes. Southeastern Louisiana’s offense has also suffered 16 sacks — but the Lions have thrown 396 passes.

– The Citadel’s 116 pass attempts ranks as the third-fewest in the subdivision. Only Davidson (81 pass attempts) and Kennesaw State (108) have thrown fewer. Wofford has attempted 154 passes, fifth-fewest; Mercer has thrown the seventh-fewest.

– Not surprisingly, Davidson, Kennesaw State, and The Citadel rank 1-2-3 in percentage of run plays, with the Wildcats rushing on 84.6% of all plays from scrimmage. The Bulldogs run the football 79.5% of the time.

The SoCon as a whole prefers the ground attack. Wofford (68.6%) is 5th nationally in run rate, Mercer 8th, Chattanooga 13th, ETSU 20th, and Furman 22nd.

– Presbyterian has a pass play rate of 73.4%, tops in FCS. The rest of the top 5: Western Illinois, Morehead State, Incarnate Word, and Southeastern Louisiana. The Blue Hose are averaging 59.3 passes per game.

– Points per offensive play (national average: .383)

  • Top 5: South Dakota State (.627), Eastern Washington, Southeastern Louisiana, Sam Houston State, Central Arkansas
  • Bottom 5: Bucknell (.161), Lehigh, Dixie State, Cal Poly, Drake
  • Wofford is 91st (.320), The Citadel 96th (.313). Mercer is 12th, Samford 16th, ETSU 20th.

– Third down conversion rate (national average: 37.52%)

  • Top 5: Davidson (54.81%), Southeastern Louisiana, Eastern Washington, Incarnate Word, Missouri State
  • Bottom 5: New Hampshire (22.52%), Bucknell, Wagner, Eastern Illinois, Grambling State
  • The Citadel is 32nd (42.03%), Wofford 97th (33.33%). ETSU is 12th, Mercer 13th.

 – Fourth down conversion rate (national average: 48.99%)

  • Top 5: Kennesaw State (88.24%, 15 for 17), Furman and Delaware (tied for 2nd at 80.0%, 8 for 10), Norfolk State, Davidson
  • Bottom 2: Howard is 1 for 11 on 4th down, while Lehigh is 2 for 16
  • The Citadel is tied for 46th at exactly 50% (16 for 32), while Wofford is tied for 105th (36.36%, 4 for 11)
  • VMI is 7th, Mercer 9th (albeit on only 7 attempts), Samford 17th.

– Fourth down attempts

  • Presbyterian is 22 for 70 on fourth down attempts. Stetson has the 2nd-most attempts (38), followed by Eastern Illinois and (in a tie for fourth) The Citadel and Central Connecticut State.
  • Montana State has the fewest fourth down tries, with 5 (one successful). Eastern Kentucky and Central Arkansas have gone for it six times; Mercer and Chattanooga have each made seven attempts.

– Go rate

  • Presbyterian’s go rate of 87.5% leads the nation, as expected. Stetson, Davidson, Brown, and Southeastern Louisiana round out the top 5.
  • The Citadel is 8th (41.56%), Wofford 105th (15.15%).
  • Montana State has the lowest go rate, at 7.81%; Chattanooga is third-lowest.

– Red Zone offense (scoring)

  • Holy Cross has an estimated points per red zone possession rate of 6.15, best in FCS. The rest of the top 5: Youngstown State, Central Arkansas, Southeast Missouri State, and Southeastern Louisiana.
  • Bottom 5: Arkansas-Pine Bluff (3.03), Cal Poly, Lehigh, Dixie State, Indiana State
  • The Citadel is 65th, Wofford 101st. 

– Red Zone offense (possessions)

  • Southeastern Louisiana leads the nation in red zone trips per game, at 6.11. The national average is 3.51.
  • Other teams with lots of trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line: Eastern Washington, Norfolk State, Samford, and VMI.
  • Lamar (1.00) has the fewest red zone trips per game.
  • The Citadel ranks 74th (3.33), Wofford 117th (2.44).

– Fastest/slowest offenses

  • Top 5, fastest: Samford (18.76 seconds per play), Presbyterian, Charleston Southern, Eastern Washington, Brown
  • Top 5, slowest: Delaware State (31.65 seconds per play), Lamar, Duquesne, Chattanooga, North Dakota State
  • The Citadel has the 67th-fastest offense (27.49 seconds per play), Wofford 120th-fastest (30.18). The national average is 26.96.

– Curious statistic that I thought was worth mentioning…

The Citadel’s offense has only picked up seven first downs via penalty this season. The Bulldogs have run 645 offensive plays, so the first down via penalty rate on a per-play basis is just 1.085%, which is the lowest rate in all of FCS. Wofford, by comparison, has a rate of 2.107%, slightly below the national average (2.571%).

No, I don’t know what it all means either…

Defense

– Yards per play (national average: 5.55)

  • Top 5: Jackson State (3.74), James Madison, Harvard, Prairie View A&M, Villanova
  • Bottom 5: Southern Utah (7.15), Western Illinois, Youngstown State, Brown, Butler
  • Wofford is 116th (6.45), The Citadel 122nd (6.74). Chattanooga is 14th, Mercer 21st.

– Adjusted yards per rush (national average: 4.81)

  • Top 5: James Madison (2.93), Harvard, Sam Houston State, Montana, Villanova
  • Bottom 5: Youngstown State (6.34), Lamar, Western Illinois, Butler, Alabama A&M
  • Wofford is 114th (5.63), The Citadel 118th (5.77). Chattanooga is 24th.

– Adjusted yards per pass (national average: 6.31)

  • Top 5: Jackson State (3.27), Sacred Heart, Prairie View A&M, Merrimack, Dartmouth
  • Bottom 5: Southern Utah (9.14), Brown, The Citadel (8.05), Idaho State, Robert Morris.
  • Wofford is 108th (7.49). Chattanooga is 15th, ETSU 23rd.

Jackson State’s prowess against the pass is best illustrated by its sack rate of 12.9%, tops in the nation.

– VMI’s opponents have run the football on 62.1% of their plays from scrimmage, the highest percentage in FCS. The rest of the top 5 in that category: Butler, Eastern Illinois, Western Carolina, and Samford. 

There are several other SoCon schools in the top 25, including Furman (11th), The Citadel (12th), Mercer (22nd), and Wofford (25th).

– Harvard’s opponents have passes (or attempted to pass) on 60.7% of their plays from scrimmage, the highest rate in the subdivision.

– Points allowed per play (national average: 4.04)

  • Top 5: North Dakota State (.172), Montana State, Harvard, Montana, Jackson State
  • Bottom 5: Presbyterian (.835), Brown, Lamar, Western Illinois, Wagner
  • Wofford is 99th (.484), The Citadel 118th (.544). ETSU is 16th, Chattanooga 19th.

– Third down conversion rate against

  • Top 5: North Dakota State (23.4%), Yale, Harvard, James Madison, Prairie View A&M
  • Bottom 5: Southern Utah (54.6%), Lamar, Idaho State, Jacksonville State, LIU
  • The Citadel is 112th (45.3%), Wofford 122nd (49.2%). Chattanooga is 8th.

– Fourth down conversion rate against

  • Top 5: St. Thomas (17.6%, 3 for 17), Holy Cross, Alcorn State, Harvard, Furman (2 for 8). 
  • The Citadel is 70th, Wofford 79th.
  • Bethune-Cookman has allowed 12 of 13 fourth down conversion attempts (92.3%). North Alabama and Mercer have each allowed 11 of 14 (78.6%).

– Fourth down attempts against

  • Four teams have faced only eight 4th-down attempts: Furman, Youngstown State, The Citadel, and Drake.
  • William and Mary has faced 28, the most of any team not named Presbyterian or that has not played Presbyterian.

– Havoc Rate

  • Jackson State (23.46%) leads the nation in Havoc Rate, followed by James Madison, Chattanooga, Prairie View A&M, and Stephen F. Austin.
  • Wofford is last in Havoc Rate (9.16%). The rest of the bottom five includes Southern Utah, Bucknell, The Citadel (10.78%, fourth-worst), and Marist.

Of the bottom 25 teams in Havoc Rate, only two have winning records — Fordham and VMI.

– Red Zone defense (scoring)

  • Top 5: Dartmouth (2.84 estimated points per red zone possession), Harvard, North Dakota State, Montana, Kennesaw State
  • Bottom 5: Western Carolina (6.28), Columbia, Lamar, Brown, Butler
  • The Citadel is 59th, Wofford 101st. Chattanooga is 6th.

– Red Zone defense (possessions)

  • Top 5: James Madison (allowing 1.44 red zone possessions per game), North Dakota State, Sacred Heart, Jackson State, Villanova
  • Bottom 5: Presbyterian, Southern, Houston Baptist, LIU, Western Carolina
  • Wofford is 55th, The Citadel 91st. Chattanooga is 15th.

Miscellaneous

– St. Thomas leads FCS in interceptions per pass attempt (one pick every 16.23 opponent throws). Chattanooga ranks second in this statistic, followed by Holy Cross, Villanova, and Stephen F. Austin. Mercer is 11th, Furman 13th, The Citadel 57th (33.57), and Wofford next-to-last (131.50). Howard has faced 253 pass attempts, but has only one interception.

– Montana continues to set the pace in net punting (44.20). The Citadel is 28th, Wofford 60th, and Presbyterian (predictably) last.

– Furman is averaging the fewest penalty yards per game in FCS (31.00). The rest of the top five includes Bucknell, Wofford (32.67), Princeton, and South Dakota. Mercer is 8th, The Citadel 27th (47.00).

Florida A&M averages the most penalty yards per contest (96.33).

The cumulative record of the ten teams with the worst penalty yardage numbers is 49-40. The cumulative record of the ten teams with the fewest penalty yardage stats is 40-47.

– James Madison has a turnover margin per game of +1.33, tops in FCS. Chattanooga and Montana State are tied for 2nd. The next group of tied teams includes East Tennessee State, McNeese State, South Carolina State, South Dakota State, and UC Davis.

The Citadel is tied for 95th (-0.33), Wofford tied for 77th (-0.11). Presbyterian (-2.56) is last.

– The Citadel is 14th in time of possession, while Wofford is 87th.

– The Citadel’s home attendance per game is 27th-highest nationally; Wofford’s is 88th.

I’ll probably have another relatively short writeup as Saturday’s contest draws closer.

 

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