Yesterday we dug in to the defense's stats for the year to date, and saw that they're playing at an ok level. Today I'll zoom in on the offense in much the same way, with much less encouraging findings.
Like yesterday, I'll start off with the measures you see most commonly referred to when people are judging an offense: total yards and points. These numbers aren't close to sufficient when doing a thorough evaluation of offensive efficiency, but in this case, they really do tell us everything we need to know.
|Big12 rank||Team||points/game||Natn'l rank|
While I probably don't need to go into any more detail than that, I'll go ahead and trudge through a little more information. Let's go to Football Outsiders' FEI and S&P+ like we did yesterday to find some more advanced measures. These will measure offensive efficiency, looking at the opponents played, ability to put together effective drives, success in picking up first downs, and an offense's ability to put points on the board. The first rank will be the FEI, the second is the S&P. The basic measures said we're godawful. Maybe the computer metrics like us a bit more?
Shit. OK, so we've confirmed that we suck, but in what ways and to what extent do we suck? Let's look at yards per play, then break it down into yards per rush, and per pass attempt to try to whittle down to the crux of the problem.
A few things about these numbers. First, there are 11 teams in the country who actually fare better on their average run attempt than we do on our average pass. That's deplorable. Iowa State is the only Big 12 with a worse running game (in terms of pure production) than ours. Considering this was supposed to be strength of the ENTIRE TEAM this year, I'd say that has to be considered a major disappointment. Last year's disappointing offense still managed 4.55 yards per rush (49th) and 4.96 yards per play (105th). Here are a few additional stats that, I believe, help flesh out the root of the problem:
This is a pretty big indictment of our offensive line. As generally ineffective as the offense was last year, they only allowed 2.08 sacks and 5.92 TFL per game. Our running backs are the same. Our receiving corps saw very little change. We have quarterbacks with roughly the same level of mobility. The one thing that stands out is a line that lost 3 starters with a ton of experience, one of whom moved on to the NFL. Most of this blame falls on the o-line, which is the reason I don't support moving to a more run-oriented attack as much as some fans do. The line can't run block, and defenses are already loading up the box on us. If we move even further from the passing game, defenses will be jumping the run with reckless abandon. With a poor offensive line, that's a recipe for disaster. Sure, we need to play to our strengths, but I think the most important step we need to take is finding a way to put together some semblance of a complimentary passing game.
Let's take a look at 3rd down conversion rate:
Brutal. I'll bet you can't guess how we rank in terms of explosive plays!
|Big12||Team||10+ yd plays||Natn'l|
|Big12||Team||20+ yd plays||Natn'l|
|Big12||Team||30+ yd plays||Natn'l|
So, is everyone depressed? The good news is I couldn't find a category where we were dead last in all of FBS competition, so there's that. I know penalties have been a sticking point for fans this year as well. If you're curious, we managed to drop from the 3rd least penalized team in the country last year, to 107th this year. I've tried to be glass-half-full when it comes to Charlie Weis and his staff, but we need to see improvement. A lot of these offensive numbers are very similar to our offensive production under Turner Gill. Think about that. Actually, no. Don't.
The conclusions here are obvious, but I'll spell out a couple of them. First, the offensive line has to improve. We brought in jucos to try and bridge the gap in experience left by Hawk, Zlatnik and Marrongelli, and it has failed miserably. I do believe part of this is a talent issue. Out of our three juco lineman recruits (Fondal, Fusimalohi and Smithburg), Fondal's offer from Arkansas is the only thing even close to an impressive offer. For the most part, these were mid-major quality linemen who chose Kansas as a way of playing in a BCS conference. That said, we aren't even getting mid-major production out of them. I've seen very little from the line in terms of improvement, and that is something that has to be addressed, be it by a change in scheming, different technique, or even a staffing change.
More generally speaking, I think we can clearly conclude that what the offense has been doing simply isn't working. Outside of the first drive Saturday, I didn't see anything that would indicate the restructuring of the offensive gameplanning procedure is going to make the difference, but I'll concede we need to give that more time. At the end of the year, if these numbers don't improve, changes have to be made. For the sake of finances and practicality, I'm not saying we need to fire Weis. However, I am saying he's being paid handsomely to get this offense running, and that he needs to figure out how to get some level of production of these guys. I don't expect the Reesing-era offense, but we should be doing better than the numbers I've posted today. We've seen improvement on the defensive side of the ball. When are we going to see it on offense?