With no opponent this week, I figured I'd spend some time looking back at the games so far this season. The season has been a little confusing to this point. Laid an egg in the home opener. Followed up that game with an unexpected victory against a (then)ranked Georgia Tech. A pretty solid beating was taken in Hattiesburg. Then one of the worst D1 teams came to Lawrence to build our confidence. Obviously the most recent data point might be the worst, an absolute butt-kicking from Baylor. If we peel back the layers a little bit, maybe we'll find something positive.
In my effort to do this, I'm using some stats that Brian Fremeau has shared the last couple of weeks as part of their "FEI: Three and Out" columns. (Here and Here) These numbers are drive statistics and can show a little bit more than just time of possession, yards gained, and other commonly used stats. The four I'm going to share are 3 and Outs, Explosive Drives, Methodical Drives, and Red Zone Drives. Definitions will accompany each table below. Lets see if we can find anything meaningful...
We're going to start with "3 and Outs". The numbers below show both offense and defense numbers. The first three columns are the offensive numbers and the last three numbers are from the defensive side of the ball. A "3 and Out" drive is just like it sounds, any non-scoring drive that gains fewer than 10 yards and less than 4 plays. For reference, South Carolina was 10th in the country with 11% of their drives being a 3 and out. Defensively, Boise State was 10th with about 43% of their opponents drives being a 3 and out.
|Opponent||Possessions||3 and Out||Def. Possessions||3 and Out|
Can we schedule New Mexico State again? Even when they weren't scoring points in that game, the offense was staying on the field and moving the ball. The offensive changes after week 1 seem to have helped the offense quite a bit. The alarming numbers for me are the 33% vs GT and the 42% against Baylor. Two BCS level teams and the offense has struggled to get a first down 1/3 or more of the time. Not a good sign going forward. As for the defense, not too bad until Saturday. Just another data point highlighting the beat down.
Methodical drives are drives that have lasted 10+ plays. These drives don't always end in a score but field position is gained and the defense gets a break. Again for reference, Nevada was 10th with a little over 23% of their drives qualifying. Defensively the standard is pretty high, West Virginia was 10th allowing just 2 out of 36 drives to qualify.
Offensively, I don't really know what to make of these numbers. They aren't good but they don't seem terrible, though they might be. After we look at explosive drives, the numbers will have more context. As for the defense, not terrible but these numbers might be a little misleading. Georgia Tech didn't have one qualifying drive but they did have three 9 play drives. Thoughts here?
These are possessions where the offensive team averaged more than 10 yards a play. Michigan State was 10th with 27% of their drives being "explosive". On the defensive side, Fresno State was 10th allowing only 1 out 24 drives to qualify as "explosive".
This is where we start to see the problems on the offensive side of the ball. The team isn't great at methodical drives and overall, they're pretty bad in the explosive category. Take out the New Mexico State game and these numbers are downright terrible. When a team struggles to put together long drives and can't get the ball downfield, they're going to be very bad. On the defensive side, things were pretty good until this weekend. Three explosive drives and four 10+ play drives is never a good combination for a defense to give up.
Red Zone Drives
Red Zone Drives are any drive where the offense made it to the red zone. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense. Getting a big stop in the red zone is always great for morale but if you're letting teams get close to scoring often, sooner or later the back breaks. Nebraska was 10th in Red Zone Drives at 55%. Defensively, North Carolina State was 10th, 22% of their opponent's drives made it to the red zone.
|Drives||Red Zone||Drives||Red Zone|
Good showings against Georgia Tech and New Mexico State. Defensively, Baylor moved the ball at will. New Mexico State got into the red zone more than you'd like to see. A combination of good field position and bend but don't break defense.
Seeing these numbers doesn't really show anything we don't already know. The offense isn't explosive and isn't powerful, so long plays and long drives are hard to produce. Defensively, bend but don't break has worked pretty well until this last weekend. After a few weeks, we'll check back on these numbers and to check on progress.
*Pretty sure Fetch is going to use these same stats and compare them to the Big 12 later in the week. Should help provide a little more context for the percentages.