After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?
07 Nov 2008
by Bill Connelly
A week ago, I wrote this:
[I]f Colt McCoy wins the Heisman this year, you can thank the constantly successful tightrope act of thriving on passing downs. Yet again, Texas was better on passing downs than non-passing downs, and while you have to worry that the magic could suddenly, violently disappear (it did for Chase Daniel for about six quarters, long enough to kill his Heisman chances and his team's title chances), who knows, it might not. In that regard, the Texas Tech game is the biggest challenge remaining on the regular season schedule. Every time Texas faces a third-and-8 or third-and-10, Jones AT&T Stadium will be three shades of crazy, and that, combined with the fact that the Red Raider pass rush really is not too shabby, could spell trouble.
As you'll see in the Varsity Numbers Box Score of UT-Tech below, the magic did indeed "suddenly, violently disappear."
|Varsity Numbers Box Score: Texas Tech 39, Texas 33|
|Field Position %||38.4%||68.6%|
|Points Per Play (PPP)||0.37||0.39|
|S&P (Success + PPP)||0.756||0.983|
|CLOSE GAME ONLY|
|S&P by Quarter||Q1 S&P||0.283||0.873|
|S&P by Down||1st Down S&P||0.921||1.135|
|2nd Down S&P||0.578||0.904|
|3rd Down S&P||0.657||0.716|
|Total T/O Pts||7.87||4.35|
|Turnover Pts Margin||-3.52||+3.52|
In the end, there were three main reasons Texas lost in Lubbock Saturday night:
|Texas Offense S&P|
|Opponent||Non-Passing Downs S&P||Passing Downs S&P|
|at Texas Tech||0.852||0.540|
With this in mind, it might behoove us to take a look at the other teams at the top of the BCS rankings, which ones seem to be having disproportionate success on passing downs, and what that could mean for the rest of their schedules.
(And once again, the data is only complete for BCS teams, so for now we're going to skip over No. 8 Utah and No. 10 Boise State. And by the way, I love that there are four non-BCS teams in the Top 15.)
|0- and 1-loss BCS Teams and Passing Downs Disproportionality|
|BCS Rank||Team||PD S&P||NPD S&P||Ratio||Record|
Now let's look at these teams' remaining opponents. Opponents in bold have allowed sub-.500 S&P on passing downs:
Iowa's defense is the second best among BCS teams in terms of shutting down teams on passing downs. Meanwhile, Penn State has a rather high ratio of passing downs success to non-passing downs success (the national ratio is 0.802). And they're hosting Penn State this weekend. Consider that an upset alert.
The list of teams with the highest proportion of passing downs success to non-passing downs success includes some with awful offenses (Wake Forest, Arkansas, Auburn, Syracuse) who have high proportions only because neither S&P number is very good; however, the list also includes a lot of teams who simply have good offenses and good quarterbacks (Texas, USC, Texas Tech, Penn State). Having a high proportion here does not necessarily mean something bad. It just means that you probably cannot count on passing downs success for all 12 (or 13, or 14) games of a given season. At some point the magic will run out, at least temporarily, and you will find yards and points a lot harder to come by.
It also means that both teams playing in Lubbock Saturday night (Texas Tech and Oklahoma State) have outstanding passing downs defenses, and whoever can convert on second-and-9 or third-and-7 is going to win the game.
4 comments, Last at 10 Nov 2008, 9:55am by Rover