STAT CLASS 101
Run/Pass Balance and Efficiency
By Dave Hersh
NationalChamps.net Managing Editor
..

  You have probably noticed how very few statistics, when held to the light alone, genuinely expose a teamís strengths/weaknesses.But if you poignantly align the right numbers and use simple logic, much is revealed as to why a team is performing a certain way. Trends definitely exist in some areas.And of course, decipher what you will.But we think we have a few cleaver, multi-faceted insider angles for how to break this information down.We compare/contrast certain basic vital statistics that, when focused together, can give a better understanding as to why a team does/doesnít do well.

  Most important is this - what one set of stats means to one team, when mimicked, often leads to a totally different statistical and final outcome for another.In other words, there is no statistical prototype for success.But unlike our first Stat Class 101 that covered third-down efficiency, there is much more consistency in this analysis.Enough of the top teams do share enough of a similar play-calling ratio such that comparing/contrasting their numbers/rankings brings light to the plight of each and all.  

AP Ranking/Team
- as of October 10th, 2004
Running Plays
per game
(% of all plays)
(A)
Rushing
Offense
Rank
(B)
Passing Plays
per game
(% of all plays)
(C)
Passing Offense
Rank
(D)
Pass
Effic.
Rank
(E)
Total
Offense
Rank
(F)
Scoring
Rank
(G)

1. Southern Cal (5-0)

184 (56%)

47th

149 (44%)

34th

17th

38th

21st

2. Oklahoma (5-0)

237 (64%)

8th

132 (36%)

63rd

16th

14th

17th

3. Miami (4-0)

145 (58%)

64th

107 (42%)

77th

58th

80th

27th

4. Auburn (6-0)

248 (63%)

21st

149 (37%)

35th

5th

20th

20th

5. Purdue (5-0)

180 (50.14%)

55th

179 (49.86%)

2nd

3rd

3rd

4th

6. Virginia (5-0)

240 (68%)

5th

111(32%)

48th

7th

5th

3rd

7. Florida St. (4-1)

213 (58%)

19th

157 (42%)

87th

94th

54th

46th

8. California (3-1)

168 (63%)

9th

99 (37%)

23rd

1st

2nd

6th

9. Texas (4-1)

241 (68%)

2nd

117 (32%)

102nd

45th

10th

22nd

10. Wisconsin (6-0)

283 (67%)

35th

141 (33%)

110th

96th

88th

85th

11. Utah (5-0)

223 (64%)

14th

127 (36%)

33rd

9th

12th

11th

12. Georgia (4-1)

187 (54%)

60th

158 (46%)

49th

54th

62nd

46th

13. Tennessee (4-1)

218 (61%)

17th

141 (39%)

57th

25th

27th

41st

14. Michigan (5-1)

241 (55%)

89th

197 (45%)

30th

31st

67th

34th

15. Arizona St. (5-0)

185 (49%)

86th

189 (51%)

15th

24th

45th

19th

16. Okla. St. (5-0)

236 (83%)

4th

47 (17%)

114th

4th

35th

5th

17. W. Virginia (4-1)

244 (71%)

10th

100 (29%)

100th

19th

31st

16th

18. Louisville (4-0)

193 (64%)

11th

110 (36%)

25th

8th

4th

2nd

19. Minnesota (5-1)

309 (72%)

3rd

120 (28%)

78th

12th

8th

15th

20. LSU (4-2)

241 (57%)

43rd

183 (43%)

37th

32nd

34th

39th

21. Boise State (5-0)

237 (59%)

26th

163 (41%)

10th

15th

6th

1st

22. Florida (3-2)

172 (49.85%)

60th

173 (50.15%)

28th

29th

37th

25th

23. Texas A&M (4-1)

194 (58%)

22nd

141 (42%)

38th

27th

21st

29th

24. Southern Miss (4-0)

172 (60%)

45th

108 (40%)

97th

60th

80th

40th

25. Ohio State (3-2)

171 (52%)

92nd

152 (48%)

70th

88th

97th

76th

26. Missouri (4-1)

215 (58%)

24th

159 (42%)

50th

41st

30th

28th

27. Virginia Tech (4-2)

254 (61%)

50th

157 (39%)

85th

67th

78th

45th

28. UCLA (4-1)

215 (62%)

12th

130 (38%)

64th

34th

16th

26th

29. Navy (5-0)

281 (86%)

6th

47 (14%)

116th

6th

52nd

54th

30. Texas Tech (4-2)

138 (28%)

112th

355 (72%)

1st

38th

1st

8th

 

 

How to Read - For our analysis, the table presented above takes the Top 30 teams (via the latest Associated Press poll) into consideration. We first list each team and its record, by order of rank.The next column (A) gives the total number of runs called and in parenthesis is what percentage of the total plays called has been runs.The next column (B) gives the national ranking for that teamís rushing offense.The fourth column (C) gives the total number of passes, with the parenthesis giving us the percentage of total plays called that have been throws.The next column (D) gives the national rank of the teamís passing offense (via yards), which is directly next to (and different than) the teamís pass efficiency ranking in column (E).We then list the teamís total offense ranking (F) and their scoring ranking (G).  

  This week is pretty basic. You donít need to be working for ESPN to realize how many of the top 30 run more often than they pass.Most run it between 50-70% of the time.† ††Four teams (Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Minnesota, and Navy) run it more than seven out of ten times, and they only have two losses amongst them.Note that though these teams have predictably low passing totals, each rank in the top 20 for pass efficiency. In other words, a good, strong, consistent running attack definitely opens up the passing game and leads to overall success.

  Only Texas Tech throws quite a bit more than they run.And since this fact is well-known by all, foes anticipating such have made Techís top-ranked passing attack rate only 38th for overall efficiency.Though they still have the countryís #1 total and #8 scoring offenses, their predictable play-calling (and subsequent 112th ranking for rushing offense) has led to two early losses. Running more could improve things against certain teams, but we are weary to suggest anything to a group that trounced Nebraska so bad.

  Passing well is important; passing often isnít.Getting the opponent to think first that they need to stop your rushing attack lures them into the box and optimal aerial results follow.Accordingly (and unlike the Red Raiders), notice how most top teams have a higher pass efficiency ranking than they do for their total passing (yardage).Look carefully at Oklahoma Stateís and Navyís low pass totals (both at 47).And to prove our point - these 114th- and 116th-ranked passing offenses, respectively, have the 4th- and 6th-ranked air efficiency.Both remain unscathed.Florida State is the only top 10 squad with similarly inverse numbers.Only Ohio State has a substantially negative differential (18 places) between their total passing and efficiency passing, which seemingly earns them their 97th-ranked total offense and two losses.

  The Buckeyes also prove that, even with a good play-calling balance, yardage and/or success is/are never guaranteed. Florida, another team with a (close to) 50-50 split of run and pass, also sports two in the loss column.But the Gatorís 37th-ranked total offense gives them much more promise, while Ohio State needs to go back to the drawing board.Even when they were winning (up through their last two games), OSU prematurely showed these statistical signs of weakness, so many of us realized it would be only a short time until they lost.

  A team can run from numerical facts, but statistical realities usually catch up with lacking efforts and produce losses.

  So we have hopefully proven play-calling balance is a key for offensive production.Accepting the fact that almost all of the top 30 teams do gauge a healthy mix of run and pass, note how only seven rank in the bottom half (lower than 60th) for total offense.And of those seven, only Wisconsin and Ohio State also fail to rank in the upper half (top 60) for scoring Ė therefore, we can safely conclude that efficient scoring offsets marginal yardage totals.Of those seven weaker offenses, three still remain undefeated, and it is evidently Wisconsinís #1 and Miamiís #2 total defenses that keep them this way.Consistently, Georgia, Virginia Tech, and Michigan all land in the top 20 defensively.And of the seven, Southern Mississippi alone ranks in the bottom half defensively, too. Yet somehow, the Golden Eagles turn it on at all the right times Ė they are still undefeated, even with such average numbers. (Southern Mississippi, though, does have the 10th-ranked pass efficiency defense, clearly proving they know just how/when to bend and not break.)

  Play-calling intricacies do change at specific times in a game (such as in first- and third-down situation, or at times whether a team is ahead or behind) and can obviously be further broken down and then applied much differently than just in the simple way we do here.But for our basic approach, the above-stated information tells much.Follow play-calling balance(s), along with subsequent efficiencies, and then ultimately results, to see just how far you can expect certain teams to go.Statistics tell the truth, and the truth tells all.

  We welcome any and all comments that add to or affect our statistical analysis.