FanPost

The Bad News: Maybe We Just Are Who We Are On Offense

Perhaps I am a masochist.  I headed on over to msnsportsnet.com to check out HCBS's quotes from Monday afternoon's press conference, and the first few lines I read irritated me.  It seems Coach Stew is a stat geek like myself, because he began this way:

Last year, in the 2009 season, our offense had four 400+ yard games and we won nine football games. This year, our team has had five 400+ yard games and we have five wins. In 2009, we had 15 fumbles lost and this season we have 11 so far. That doesn’t please me with the fumbles. The 400+ offense is encouraging though. When you lose a game, sometimes you lose sight of what is good.

Does this sound like a defense of the offense to anyone else?  Loyal to the end, which I admire, but frankly, this isn't what I want to hear from the head man.  Because the salient part of any offensive analysis, has to be points-scored, and an even better metric then, might be yards gained per point scored, or YPP.  So consider:

Year

Net Yards Gained

Total Points Scored

Yards Per Point

Points Per Game

2007

5931

515

11.5

39.6

2008

4685

319

14.6

24.5

2009

4907

340

14.4

26.2

2010 (8 Games)

2956

196

15.1

24.5

For cross-reference purposes, here are the current BCS top 5 teams in terms of YPP: Oregon 10.4, Auburn 12.4, TCU 11.9, Boise State 10.8, and Utah 9.9. 

With yards per point on offense, the lower the number the better, because the fewer yards a team must travel in order to score indicates mulitple positive correlations - efficient offense, strong defense, and short fields earned through special teams.  Elite numbers are under 11.4 (the benchmark possession travels 80 yards and results in 7 points, 80/7 = 11.4).  If you want to read more about yards per point, you can do so here.

As you can see from the chart, our YPP number now is 3.6 yards higher than what it was in The Product's last WVU offense, and more worriesome, it is skewing higher, and has never been under 14, which, my friends, is not good.  Being over 15, in fact, is flat-out horrible.  Duke is 2-6 and has a YPP of 15.8.  Turnovers this year, no doubt, have had something to do with the YPP number rising since turnovers require that a team to travel much farther to score.

There were some quotes that gave me hope we can salvage at least second-place in the Big East.

Things I need to work on this week - first and foremost, on offense, we need to work on ball security. We are going to do a very intense turnover circuit and we are going to hit it hard this week.

Number two, we are going to work on formations and motions. A couple of guys were called because they were not on the line of scrimmage over the last couple of weeks. They were young guys, but we need to make sure they get it. I need to do a better job of coaching that.

Third, we need to work on pass protection. We have done well with the sacks, but how many hurries have we had? I want to move the pocket and see what we do best.


There is no "I" in team. At the top of the line of that team, is the coach – that is me. I need to do a better job. I need to do a better job with the coaches. I met with the coaches this morning and, (offensive coordinator) Jeff Mullen and I grilled each other about every play and looked at every player. We looked at the plays and asked if the players could do certain plays.

We are going to call what we need to call to win football games, with the players that can do the best.

I thought it was intriguing that Stew explicitly mentioned Mullen and "grilling" each other.  I hope some good comes from the meeting, but that last bit about "calling what we need to call to win football games..." has me scratching my head.  What have we been doing?

And then, toward the end, he said this:

After you get so many films on someone, it gets tough, but we are who we are. We have not run the quarterback. I try to give you (the media) some information and not give away our game plan. By running Geno Smith the other night, that really opened things up for us. We had them confused, and we are going to try to run him some more.

What?  I am not a football coach.  Maybe I don't know a damn thing about football.  In fact, I know I don't.  I am not smart enough to play a video game beyond Tecmo Bowl-level, at which I rocked by the way.  So, I will just guess I am wrong when I say that more of Geno running the ball is less attractive than integrating some tight end screens.  I know, however, that I don't like reading: "...but we are who we are."  The really sad part is that the chart above - the one that shows YPP's of 14.6, 14.4, and 15.1 - indicates that Coach Stew is right.  If that's the case, and we keep doing what we have been the last few weeks, we will be lucky to get to the St. Petersburg Bowl.

I hate to end on such a negative note.  So let's look at Yards Per Point from the defensive standpoint.  In this case the higher the number, the better since it indicates a team's opponent had to travel farther to score points.

Year

Net Yards Allowed

Total Points Allowed

Yards Per Point

Points Per Game Allowed

2007

3922

235

16.6

18

2008

4276

221

19.4

17

2009

4375

282

15.5

21.7

2010 (8 games)

1999

109

18.3

13.6

Clearly, this year's defense is the best of the last four years by points per game allowed, and is very close to the 2008 D that had a YPP of 19.4.  Were it not for the exceptional coaching and consistent play of these guys, this year would be going even worse.  For comparison's sake, TCU is tops in both net yards allowed, and scoring defense, which merits them a YPP of 25.1.  We are in top ten in the country by this metric...lights-out good.  Not that this is news, but the defense will make our best case for finishing second in the Big East.  If there is a change in coaching at year's end, I will be sad to see Jeff Casteel depart.

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