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Not So Official Stats: A Look Back and Ahead of Week 5

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What do we need to watch for tomorrow against the Wildcats? What will be the storyline of the game? Our official stats guy is here to tell you all you need to know.

Well the BYU game certainly wasn’t boring to watch! But what about statistically? Three games in and we’re now able to start identifying some useful trends and there are some worrying trends for WVU (and some good things too.)

Here are:

Four Stats of the Week

(Stats I think are interesting or tell us something about how the game/season is unfolding):

  1. Turnovers BYU 4, WVU 2. The truism about turnovers remains true, and they played a vital role in securing victory for WVU -- not just because of the number of turnovers, but because they came at such important moments for the Mountaineers. OF COURSE WVU almost lost the game because of a turnover, but you know details. Forcing turnovers is a bright spot for Gibby and the defense to hang their hat on, for the game, however, and WVU is now even on turnovers for the season.
  2. BYU, 521 Yards of Total Offense. Coming into the game, BYU had one of the worst offenses in the nation, ranking 105th. There’s plenty you can say to rationalize this, but the truth is WVU’s defense struggled to contain a previously pedestrian attack.
  3. 23.92 Through three weeks, WVU’ s not-so-special teams are allowing 23.92 yards per kickoff return. That’s good enough to beat twenty other schools, ranking 108th in FBS. In a league with dynamic return men, that has to improve. WVU’S defense, which has already been put on its heels with a number of injures, can’t continually be asked to defend a short field.
  4. 10-15 on Third Downs. If you want to know why BYU was able to pile up 521 yards, here’s the stat to zero in on. WVU allowed the Cougars to convert on 10 of their 15 third downs. This is another area where WVU must get better, as they rank 114th in FBS in third down defense.

Stats To Watch This Week

Kansas State is somehow one of only two Big 12 teams WVU has never beaten since joining the conference and each season this game has more or less served to dash any hopes Mountaineer fans might have had for getting over the 7-5 hump. I mostly attribute this to Bill Snyder’s dark wizardry. There’s simply no other explanation for the success that Kansas State has had over the years from a statistical perspective. (That’s not true, but I am sticking with this narrative.)

Here’s what I’ll be looking at in the booth:

  1. Third Down % As mentioned above, WVU’s defense has been not good, bad (sad!) on third downs, allowing teams to extend drives. By contrast, Kansas State’s defense has been much better (21st in FBS) in third down defense. There’s good news there for WVU and why I think this is important to keep an eye on -- WVU is also very good on third down offense, ranking 18th in FBS.
  2. Return Yards and the Dreaded Starting Position Graphic As I mentioned above, WVU has been less than sound on kickoff return, and if there’s one theme in all the years of Bill Snyder (and against WVU in particular) its their excellent special teams plays. (As a sidenote, I hate ‘average starting position’ because it requires me to do math. Someday Statcrew software will provide this for me. Some day.)
  3. Number of Failed Rolls for ‘Create Turn Over’ I am telling you, Bill Snyder put on his Windbreaker and Wizard cap,

Note: Story has been updated to reflect a copy editing error.