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West Virginia Football: A Look At Not So Official Stats Heading Into Week Two

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Direct from the booth at Milan Puskar Stadium, one of our newest staff members take you inside for a look at the statistical side of the game.

NCAA Football: Missouri at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

In terribly non journalistic fashion, let me quickly introduce myself. I am a lifelong Mountaineer fan, born and raised in West Virginia. I am a trained journalist with an interest in statistics and data (I wouldn’t think of myself as a data-driven journalist, but feel free to draw your own conclusions.)

Since 2005, I’ve had the good fortune to work with various television networks during their gameday productions, typically filling a role they call “official stats.” While each production crew varies from game-to-game, typically my job involves working with the production truck to provide the information that fills the graphics you see on screen during the game.

This often means I spend a lot of time during a game thinking about statistics as a means for telling the ‘story’ for the viewers. In that vein, what I will try to do each week will be to highlight relevant statistics from the previous game and season that I think help explain why the Mountaineers are winning or losing. In particular I will try to find statistics that you might think about on first glance, but that I think have value. (Disclaimer: there is a very good chance that I will never mention Quarterback Hurries.) I will also try to give you an idea of some statistics to think about during the next game and whatever I might notice about our opponents.

Without further preamble, here are

Four Stats of the Game

  1. 494 Total Yards. Missouri was 9th in fewest yards per game in the NCAA and allowed 400 yards only once, when Dak Prescott and Miss State put up 430 in their 31-13 victory in Columbia. While this isn’t exactly the same crew, and Coach Barry Odom has made some tweaks to their scheme, putting up nearly 500 yards of offense is pretty impressive.
  2. 5/5 Red Zone Offense. The Mountaineers were five for five scoring in the Red Zone, but settled for four field goals. In a league driven by high scoring affairs, this number typically won’t cut it for the Mountaineers. In 2015, for example, three of the highest scoring offenses were from the Big XII, averaging 43 ppg or better. Baylor, who led the nation with nearly 48 ppg, scored touchdowns on 75.7% of their red zone trips,
  3. 5.9 Yards on First Down Plays, 6.7 on Second Down. West Virginia ran nearly 85 plays (they combined with Missouri to run a stadium record, 185-plays), with an average second down position of 2 and 4.
  4. 34:13 Time of Possession. Last year, West Virginia averaged 29:23 TOP. While TOP is sometimes less important to spread offenses, it’s also an indicator of tempo and general control of the game.

Stats To Watch This Week

Facing an FCS team with a banged up QB, I generally expect the play calling to be conservative and focus heavy on the run. (After one week, West Virginia is second in the Big XII in rushing yards). Against Duquesne, the Penguins allowed just 34 rushing yards on 21 attempts, while piling up an impressive 394 yards on 53 attempts.

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

  1. West Virginia Rushes vs Passes (and yards/play for each)
  2. West Virginia Red Zone Offense
  3. Youngstown State Rushing Yards
  4. Time of Possession