Archive for September, 2007

Team Situational Leaders Added

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally added team situational leaders for rushing and passing to cfbstats.com. What are team situational leaders, you might ask? They are stats like National team rushing leaders on 1st down, National team rushing leaders in the 2nd half/overtime, Pac-10 team passing leaders in the Red Zone, and Big 12 team passing defense leaders when the game is tied.

The situational leader boards are available nationally and for each conference, and all the data columns are sortable. So you can find out things like which SEC team has the most rushes of 10+ yards and which Big East team has gained the most 1st downs rushing on 3rd down and 1-3 yards to go.

This is an important step forward for cfbstats.com and further separates this website from the other websites that have college football statistics. And I’m really excited about the next step, which will be rolling out player situational leaders for rushing and passing. I hope this rollout will happen sometime next week, at the latest.

If you find any problems or have any questions about the new stats, let me know.

Week 4 Statistics Available

Monday, September 24th, 2007

The statistics for week 4 (through 9/22/2007) are now available. Please let me know if you find any problems.

SEC offenses racking up the points

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

The Birmingham News published an article by Jon Solomon on Wednesday about the scoring increase by SEC teams this season. The article is chock-full of stats, including some provided by cfbstats.com. Scoring is up across D-IA football this season — partially due to rescinding the clock rules — but SEC teams are averaging 43 percent more points per game so far this season.

Clock Rules Revisited

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Last season, cfbstats.com partnered with The Wizard Of Odds each week to show the impact of the new clock rules on college football. As a result of the outcry about the new rules, the NCAA Football Rules Committee rescinded the rules in the off-season.

We decided to revisit the subject with data for the 2007 season to compare with the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Check it out.

Impact of Turning Back the Clock

If it’s not already, I highly recommend making The Wizard Of Odds one the first choices from your daily college football blog menu. Great stuff.

New Kickoff Rule – Week 3

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

So far, the new kickoff rule’s impact on the game has not been as significant as many thought before the season. The biggest change has been an increase in the number of kickoffs returned. The average return on kickoffs from the 30 yard line in 2007 has not been significantly longer than the average on kickoffs from the 35 in 2005-2006. Let’s take a look at the kickoff data after week 3 of the 2007 season.

Season(s) Kickoff Start # Kickoffs Kickoff Land Avg. TB TB %
2005-2006 35 14,496 5.56 4334 29.90%
2007 30 1821 8.24 218 11.97%

Comparing to the kickoff data through week 2, the percentage of touchbacks has decreased and the average landing spot of the kickoff has moved further away from the goal line. The percentage of touchbacks has decreased from 12.39% in week 1, to 12.05% through week 2, to 11.97% through week 3. The average landing spot of kickoffs through week 3 is now the 8.24 yard line, compared to 7.78 through week 2, and 7.98 in week 1.

Last week I noticed that more kickoffs into the end zone from the 30 yard line are being returned in 2007 than kickoffs into the end zone from the 35 in 2005-2006. Here are the numbers through week 3.

Season(s) Kickoff Start End Zone Returned Return %
2005-2006 35 6620 2286 34.53%
2007 30 430 212 49.30%

Breaking the numbers down by week in 2007, the percentage of kicks into the end zone that were returned in week 3, 49.32%, was close to the seasonal percentage of 49.30%.

  Kickoff Start End Zone Returned Return %
2007 week 1 30 133 60 45.10%
2007 week 2 30 151 80 52.98%
2007 week 3 30 146 72 49.32%

The combination of kickers not kicking the ball as deep and returners advancing the kickoff from the end zone more frequently has led to the decrease in touchbacks in 2007.

Looking at the kickoff return numbers through week 3 based on the kickoff starting line, the average return is up slightly and the average ending spot of the return has crossed the 30 yard line.

Season(s) Kickoff Start # Returns Return Avg. Return End Avg. TD TD%
2005-2006 35 9,310 20.35 26.99 72 0.77%
2007 30 1,525 21.72 30.17 10 0.66%

Through week 2, the average return on kickoffs from the 30 was 21.53 yards, compared to 21.72 through week 3. The average ending spot of returns on kickoffs from the 30 was the 29.71 yard line through week 2, compared to 30.17 through week 3. The percentage of kickoffs returned was up slightly as well, from 0.60% through week 2 to 0.66% through week 3. However, this is still down from 0.77% on kickoffs from the 35 in 2005-2006.

Finally, you may have noticed (if you’re particular about such things) that the week 2 data in one of the above tables changed from last week. The number of kicks into the end zone and number of returns for week 2 of 2007 changed from last week’s post. Last week, they were 149 and 79, respectively, and this week they are 151 and 80.

Schools sometimes go back and adjust the statistics for a game, for any number of reasons. The adjustments may be for a game the previous week or for a game several weeks prior. As I become aware of the change, I’ll get the new box score and update my database. So during the season, the statistics for previous weeks’ games are subject to change. I’m not alone in this; the NCAA’s numbers also change when schools adjust the game statistics.

Week 3 Statistics Available

Monday, September 17th, 2007

The statistics for week 3 (through 9/15/2007) are now available. Please let me know if you find any problems.

New Kickoff Rule – Week 2

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

With week 2 of the 2007 college football season in the books, let’s look again at the new kickoff rule’s effect on the game. In the post after week 1, we found that the kickoff rule had not yet had a significant impact (at least statistically). The week 2 data is for games played through 09/08/2007.

Here is the average landing spot, number of touchbacks, and touchback percentage of kickoffs from the 35 in 2005-2006 and from the 30 in 2007.

Season(s) Kickoff Start # Kickoffs Kickoff Land Avg. TB TB%
2005-2006 35 14,496 5.56 4334 29.90%
2007 30 1187 7.78 143 12.05%

The touchback percentage is still much less in 2007 than the previous two seasons, and I’m sure this will be the case throughout the season. Comparing the numbers through week 2 of 2007 to week 1 of 2007, the touchback percentage has decreased from 12.39% to 12.05%, and the average landing spot has decreased from the 7.98 yard line to the 7.78 yard line. So the number of touchbacks declined slightly while the average kickoff landed slightly closer to the opponent’s goal line.

While watching games this weekend, I was paying special attention to the number of touchbacks on kickoffs. However it seemed that many of the kickoffs that went into the end zone were being returned instead of downed for touchbacks. So I decided to take a look at the number of kickoffs into the end zone that were being returned versus downed for a touchback.

This table shows the number of kickoffs into the end zone and the percentage of those kickoffs that were returned for the 2005-2006 seasons and the 2007 season.

Season(s) Kickoff Start End Zone Returned Return%
2005-2006 35 6620 2286 34.53%
2007 30 282 139 49.30%

So far in 2007, a significantly higher percentage of kickoffs into the end zone are being returned rather than downed. So, not only are fewer kickoffs landing in the end zone this season, but more of the kickoffs that do land in the end zone are being returned. This tells me that teams have decided to be more aggressive in the return game because of the five extra yards of space provided by the new rule.

I broke down the 2007 season by week to see what difference there might be in returns out of the end zone from week 1 to week 2.

  Kickoff Start End Zone Returned Return %
2007 week 1 30 133 60 45.10%
2007 week 2 30 149 79 53.02%

It seems that teams were even more aggressive in returning kickoffs out of the end zone in week 2 than week 1. It will be interesting to see if this changes in week 3.

Now let’s take a look at the data for kickoffs that were returned.

Season(s) Kickoff Start # Returns Return Avg. Return End Avg. TD TD%
2005-2006 35 9,310 20.35 26.99 72 0.77%
2007 30 996 21.53 29.71 6 0.60%

There is still not a significant difference between 2005-2006 and 2007. Comparing the numbers through week 2 of 2007 to week 1 of 2007, the average return was up slightly from 21.16 to 21.53, and average return end line was down from 29.78 to 29.71.

The touchdown percentage was down quite a bit from 0.82% to 0.60%. There have actually been eight kickoffs returned for touchdown in 2007. One kickoff that was returned for a touchdown was incorrectly scored as a kickoff from the 35 rather than the 30, so it’s not included in these numbers. If it was included, then the 2007 percentage would be 0.70%. The other kickoff returned for a touchdown in 2007 was returned on a kickoff from the 20 yard line. This was scored legitimately, since the kickoff came after a safety.

In last week’s post, I mentioned that I found about 50 instances where a kickoff was incorrectly scored as starting from the 35 yard line. So far in 2007, there have been 118 kickoffs scored from the 35 yard line. I haven’t looked at each kickoff individually (or written code to check), but I’m guessing at most 15% of those kickoffs actually started at the 35. So now we’re up to about 100 kickoffs that have been incorrectly scored.

These incorrectly-scored kickoffs are spread out over 18 games, but I just don’t have the time to send an email to each school to let them know about the problem. I did send one school an email about the problem last week, but I haven’t received any response, and the problem has not been fixed in the box score on their website. Perhaps they are too busy as well.

As a result of so many kickoffs being incorrectly scored, I’ve decided not to update the table of national leaders among kickers in touchback percentage. I received a couple of emails which pointed out that Ryan Harrison of Air Force would have been on the list last week had his kickoffs been scored correctly. I also noticed that one player who would have been on the list of leaders this week would drop off the list if all of his kickoffs had been scored correctly. For these reasons, I just decided it was better to not have the list since it was greatly impacted by the scoring problems.

Week 2 Statistics Available

Monday, September 10th, 2007

The statistics for week 2 (through 9/8/2007) are now available. Please let me know if you find any problems.

The New Kickoff Rule – Week 1 Data

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Now that we have a week’s worth of games under our belt, let’s take a look at the data to see the new kickoff rule’s impact so far.

The 2007 data is for games through 09/01/2007. The first two rows of data are from the combined 2005 and 2006 seasons, repeated from a previous post.

Season(s) Kickoff Start # Kickoffs Kickoff Land Avg. TB TB %
2005-2006 35 14,496 5.56 4,334 29.90%
2005-2006 30 160 8.78 14 8.80%
2007 30 589 7.98 73 12.39%

The number of touchbacks is down from 29.9% on kickoffs from the 35 yard line in 2005-2006 to 12.39% on kickoffs from the 30 in 2007. The percentage of touchbacks from the 30 in 2007 is up from 8.8% in 2005-6.

I’m not sure why more touchbacks have occurred from the 30 in 2007 than in 2005-6, but the sample sizes are relatively small. It’s possible that because more focus was put on kickoffs in the off-season, kickers may have worked harder to gain distance on their kicks.

On a side note, I discovered that roughly 50 kickoffs in the first week were scored as starting from the 35 yard line rather than the 30, even though there was no penalty that moved the kickoff starting line. It appears some official scorers simply forgot to change the starting line of the kickoffs to the 30 instead of the 35 as they entered the plays. Therefore, those kickoffs are not part of the totals for 2007.

Now the kickoff returns based on the kickoff starting spot:

Season(s) Kickoff Start # Returns Return Avg. Return End Avg. TD TD%
2005-2006 35 9,310 20.35 26.99 72 0.77%
2005-2006 30 139 23.47 32.12 1 0.72%
2007 30 489 21.16 29.78 4 0.82%

The average length of returns on kickoffs from the 30 in 2007 is 21.16, up 0.81 yard from returns on kickoffs from the 35 in 2005-6. The average change in field position at the end of the return is 2.79 yards, from the 26.99 yard line in 2005-6 to the 29.78 yard line in 2007. The percentage of touchdowns on returns is up slightly, from 0.77% in 2005-6 to 0.82% in 2007, a 6.5% increase.

So far, the new kickoff rule has not had a significant effect on the average length of returns and the percentage of returns for touchdown. The 58.6% reduction in touchbacks (from 29.9% to 12.39%) does result in better field position to start the ensuing drive. Drives that were starting on the 20 yard line after a touchback are now starting at the 29.78 yard line on average because the kickoff is returned. Starting a drive 10 yards closer to the opponent’s goal line should increase a team’s chances of scoring.

Finally, I want to list the kickers from the first week of the season that had the highest percentage of touchbacks on their kickoffs. To qualify for this list, a kicker must have had at least three kickoffs from the 30 yard line. Onside kicks are not included.

Player Team # Kickoffs TB TB %
Ryan Succop South Carolina 5 4 80.00%
Jared Develli Virginia Tech 4 3 75.00%
Adi Kunalic Nebraska 9 6 66.67%
Taylor Mehlhaff Wisconsin 7 4 57.14%
David Buehler USC 7 4 57.14%
Todd Flannery Louisville 11 5 45.45%
Joel Monroe Minnesota 5 2 40.00%
Billy Vinnedge Wyoming 5 2 40.00%
Scott Webb Kansas 8 3 37.50%

Week 1 Statistics Available

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

The statistics for week 1 (through 9/1/2007) are now available. Please let me know if you find any problems.