Archive for October, 2007

New Kickoff Rule – Week 6

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

The biggest effects of the new kickoff rule through week 5 of the college football season were the decrease in the number of touchbacks and the increase in the percentage of kickoffs returned for a touchdown. Let’s take a look at the data through week 6 to see if anything has changed significantly from week 5.

As usual, we’ll start with the number of touchbacks of kickoffs from the 30 yard line this season compared to kickoffs from the 35 yard line in the 2005-2006 seasons.

Season(s) Kickoff Start # Kickoffs Kickoff Land Avg. TB TB %
2005-2006 35 14,496 5.56 4334 29.90%
2007 30 3,557 8.25 454 12.76%

Touchbacks increased from 12.04% through week 5 to 12.76% through week 6, which is the highest percentage through any week so far this season. In week 6 only, 16.73% of kickoffs from the 30 yard line ended in a touchback. Of course, the touchback percentages are still down significantly from 29.90% in 2005-2006. The average landing spot of the kickoff did not change much, up from the 8.15 yard line through week 5 to 8.26 through week 6.

Here are the kickoff return numbers through week 6, based on the kickoff starting 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 2,943 21.86 30.39 31 1.05%

The average return length on kickoffs from the 30 did not change much from week 5 to week 6 — 21.89 to 21.86. The average ending spot of the return has increased from 30.24 to 30.39, which is the highest number through any week so far this season.

Last week the big mover was the percentage of kickoffs returned for touchdown. The percentage is up another 6.1% this week, moving from 0.99% through last week to 1.05% through this week.

The following table contains the week-by-week breakdown of returns of kickoffs from the 30 yard line.

  Kickoff Start # Returns Return Avg. Return End Avg. TD TD%
2007 week 1 30 490 21.33 29.94 4 0.82%
2007 week 2 30 509 21.91 29.68 2 0.39%
2007 week 3 30 526 21.89 30.87 4 0.76%
2007 week 4 30 517 22.74 30.65 9 1.74%
2007 week 5 30 471 21.51 30.03 6 1.27%
2007 week 6 30 430 21.67 31.22 6 1.40%

Week 6 had the highest kickoff return ending spot of any week this season, and the 2nd highest percentage of kickoffs returned for touchdown.

I think it’s interesting that the average field position at the end of kickoff and the percentage of touchdowns are at their highest levels so far this season, while at the same time the percentage of touchbacks is also at its highest level. Since fewer kickoffs into the end zone are being returned, that made me wonder about the data on kickoffs returned from the end zone.

The following table breaks down the returns on kickoffs from the 30 by the starting spot of the return.

Return Start # Returns Return Avg. Return End Avg. TD TD%
End Zone 412 25.32 25.32 5 1.21%
1-5 Yd Ln 917 23.97 27.09 7 0.76%
6-10 Yd Ln 735 23.22 31.07 13 1.77%
11-15 Yd Ln 418 21.53 34.41 4 0.96%
16-20 Yd Ln 191 16.95 34.64 2 1.05%
21+ Yd Ln 270 9.67 38.24 0 0.00%

As you might expect, returns of kickoffs from the end zone have the highest average, but the lowest ending spot of the return. So with less returns from the end zone than earlier in the season, that’s part of the reason why the overall average ending spot is at its highest number so far. Note that kickoffs from the end zone have the 2nd highest percentage returned for touchdown of any of the other return start intervals.

It’s kind of hard to ignore the touchdown percentage of 1.77% (13 touchdowns) on returns that start between the 6 and 10 yard lines. That’s significantly higher than any of the other intervals. It seems like the safest place to kick the ball is between the goal line and the 5 yard line, since it has both the 2nd lowest average ending spot and the 2nd lowest touchdown percentage.

If you really don’t want the kickoff returned for a touchdown, your best bet is to kick it short of the 20 yard line since no kickoff has been returned for a touchdown from outside the 20 yard line this season. That makes sense because kickoffs that short are usually returned by one of the up men rather than the more dangerous deep men.

Week 6 Statistics Available

Monday, October 8th, 2007

The statistics for week 6 (through 10/06/2007) are now available. Please let me know if you find any problems.

Kickoff Rule in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Wendell Barnhouse of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote about the new kickoff rule in his College Football Insider column on Wednesday, and included kickoff data from cfbstats.com.

Kickoff change has had little effect

The article includes a reaction to the data from Oregon State coach Mike Riley.

New Kickoff Rule – Week 5

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

It’s been two weeks since we last looked at the kickoff data to see the impact of the new kickoff rule. So let’s jump right in and take a look at the latest numbers through week 5 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 3,007 8.15 362 12.04%

Compared to the numbers through week 3, the average landing spot of kickoffs from the 30 has changed from the 8.24 yard line to the 8.15 yard line. The percentage of kickoffs from the 30 that are touchbacks has increased from 11.97% to 12.04%. The kickoffs are going a little deeper and the touchbacks are up slightly.

These numbers have not changed drastically from week-to-week during this season. The average landing spot has been around the 8 yard line and the touchback percentage has been around 12%.

Here are the kickoff return numbers through week 5, based on the kickoff starting 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 2,513 21.89 30.24 25 0.99%

Compared to the numbers through week 3, the average return on kickoffs from the 30 has increased from 21.72 to 21.89. The average ending spot of the return has increased from 30.17 to 30.24. The big surprise is the change in touchdown percentage compared to 2 weeks ago. The touchdown percentage has increased 65% from 0.60% to 0.99%.

In the last two weeks, there have been 15 returns for touchdown on kickoffs from the 30 yard line, compared to 10 for the first three weeks combined. Here is the week-by-week breakdown of kickoff returns.

  Kickoff Start # Returns Return Avg. Return End Avg. TD TD%
2007 week 1 30 490 21.33 29.94 4 0.82%
2007 week 2 30 509 21.91 29.68 2 0.39%
2007 week 3 30 526 21.89 30.87 4 0.76%
2007 week 4 30 517 22.74 30.65 9 1.74%
2007 week 5 30 471 21.51 30.03 6 1.27%

Looks like I picked the wrong week to skip publishing the kickoff data! Week 4 had nine kickoffs from the 30 returned for touchdown, a whopping (relatively) 1.74%. Even though the week 5 percentage of 1.27% on 6 returns for touchdown is not as high, it’s still much higher than any of the first three weeks.

Here is a list of the weeks from the 2005-2007 seasons with the highest percentage of kickoffs returned for touchdown.

  Kickoff Start Returns TD TD%
2005 week 4 35 297 6 2.02%
2007 week 4 30 517 9 1.74%
2005 week 2 35 424 7 1.65%
2006 week 13 35 308 5 1.62%
2006 week 2 35 376 6 1.60%
2006 week 6 35 341 5 1.47%
2006 week 10 35 364 5 1.37%
2006 week 5 35 315 4 1.27%
2007 week 5 30 471 6 1.27%
2005 week 9 35 272 3 1.10%

Both of the past two weeks of this season are in the top 10, with week 4 having the 2nd highest percentage of kickoffs returned for touchdown. We’ll continue to monitor the touchdown percentages to see if these are just data spikes (which the table shows have happened in previous seasons) or an upward trend.

Week 5 Statistics Available

Monday, October 1st, 2007

The statistics for week 5 (through 9/29/2007) are now available. Please let me know if you find any problems.