Archive for October, 2009

What happened to those punts?

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Whenever you watch a game involving Florida on TV, you will inevitably be informed that the Gators give up very few punt returns and punt return yards to their opponents. It’s with good reason, because Florida is usually among the best in the FBS in those categories. In 2007, Florida allowed only five punts to be returned for 22 yards in 13 games.

This season, Florida is again among the leaders, allowing only two punts to be returned and zero punt return yards in seven games.  The only team that has done as good or better in those categories this season is Florida Atlantic, which has allowed 2 punt returns for negative eight punt return yards in six games.

I began wondering — what happened to all the other punts by these teams that were not returned by the opponent? So here are the teams that have surrendered the fewest number of punt returns this season, broken down by how the punt ended.

                                   Fair                         Out of
 Team             Punts   Return   Catch   Touchback   Downed   Bounds   Other
+---------------+-------+--------+-------+-----------+--------+--------+-------
 Florida Atl.      25       2        9         3         4	  5        2
 Florida           18       2        5         2         5	  4        0
 Ohio State        34       3       20         1         8        2        0
 Hawai'i           21       3        5         1         4        5        3
 Notre Dame        27       3       16         2         4        1        1
 UCF               32       5       13         1         9        3        1
 LSU               30       5       15         1         5        4        0
 Nevada            26       5        9         3         5        3        1
 BYU               23       6        6         2         4        4        1
 Stanford          22       6        7         2         6        0        1
 Southern Miss.    30       6       10         2        10        2        0
 Central Mich.     31       6        8         3         9        5        0
 Auburn            41       6       17         4         8        6        0
 Miami (Fla.)      26       6        9         2         7        2        0
 South Fla.        29       6       14         2         6        1        0
 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Totals           415      70      163        31        94       47       10
                         16.9%    39.3%      7.5%     22.7%    11.3%     2.4%
 

For this group of teams, the plurality of the punts that are not returned ended in a fair catch, followed by the ball being downed, then by the ball being kicked out of bounds.  The “Other” column comprises those punts where the official scorer did not indicate what happened at the end of the punt, most likely that the ball was downed.

Florida’s punt return coverage numbers are helped because they have only had to punt 18 times this season, with 11.1% of the punts being returned.  Florida Atlantic and Ohio State are the leaders in the FBS in the lowest percentage of punts returned with 8% and 9% respectively.

Forbath a bright spot for UCLA

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

UCLA junior placekicker Kai Forbath kicked a 53-yard field goal in a losing effort against Arizona last Saturday. It was Forbath’s third field goal made this season of 50 or more yards and was the ninth of 50 or more yards in his career.

Here are the top-10 active career leaders in field goals made from 50 or more yards.

                                        50+   50+
 Player           Team             Yr   FGM   FGA
+---------------+----------------+----+-----+-----+
 Kai Forbath      UCLA             JR    9    11
 Aaron Pettrey    Ohio State       SR    6     8
 Leigh Tiffin     Alabama          SR    5     6
 Blair Walsh      Georgia          SO    5     8
 Jake Rogers      Cincinnati       JR    4     6
 Grant Mahoney    Iowa State       SO    3     6
 Carson Wiggs     Purdue           SO    3     7
 Philip Welch     Wisconsin        SO    3     6
 Richard Jackson  Clemson          JR    3     3
 Matt Bosher      Miami (Florida)  JR    3     4
 

Forbath is 3 of 5 from 50 or more yards this season, having made each of his first six career attempts. Amazingly, Forbath’s two missed kicks from 50 or more yards are the only field goals he’s missed this season. He is 16 of 16 from 49 yards or less.   He also leads the nation in field goals made per game.

It’s notable that the above table contains four sophomores and only two seniors.  Eight of the ten kickers in the table are on the Lou Groza Award watch list — only Mahoney and Jackson missed the list.

Flags Are Flyin’ in the Sun Belt, Big 12

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Saturday’s Red River Rivalry game featured a total of 21 penalties between the two teams, Oklahoma and Texas.  It was the 4th game out of 14 Big 12 conference games this season that had 20 or more total penalties, topped by 28 total penalties between Colorado and Texas on October 10.

I thought that the Big 12 would lead the nation in total penalties per conference game this season, but I was wrong.  That title goes to the Sun Belt, which not only leads all FBS conferences this season but currently has the highest number of total penalties per conference game of any conference in the last 5+ seasons.

 Conference      Season    G   Pen.   Pen./G
+--------------+--------+----+------+--------+
 Sun Belt         2009    11   186    16.91
 Big 12           2009    14   229    16.36
 Sun Belt         2004    30   475    15.83
 Sun Belt         2005    28   440    15.71
 Big 12           2005    49   749    15.29
 Big East         2007    28   424    15.14
 Sun Belt         2008    28   401    14.32
 Conference USA   2009    17   243    14.29
 Sun Belt         2007    28   395    14.11
 Atlantic Coast   2005    49   690    14.08
 

The Sun Belt is almost the perennial leader in this category, and is on pace to easily beat its previous high mark from 2004.  The Big 12 is over a half-penalty per conference game behind the Sun Belt this season, but is also on pace to beat the Sun Belt’s 2004 mark.

ESPN College GameDay must be a fan of cfbstats.com

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Last Monday, I wrote about Boston College QB Dave Shinskie’s miserable passing efficiency rating against Virginia Tech on October 10th. During Saturday morning’s ESPN College Gameday show, host Chris Fowler mentioned Shinskie and basically gave a summary of my blog entry — that Shinkie’s efficiency rating for the game was the worst in the last 5+ seasons for quarterback with at least 10 pass attempts. However, Fowler did not mention the source of his information.

I assume that College GameDay researchers come up with most of the stats that are presented on the show, not necessarily Fowler himself. While it’s possible that the researchers noticed Shinskie’s performance on their own, it’s very unlikely that they (or anyone else) independently used the same criteria to qualify Shinskie’s performance that I used (minimum 10 passes; last 5+ seasons).

I’m happy that College GameDay finds information on cfbstats.com to be useful, and even though the information is freely available, I expect as a courtesy for cfbstats.com to be properly cited. While I’m not aware of every instance that data from cfbstats.com is used, I know that other media companies, newspapers, and bloggers have been kind enough to cite cfbstats.com when they’ve used data.

Devine Running

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Noel Devine’s 77-yard touchdown run against Colorado last Thursday moved him into first place among active players in the number of career rushing attempts of 70 or more yards:

 Player           Yr   Team              Att    70+   Att/70+
+---------------+----+----------------+-------+-----+---------+
 Noel Devine      JR   West Virginia     352     5      70.4
 Jahvid Best      JR   California        305     4      76.3
 Jonathan Dwyer   JR   Georgia Tech      347     3     115.7
 Chris Rainey     SO   Florida           116     3      38.7
 Lonyae Miller    SR   Fresno State      328     3     109.3
 C.J. Spiller     SR   Clemson           475     3     158.3
 Carlos Brown     SR   Michigan          164     2      82.0
 DeMarco Murray   JR   Oklahoma          361     2     180.5
 James Starks     SR   Buffalo           698     2     349.0
 Bryce Beall      SO   Houston           259     2     129.5
 Jeremy Avery     JR   Boise State       286     2     143.0
 Phillip Livas    JR   Louisiana Tech     48     2      24.0
+---------------+----+----------------+-------+-----+---------+

Among players with more than one 70+ yard run, Devine has the third-best ratio, averaging a 70+ yard rush every 70.4 attempts.  Louisiana Tech WR Phillip Rivas has the top ratio, with a 70+ yard run every 24.0 attempts, followed by Florida RB Chris Rainey with a 70+ yard run every 38.7 attempts.  However, Rivas and Rainey do not have nearly as many rushing attempts as Devine.

Besides their ability to break long runs, Devine, Rivas, and Rainey have another thing in common — their size.  Devine is 5’8″ and weighs 176 pounds, Rivas is 5’8″ and weighs 175 pounds, and Rainey is 5’9″ and weighs 175 pounds.