Archive for November, 2009

Mallett Hits The Long Passes

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett completed passes of 58 and 64 yards against Mississippi State on Saturday, giving him 10 completions this season of 50-plus yards, which leads the FBS.  Mallett has 8 completions of 50-plus yards in his last 6 games, with at least one in each game.

Here are the FBS leaders this season in the number of 50-plus yard completions:

 Player            Team              Yr   Att   50+
+-----------------+----------------+----+-----+-----+
 Ryan Mallett      Arkansas          SO   328   10
 Josh Nesbitt      Georgia Tech      JR   125    9
 Blaine Gabbert    Missouri          SO   373    8
 Trevor Vittatoe   UTEP              JR   367    7
 Jimmy Clausen     Notre Dame        JR   395    7
 Tyler Sheehan     Bowling Green     SR   497    6
 Aaron Opelt       Toledo            SR   261    6
 Levi Brown        Troy              SR   417    6
 Kyle Parker       Clemson           FR   296    6
 

The name that immediately jumps out from that list is Josh Nesbitt.  Despite having a significantly fewer attempts than the others on the list, Nesbitt is 2nd in the FBS in completions of 50-plus yards.  Head coach Paul Johnson’s run-heavy spread option offense obviously opens up opportunities for big passing plays.    As a team, Georgia Tech ranks 119th out of 120 FBS teams in the number of passes attempted this season.

Here are the FBS leaders this season in the lowest ratio of attempts per 50-plus yard completion on  a minimum of two 50-plus yard completions:

 Player            Team              Yr   Att   50+   Att/50+
+-----------------+----------------+----+-----+-----+---------+
 Josh Nesbitt      Georgia Tech      JR   125    9     13.89
 Matt Grothe       South Florida     SR    59    3     19.67
 Brian Reader      Idaho             SO    67    3     22.33
 Ricky Dobbs       Navy              JR    75    3     25.00
 Tyler Bass        Memphis           SO    81    3     27.00
 Steven Sheffield  Texas Tech        JR   125    4     31.25
 Ryan Mallett      Arkansas          SO   328   10     32.80
 B.J. Daniels      South Florida     FR   173    5     34.60
 Greg Alexander    Hawaii            SR   150    4     37.50
 Cody Endres       Connecticut       SO   154    4     38.50
 

Hat Tip: Whole Hog Sports

Jacquizz Has The Answer For How Not To Fumble

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Oregon State sophomore RB Jacquizz Rodgers has not fumbled in his college career.   He has had 565 career touches without fumbling, which is the most among active players.   For touches, I’m including rushing attempts, receptions, punt returns and kickoff returns.

Here are the active players with the lowest percentage of fumbles on a minimum of 300 career touches.

 Player             Team              Yr  Pos  Touches Fumbles
+------------------+-----------------+---+----+-------+-------+
 Jacquizz Rodgers   Oregon State      SO   RB    565      0
 Victor Anderson    Louisville        SO   RB    315      0
 Andre Dixon        Connecticut       SR   RB    382      1
 Keiland Williams   LSU               SR   RB    340      1
 Jake Sharp         Kansas            SR   RB    522      2
 DaJuane Collins    Toledo            SR   RB    484      2
 Mark Ingram        Alabama           SO   RB    370      2
 Mikell Simpson     Virginia          SR   RB    366      2
 Reggie Arnold      Arkansas State    SR   RB    712      4
 Dwayne Priest      Eastern Michigan  JR   RB    345      2
 Deonte` Jackson    Idaho             JR   RB    517      3
 

At the other end of spectrum, here are the active players with the most career fumbles, regardless of the number of touches.

 Player             Team              Yr  Pos  Touches Fumbles
+------------------+-----------------+---+----+-------+-------+
 Thaddeus Lewis     Duke              SR   QB    347     37
 Juice Williams     Illinois          SR   QB    613     32
 Josh Nesbitt       Georgia Tech      JR   QB    444     32
 Corey Leonard      Arkansas State    SR   QB    511     29
 Donovan Porterie   New Mexico        SR   QB    183     27
 Colt McCoy         Texas             SR   QB    399     25
 Max Hall           BYU               SR   QB    173     25
 Zac Robinson       Oklahoma State    SR   QB    403     24
 Todd Reesing       Kansas            SR   QB    318     24
 Diondre Borel      Utah State        JR   QB    340     22
 Adam Weber         Minnesota         JR   QB    333     22
 

Harbaugh’s Two-Point Conversion Chart

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

We’re told that every coach has a two-point conversion chart that he uses during a game to determine whether to go for a one- or two-point conversion after a touchdown.  I don’t know if coaches have the chart memorized, if they keep it folded up in their back pocket, or if they have an assistant hold it for them.   Anyway, I’ve always assumed that the chart tells coaches to go for the one-point conversion when they’re ahead by 27 points — if the chart even goes up that high — since the one-point conversion is the usual decision.

Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh must have his own version of the two-point conversion chart, and it tells him to go for two when leading by 27 points against USC.  That was his decision on Saturday when Stanford scored a touchdown to take a 48-21 lead over USC late in the 4th quarter.  The conversion attempt failed when Stepfan Taylor’s rush attempt was stopped short.

I decided to find out how many times since 2005 a team has attempted a two-point conversion when leading by 27 points or more.  Here is the list:

 Team          Opponent      Date        Score  Lead  Player (Position) - Note
+-------------+-------------+-----------+------+-----+------------------------------+
 Hawaii        Idaho         10/28/2006  61-10   51   Funaki (holder)
 Boise St.     New Mex. St.  10/07/2007  51-0    51   Bissell (holder)
 TCU           S.F. Austin   09/06/2008  58-7    51   Kerley (holder)
 Florida St.   Rice          09/23/2006  53-7    46   Piurowski (TE) - PAT blocked
 New Mex. St.  La. Tech      12/02/2006  50-9    41   Kaufman (holder)
 Wisconsin     Minnesota     10/14/2006  41-3    38   DeBauche (holder)
 Texas A&M     La.-Lafayette 09/09/2006  44-7    37   Schroeder (holder)
 Baylor	       N'western St. 09/26/2009  47-10   37   Stone (kicker)
 Utah          Wyoming       10/11/2008  40-7    33   Godfrey (holder)
 LSU           Miss. St.     09/30/2006  48-17   31   Flynn (holder) - bad snap
 Tulsa         Rice          10/15/2005  34-7    27   Keopple (holder)
 California    Stanford      11/22/2008  30-3    27   Longshore (holder) - PAT fake?
 Stanford      USC           11/14/2009  48-21   27   Taylor (RB)
 Virginia      Indiana       10/10/2009  27-0    27   Jarrett (kicker)
 

I was surprised by this list because I did not expect to find very many two-point attempts that qualified, especially with such large leads.  When I started analyzing the conversions in the list, I realized that many of these two-point conversions were probably not planned, but occurred because of a bad snap, a muffed hold, or a blocked kick, where the holder or kicker ended up trying to get two points on a broken play.  Most of the play-by-plays did not indicate why a two-point attempt was made, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that if the holder or kicker attempted the two-point conversion rush or pass, given the score at the time, it was most likely not planned.

The two-point attempt on the list that I’m not sure about is the pass attempt by Cal holder Nate Longshore when leading 30-3 against Stanford in 2008.  I watched a video of the play (a link to which I cannot find now), and it looked to me like Longshore was executing a planned fake of a one-point attempt.  I found that the question of whether Longshore’s play was a fake or not has been the subject of some debate.

I think it’s safe to say that Stanford’s two-point conversion attempt against USC is the biggest lead for a deliberate, offense-on-the-field, 2-point conversion attempt since 2005.  Given the bad blood that now exists — or got worse — between USC head coach Pete Carroll and Harbaugh, we may see that mark broken in the future.

300 in 30 minutes

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

In the games of Saturday, November 7, five QB’s threw for 300 or more yards in a half, which more than doubled the previous 2009 season total of four.  Of the nine times that it has happened so far this season, the teams whose QB threw for 300 yards in a half are 6-3.

                                              1st   2nd
 Player             Team          Date        Half  Half  Total  W/L
+------------------+-------------+-----------+-----+-----+------+-----+
 Case Keenum        Houston       10/31/2009  304   255   559    Win
 Case Keenum        Houston       11/07/2009  311   211   522    Win
 Steven Sheffield   Texas Tech    10/10/2009  370   120   490    Win
 Zach Collaros      Cincinnati    11/07/2009  333   147   480    Win
 Greg Alexander     Hawaii        09/19/2009  341   136   477    Loss
 Blaine Gabbert     Missouri      11/07/2009  322   146   468    Loss
 Ryan Lindley       San Diego St  10/24/2009  132   327   459    Win
 Jimmy Clausen      Notre Dame    11/07/2009  112   340   452    Loss
 Jonathan Crompton  Tennessee     11/07/2009  305    26   331    Win
 

Case Keenum has done it twice this season, the last two games in a row.  The names Texas Tech and Hawaii are not surprising, even if their QB’s are relatively unknown.  Zach Collaros showed why he will remain the starter this week even with Tony Pike returning from injury.  And Jonathon Crompton continues his unlikely journey from offensive liability to asset.

The FBS individual record for passing yards in a half is 517 by Houston’s Andre Ware during his 1989 Heisman Trophy winning season.

Home Cookin’

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

On the ESPN broadcast of the game last Thursday between North Carolina and Virginia Tech, play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler said that in Virginia Tech’s home games, visiting teams average over two false start or delay-of-game penalties per game.  Those types of penalties are often credited (at least partially) to the crowd noise and hostile atmosphere in the home team’s stadium.

Naturally, I wondered how Virginia Tech compared to other FBS teams in the average number of opponent’s false start or delay-of-game penalties per home game.  But when I started looking at the data, I realized that there is inconsistency in how official scorers record what type of penalty occurred.  For instance, instead of recording a penalty specifically as a false start, some will record it using the more general “illegal procedure” type.

So I decided to consider delay-of-game penalties plus all penalties that fall under the category of “illegal procedure”: false start, illegal formation, encroachment offense, and illegal procedure itself.   These penalties are signaled by the referee using official signal number 19.

Here are the top teams whose home opponents average the highest number of illegal procedure and delay-of-game penalties per game.  The data is from the 2005 through 2009 seasons, and only includes games at the team’s home stadium (or stadiums in the case of Arkansas’s two home stadiums and Miami’s move from the Orange Bowl to Land Shark Stadium).  Neutral site games are not included.

                      |------------------- Visiting Team ----------------------|
                       False  Illegal  Illegal    Encr.    Delay          Per
 Home Team         G   Start   Proc.    Form.    Offense  Of Game  Total  Game
+---------------+-----+------+--------+--------+---------+--------+------+-----+
 Texas            29    77       1        7        0        19      104   3.59
 Missouri         29    66       3        7        1        15       92   3.17
 Utah             28    71       1        5        0         8       85   3.04
 Miami (Fla.)     30    59       2       10        2        17       90   3.00
 Virginia Tech    32    61       3       13        0        17       94   2.94
 Florida          31    47       5       14        1        21       88   2.84
 Boise St.        30    48      15        5        0        17       85   2.83
 California       30    59       4        4        1        16       84   2.80
 Miss. St.        30    50       5        4        0        24       83   2.77
 Arkansas         29    52       0       13        1        13       79   2.72
 Oklahoma         29    59       0        5        0        15       79   2.72
 

So Virginia Tech ranks fifth among FBS teams using the above criteria.  Texas, one of three Big 12 teams on the list,  is first by a pretty good margin.  I was a little surprised by Cal being on the list.  I thought I’d see Oregon or USC from the Pac-10 on the list before Cal.  Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium is not particularly big, but the fans have the cowbell effect on their side.  Boise State’s Bronco Stadium is even smaller, but visiting teams are obviously mesmerized by the blue turf.

The home stadium atmosphere is not likely the sole reason for how a team ranks on this list.  The quality and style of play of both teams in a game and the penalty tendencies of the teams and officiating crews are among the factors that may contribute to the numbers.