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Stats Corner: Looking at the Stats of Colorado

Analyzing the Advance Stats of Air Force Academy and Colorado State

Air Force v San Diego State Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images

Welcome to part two in a six part series looking at Bill Walsh’s Advance Statistics are it relates to the last four years of Mountain West football. Last week we looked at San Jose State and UNLV. This week, we are focusing on the state of Colorado: covering Colorado State and Air Force Academy

Colorado State

CSU

Year NFP OFP Rank OLF Rank DFP Rank DLF Rank
Year NFP OFP Rank OLF Rank DFP Rank DLF Rank
2018 -6.8 75.5 130 0.287 3 68.7 105 0.161 103
2017 3.2 71.2 78 0.137 128 74.4 5 0.226 54
2016 2.6 69.9 48 0.115 128 72.5 24 0.244 45
2015 1.8 70.2 54 0.188 100 71.9 29 0.274 14
3rd Downs 3rd Downs 3rd Downs 3rd Downs 3rd Downs
Offense Per Game Rank Converted Conversions % Rank Defense Per Game Rank Converted
2018 15.8 17 6.8 43.10% 30 11.9 8 4.7
2017 14.4 56 7.2 50.29% 2 13.6 33 6.2
2016 13.6 100 5.7 41.72% 50 14.8 77 7.2
2015 14.8 61 6.7 44.94% 22 12.8 9 4.7
Red-zone Red-zone Red-zone Red-zone
Offense scoring % rank attempts Rank Defense scoring % rank attempts Rank
2018 83.87% 64 2.8 109 82.05% 58 3.5 60
2017 85.96% 40 4.8 5 83.33% 66 2.5 21
2016 93.62% 4 3.9 51 95.45% 127 3.7 59
2015 87.50% 32 3.3 78 87.50% 97 3.3 50

The Rams went 3-9 in 2018, 7-6 in 2017, 7-6 in 2016, and 7-6 in 2015. Consistent in overall results, but not in their advanced stats. When the team improved in one area, another area would suffer. To improve their overall record the Rams need to improve in multiple areas, while at least staying consistent in others. After not only posting a positive NFP value, but also increasing that value for three straight years, Colorado State dropped to a negative 6.8 in 2018. This was due in part to a NCAA worse 75.5 OFP, meaning that they had to go the longest distance on average to score a touchdown, 75 yards, that any other team in the nation. And a NCAA third worse .287 OLF score, meaning 28.7% of drive start inside their own 20 yard line. Compared to 2017 and 2106 when they had the 3 BEST OLF at 13.7% and 11.5%. That is a lot of pressure on an offense.

The offense has been forced into putting together longer drives, due to longer fields, and has responded by increasing the number of 3rd downs. However, the percentages of 3rd downs being converted is not increasing, other than 2017 where they were 2nd in NCAA, but hovering in the low 40%. After falling off on the defense side in 2016, the Rams have been able to improve both the number of 3rd downs allowed and the conversion rate. But since the opposing offense starts less than 69 yards from pay dirt and within their own 20 yard line only 16.1% of the time, a value that have decreased each of the last four years, the offense requires less 1st downs to score.

Prior to a low 2.8 trips to the red-zone last year, the number of red-zone attempts had been increasing, unfortunately the percentage scoring has been decreasing. Need to get into the red-zone AND score. The defense has been allowing scoring on a decreasing percentage, but allowing teams in on a more frequent basis. It’s good that the percentage is decreasing, but that improvement gets nullified by the number of attempts increasing. For the Rams to improve their overall standings, red-zone offense and defense must do better. Get the number of trips AND scoring percentages both going in the right directions for offense and defense and the wins will come.

Air Force Academy

AFA

Year NFP OFP Rank OLF Rank DFP Rank DLF Rank
Year NFP OFP Rank OLF Rank DFP Rank DLF Rank
2018 -1.1 72.8 110 0.193 65 71.8 39 0.233 30
2017 -6.1 73.5 119 0.203 78 67.4 123 0.188 92
2016 2.6 68.4 19 0.198 87 71 57 0.239 51
2015 -0.7 71.2 83 0.171 109 70.5 59 0.192 82
3rd Downs 3rd Downs 3rd Downs 3rd Downs 3rd Downs
Offense Per Game Rank Converted Conversions % Rank Defense Per Game Rank Converted
2018 13.5 94 5.6 41.61% 41 12.6 20 5.5
2017 14.2 70 6.7 47.44% 5 11.6 2 5.2
2016 15.2 40 7.8 50.82% 6 13.4 20 5.8
2015 14.2 88 5.8 41.30% 40 14.1 39 5.1
Red-zone Red-zone Red-zone Red-zone
Offense scoring % rank attempts Rank Defense scoring % rank attempts Rank
2018 87.80% 31 3.7 54 82.14% 60 2.5 10
2017 85.37% 42 3.7 47 88.37% 100 3.9 91
2016 87.72% 34 4.8 11 82.93% 53 3.4 43
2015 81.25% 76 3.7 58 82.35% 60 2.6 13

The Falcons went 5-7 in 2018, 5-7 in 2017, 10-3 in 2016, and 8-6 in 2015. It’s not surprising that their only positive NFP came during their 10 win season. That is also the only time the distance to end zone was less than 70 yards at 68.4. The two lowest NFP, the five win season, to go along with their highest OFP and worst rankings, both triple digits. Not a good combination, to spot your opponent 6 yards then expect your offense to move the ball more than 70 yards a drive, including starting inside your 20 yard line 20% on of the time.

Strangely enough, the Falcons don’t get a lot of 3rd downs on offense, but when they do, they can be in the top 10 in the nation for converting them. However, consistently converting over 40%, and even 50% one year, does not help much when only 5-6 are converted total, there needs to be more volume. The defense does not allow a lot of 3rd downs, three straight years in the top 20, however, they do let teams convert to often, 94th, 106th, and 103rd in the nation last three years. Preventing teams from getting a lot of 3rd downs in good, but have to finish the deal by stopping them.

Three of out the last four years the Falcons have had 3.7 red zone attempts, strange number to keep repeating, and their scoring percentage has gone up. The anomaly, 4.8 attempts and a jump to 87.72% from 81.25, no surprise that would be the 10 win season. Maybe getting into the red zone more often and scoring on a higher percentage leads to more wins. The defense was going to other way, more trips for opponents and a higher percentage of scoring. Although last year, the red zone defense was the best it has been in the last four years.

If they Falcons want to go to a bowl game, they need to stop pinning themselves back to start the drive, have their defense improve on stopping 3rd downs from turning into 1st downs, and keep that red zone defense improving. Otherwise they will be sitting home in December.