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Stats Corner: Spartans over the Razorbacks

Looking at the Advanced Stats that lead to San Jose State’s win

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Tulsa at San Jose State Photo by Larry Placido/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The original plan for this week’s Stats Corner was to analyze where MW teams were compared to last year, the areas in which teams improved and those where they regressed. But then San Jose State went into SEC country and earn 1.5 million dollars, and beat a SEC team in the process. Since the Spartans couldn’t be gracious hosts and just take the money, they needed to elevate the already impressive Mountain West resume and bring down the mighty SEC a notch, we are going to push the comparisons to next week and look at the game of the week. It was the first road win for Coach Brent Brennan, the first win over a Power-5 win since 2006, and the first ever win over a SEC school home or road, the Spartans earned their own Stats Corner.

Backed Up

The Spartans win the field position battle by .9 yards, despite the fact that they were backed by four times compared to Arkansas stating zero times inside the 20 yard line. Usually, being backed up that many times is a problem, but two of the cases were a result of an interception and the other was a turnover on downs when the defense held inside the 10. If you have going to be backed up, you want it to be because your defense caused it. Even with the four backed up cases, the Spartans started 69.7 yards from the end zone, while Arkansas started 70.6 yards. San Jose State benefitted from two drives starting within 30 yards and other drive starting at midfield. Arkansas, on the other hand, did not have a drive that started on San Jose State’s side of the field.

NFP- San Jose State

OFP San Jose State

OLF Arkansas

DFP San Jose State

DLF Arkansas

Backed-up Advanced Stats San Jose State 3-Arkansas 2

Third Downs (teamrankings.com)

San Jose State had 12 3rd downs for the game and converted 4 for a 33.3% conversion rate. Those are not good numbers. Fortunately Arkansas wasn’t much better with 15 3rd downs and converting 6. Also, the Spartans went for it once on 4th and failed, while the Razorbacks went 1-3 on 4th down conversion. It’s difficult to keep drives going if you fail to convert on 3rd downs, and with Arkansas starting with at least 50 yards long drives are needed. It’s also difficult to keep drives going with 5 interceptions, but that is another stat.

Offensive 3rd down converted Arkansas

Offensive 3rd conversion rate Arkansas

Defensive 3rd down converted Arkansas

Defensive 3rd conversion rate Arkansas

4th Down Conversions San Jose State

3rd Down Advanced Stats San Jose State 1-Arkansas 4

Down and Distance

Perhaps the most impressive stat for San Jose State was their massive 8.7 yards on 1st down. It was helped by going 50 yards on their first play, but continued with plays of 32 yards, 24 yards, and 23 yards plus 8 more plays in the double digits. Having so many big plays on first down allows the offense to be less predictable in other downs. Arkansas had a first down average of 6.0 yards. Arkansas had the edge on second downs, leading 6.1 yards to San Jose State’s 5.3 yards, while Spartans were more effective on 3rd downs 7.9 yards to Razorbacks 7.3 yards. It was a good thing San Jose State could pick up first downs early because they needed it, their average yard needed on second down was 9.3 yards and 3rd downs was 10.2. During the 3rd quarter when it seemed like neither team could do anything San Jose State had a consecutive 2nd downs that were 10 yards, 10 yards, 14 yards, 21 yards, 7 yards, 10 yards, and 18 yards, with consecutive 3rd downs needing 10 yards, 10 yards, 13 yards, and 30 yards. It is difficult to move the chains and convert 3rd downs with some much distance to cover. Fortunately Arkansas wasn’t much better with 2nd down being an average of 7.4 yards and 3rd downs needing 7.1 yards. During that same 3rd quarter Arkansas had sequential 2nd downs of 10 yards, 14 yards, 10 yards, 10 yards, 2 yards, and 10 yards, with 3rd downs 8 yards, 14 yards, and 14 yards. When you are that far behind the chains your offense becomes predictable and your options limit, making it difficult to convert 3rd downs (see San Jose State’s conversion of 33.3% and Arkansas’s 40.0%.)

Yards on 1st down San Jose State

Yards on 2nd down Arkansas

Yards on 3rd down San Jose State

2nd down and distance Arkansas

3rd down and distance Arkansas

Down and Distance Advanced Stats San Jose State 2-Arkansas 3

Red Zone (teamrankings.com)

The biggest factor in the game was the red zone. San Jose State entered the red zone 4 times and came away scoring 3 times for 75%. Arkansas had 3 attempts but only scored once for 33%, there was one interception and one attempted ended on downs. There was also another interception inside the 20 yard line, but Arkansas was not in the red zone yet. That is a potential 21 points that Arkansas lost with red zone mistakes. Having a red zone efficiency of 33.3% is not going to win you many games, and congratulations to the Spartan defense for being effective and holding when it counted the most.

Redzone attempts San Jose State

Redzone Offense Percentage Scoring San Jose State

Redzone Defense Percentage Scoring San Jose State

Red Zone Advanced Stats San Jose State 3- Arkansas 0

Total Advanced Statistic San Jose State 9-Arkansas 9

In the advanced stats score the teams were tied. Which explains why the score was tied with 1:15 left in the game. The inability to convert third downs hindered both teams, but the game came down to yards on first downs and red zone scoring. The Spartans were able to move the ball when needed and force turnovers in the red zone to preclude the Razorbacks from scoring.