Analyzing Your Statistics


 I am going to change gears a little bit from talking about football schematics, and I am going to talk a little bit about evaluating and analyzing your statistics.  At the end of every season as a football coach you will have a win/loss record, and a collection of stats from each game that can help you evaluate the state of your program and the effectiveness of your offensive and defensive schemes.  At the highest level of our sport statistics and data are scrutinized to the highest degree possible.  Let's think about the NFL draft for a moment here.  The NFL runs a scouting combine every year to further evaluate what is thought to be the top talent in the upcoming draft.  Some of these kids have been playing football for 8-12 years and have anywhere from 10-40 college games on film to be evaluated, yet the NFL and its teams still bring the top talent in for further physical and mental evaluation.  Around combine time there will always be players whose stock rises or falls based on the results of their combine performance.  The NFL is a multimillion dollar business and the study/ breakdown and evaluation of statistics plays a huge roll in that.  It is not enough to just study game film anymore when investing a lot of money and your future in players.  They want to know a players body fat, arm length, vertical jump, 40 yard speed, 10 yard speed, change of direction and agility, strength and power, explosiveness, and mental prowess before investing a lot of money into that player. The point i am trying to make here is how important analyzing data has become in athletics and the game of football in general.  Today I am going to take a look at analyzing some offensive statistics from your season and trying to see if there is a correlation to your success and failures on the football field.
 I want to look at 3 stat lines I use as an offensive coach to evaluate our success on offense, and then determine the direct correlation those numbers have to winning or losing. The 3 categories I will look at today are rushing yards per game, average yards on 1st down and the effect on 3rd down conversions, and yards per completion.  As I look at these stats I will always separate them by the games we won and the games we lost.  What I am trying to figure out is the statistics that have the greatest impact on our team winning or losing, and when we struggle is it a schematic issue or a fundamentals and execution issue.  For any offense i think it is important to understand that your schemes must fit your players.  If your asking your players to execute a scheme that does not fit their skill set then you may need to look no further and make a schematic change.  If you feel comfortable about your scheme in relation to your talent, then you have to analyze the statistics to see where the technical and fundamental breakdowns are occurring that are causing you to lose games and perform poorly on offense.

I always look at rushing yards per game and how that correlates to winning and losing games.  The ability to run the ball keeps the chains moving, the clock moving, your defense off the field and provides a great mental edge in football games.  Your ability to run the ball forces the defense to account for the run game which in turn gives you numbers and match ups in the passing game.  This season we were 4-1 when running the ball for more than 200 yards a game and 0-4 when running for less than 200 yards.So statistically we had an 80% chance of winning when we rushed for 200 yards but a 0% chance of winning when we did not rush for 200 yards.  For me that is a real straight forward statistic that has a huge impact on our success.  So in determining that we want to make sure we are solid each week in our run game schemes and fundamentals.  We want to spend a lot of time game planning our run game because it has a huge impact on our chances for success.  In the 5 games we lost we averaged 163 yards rushing per game, but in the 4 wins we averaged 270 yards rushing per game.  That is over 100 yard differential and should not be overlooked.

The next statistic i look at is our success on first down and its relationship to our 3rd down conversions.  You often here offensive and defensive coaches talking about 3rd down success.  The easiest way to ensure a high percentage of 3rd down conversions is to be really good on first down.  Here is a breakdown of our first down averages and 3rd down conversions in our wins and losses.
LOSSES                                                        WINS
2.1/33%                                                         3.4/40%
3.8/64%                                                         8.4/60%
2.5/25%                                                         6.7/45%
4.3/40%                                                         6.0/50%

So when i look at that I can see that i am 1-3 when averaging less than 4 yards on 1st down, and i am 3-2 when averaging more than 4 yards on 1st down.  We were 3-0 when averaging 6 or more yards on 1st down.  Also you can look at the percentages and how they drastically increase on 3rd down conversions with your first down success.  Anytime we averaged over 5 yards on first down we had a better than 50% chance of converting on 3rd down.   We did not win any of the games that we were under 40% on 3rd down conversions.

The last stat i took a look at was our yards per completion.  Depending on your type of offense, or the skill set of your players you may throw the ball less than 10 times a game in high school.  I would venture to say that on average, pop warner, junior high, and high school teams throw the ball less than 15 times a game.  With that being said it is very difficult to have a ton of passing yards if you are not throwing the ball a lot.  So for me I tend to focus on what we were able to do with the passes we completed.  In the 5 games we lost we averaged 9 yards per completion.  That tells me we couldn't get the ball down field, did not have a lot of yards after catch, and did not block the perimeter very well in our screen game.  Conversely in the 4 games we won we averaged 15 yards per completion.  So in the games we won we were more effective throwing the ball down the field, did a better job after the catch, and blocked the perimeter better.
Those are only 3 of the statistics that i looked at, and there are several more you should consider when evaluating your season.  Turnover ratio will always be very important, along with average starting field position.  As a Head Coach or a Coordinator, I think you owe it to yourself and your program to do a thorough evaluation of your season statistically so you can properly address the areas of need for team improvement.  I think you should also take a look at your own tendencies based on things like formations, down and distance, and field position.  It makes it a heck of a lot easier to win games when you know yourself, and focus on you more than you focus on your opponent.  I hope some of these things help you evaluate your program and lead to future success.


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