In many circles within the college football community, statistics are an incredibly important and powerful tool. In the coaches office and film room, statistics are compiled and analyzed in order to create an effective game plan in stopping next week’s opponent. When it comes to the computer polls, algorithms crunch various combinations of adjusted statistics to determine which teams deserve which number next to their name, and ultimately, whether or not those teams deserve a spot in the College Football Playoff. Behind our keyboards, we cite and compare even more statistics that support whatever opinions we have regarding teams and players. I’ve heard it been said, “the stats don’t lie.”
However, sometimes they do. Think of the Florida State Alabama game on Saturday night. Team stats were pretty even across the board... except turnovers and special teams. Those stats told the story of Florida State’s demise. That’s what I’m talking about.
Welcome to Stats That Lie and Stats that don’t, a column in which I dissect the box score and team stats from last Saturday’s Notre Dame Football game in search of those stats that don’t tell the story and those that tell nothing but the truth!
Stat’s That Are Liars:
Alright, bad example, guys. Terrible place to start. The stat sheet from the contest on Saturday between the Temple Owls and Notre Dame Fighting Irish features very little misdirection. It shows a domination that was reflected on our television screens and on the scoreboard at the end of the game.
Let’s dig deeper. The Owls did win the time of possession battle, 33:49 in favor of Notre Dame’s 26:11. Not a big difference, but certainly a feeble attempt to mask a new part of Notre Dame’s offense: tempo. Notre Dame’s impressive rushing statistics combined with this time-of-possession deficit isn’t a lie, it’s just impressive.
What about the passing game? A lot of people came away raving about new Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush for what he did on the ground, and rightfully so. He ran for 106 yards on 12 carries, scored once on the ground, and averaged 8.8 yards per carry. Even through the air, despite not lighting the world on fire, the stats still can’t tell a lie. Wimbush was 17/30 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Not overly impressive, but more than acceptable given the ground game production.
But wait! I’ve found the liar! If I told you that Notre Dame amassed less than 200 yards through the air, would have guessed that eight different Notre Dame players caught a pass? Because that’s exactly what happened. Sure, Wimbush’s yards per pass average was only 6.1 yards. But, the ball distribution is impressive for a guy starting his first game. We knew there would be plenty of depth at wide receiver and tight end for the Irish this year, and it was evident in game one. Four wide receivers (Equanimeous St. Brown, Chase Claypool, Cameron Smith and Freddy Canteen), three tight ends (Durham Smythe, Nic Weishar and Alize Mack) and one running back (Tony Jones Jr.) all caught a pass from Wimbush on Saturday.
Stats That Are Not Liars:
Pretty much the rest of them.
The Fighting Irish nearly doubled the Owl’s offensive production, 606 yards to 330. 422 of those yards came on the ground, on 44 carries. Many times, a yards-per-carry statistical can be a very obvious liar, due to its nature of being an average. I’d be inclined at first look to suggest that any of Dexter Williams’, Josh Adams’ or Brandon Wimbush’s yards-per-carry may not be telling the whole truth.
Wimbush, at 8.8 ypc, is a QB. Maybe he had one eight yard run? Nope. He ran the ball 12 times for 106 yards, as the first section mentioned. I buy it.
Adams’ 8.5 yards per carry is just downright impressive, given that he is the feature back. Adams had 19 carries. That’s good for 161 yards. I deem this: the truth.
Now, it’s a bit different for Dexter Williams. For whatever reason, Williams didn’t see a lot of playing time until late in the game against Temple, which I found to be a bit disappointing. However, when he did see the field, he made quite the case for himself next week against Georgia. Despite only six touches, Williams went for 124 yards and a touchdown. In this case, his 20.7 yards per carry tell the whole story: he needs more touches.
That’s it for Stats that Lie and Stats that don’t for this week. Look to me next week to be your source of STATISTICAL TRUTH.