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Thursday, September 27, 2012

16 stats: What's wrong with Arkansas?

So, what's wrong with Arkansas? Short answer: Petrino crashed his bike with a girl on it and got fired, but his schematic legacy of not protecting the quarterback remained which led to Tyler Wilson getting a concussion and, inexplicably, Arkansas doesn't have an adequate backup despite their pass-heavy, let-the-quarterback-get-slaughtered approach to offense.

Long answer: pretty much everything.

For a closer, more statistical, less tabloid/seedy look at the Arkansas transformation from 2011 to 2012, we turn to the 16 Stats that Matter. This offers a proximate determinates approach to analysis. That is, it won't tell us what a team can do to fix their problems, but it can tell us where a team should be looking.

The biggest difference from 2011 to 2012 is field position. Arkansas is giving up about 10 yards of field position per offensive exchange compared to a year ago. Over the course of a game, those 10 yards are worth a little more than a touchdown per game. One major factor in field position is turnovers. Arkansas' turnover rate in 2012 is 120th nationally, and Arkansas is 121st at forcing turnovers. In other words, Arkansas is sharing, but their opponents aren't sharing back. Compared to 2011, this is costing Arkansas an additional touchdown per game.

Two other major areas of regression are 1st and 3rd down efficiency. (The latter is adjusted for the distance needed for the 1st down). A Petrino-style offense should be relatively effective on 3rd downs. In 2012 Arkansas was a somewhat disappointing 33rd. In 2011, the Razorbacks are a disturbing 112th best on 3rd downs. And Arkansas is a full yard worse on 1st downs compared to 2011.  These both can be linked to the 3.3 yards per carry and 50% completion percentage Arkansas fans have been enjoying so far this season. These struggles are costing Arkansas one more touchdown per game.

All-in-all, Arkansas has been about 24 points worse in 2012 than in 2011, and 21 of those points come from field position, turnovers and 1st and 3rd down proficiency.

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