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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Statistical Review: Tulsa #32

Tulsa was good in 2012 because they dominated at the line of scrimmage. On offense, they performed at an elite level in one area - they were really good at not moving backwards. Only North Texas and Tennessee were sacked less frequently (sacks per pass). They also had a remarkable knack for getting back to, but not further than, the line of scrimmage on running plays; they were in the top third nationally in getting back to the line of scrimmage but in the bottom third in getting past the line of scrimmage when running the ball. They were also 27th with 41.8 penalty yards per game.

The Hurricanes real strength was on defense. They were 3rd nationally in sacks per pass, behind only South Carolina and Arizona State, and 4th on passing downs. They caught runners at or behind the line of scrimmage on 22% of running plays, and opponents opted to run the ball in short yardage situations less than two thirds of the time; the national average is just under 70%. And the defense was stout against the run and pass in general, even when the weren't catching opponents in the backfield.

The college football world has been slow to realize that, post Kinne, Tulsa's offense is sub-par. They have been mislead by an offense that scored 35 points per game in 2012. But they needed 14.8 possessions per game (3rd most in the country) to reach that number. In points per possession Tulsa finished 70th, just behind BYU and New Mexico. Most also don't realize that the 260 lb. Alex Singleton was critical, not just in eating up carries but also getting critical yards; he led Tulsa running backs in EPA per rush. At 370 lbs total, Watts and Douglas won't be able to absorb those extra carries without a cost.

But the bigger concern is the defense. It is a major concern because it won't be the same defense. Rice has as many starters returning on its defensive line and more starters returning to the secondary than Tulsa has returning on defense. Where Tulsa won 11 games at the line of scrimmage in 2012, the entire defensive line and 60% of the offensive line will be new starters. Tulsa might still be the class of the West, but that isn't saying much.
The Statistical Review breaks down teams along a number of performance categories, everything from red zone scoring to field goal percentage, and compares that performance against the rest of the FBS. All 124 teams will be reviewed from 124 to 1 by the hybrid rankings. You can find short descriptions of the stats used in the table below.

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