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Thursday, September 19, 2013

A few quick thoughts on 550

You might have heard that Texas gave up 550 rushing yards to BYU. While I'm almost two weeks late, I wanted to take a little time and put that game in historical perspective.

First, 550 rushing yards in a game is a lot. It's the most so far this season and the 8th most since 2005. But BYU needed significantly more carries than the other teams on the list. On the other hand, this list puts Texas in the company of Kansas (and not 2008 Kansas), New Mexico State, North Texas and Eastern Michigan.

But perhaps more important than the total number of yards is the total number of carries. If BYU had averaged 7.6 yards over 30 carries Manny Diaz would still be employed . . . even though his defense was no more successful at doing its job. In fact, BYU's 72 rush attempts against Texas is 20th most by a team in a game since 2005. Texas also allowed more yards per carry in a game in which the opponent attempted more than 65 carries in that period, so that's not good. The 72 attempts were the result of 1) BYU averaging 7.6 yards per carry, but also 2) BYU's passing game was in the bottom quintile in terms of efficiency this season.

And that brings us to efficiency. BYU's EPA (expected points added) on running plays was 25.1, the sixth most this season. In other words, while the Texas defense was bad against the run, 5 teams have been worst. More accurately, 4 teams because Nicholls State made the list twice, with Colgate, Elon and Indiana rounding things out. And from whom did we get these dynamic rushing performances? Exactly who you'd expect: Oregon, Georgia Tech, Air Force, Navy and Louisiana-Lafayette. And now BYU.

Taysom Hill's performance, though, was particularly impressive. He contributed 259 rushing yards and 15.2 per attempt. His rushing EPA of 23.3 for the game is the most this season, the only to top 20 and one of only two to top 15 points. It is more than all but four other players have totaled for the entire season. In other words it is, hands down, the best rushing performance of 2013.

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