October 1, 2017 8:19:19 PM
I was careful to say anything about MSU back a couple of weeks ago when MSU was leading the conference in several statistical categories just based on sample size. Even at this point, we don't have a great sample size to tell what you are, but we do have a good enough sample size to tell you what you might become. And with that, let's look at what MSU might become.
Before I dive into some numbers with a little more detail as per the usual here in Statistically Speaking, a brief overview on where MSU ranks in the SEC in some more elementary numbers.
Scoring Offense: 6th (31.2)
Scoring Defense: 7th (21.6)
Rushing Offense: 3rd (252.8 yards per game)
Rushing Defense: 9th (150)
Passing Offense: 13th (169.2)
Passing Defense: 5th (156.6)
3rd Down Conversion Rate: 6th (31-75, 41.3 percent)
3rd Down Conversion Rate Allowed: 7th (20-65, 30.77 percent)
Turnover Margin: T-8th (+1, 6 gained/5 lost)
Penalties: 10th (6.2 penalties per game)
49.6 -- When you filter out games against FCS competition, Mississippi State is next to last in the SEC with a 49.6 completion percentage. For context: last year, only two non-triple option teams finished the season with completion percentages below 50 percent: 2-10 Rutgers and 4-8 UNLV. Safe to say this isn't a sustainable model (not that I think MSU is going to finish the season below 50 percent).
285 -- This is as straightforward as it gets regarding the offensive struggles over the last two weeks. When you filter out games against FCS competition, MSU ranks fourth in the conference with 285 plays run; the yards per play of 5.46 ranks 10th in the league. This is as simple as it gets: MSU is playing with pretty good tempo, it's just not effective enough on a per snap basis to make that tempo work over time.
1 -- Here's a strong point for MSU: it is best in the conference at avoiding sacks, tied with Vanderbilt having allowed just three. Furthermore, those sacks have resulted in only 14 yards lost, or roughly 5 yards per sack; for context, Tennessee is losing 6 per sacks while Texas A&M and Auburn are losing over 6 per sack.
77.8 -- Just a quick plug for my #ChristmannForHeisman campaign that MSU's 77.8 field goal percentage ranks fourth, and of course none of those misses are attributed to Christmann. Ok, moving on.
17 -- I was looking at MSU's yards per carry and it's actually second-best in the conference, but I was caught by something else: 5 rushing touchdowns, which doesn't rank nearly as high as its yards per carry. It seems strange that a team that runs so effectively (on average) doesn't score more often, until I looked at red zone trips: not including the Charleston Southern game, MSU has gotten to the red zone 17 times, or basically four times per game. That's only resulted in a score of any kind 12 times, a scoring rate of 70.59 percent that ranks 107th in the nation.
9 -- Let's look at chunk plays, shall we. The good news for MSU is it's busted 68 plays of 10 or more yards, which ties for 3rd in the conference; the bad news is that MSU has only created nine plays of 30 or more yards, which ranks tied for 10th in the nation. Obviously churning out 10-yard plays time and time again is a sustainable method of offense, but when that's obviously not happening like has been the case the last two weeks, a few 30-yarders would be nice wouldn't it?
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