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State Vs Virginia Tech, A Numerical Comparison

October 1, 2010
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Perhaps spurred on by this excellent post by WV Wolf over at SFN, I decided this game was the perfect time to start comparing the vital statistics of teams heading into a game. After four games, the numbers start gaining some traction and some legitimacy. (The numbers used for this post can be found at the NCAA’s website. Here’s a direct link to State’s stat page.)

The six numbers that concern me the most in comparing teams are these: Pass Efficiency, Rushing Offense, Pass Efficiency Defense, Rushing Defense, Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense. Looking at these six rankings give you a good broad overview of the health of a team.

Here’s how the numbers for both State and Virginia Tech shape up:

When State has the ball:
State Rushing Offense: 71 Passing Efficiency: 30
Virginia Tech Rushing Defense: 38 Pass Efficiency Defense: 52
Advantage: Virginia Tech, +33 State, +22

Conversely,

When Virginia Tech has the ball:
Virginia Tech Rushing Offense: 41 Passing Efficiency: 16
State Rushing Defense: 46 Pass Efficiency Defense: 75
Advantage: Virginia Tech, +5 Virginia Tech, +59*

Finally,

The scoring numbers:
State Scoring Offense: 19 Scoring Defense: 39
Virginia Tech Scoring Defense: 57 Scoring Offense: 51
Advantage: State, +38 State, +12

Thoughts:

The most glaring discrepancy I see on this table is the pass efficiency number. Virginia Tech has a 59-slot advantage by virtue of their 16th ranking in pass efficiency, but this number seems a bit skewed when you consider they’re 87th nationally in pure passing yardage. They’re not passing the ball often, but when they are, they’re making the most of it. Whereas State’s passing yardage numbers are nearly double their rushing numbers (289.25 yards/game vs 145.00 yards/game), Virginia Tech’s passing and rushing yardage numbers are nearly identical (186.50 and 180.25, respectively).

Therefore, State would be best served to nullify Tech’s rushing game the best they can. It seems the Hokies are uncomfortable throwing the ball unless they have to. Putting VT behind schedule by limiting them on 1st down would force the Hokies to pass more than they want to, which should play into State’s hands.

At the end of the day, it’s about scoring points. And in both columns of the scoring table, State has the advantage. The Pack offense is putting up some really impressive scoring numbers and Tech’s defensive ranking is middle-of-the-road despite pitching a shutout against Boston College. State is holding its opponents to a number good enough to rank in the top third of teams, while Tech’s offense is scoring about an average number of points against the rest of the country’s totals.

So what conclusion can these numbers lead us to? I think if State holds Virginia Tech’s rushing game in check and forces Tyrod Taylor to win the game with his arm, the Pack stand a great chance of winning this game. The offense has been putting up yards and points in bunches, but the Pack may need to lean even more on the arm of Russell Wilson than in prior games given how well Tech defends the run. In short, the team that can pass the ball the best should win this game.

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