Inside the numbers on Boise State versus Fresno State

Otto Kitsinger III - Getty Images

After years of being dominated by the Broncos, at least Fresno State made it look respectable this time - respectable for those that only look at the final score and didn't actually watch the game. Boise State dominated the Bulldogs in a game that never felt in doubt. With an uneven performance by the offense, the Bronco defense once again set the tone for a home victory. It may not have been the point spread of previous games in the series, but a quick look at advanced stats show, in many facets, it was just as lopsided as any other matchup with the Bulldogs this century.

Box Score

BSU FSU
Score 20 10
Offensive Possessions 13 12
Offensive Pts Per Possession 1.54 0.83
% of Total Possible Pts 22.0% 11.9%
Success Rate 45% 37%
Leverage Rate 76% 63%
Avg Starting Drive OWN 38 OWN 20
Field Position Percentage 58% 32%
Turnovers 1 2
Turnover % 8% 17%
Wasted Yards 120 214
% Yards Wasted 36% 66%
RedZone Trips 4 3
RedZone Point % 46% 48%
Swing/Explosion Pts 0 0
% of Total Points 0% 0%

THE GOOD - Kickoff Coverage

Boise State is 96th in the nation in touchback percentage, and that is by design. Only 26 percent of Trevor Harman's kicks off the tee find their way to the end zone. Fresno State managed to return only one of eight kicks beyond the 25-yard-line. Three returns were stopped inside the 15-yard-line.

THE BAD - Goalline Offense

Boise State's struggles in the red zone have been well documented. When that red zone is compressed even more, the Bronco offense has been non-existent inside the five-yard line. Boise State has had 17 snaps with five or fewer yards to go for a touchdown and they have only been successful on two of those plays. D.J. Harper had a one-yard touchdown run against Miami (OH) and Jay Ajayi had a one-yard plunge against New Mexico. Boise State has gained a net five yards in those 17 plays, and only four rushes have been for positive yards. The passing game hasn't been any better going 1 for 7 and one yard, with that completion being a shovel pass from Potter to Shane Williams-Rhodes.

THE OBSCURE - By the Numbers

  • 0 - Number of points allowed by the Bronco defense in the first half for the last four games. It was also the third straight year that Boise State shut out Fresno State during the first half.
  • 3 - Yards of the longest touchdown pass surrendered by the Bronco defense so far this season. Derek Carr's three yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter was only the second passing touchdown against Boise State. The other passing touchdown was a two yard halfback pass by Spencer Treadwell of Miami (OH), making Carr the only quarterback to throw a touchdown thus far.
  • 191 - Number of minutes between Fresno State offensive touchdowns in the rivalry. Fresno scored a meaningless touchdown with 2:15 left in the game on Saturday. Prior to that score, the last offensive touchdown was early in the fourth quarter of the 2009 match-up. Fresno did manage a touchdown on a punt return in last year's game.

***

Success and Leverage Rate

Successful plays are defined as plays that gain 50 percent of needed yards on first down, 70 percent of needed yards on second down, and 100 percent of needed yards on third and fourth downs.

Leverage Rate measures the percentage of plays a team runs on standard downs. Standard downs are those plays where a team statistically has both a run and pass option. 1st and 10, 2nd and 7 or less, and finally 3rd/4th down with less the four yards to go are considered standard downs. Leverage Rate can be a more meaningful measurement of offensive efficiency than the traditional third down conversion statistic.

Leverage rate (team)

Boise State 76%, Fresno State 63%

Success rate by quarter (team)

Q1 // Boise State 44%, Fresno State 39%
Q2 // Boise State 53%, Fresno State 21%
Q3 // Boise State 50%, Fresno State 43%
Q4 // Boise State 39%, Fresno State 47%

The defensive plan to take away the quick passing game while rushing only three or four lineman paid off. Michael Atkinson and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe were able to stuff the inside running game, resulting in Fresno State only being successful 38 percent of the time on first down. The defensive success on first down led to the Bulldogs having run/pass leverage on less than half of their snaps on second and third down.

The 48 percent success rate of the Bronco running game and the struggles passing led to a rare imbalance in play selection. 42 of 66 snaps were called running plays.

Quarterback success rate

Boise State

Joe Southwick 9 for 22 (41%) - 11 completions (50%), 113 yards
Grant Hedrick 1 for 1 (100%) - 1 completion (100%) 6 yards

Fresno State

Derek Carr - 18 for 43 (42%) - 29 completions (67%), 266 yards

Southwick's 41 percent success rate and 113 yards passing were among the lowest numbers posted by a Boise State quarterback in recent history. Credit is due to the Fresno State defense for taking away Southwick's favorite targets in Matt Miller and Kirby Moore who combined for only two catches.

Derek Carr may likely win the WAC Offensive Player of the Year, but it will not be because of his performance against the Broncos. His respectable 67 percent completion rate is tarnished by his 42 percent success rate and meager 6.2 yards per attempt.

Running back success rate

Boise State

D.J. Harper - 11 for 21 (52%) - 122 yards, 5.8 YPC 
Jay Ajayi - 7 for 15 (47%) - 91 yards, 6.1 YPC


Fresno State

Robbie Rouse - 9 for 25 (36%) - 77 yards, 3.1 YPC 

Harper and Ajayi were explosive hitting huge holes opened by the offensive line and breaking tackles down field. It seemed the only thing that could stop the Bronco running game was the one yard line.

Robbie Rouse was stifled for the entire game and held to 40 yards under his season average. Rouse was never able to find the open field, managing a long run of 13 yards. Six of his carries resulted in a loss of yardage or no gain.

Wide receiver completion and success rate

Boise State

Matt Miller - 0 for 3 (0%) - 1 catch, 4 yards 
Geralod Boldewijn- 3 for 5 (60%) - 3 catches, 37 yards
Kirby Moore - 1 for 1 (100%) - 1 catch, 7 yards  
Aaron Burks - 1 for 1 (100%) - 1 catch, 25 yards
Shane Williams-Rhodes - 2 for 3 (67%), 3 catches, 13 yards
REST OF TEAM - 3 for 8 (38%) - 4 catches, 34 yards

Fresno State

Davante Adams - 4 for 10 (40%) - 5 catches, 52 yards 
Victor Dean- 4 for 8 (50%) - 7 catches, 68 yards 
Robbie Rouse - 4 for 9 (44%) - 9 catches, 68 yards
Rest of Team - 6 for 13 (46%) - 8 catches, 78 yards 

With only 13 completions on the day, there were not a lot of receptions to go around for the Bronco offense. With Miller and Moore being held in check, Geraldo Boldewijn was the most targeted receiver with five attempts. Repeated attempts at completing the deep ball led to fewer completions with the longest catch of the day coming on Aaron Burks' juggling catch that held up after review.

Successful plays are defined as plays that gain 50 percent of needed yards on first down, 75 percent of needed yards on second down, and 100 percent of needed yards on third and fourth downs.

This year receiver success rate accounts for the number of successful plays per pass that was targeted at that receiver. The play-by-play data does not always list an intended receiver, so these numbers may vary for those of you scoring at home.

Stops, Stuffs, and Defeats

Boise State - 46 stops (46 of 73 for 63%), 18 defeats, 13 stuffs (13 of 30 for 43%)
Fresno State - 33 stops (33 of 63 for 52%), 11 defeats, 10 stuffs (10 of 39 for 26%)

Stops are defined as plays that prevent a successful play by the offense. Stuffs are running plays resulting is a loss of yards. Defeats are any stop on 3rd/4th downs or any other play resulting in no gain or a turnover.

Line Yards

Boise State - 127 line yards, 42 attempts, 3.0 average - 59% of total rushing yards
Fresno State - 33 yards, 30 attempts, 1.1 average - 59% of total rushing yards 

Line yards measure the effectiveness of offensive line play by assigning value to rushing yards gained near the line of scrimmage. View the complete formula.

Swing Points and Wasted Yards

Swing/Explosion points

Boise State - 0
Fresno State - 0

Wasted yards

Boise State - 120 of 335 (36% of total net yards)
Fresno State - 214 of 322 (66% of total net yards)

Once again the Bronco opponent had similar totals in net yards, but swings in field position, timely turnovers, and missed field goals led to Fresno State wasting two-thirds of the yards they accumulated. Prior to the 80-yard drive on Fresno's final possession, the Bulldogs had wasted 88 percent of their offensive output.

Swing points account for points scored on defense, special teams, or drives of 25 yards or less. I have also added field goals for 50 yards or greater to the swing points metric. Any points scored from a field position that most teams would be punting should be considered a bonus. Explosion points are accrued when a team has a play of over 60 yards that scores or leads to points being scored.

Wasted yards are the yards gained on non-scoring drives.

Field Position Rate

Boise State - 58%
Fresno State - 32%

Special teams once again pinned the opponent deep allowing Boise State to win the battle of field position. The first six Bulldog drives had an average starting position of the 12 yard line. The field position advantage allowed the defense to put pressure on the Fresno State offense and gave the Broncos time to find their offensive footing.

Field Position Percentage shows the percentage of a team's plays that took place on their opponent's side of the field versus the number of plays the opponent snapped in their side of the field. The higher the number, the better. Good teams have over 40 percent. Great teams get over 50 percent. There are a few different interpretations of Field Position Rate on the various sites. For this column, FPR accounts for the percentage of all plays in BSU territory versus plays in the opponents territory.

A brief thesis on advanced stats

Good statistics should reinforce what you see on the field. And they should have cool-sounding names.

Inside the Numbers seeks to settle both accounts with some advanced stats analysis of the Boise State football team. Make no mistake: Some of these stats are confusing. But most of them are the type of information that will give a well-rounded look into the why and how of Boise State domination. Swing by the OBNUG glossary for a primer on some of the more advanced stats.

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