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Inside the Numbers: Boise State versus New Mexico

It was a tale of two halves against New Mexico, and we learned once again, that an option attack is kryptonite to the Bronco defense. After cruising to an early 25 -0 lead, Boise State fumbled away the blowout and held on as the Lobo triple option battered the Bronco defense in the second half. This time it was the offense that was credited with providing the victory and Joe Southwick is back in the good graces of the fan base.

What will a deeper looking into the box score reveal? Was Southwick as good as the 71 percent completion and over 300 yards passing indicates? Did the defense have any success against the Lobo running game? And with 203 yards, have the woes in running game come to an end? Dig into the statistics below and provide your observations in the comments.

Box Score

Score 32 29
Offensive Possessions 11 11
Offensive Pts Per Possesion 2.91 2.63
% of Total Possible Pts 41.6% 37.7%
Success Rate 53% 51%
Leverage Rate 74% 76%
Avg Starting Drive OWN 29 OWN 26
Field Position Percentage 59% 41%
Turnovers 2 3
Turnover % 18% 27%
Wasted Yards 203 168
% Yards Wasted 39% 45%
RedZone Trips 2 3
RedZone Point % 43% 0%
Swing/Explosion Pts 22 15
% of Total Points 69% 54%

THE GOOD - Explosive Offense

The Bronco offense showed some explosiveness with three touchdown drives at 1:01 and less. Sometimes the best way to combat a ball control offense is to score quickly and often to get them out of their game plan. With 16 plays over 10 yards, Southwick and company showed signs of the Petersen/Harsin/Pease offenses of years past.

THE BAD - Dropped Passes

The official play-by-play only charged the Bronco receivers with two dropped passes, but those that were able to watch the game clearly saw four passes that obviously caught. It may have been the youngsters that fumbled, but experienced receivers Gabe Linehan, Matt Miller, Kirby Moore, and Mitch Burroughs each had pass fall through their hands.

THE OBSCURE - By the Numbers

  • 0- Number of successful fourth down conversions by the Broncos this season. Boise State remains one of six teams that have yet to convert on fourth down. The Broncos have missed on all seven of their attempts and only Kentucky has more failed attempts with eight.
  • 1- The total number of passes thrown by the Lobos in the second half. There only pass came on fourth down on what turned out to be New Mexico's last offensive snap.
  • 16- Total number Boise State offensive plays that went for more than 10-yards on Saturday. Seven of those were rushing plays. Six of the seven explosive running plays were in the first half and eight of the nine explosive passing plays were in the second half. New Mexico had nine plays over 10-yards.
  • 71- Ajayi's long run is the 16th longest rush from scrimmage in Boise State history and the longest non-scoring run for the program.


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 74%, New Mexico 76%

Success rate by quarter (team)

Q1 // Boise State 62%, New Mexico 47%
Q2 // Boise State 69%, New Mexico 48%
Q3 // Boise State 47%, New Mexico 62%
Q4 // Boise State 40%, New Mexico 53%

While it was the difference in turnovers in each half that led to scoring, success rates in each half also show how the momentum of the game shifted. In good news for Bronco fans, Boise State's woes in the Red Zone reversed with 8 of 20 plays inside the 20-yard-line meeting success.

Leverage rates on 2nd, 3rd and 4th down dip to 48% for Boise State and was much lower in the second half, leading to more passing downs.

Quarterback success rate

Boise State

Joe Southwick 21 for 34 (62%) - 24 completions (71%), 311 yards

New Mexico

B.R. Holbrook - 3 for 12 (25%) - 7 completions (58%), 44 yards
Cole Gautsche - 0 for 0 (--%) - No pass attempts

Last week, Southwick completed 65 percent of his passes but only had a 36 percent success rate. This week, he completed 71 percent of his passes and raised his success rate to 62 percent. Southwick was especially efficient on thrid down with six completions in eight attempts. Each of the six completions were successful for a first down or a touchdown.

Running back success rate

Boise State

D.J. Harper - 8 for 19 (42%) - 98 yards, 5.1 YPC 
Jay Ajayi - 6 for 6 (100%) - 118 yards, 19.67 YPC
Shane Williams-Rhodes - 0 for 1 (0%) - minus 4 yards
Joe Southwick - 0 for 3 (0%) - minus 1 yard

New Mexico

Kasey Carrier - 9 for 18 (50%) - 86 yards, 4.8 YPC 
Jhurell Presley - 8 for 13 (62%) - 58 yards, 4.5 YPC 
Cole Gautsche - 6 for 11 (55%) - 70 yards, 6.4 YPC
Rest of Team - 8 for 12 (67%) - 114 yards, 9.5 YPC

It was the most productive game of the season for the Bronco rushing attack. D.J. Harper anchored the running game on the first three scoring drives. Jay Ajayi closed out the half accounts for all of the yards on the final touchdown of the half and then closed out the clock with three more runs. In the second half, Boise State suffered two injuries to the offensive line on their first two offensive snaps. The half finished with Boise State throwing on 16 of the next 22 plays.

Wide receiver completion and success rate

Boise State

Matt Miller - 7 for 12 (58%) - 9 catches, 68 yards 
Mitch Burroughs - 2 for 4 (50%) - 2 catches, 26 yards
Kirby Moore - 2 for 3 (67%) - 2 catches, 47 yards  
Holden Huff - 2 for 3 (67%) - 2 catches, 42 yards
Shane Williams-Rhodes - 3 for 4 (75%), 4 catches, 27 yards
Rest of Team - 5 for 7 (71%) - 5 catches, 101 yards

New Mexico

Ty Kirk - 1 for 4 (25%) - 2 catches, 11 yards 
Lamaar Thomas - 1 for 3 (33%) - 2 catches, 23 yards 
Rest of Team - 1 for 4 (25%) - 3 catches, 10 yards 

Joe Southwick threw to nine different targets, but still continue to look toward Matt Miller on one-third of his throws. Four drops plagued what was an otherwise very solid game by the receiving corps. Dallas Burroughs took on the role of the deep threat and for the first game this season, Aaron Burks was not targeted.

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.

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 - 32 stops (32 of 66 for 48%), 11 defeats, 8 stuffs (8 of 54 for 15%)
New Mexico - 31 stops (31 of 63 for 49%), 11 defeats, 9 stuffs (9 of 32 for 28%)

J.C. Percy, once again, led the Broncos 12 tackles, including five stops and one stuffed run. Safeties, Lee Hightower and Jeremy Ioane combined for 10 tackles and five stops. Dextrell Simmons was also a strong presence with nine tackles.

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 - 71 line yards, 32 attempts, 2.2 average - 35% of total rushing yards
New Mexico - 185 yards, 54 attempts, 3.4 average - 56% of total rushing yards 

It was a hard night to judge the performance of the offensive line. The running game produced a mix of explosive plays and stuffed runs. 168 of the 203 yards gained on the ground came from the seven runs over 10 yards. The other 25 rushing attempts yielded a pedestrian 45 yards. The ability for Boise State to return as a power running team remains a looming question, especially with injury concerns now plaguing the starting rotation.

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 - 22
New Mexico - 15

Wasted yards

Boise State - 203 (39% of total net yards)
New Mexico - 168 (45% of total net yards)

New Mexico converted two fumbles and scored after turnover on downs to come within a possession of taking the lead in the second half. Boise State capitalized on three first-half turnovers to cruise to a 25 point lead at halftime.

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 - 59%
New Mexico - 41%

Despite giving the Lobos a short field after two fumbles, Boise State dominated the battle of field position. The exceptional play of the kickoff coverage team, consistently pinned New Mexico deep in their own territory.

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.