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Inside the numbers on Boise State Versus Miami

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Sept.15, 2012; Boise,ID, USA; Boise State Broncos running back D.J. Harper (7) runs for a first down during first half action at Bronco Stadium verses the Miami Redhawks.  Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-US PRESSWIRE
Sept.15, 2012; Boise,ID, USA; Boise State Broncos running back D.J. Harper (7) runs for a first down during first half action at Bronco Stadium verses the Miami Redhawks. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-US PRESSWIRE

The Broncos returned to their dominant ways on Saturday and most fans walked away pleased with what they saw. The Broncos showed 600 yards of balanced offense, while the defense stymied the Miami passing game. The final score indicates the game wasn't close, but will a look inside the numbers demonstrate the same one-sided dominance?

Box Score

Score 12 39

Offensive Possessions 10 10
Offensive Pts Per Possesion 1.20
% of Total Possible Pts 17.1% 55.7%

Success Rate 37% 59%
Leverage Rate 68% 75%

Avg Starting Drive OWN 29 OWN 26
Field Position Percentage 42% 58%

Turnovers 0
Turnover % 0% 20%

Wasted Yards 127
% Yards Wasted 62% 36%

RedZone Trips 1
RedZone Point % 86% 57%

Swing/Explosion Pts 6
% of Total Points 50% 0%

THE GOOD - Defensive Dominance

Joe Southwick and D.J. Harper have deservedly received a lot of press this week, but that has overshadowed the dominance of the defense. Miami only managed a 37 percent success rate for the game and the Bronco defense only allowed two plays to gain over 15 yards. The longest rushing play surrendered was for seven yards. Perhaps the most impressive was the defense only allowing Miami to enter the Red Zone on one drive and those three snaps were a result of a Jack Fields fumble.

THE BAD - Red Zone Production

For as good as Southwick and the rest of the Bronco offense looked, their production in the Red Zone still needs improvement. In nine trips inside the 20-yard-line this season, Boise State only has 30 points to show for it. Despite an overall Success Rate of 59 percent for the game, the Broncos only managed 33 percent (6 of 18) in the final 20 yards. The two interceptions thrown in the end zone are just one shy of the total Red Zone interceptions thrown the prior four years.

THE OBSCURE - By the Numbers

  • 0 - Number of yards lost by Zac Dysert on a sack credited to Demarcus Lawrence. In the official stats he is credited with 2.5 sacks but only 1.5 tackles for loss.
3rd and 8 at BSU 25 Zac Dysert sacked by Demarcus Lawrence for a loss of zero to the BoiSt 25.
  • 5- The total number of non-kicking snaps taken by the Redhawk offense in the 4th quarter. Jack Fields and Drew Wright contributed to a scoring drive of over 10 minutes, keeping the Miami offense off of the field.
  • 10- Number of rushed for more than 10 yards. D.J. Harper had seven explosive runs over 10 yards hims.
  • 67 - Yards receiving in the game for Aaron Burks. The 67 yards accounts for the junior's best season total of his career, eclipsing previous totals of 57 yards in 2011 and 58 in 2010.


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 75%, Miami (OH) 69%

Success rate by quarter (team)

Q1 // Boise State 64%, Miami (OH) 35%
Q2 // Boise State 53%, Miami (OH) 56%
Q3 // Boise State 70%, Miami (OH) 31%
Q4 // Boise State 50%, Miami (OH) 0%

Still trying to get a grasp on Leverage Rate and it seems that there should be more discrepancy between the teams given Boise State's perceived dominance of the game. Leverage Rate on 2nd and 3rd down seems to tell a story more in line with the outcome of the game. Only 50 percent (16 of 32) of 2nd and 3rd downs were considered standard downs for Miami, while Boise State had nearly a nearly 60 percent leverage rate on the same downs.

The momentum of the game and the defensive dominance is evident in the second half success rates.

Quarterback success rate

Boise State

Joe Southwick 22 for 31 (71%)

Miami (OH)

Zac Dysert - 11 for 27 (41%)

Both quarterbacks completed over 70 percent of their passes, but the difference in success rate in staggering. That is a testimony for the dominance of the defense as much as it is a reflection of the great performance by Joe Southwick. Only two of Southwick's completions were unsuccessful, while the Boise State defense held Zac Dysert to 11 successful plays on 20 completions.

Running back success rate

Boise State

DJ Harper - 12 for 18 (67%) 
Shane Williams-Rhodes - 2 for 3 (67%) 
Jack Fields - 4 for 13 (31%) 
Drew Wright - 3 for 7 (43%)

Miami (OH)

Jamire Westbrook - 4 for 8 (50%) 
Spencer Treadwell - 1 for 6 (67%) 
Rest of team - 2 for 9 (22%) 

Harper was both explosive and efficient in amassing a career high 162 yards. His success on two-thirds of his carries paced the Bronco ground game. The offensive line propelled the offense to a success rate of 42 percent on rushing plays.

It was not expected that the Miami offense would put up huge rushing numbers, but even the pass-happy Redhawks should be frustrated with their ground game on Saturday afternoon. Miami averaged only 2.1 yards per rush and ended the day with only two rushes exceeding five yards. Of their 23 rushing attempts nine resulted in a gain of two yards or less.

Wide receiver completion and success rate

Boise State

Kirby Moore - 2 of 3 (67%) 
Matt Miller - 6 for 10 (60%) 
Mitch Burroughs - 3 for 4 (75%) 
Holden Huff - 2 for 4 (50%) 
Shane Williams-Rhodes - 1 for 2 (50%) 
DJ Harper - 1 for 1 (100%) 
Chris Potter - 3 for 3 (100%) 
Aaron Burks - 3 for 3 (100%)
Hayden Plinke - 1 for 1 (100%)

Miami (OH)

Andy Cruse - 6 for 7 (86%) 
 Dawan Scott - 1 for 5 (20%) 
David Frazier - 2 for 3 (67%) 
Steve Marck - 2 for 3 (67%) 
Rest of Team - 1 for 10 (10%)

Southwick spread the ball around, hitting nine different receivers. Matt Miller is clearly his preferred target, throwing ten balls his way. Many of the throws to Miller took place on third down or critical second down passing situations. Southwick and Coach Prince showed they have confidence the freshmen tight end duo of Holden Huff and Hayden Plinke, with many of their targets also taking place on third down.

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.


Unfortunately, the Mountain West Conference changed the format of their box score and they no longer include the play-by-play data. The backup plan was to use ESPN's play-by-play data which does not provide defensive tackles for each play. Defensive players are people, too, and future Inside the Numbers installments will work to include stats from the other side of the ball.

Stops are defined as plays that prevent a successful play by the offense.

Line Yards

Boise State - 167 yards, 45 attempts, 3.5 average - 63% of total rushing yards
Miami (OH) - 40 yards, 23 attempts, 1.7 average - 82% of total rushing yards 

The Bronco rushing game was explosive, with multiple runs getting to the second level of the defense. Much of the success can be attributed to the offensive line which finished with an astounding 3.5 average for adjusted Line 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
Miami (OH) - 6

Wasted yards

Boise State - 165 (36% of total net yards)
Miami (OH) - 127 (62% of total net yards)

Boise State officially finished with no points off of swing or explosive plays, but the Burks reception and the Harper long touchdown run were both game changers. The Bronco efficiency is evident in the low number of wasted yards, many of which came on the drive with a snapfu leading to a missed field goal.

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%
Michigan State - 42%

The Broncos returned to dominance winning the field position battle. With the exception of the drive that started inside the 10-yard-line, Miami never had a starting position closer than their own 29-yard-line.

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.