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Syracuse Football: Jordan Fredericks Among Most Explosive Backs in FBS

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... depending on how you look at the numbers, anyway.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange running back Jordan Fredericks was one of the country's most explosive running backs last season... when he got the opportunity, that is.

Today, Bill Connelly provided data on every rusher in college football from 2015, specifically honing in on each player's ability to generate highlight rushes (carries of at least five yards), how that stacked up against total carries and how many yards they gained on highlight rush opportunities.

Confused? Here's a better explanation of these metrics from Bill:

Opportunity Rate. This is the percentage of a runner's carries that gain at least five yards. Like, Success Rate, it is a decent measure of efficiency, though it is quite difficult to get at a runner's efficiency without in some way gauging the success and quality of the offensive line blocking for him.

Highlight Yards Per Opportunity. I use Opportunity Rate instead of Success Rate here because it meshes nicely with my explosiveness measure of choice: Highlight Yards Per Opportunity. Highlight Yards are the yards that aren't credited to the line per the Line Yardage formula; you divide that by highlight opportunities (i.e. the number of carries going at least five yards), and you get a pretty clean, easy way of looking at how big a runner's big plays are.

Combine these two measures, and you get a nice look at how frequently a runner was generating big-play opportunities and how big those big plays were. That's the essence of being a good running back, no?

Of ball-carriers that amassed at least 100 carries of any sort, Jordan Fredericks is actually tied for 19th in the country at the most important metric: highlight yards per opportunity. The freshman gained 7.77 yards per play on his 37 big-play opportunities. He was within reasonable shouting distance of the 14th spot on the list (Georgia Southern QB Kevin Ellison), who gained 8.10 yards per big-play opp. Fredericks also had one of the lowest counts (37) in terms of highlight opportunities of those included in the top 100. The full top 25 is below.

Offense Player Position Class Rushes Yards Hlt Yds Hlt Opps Hlt Yds/Opp Opp Rate
Georgia Southern Matt Breida RB JR 204 1615 915.5 84 10.90 41.2%
Kentucky Stanley Boom Williams RB SO 121 855 532.3 50 10.65 41.3%
Florida State Dalvin Cook RB SO 231 1683 960.2 95 10.11 41.1%
Minnesota Shannon Brooks RB FR 119 709 353.6 36 9.82 30.3%
New Mexico Jhurell Pressley RB SR 149 926 488.7 50 9.77 33.6%
Army Aaron Kemper RB JR 101 544 254.0 26 9.77 25.7%
Maryland Brandon Ross RB SR 152 956 514.7 54 9.53 35.5%
Western Michigan Jamauri Bogan RB FR 162 1051 525.8 56 9.39 34.6%
Southern Miss Ito Smith RB SO 171 1128 576.6 62 9.30 36.3%
New Mexico State Larry Rose III RB SO 240 1651 861.1 97 8.88 40.4%
Texas State Tyler Jones QB JR 123 713 378.4 45 8.41 36.6%
Georgia Southern Wesley Fields RB FR 101 682 333.7 40 8.34 39.6%
Boise State Jeremy McNichols RB SO 240 1337 680.5 83 8.20 34.6%
Georgia Southern Kevin Ellison QB JR 110 743 380.6 47 8.10 42.7%
New Mexico Lamar Jordan QB SO 141 888 478.0 60 7.97 42.6%
Eastern Michigan Shaq Vann RB FR 100 586 309.7 39 7.94 39.0%
South Alabama Xavier Johnson RB SO 145 956 481.9 61 7.90 42.1%
Notre Dame Josh Adams RB FR 116 838 420.7 54 7.79 46.6%
Arizona Jared Baker RB SR 132 798 373.0 48 7.77 36.4%
Syracuse Jordan Fredericks RB FR 110 615 287.4 37 7.77 33.6%
UTSA Jarveon Williams RB JR 173 1042 497.8 65 7.66 37.6%
North Carolina Marquise Williams QB SR 143 1052 504.2 66 7.64 46.2%
Louisville Lamar Jackson QB FR 138 1143 587.5 77 7.63 55.8%
NC State Matthew Dayes RB JR 134 865 410.6 54 7.60 40.3%
Nevada James Butler RB SO 209 1346 637.8 84 7.59 40.2%

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Fredericks wasn't the only player to run the ball for Syracuse, either, as you already knew. Below you'll find the full data for all Orange ball-carriers last season (sorted by highlight yards per opp).

Offense Player Position Class Rushes Yards Hlt Yds Hlt Opps Hlt Yds/Opp Opp Rate
Syracuse Ben Lewis HB JR 5 12 10.9 1 10.90 20.0%
Syracuse Jordan Fredericks RB FR 110 615 287.4 37 7.77 33.6%
Syracuse Zack Mahoney QB SO 34 187 90.5 16 5.66 47.1%
Syracuse Dontae Strickland RB FR 21 81 37.6 7 5.37 33.3%
Syracuse Eric Dungey QB FR 81 462 205.8 40 5.15 49.4%
Syracuse George Morris RB JR 66 326 133.5 28 4.77 42.4%
Syracuse Ervin Philips RB SO 41 234 93.6 20 4.68 48.8%
Syracuse Riley Dixon P SR 3 29 10.5 3 3.50 100.0%
Syracuse Brisly Estime WR JR 6 17 6.3 2 3.15 33.3%
Syracuse Jacob Hill RB FR 18 68 16.4 6 2.73 33.3%
Syracuse Devante McFarlane RB JR 35 102 17.2 10 1.72 28.6%
Syracuse Tyrone Perkins HB FR 1 5 0.5 1 0.50 100.0%

Of the regular runners, Fredericks was far and away the most explosive, while Mahoney an Dungey may not have been as effective as we thought in those situations. In terms of quarterbacks with at least 50 carries, Dungey's pretty far down the list (47th) compared to the rest of the country -- so yes, there's something to him running less. Additionally, this gives some credence to Erv Philips moving to wide receiver. As much as we raved about his supposed explosiveness over the past couple years, the numbers don't back it up.

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Anything else you've noticed above, or perhaps within Bill's larger data set? Chat all about it below.