When Syracuse Orange football coach Dino Babers arrived, he promised a less conservative offensive approach and more attempts to convert on fourth down (especially in opposing territory). While the commitment to that aggressive philosophy didn’t always yield the results desired, the effort was certainly appreciated.
But how much more aggressive was Syracuse, truly, compared to previous seasons? And what about the rest of the country? Well, it ends up that we can figure that information out, in glorious technicolor!
Over on Coug Center (SB Nation’s Washington State site) yesterday, Zane Murfitt did yeoman’s work pulling together graphs on every programs’ #NeverKick rating. How’s that measured? We let Zane do the talking:
“It takes 4th down attempts + field goals attempts + punts to get “total 4th downs”, then divides 4th down attempts by that number to see how often a team went for it. It’s not perfect, as teams will kick a field goal on 2nd down at the end of a half or game, or go for it on 4th in a spot that wouldn’t normally make sense with a game on the line, but in the words of (Mike Leach), live dangerously. Hover over a logo to get the full detail of punts, kicks and 4th down attempts.”
And here is that chart, in all its majesty (to adjust to Syracuse, just click the “highlight team” sort up top).
Some of the big takeaways from the Orange graph:
- Going back to 2008, this was SU’s best #NeverKick rank calculated (42nd overall)
- Syracuse saw 125 fourth downs last season, which was one of the highest figures in the country (any game where we were ineffective on first down would typically mean more fourths)
- We stopped kicking once Cole Murphy’s struggles came to the forefront, but we never really stopped punting (Sterling Hofrichter had 77 punts on his own)
- The Orange were one of the best fourth down conversion teams in the country, converting 63 percent of 27 tries (15th overall)
- 2014’s tire fire was the worst in terms of #NeverKick rankings (122nd), however Syracuse finished 100th on the dot three times in the study, and over 100 twice (including the 2014 season) -- that’s likely among college football’s most conservative offenses on average in that stretch
- Surprisingly, 2008 was our most aggressive offensive before this past year... wut
Any other fun things you notice in there? Shout’em out. And thanks again to Coug Center for this gorgeous presentation.