Impact of Field Position on Hawk's 2009 Offense
by, 08-25-2010 at 06:21 PM (312 Views)
Warning: For many of you this blog will be mind-numbingly boring. Probably not the best way to start my first blog but consider yourself warned. For you stats guys, this blog may provide some insight into your favorite team (or you may just think it's all a bunch of BS). I'll start by looking at the impact of field position on the 2009 Hawkeyes offense.
It is fairly obvious that field position is an important element to any offense. The question is, how important? More specifically, how important was it to the 2009 Hawkeye team? If the Hawks have a kicker who can boom it to the endzone, a QB who can avoid a 3 and out, or a punt returner who can make a couple of guys miss, what do those things mean to the team? To give us some perspective, I've analyzed some stats from the 2009 season.
After piling through drive charts and adjusting for drives ending due to halftime and end of game situations, I have come up with some interesting results. Most interesting is the scoring differential between starting a possession from the Hawks 20-39 yard line vs. starting a possession in between the 40's. The Hawkeyes scored (TD or FG) on 27% of their drives that started from the own 20-39 yard line in 2009. However, the scoring success leaps to 55% when the Hawks started a drive from in between the 40's (see chart below).
Starting yard line/Scoring rate as a % of total possession started
Own 1-19 yard line - score 21% of the time
Own 20-39 yard line - score 27% of the time
40-40 yard line - score 55% of the time
Opp 39-20 yard line - score 63% of the time
While it stands to reason that a team's scoring chances increase the closer they get to the opponent's goal line, I was surprised to see the magnitude of the increase (scoring % doubled). While much of this increase can be attributed to starting closer to the opponent's endzone, some of it is also due to the Hawkeye coaching staff opening up the offense when they get out to the 40. In fact, the Hawkeyes run/pass split flips from 56%/44% to 47%/53% as they move from their own 20-39 yard line to in between the 40's (see below chart)
Starting yard line/Pass % as a % of total plays
Own 1-19 yard line - pass 40% of the time
Own 20-39 yard line - pass 44% of the time
40-40 yard line - pass 53% of the time
Opp 39-20 yard line - pass 50% of the time
Opp 19-1 yard line - pass 35% of the time
It is also interesting to note how conservative the Hawks get once in the redzone. In 2009 they only passed 35% of the time while in the redzone. I think the above chart gives you some insight into the Hawk's offensive philosophy…minimize turnovers deep in their own territory where a turnover will allow your opponent points and minimize turnovers deep in your opponent's territory where a turnover will costs your team points. Open up the offense in the middle of the field.
Keep an eye on these tendencies in 2010 as I suspect that these are universal truths of Hawkeye football. I'll take a look at field position's impact on the defense in a subsequent blog. While intuition says the Hawks play a bend but don't break defense, I will try to put some numbers around it. Until then, over and out.