Schwartz: Ten Sentences – Stats Tell A Story

July 14, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Offense, defense, special teams – it doesn’t matter. Stats tell a story that a simple eyeball test cannot. Here are some of the more interesting ones around the Hawkeyes and the rest of the Big Ten that might help us anticipate how the 2019 season will shake out.

1. Of the 14 Big Ten football programs, only five have a returning quarterback who has thrown at least 10 career touchdown passes: Nate Stanley (obviously) 52, Michigan’s Shea Patterson 45, Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke 30, Indiana’s Peyton Ramsey 29, and Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez 17 (also, Maryland’s Kasim Hill threw 11 but transferred).

2. Rutgers returns starting quarterback Artur Sitowski, who threw last season for the startling ratio of 18 interception to just four touchdowns, which prompted this alleged quote from an alleged rival coach in a magazine, which of course was attributed anonymously, then taken from that random magazine and re-run anonymously a second time, this time in the Newark Star-Ledger, which clearly had no qualms with running a quote that may or may not be real, anonymously, in a publication that they don’t oversee and therefore couldn’t even fact check: “You can live with the mistakes now, the “coach” said, “because if it clicks for [Sitowski], he can change everything for [Rutgers].”

3. Northwestern went 9-5 last year, which is solid, but what was noticeable was how close their games were, with their nine wins coming by an average of 7.4 points and the losses by an average of 10.6 – and if you throw out their three-touchdown loss to Ohio State their average margin of loss was almost identical to their margin of victory.

4. Now compare that to the Hawkeyes, whose nine wins came by an average of 22 points but whose losses came by 5.8 points, which means – and yes, this might open some old wounds from last year – when their opponents didn’t bring it, the Hawkeyes rolled, but when their opponents punched back, the Hawkeyes transformed into a completely different team.

5. Let’s hope that characteristic confines itself to 2018.

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6. Here at 10 Sentences we occasionally make jokes at Rutgers’ expense, so let’s take a moment to appreciate Scarlet Knights punter Adam Korsak, who last season led the Big Ten in total punting yardage – fifth overall in the nation – while also booting school record 79-yard punt.

7. And a school record at Rutgers actually means something, considering Rutgers played Princeton in the first college football game ever in November 1869; punting became a regular part of football about 15 years later.

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8. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, were one of only two Big Ten teams to not have a punter averaging at least 40 yards a punt (Wisconsin is the other), as Iowa’s Colten Rastetter ranked 16th in the 14-team Big Ten in gross punting average.

9. I’ve written a lot about A.J. Epenesa this summer – like, a lot – but if someone injected me with sodium pentothal I think the guy I’d reveal I’m most curious about is Chauncey Golston, who seems like a major under-the-radar NFL guy who will both benefit from playing on the opposite side from Epenesa as well as benefit Epenesa by being there; he’s listed as having four sacks last season, but it felt like a lot more than that, perhaps because in limited action he tallied 35 tackles and an interception.

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10. Finally, a word of appreciation about Nate Stanley, who, fairly and/or unfairly, gets too much credit for Iowa’s success and too much blame for its failure (welcome to playing quarterback, right?), but who enters his senior season 23 touchdowns away from becoming Iowa’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns after throwing 26 each of the last two seasons;  Chuck Long’s 10,461 passing-yard record is safe from Stanley, but the 74 career touchdown mark is not, and throwing a 75th touchdown pass would be a deserving way for Stanley to leave his mark on the program.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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