December 4, 2012
With 13 games in the books, here’s a six-pack of shocking stats from the 2012 Nebraska season thus far. Good or bad, these are the six most attention-grabbing numbers in my estimation.
0 - That’s the number of snaps Taylor Martinez missed this season due to injury. Not series. Not games. Snaps. There’s no single statistic that’s more important, or perhaps unlikely, than that one.
Martinez’s time carrying the ball is about evenly split between a) running away from people and b) running into them standing straight up. It’s a minor miracle that Nebraska never even had to trot Ron Kellogg III out there for one play because Martinez was “shaken up.” All of the Huskers’ gaudy offensive numbers this year would perhaps be drastically lower if not for that ’0′. Credit to Taylor on that one. He’s a tough kid.
6.09 – When you remove sacks and the yardage lost via sacks — which are better viewed as pass attempts as that was the intent — Nebraska averaged 6.09 yards per carry this year. The previous best under Pelini was 6.05 ypc in 2010.
The number 6.09 is obviously good, but it may not seem like a huge jump from 2010 but there is a difference. Eight of the Huskers’ 11 opponents this year (removing Idaho State) ranked in the top half of the country in rush defense and four ranked in the top 25. In 2010, Nebraska faced one rushing defense ranked in the top 30 nationally (Texas A&M) and seven of the remaining 11 opponents ranked in the bottom half nationally.
Adjusted for strength of schedule using the Power Rank’s algorithm, Nebraska averaged 6.13 yards per carry which ranks fourth nationally behind, in order, Oregon, Texas A&M, and Alabama. Not bad considering a) Nebraska played most of the season without Rex Burkhead and b) the Huskers’ offensive line was never really viewed as anything other than adequate.
33.72% - More than one-third of the 341 points Nebraska allowed this year came off a Huskers’ turnover. That’s more than six-percent higher than any other season under Pelini. The reason why is pretty clear.
As I noted back in October, Nebraska was on pace to obliterate some of its already bad turnover numbers under Pelini. They did end up with the most turnovers (32) of the past five seasons as well as the most points allowed off turnovers (115). But the truly amazing stat is that 17 of the Huskers’ 32 turnovers (53.13%) happened in Nebraska territory. The average field position Nebraska gave its opponents via turnover was at the Huskers’ 47-yard line. That’s the first time in at least five years that the average turnover has happened on Nebraska’s side of the field.
The Huskers’ opponents scored on 15 of those 17 chances (88.24%).
46.4% – Nebraska is currently the only team in the nation allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete fewer than 50-percent of their passes. The previous best under Pelini is 47.8% in 2009. Like the rushing numbers above, you have to take schedule into account but it’s not as big of a gap as you might think.
In 2012, Nebraska allowed a 46.4% completion rate against a conference that averaged 58.67% overall. In 2009, in the Big 12, it was 47.8% against 60.73%. It’s almost hard to believe that a secondary led by Daimion Stafford, P.J. Smith, Andrew Green, Ciante Evans, and Josh Mitchell was essentially as effective against the pass as the 2009 unit which had Eric Hagg, Prince Amukamara, Alfonzo Dennard, Larry Asante, and Dejon Gomes was but it’s close.
The 2009 unit did have to defend about 1000 more passes than the 2012 unit did, so there’s a gap but this year’s numbers are still impressive. Bo Pelini’s calling card is safe.
5.41 – That’s the number of yards per carry the Blackshirts allowed this season when you shove the sack stats over on the passing side of the ledger where they belong. That ranks 104th nationally and is nearly as bad as the 5.55 yards per carry the 2007 defense — billed as the worst in school history — allowed. Adjusted for strength of schedule, that number comes down a bit — 5.09 yards per carry and 89th nationally — but not nearly enough to make it palatable.
This is a scary one for Nebraska fans. With the three starting linebackers, two starting safeties, and the best defensive tackle gone, the Huskers have a lot of work to do prior to 2013.
47 - In 38 career games, that’s Taylor Martinez’s total number of fumbles. That’s 1.24 per game. For his career, and I’m removing the Iowa State game from 2010 when he took a couple snaps as a decoy wide receiver, he’s lost 15 fumbles and put it on the turf 32 additional times but got it back. If you consider fumbles a coin-flip — and statistically you should — Martinez has been fortunate to recover better than 68% of his total fumbles. (Yes, it’s different for quarterbacks because they’re frequently in a position to recover their own fumbles on bobbled snaps, etc. but not nearly 20% different.)
In the offseason, ball security deserves as much attention this year from Martinez as completion percentage and mechanics did in 2012.