An In-Depth Stats Look at a Practice Game
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

An In-Depth Stats Look at a Practice Game

April 22, 2018

Does it make sense to do the same deep statistical dive for the spring game that I do for every regular-season game? Probably not, given all the extenuating circumstances.

Could I not do it if I wanted to? Probably not.

So here we go, some behind-the-numbers numbers from a practice game.

Success Rate

Quick referesher, this is simply a measure of how often an offense is "on schedule." It's the on-base percentage of the football world, and I'll often consider this an efficiency measure. The two teams were actually dead even at halftime.

Here's where they ended up:

Red | White

  • Success Rate: 50.6% | 38.9%
  • Standard Downs: 52.9% | 51.4%
  • Passing Downs: 46.2% | 15.8%

I've written before that I expect this offense to be explosive before it's efficient. In the case of the Red team, it was both. The national average for success rate is generally around 40-41 percent. Standard downs (when the down and distance are in the offense's favor) are usually around 45-46 percent, and passing downs (down and distance favor the defense) are usually around 30 percent.

So the Red was just flat out good. White, the weaker squad, needed the advantage of being ahead of the chains, posting a decent rate on standard downs, but a rough number on passing downs.

In case you're curious how this broke down by quarterback in terms of overall success rate:

  • Bunch (White): 48.4%
  • Gebbia (Red): 52.6%
  • Martinez (Red): 46.2%
  • Vedral (White): 27.3%

It's an interesting way to look at it. Martinez made a handful of splash plays that are important, but Bunch and Gebbia, with similar attempts, were actually slightly more efficient.

Finishing Drives

Not a great day for the kickers, who were 1-of-3 on field-goal attempts. (Cole Frahm also missed an extra point.) But the scoring-opportunity conversion number was good for the Red team. Scoring opportunities are defined as any drive when the offense has a first down inside the opponent's 40-yard line.

Red had seven such opportunities and produced 35 points on those drives, an average of five points per trip. Anything over four is good. Five is really good.

White was at three points per trip.


This is my somewhat made-up stat attempting to measure how often a defense puts itself in position to get takeaways. It is simpley forced fumbles-plus-passes defended. The Red team created seven of those opportunities thanks to six passes defended, and ended up with three takeaways. The White team had four TakeOpps and ended up with one takeaway.

Turnovers Luck

How "lucky" did each team get with its takeaway total? Based on the assumption that a team should recover 50 percent of opponent fumbles and 20 percent of passes defended, the White team ended up on the unlucky side of the ledger.

White had an expectation of 2.1 takeaways with Red fumbling three times and have three passes broken up, but White managed just one. Red had 1.7 expected takeaways and ended up with three.

In a real game, this is a good way to end up with a 49-9 final score.

Saturday wasn't a real game, so take all of the above with whatever amount of salt feels comfortable. But if you were wondering, those are the numbers.

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