Georgia Southern running back Matt Breida is a beast. He's not all that large at 5'10, 190 lbs, but he's still one of the best running backs you've never really heard of.
He's starting to get more recognition in the media. NFLMocks.com profiled him recently. He was recognized as one of ten semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award last season. He was even named to the Maxwell Award Watch List for the 2015 season. However, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb (before his injury; get well, Chubb) have dominated the headlines. ESPN even had to quantify a stat for Fournette to make their graphic all pretty:
Matt Breida has 73 rushes and leads the country in YPC. That is until ESPN skews stats for talking points. pic.twitter.com/qV6ViSGelB— Hail Southern! (@GaSouthernGATA) October 4, 2015
The reason for that minimum? Matt Breida had 72 rushes (I know the tweet says 73, but the math doesn't work out otherwise since he's listed at 85 carries now and had 13 touches Saturday night). His yards per carry (YPC) when the graphic above was released? Over 10. Where is it now that he has 85? 10.3. He's essentially a guaranteed first down whenever he touches the ball. Yep, averaging a first down every rushing attempt. #JustBreidaThings
That's a pretty good year so far, right? Surely it doesn't stand the test of time, though, right? That's just a great stat for a few games, and... wait, what?
Ok, yeah, he's really good. He's 9th in total rushing yards for 2015, too. Fournette is #1 and has just over 300 yards more than Breida. He also has 65 more carries.
How is he averaging so many yards? He's explosive. Just how explosive? Just yesterday, Bill Connelly highlighted that the most explosive running back in the nation is Florida State's Dalvin Cook rather than Fournette, as many would believe. He measures this with a metric he terms "Highlight Yards." They are "yards credited to a runner after the line has done its job." You can read a more complete definition here.
His Highlight Yards stat? 11.93. Where is Matt Breida? Well, according to Bill Connelly's "Advanced Statistical Profiles," Breida is averaging 12.4 Highlight Yards. The reason Cook gets the mention is the same as Fournette's footnote above. Now we're using "with at least 100 carries" as a metric.
Highlight yards, explosiveness, yards per carry, what are these without points, am I right? Well...
Yeah, but how often does that happen in terms of how often he touches the ball?
And over his career?
So why hasn't Breida been talked up more in the media? Well, those rushing attempts are part of it. He's a Sun Belt player playing against largely Sun Belt teams is surely another. He's not rushing that much because Georgia Southern has a stocked back field and two highly mobile quarterbacks to split carries among. The quality of opponents we can't do anything about, but West Virginia and Western Michigan are two pretty good out-of-conference games to measure him by.
In the end, though, there's one thing you can guarantee. If Breida gets behind your secondary, then - as Georgia Southern has taken to hashtagging on Twitter - #HeGone. And those are #JustBreidaThings.
Oh, and here are some highlights. Language warning may or may not apply. I didn't listen to it with the sound on.