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2014 In Advanced Stats: Rushing Underdogs And The Data to Show It

We continue our look at last season's advanced statistics by delving into the world of rushing stats.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

So this all came about after taking a look at Bill Connelly's rushing statistics post for Football Study Hall. There is definitely a lot of interesting information, and I even decided to expound upon what he created a little bit, but it just bothered me to no end that he insisted on listing the "Top Power Five" rushers in any one category.

That struck me as horribly biased and terribly non-inclusive - especially since by his specially formulated metric, half of the top ten running backs in FBS last year were Group of Five backs. Launching from that point, I've decided to comb through the data in order to share the full picture with you. We'll take a look at the info overall and within each conference just as we did with turnover luck and quarterly performance, but this time we'll also split it into quarterbacks and running backs. We'll take a look at the running backs first, and then the quarterbacks.

So what kind of data will be looking at? Here's a quick glossary:

  • Rushes, Yards - I hope you know what these two categories are.
  • Highlight Yards - These are the total yards gained beyond what would be expected based on the Line Yardage formula, aka the amount of a players rushing yards attributable to him and not his O-line.
  • Highlight Opportunities - The number of carries a runner has which gain at least five yards from scrimmage
  • Highlight Yards per Opportunity - It isn't exactly a literal translation, but this is best described as the average yards per carry on his highlight opportunities that can be attributed to the runner.
  • Opportunity Rate, Team Opportunity Rate - For the individual runner and team, respectively, the percentage of their overall carries that produced 5+ yards from scrimmage.
  • Quality of Rushing (Q-Rush) - This is a name I created for Bill C.'s final stat. This attempts to assess the backs who are both efficient and explosive by taking Highlight Yards per Opportunity (HltYd/Opp) and multiplying it by Opportunity Rate, to essentially find the players who are both generating highlight yards at a high rate and generating a large number of yards in those opportunities.
  • Opportunity Rate Margin (ORM) - As one of the commenters in the original post pointed out, the opportunity rate of an individual player is likely a little more useful within the context of his team's opportunity rate at large (this will be explained more as we go along). So I simply took the difference between each player's individual opportunity rate and that of the team.

There will be some interesting information to share, and I welcome you to chime in amongst the comment sections as we go along with what you think about the data itself, what you think it says or doesn't say, things like that. Get ready for it starting tomorrow morning!