Stats Academy: Numbers That Shaped 2012

Here's the latest attempt to unpack one 2012 statistic for the three service academies. Passing yards and in-game dominance didn't lead to favorable results for Navy and Army... not automatically, at any rate.


STATISTICAL SPOTLIGHT: ONE STAT THAT STOOD OUT FOR EACH ACADEMY TEAM IN 2012

NOTE: The Navy statistic is courtesy of the website http://www.cfbstats.com

AIR FORCE: 0-5 in FBS games when not committing fewer penalties than the opposition


Air Force was generally good about limiting its penalties, but as was the case for Navy with respect to turnovers, the Falcons suffered when one of their better virtues in 2012 did not rise to the surface. It's important to pay attention to the ways in which a team's strengths carry weight over the course of a season, but part of that process involves the ability to realize that when said strengths don't emerge, the results are typically awful. Air Force's offense was mistake-prone in 2012; had the Falcons found a way to commit fewer penalties than their opponents in 10 FBS games instead of only seven, perhaps Air Force would have gained an extra win or two. Air Force was a good penalty-discipline team last season; if it can become even better in 2013, Troy Calhoun's crew can expect to improve its overall record.

ARMY: Rutgers game – lost despite gaining eight more first downs (22 to 14) and 169 more rushing yards (282 to 113)

The Navy loss was certainly the most painful one for Army in 2013, but the Rutgers loss was the one Army truly should have turned into a victory, based on its level of play through the first three quarters. Army's best performance of 2012 was its win over Air Force. The second-best performance through the first three quarters was undeniably the Black Knights' show of force in Piscataway, N.J. Army punched Rutgers in the mouth for 45 minutes, a marked contrast to the Boston College win in which Army was outmaneuvered for most of the day but stole the game in the final moments. In 2013, Army has to win whenever it does manage to take the fight to a foe, largely because that's not likely to happen to often. When it does, the Black Knights have to finish the job.

NAVY: Passing – the Midshipmen's two highest completion totals of the regular season (13 and 14 passes) came in games Navy lost by 27 and 40 points, respectively

This is an illustration of how (and why) passing-based statistics often lie. Navy attempted at least 20 passes in its two massive regular-season losses to Penn State (34-7) and Notre Dame (50-10). The numbers, isolated and stripped of context, look gaudy, but when applied to a game situation, they're nothing more than the product of garbage-time stat-padding.

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