John Bunch - AStateNation

How effective has Arkansas State been maintaining possession and scoring on offensive drives?

A look at punting and fourth down conversions

In a recent interview with Jeff Reed, AState head coach Blake Anderson joked about the challenge of replacing Luke Ferguson, "I told Buster as long as we don't punt we will be fine."

While the Red Wolves were blowing up a number of school records offensively, they were also posting the 8th most punts in a season (a longer season than any of the top 7).

We are going to look at AState's punting and turnovers on downs from 2008 to 2015. The number of possession changes not caused by scoring or turnovers.

Season Punts  4th Att 4th Fail Possession Changes Per Game
2015 72 20 10 82 6.31
2014 67 36 18 85 6.54
2013 64 21 15 79 6.08
2012 51 14 7 58 4.46
2011 51 27 10 61 4.69
2010 54 7 9 63 5.25
2009 53 8 10 63 5.25
2008 55 8 10 65 5.42

Interesting to see that in 2012, 2014, and 2015 AState converted 50% of fourth down attempts. The 4th down success rate under Hugh Freeze turned out to be much higher than I remembered converting 17 out of 27 while the conversion rate under Harsin was even worse than I remembered successfully converting only 6 of 21, the only season in the last five with less than a 50% success rate on fourth down.

For more perspective a look at the total number of plays run 2011-2015 and the number of first downs.

Year First Downs Total Plays
2015 290 973
2014 304 1024
2013 275 947
2012 319 952
2011 304 1016

Again we see the struggles of the Harsin team, lowest first down total and fewest offensive plays run. Interesting that last year was right in the middle of the number of plays run offensively but produced the second lowest number of first downs.

Now we can't leave any look at offensive efficiency without looking at scoring efficiency. For our purposes we are going to look only at touchdowns, that ignores drives that resulted in points but stalled before reaching the end zone and the decision was made to kick a field goal.

Year Off TD Total Plays Plays Per TD
2015 58 973 16.8
2014 60 1024 17
2013 45 947 21
2012 56 952 17
2011 46 1016 22.1

The 2015 season just edges out 2014 and 2012 in touchdowns per play.