Stats Academy: Numbers That Shaped 2012

Here's the latest attempt to unpack one 2012 statistic for the three service academies. The Air Force Falcons thrived whenever they committed fewer penalties than the opposition. Army's failure to break up passes hurt the Black Knights while the turnover battle was often a key indicator as to whether Navy would win or lose a game.


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

NOTE: Army and Navy stats are courtesy of the website http://www.cfbstats.com

Air Force: 5-2 in FBS games when committing fewer penalties


Turnovers were a problem for the Falcons last season, but Troy Calhoun had to love the fact that in another facet of the larger realm known as "preventable errors," Air Force maintained the discipline it expects to display each autumnal Saturday. The Falcons' ability to keep yellow laundry in the pockets of the zebras minimized the extent to which they sabotaged themselves with turnovers. Had Air Force committed copious amounts of penalties in 2012, the Falcons probably wouldn't have made a bowl game. Because Air Force stayed focused in this component of football, a postseason berth became (and remained) a reality in Colorado Springs.

ARMY: Pass break-ups – went 0-7 when registering fewer than 4 pass break-ups in an FBS game

The paucity of pass break-ups is glaring; posting fewer than four per game is a small number. However, the more instructive point about the above statistic is that Army simply could not overcome even one occasion when it failed to break up a lot of passes. Rich Ellerson and his staff should be aware of this reality. The pass rush will be one main point of emphasis on defense in West Point; this will be the other one.

NAVY: Turnovers – though Navy's differential between its wins and losses was 16 turnovers, the Midshipmen's turnover ratio for the season in FBS games was 1:1.

In all of its FBS games from 2012, Navy committed 17 turnovers and forced 17 turnovers. What does this say about Navy's season? The allocation of mistakes, not just their raw totals, matters. Navy loaded up on turnovers in blowout losses but minimized them in close wins. Navy can identify with the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, who won that year's World Series over the New York Yankees by winning four close games (by a total of seven runs). The Pirates played three horrible games, losing them to the Yankees by a cumulative score of 38-3, but by winning four tight contests, Pittsburgh won the larger competition. This is and has been the Navy football path to bowl games (and CIC trophies) for much of the past decade.

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