Inside The Numbers: Year In Review

During the preseason, ran a series projecting what fans could expect out of a handful of important Buckeye gridders during the 2007 season. Now, with 12 games in the books, it's time to go back and see just how close the projections came with a season wrap-up edition of "Inside The Numbers."

Back in July, ran a series titled "Inside the Numbers" projecting what Ohio State fans could expect out of quarterback Todd Boeckman, tailback Chris Wells and linebacker James Laurinaitis during the 2007 season, based on the past performances of players in similar positions.

While the season still has a bowl game on the horizon, what better time could there be to go back and see how close those projections came to reality? After all, the NCAA used to not count bowl stats in the final season totals.

With that, let's see just how well the BSB crystal ball can see into the future. After all, nobody likes someone who makes predictions and then doesn't own up to the result.

Quarterback Todd Boeckman
Original Story
The series started with a piece on Todd Boeckman. That story looked at the last eight times the Buckeyes had to start a new quarterback who would be replacing an established starter since the OSU "passing era" began in 1978.

In those comparisons, it was found that on average, the Buckeye teams with new starters completed just 54.0 of their passes, averaged 14.4 passing touchdowns per season, 10.5 interceptions and 2,168 yards.

Boeckman passed those numbers with flying colors. The junior from St. Henry, Ohio, completed 64.5 percent of his passes, threw 23 touchdowns against 12 interceptions and threw for 2,171 yards, with a game to play. Although the interception number was higher than in past years, the higher completion percentage and touchdowns more than made up for that shortcoming in the grand scheme of things.

Research also was done to find out the average record for the new quarterback groups and saw that in the eight seasons with a new starting quarterback since 1980, Ohio State teams have gone a combined 71-25-1 for an average of 8.9 wins and 3.1 losses per year. From there, it was surmised that those predicting a 9-3 regular season for the Buckeyes were not that far off.

However, Boeckman exceeded there as well, putting together an 11-1 record and leading his team to the precipice of a national championship berth, should Missouri or West Virginia falter Saturday.

Finally, the work showed that in five of the eight circumstances in the study, the starting quarterback for the first game did not make it through the entire season. That did not hold true this year, as Boeckman started every game and never had his starting role in doubt after the third game of the season.

Running Back Chris "Beanie" Wells
Original Story
Success was pegged for Beanie coming into the season from both the pundits and the projections. found that in the preceding 20 years, first-year Ohio State starters at the tailback spot had averaged 1,195 yards on 218 carries in their first years as starters, an average of 5.5 yards per carry. They also averaged 10.4 touchdowns.

It was also written that Wells should even get the chance to increase on those numbers because he would not have another prolific runner on the team, giving him a chance for around 1,400 yards and one of the best seasons on the ground in OSU history.

Wells ended up proving those words to be prophetic. The burly sophomore from Akron led the Big Ten in rushing yards per game during conference play and finished with 1,463 yards on 254 carries, an average of 5.8 yards per carry, and scored 14 touchdowns, all numbers that bested the projections. With those totals, Wells sits seventh in OSU history for rushing yards in a season and would break into the top five with a good performance in the bowl game.

Linebacker James Laurinaitis
Original Story
In the original comparison, Laurinaitis was weighed against Buckeye defenders since 1982 that had more than 80 stops during their sophomore seasons. Of that group, six had increased their tackle total as a junior and the average saw the junior group add 13.5 tackles over their sophomore years. Also, for the sophomores who had more than 100 tackles, their junior numbers increased by more than 21.

For Laurinaitis, that would have meant getting to around 130-135 stops after making 115 tackles as a sophomore. However, the Minnesotan will need quite the output in the bowl game to do so; in fact, he might fall short of the 115 total, given that he has 103 stops through 12 games.

A number of factors could be factored in. Not many would say that Laurinaitis had a worse year in 2007 than he did in '06, but perhaps his numbers went down because of the emergence of fellow linebacker Marcus Freeman as the year went on. Also, this year's defensive line was not as deep or experienced as the 2006 group, meaning that Laurinaitis probably had to deal with a few more blockers during this campaign.

One thing that was obvious was that Laurinaitis would have a hard time approaching the six interceptions he made in 2006. While the thought was that he would have a chance to get to three, expecting more would have been a little much to ask.

Indeed, Laurinaitis would make just two interceptions this year. While he still excels in pass coverage, it appears that opposing quarterbacks just didn't give him as many chances this year, instead firing passes – which were often dropped – into the chests of many other Buckeyes who were not the Butkus and Nagurksi Award finalist.

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