Grading the Big 12 Offensive Lines

Trying to grade a series of offensive lines can be one of the most frustrating things to do for an analyst.

First off, while you might be able to watch one offensive line, break down film and coming up with an analysis, doing so for all 10 teams in a league is not only labor-intensive, but also unrealistic.

Second, the statistics people use to talk about offensive lines are imperfect at best. Want to look at sacks? It's not altogether decided who's more responsible for a sack: the line or the quarterback, who can either scramble or get rid of the ball. Some QB rating formulas even dock quarterbacks for the number of times they are sacked. And at the same time, yards per carry can be a function of the line creating big holes, or of the running back breaking tackles and creating something out of nothing.

Still, the offensive line essentially has two jobs: keep the quarterback's jersey clean on passing downs and create lanes in the running game. And so we'll take a look at a pair of stats related to those tasks.

First, we're going to take a look at sacks per attempt. To achieve the desired stat, I didn't just divide sacks by passing attempts. Instead, I added the sack total to the number of attempts to get a number of "drop backs." Then, I divided the number of sacks from that total. So, for instance Texas had 358 passing attempts last year. I added 28 to that total (getting 386) to get the number of times the Longhorns dropped back (scrambles were not accounted for, as they would be too difficult to track down for each team). Then, I divided 28 from 386, getting that the Longhorns were sacked roughly once every 13.8 attempts. I did the same for the rest of the Big 12 schools below.

2011 Passing Attempts Per Sack

Texas A&M — 60.7 attempts per sack

Oklahoma — 54

Oklahoma State — 50.7

Texas Tech — 32.6

Missouri — 22.3

Iowa State — 18.9

Baylor — 15.6

Texas — 13.8

Kansas — 10.7

Kansas State — 7.7

Instead of just taking the straight yards-per-attempt statistic listed on the Big 12 Web site, we're going to subtract out the sack factor, because it is irrelevant to how a team runs the ball. So every team has had the number of sacks subtracted from its number of rushing attempts, while the sack yardage lost has been re-added to the total yards. The average-per-attempt is then refigured.

2011 Rushing Yards Per Attempt

Baylor — 5.92

Missouri — 5.76

Oklahoma State — 5.71

Texas A&M — 5.29

Texas — 5.13

Oklahoma — 4.82

Iowa State — 4.72

Kansas State — 4.72

Texas Tech — 4.38

Kansas — 4.13

Now, to get a better reading on who the best is overall, we're just going to average each team's finish in the above categories. So if a team finishes first in both categories, we would add 1 to 1 (obviously, getting two) and divide by the two categories (back to one). And so we get an imperfect look, but a more honed look nonetheless, at the best all-around lines in the Big 12 last year.

Big 12 Average Offensive Line Ranking

1) Texas A&M — 2.5 average ranking

2) Oklahoma State — 3

3) Missouri — 3.5

t4) Baylor — 4

t4) Oklahoma — 4

t6) Texas — 6.5

t6) Iowa State — 6.5

t6) Texas Tech — 6.5

9) Kansas State — 9

10) Kansas — 9.5

Horns Digest Top Stories