Comparing Speed

One of the big stories of Texas spring ball is how the Longhorns are pushing for an up-tempo attack. But how much do they need to kick up the pace to match other top offenses?

To take a look at what pace can do for your overall yardage numbers, I've included a list of 10 teams (one of which is Texas, of course) and their plays per game, yards per play and yards per game. From the Big 12, I've added up-tempo squads like Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. To that, I've added Oregon — Texas's target pace, per Longhorn head guy Mack Brown — Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech and Marshall.

Those stats are below.

Louisiana Tech 87.8 6.6 577.9
Baylor 82.5 6.9 572.2
Texas A&M 78.8 7.1 558.5
Oklahoma State 78 7.0 547.0
Oregon 81.4 6.6 537.4
Marshall 90.6 5.9 534.3
West Virginia 76.8 6.5 502.0
Oklahoma 77.3 6.4 497.8
Texas Tech 76.5 6.5 495.8
Texas 68.5 6.3 434.6

Several things here. First, Brown's goal of keeping pace with Oregon means that the Longhorns have to add right around 13 plays per game. And, if Texas exactly matched Oregon's pace while maintaining its 6.3 yards per play average, the Longhorns would see their offense jump from 434.6 yards per game to 512.8 yards per contest, a leap of 78.2 yards per game.

Off on a tangent: Think about what that means for individual stats for a minute. Mike Davis had a 57-catch, 939-yard season a year ago. Now let's just project that of those 13 plays per game, Davis averages one more catch per game. At Davis's season average of 16.5 yards per catch, that would add an extra 13 catches for 214.5 yards (let's round to 215) over a 13-game season. So all of a sudden, without much stretching, Davis has a 70-catch, 1,154-yard season that garners more All-Big 12 mention. Adding 13 extra plays per game is 13 extra chances to get the ball into the hands of your playmakers.

The most interesting case on this list, at least to me, is Marshall. The Thundering Herd averaged an NCAA-high 90.6 plays per game, which allowed them to put up 534.3 yards per game despite actually averaging almost a half-yard less per play than Texas did. But the Longhorns couldn't overcome the 22.1 play-per-game advantage, which helped the Herd not only average nearly 100 yards more per game, but also more than a touchdown every two games more than the Longhorns scored.

Louisiana Tech was picked because the Bulldogs had the nation's top offense in total yards per game. Baylor, ranked second nationally, was the top Big 12 squad in the category. And at 76.8 plays per game, West Virginia ran the slowest tempo of any team in the top 10 in total yards per game, yet still more than eight plays per game faster than the tempo that Texas played at.

In fact, no team in the top-25 total offenses ran fewer plays per game than Texas. Though some, like Marshall, averaged fewer yards per play. The Longhorns finished 40th nationally in total offense a year ago. And if they want to improve that standing, there's a pretty obvious way to do so — speed things up.

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