Monday Analysis: The Running Game

When asked about the run game, Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis said he thought the Longhorns ran the ball well on longer downs, but needed to improve in short-yardage situations. So how well did the Longhorns run the ball?

When breaking down the numbers, it appears that Davis was right. We defined "long" situations as plays where the offense had seven-plus yards to reach either a first down or the goal line. "Medium" situations detailed plays where the Longhorns had to traverse four-to-six yards to reach the goal. "Short" plays were between one and three yards.

We further broke down the runs by "successful" plays. On long or medium downs, successful runs were runs of 4+ yards. On short downs, a successful play resulted in the offense achieving the desired goal, be it a first down or a touchdown. The successful carries stat gives us a chance to reconcile whether an offense is meeting the desired goal of a carry. For instance, if a player runs for two yards on third and one, it doesn't do much for yards per carry, but the play was a successful one.

It also allows you to see how consistently an offense is meeting its goals. An offense can have 10 carries for 60 yards and look like it's tearing down the field. But maybe one of those carries was a 58-yarder and the rest were poor carries.

Here are all 46 of Texas's carries, broken down by situation:

First-and-long: 17 carries, 88 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, 11 successful carries

First-and-medium: 1 carry, 1 yard, 1.0 yards per carry, 0 successful carries

First-and-short: 2 carries, 1 yard, 0.5 yards per carry, 0 successful carries

Second-and-long: 6 carries, 30 yards, 5.0 yards per carry, 2 successful carries

Second-and-medium: 9 carries, 49 yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 6 successful carries

Second-and-short: 5 carries, 23 yards, 4.6 yards per carry, 4 successful carries

Third-and-long: 0 carries

Third-and-medium: 0 carries

Third-and-short: 5 carries, 9 yards, 1.8 yards per carry, 3 successful carries

Fourth-and-short: 1 carry, -4 yards, -4 yards per carry, 0 successful carries

Overall: 46 carries, 197 yards, 4.3 yards per carry, 26 successful carries

Texas achieved success, as defined above, on 26 of its 46 runs. And it appears that Davis was correct in his off-the-cuff analysis. Texas had seven successful runs on its 13 short-yardage carries, averaging 2.2 yards per carry in those situations. It should be noted that Texas was highly successful on second-and-short, making first downs on four of five runs and averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Texas only achieved success on three of its other eight short-yardage carries.

On its 33 non-short situations, Texas had 19 successes, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

It's worth noting that the Longhorns improved dramatically on first-and-long situations as the game went on. Texas only had a successful run once on its first five first-and-long carries, a six-yard tote by quarterback Garrett Gilbert. But Texas had successful carries on 10 of its last 12 carries in the situation, averaging 6.7 yards per carry over those 12, compared to 1.6 yards on their first five.

Texas never ran the ball in a third-and-medium or third-and-long situation.

Looking at the numbers, the Longhorns were able to run the ball well for the most part. Should Texas get better at punching the ball into the end zone -- a likely occurrence, given the short-yardage talents of Cody Johnson and Tre' Newton -- the Longhorns could be on their way to posting a strong running game.


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