As we prepare to expand our college football advanced stats coverage for the 2016 season, we’re working our way back through 2015 for a few teams. On Thursday, we released our first addition with Michigan State’s advanced stats.
Looking back over the Spartans’ stats, here’s a look at a few of the most noteworthy numbers from their 2015 season:
– Statistically, Shilique Calhoun was every bit as good as advertised and arguably the team MVP. Calhoun was a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks, generating 60 total pressures (12 sacks, 16 hits, 32 hurries). That’s more than double any other pass-rusher on the Spartans defense.
– The biggest weakness on the defensive side of the ball was the play of the linebackers. Jon Reschke led the team with a disturbing 25 missed tackles. Riley Bullough added another 19 and Darien Harris contributed 12. That’s a whopping 56 for those three combined, an average of 4.3 per game.
– Demetrius Cox was in a tough spot being forced to play cornerback for much of the season. Cox allowed 44 receptions on 70 targets in 2015, a completion percentage of 62.9 percent. His skill set is much better suited for safety. Cox made 71 tackles with 11 missed tackles, a tackle success rate of 86.6 percent.
– Jack Conklin rated as one of the best offensive linemen we charted in 2015. He did allow three sacks, but allowed just three other pressures, finishing with a pass block success rate of 98.4 percent. Among the Spartans starters, only Jack Allen was better at 98.9 percent (although centers have a better rate across the board).
– Connor Cook had a strong season, but it could have been even better with a little help from his receivers. Cook’s receivers dropped an incredible 31 passes—a 12.2 percent drop rate. Don’t try to pin that on Cook though. Their drop rate for Tyler O’Connor was an absurd 29 percent—even for a small sample size, that’s remarkably bad.
– How good were the Spartans running backs? It’s tough to compare them to others because no one individually posted remarkable stats. But add the numbers of L.J. Scott, Gerald Holmes and Madre London together and you’ve got a running back as dominant as any in the nation. Those three combined for 77 missed tackles forced on 374 attempts. For comparison, Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry generated 87 missed tackles on 396 attempts.