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 latest addition with Texas’ advanced stats.
Looking back over the Longhorns’ stats, here’s a look at a few of the most noteworthy numbers from their 2015 season:
Losing Jonathan Gray is addition by subtraction
Jonathan Gray’s raw numbers weren’t terrible. He led the team in rushing attempts and averaged a respectable 4.0 yards per touch. But his ability to create yardage for himself was astonishingly poor—especially for a runner listed at 210 pounds.
Among the teams we’ve charted (roughly 10,000 total rushing attempts), running backs have forced a missed tackle once every 4.3 attempts.
Fortunately for Texas, Chris Warren and D’Onta Freeman are more than capable of taking over his share of the workload. Warren and Freeman combined for 47 missed tackles forced, an average of one every 3.5 attempts.
Based on these numbers, expect Texas to rely heavily on the power running game in 2016.
Secondary is in good hands
In the pass-happy Big 12, having a lockdown corner can be a huge advantage for a defense. Have two could be a game-changer.
True freshmen Holton Hill and Davante Davis, both listed at 6’2″, showed signs of developing into an elite duo in the Longhorns secondary.
Hill and Davis combined to allow 31 receptions on 77 targets in 2015 (40.3 percent)—not elite numbers, but very impressive for two true freshmen.
To put that into perspective, senior cornerback Duke Thomas allowed 33 receptions—two more than Hill and Davis combined—on just 58 targets (56.9 percent).
It’s important to point out that Hill and Davis were especially impressive on passes thrown down the field. On targets 10+ yards down the field the two freshmen combined to allow 11 rec on 36 targets (30.5 percent), compared to 12 on 23 targets (52.2 percent) for Thomas.
Separating the quarterbacks
Freshman Shane Buechele appears to have a leg up for the starting job in 2016, but if a decision needs to be made between Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes at some point this season, this stat should end the debate:
With Swoopes on the field, Texas’ offense essentially operated within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage due to his inability to throw the deep ball.
We charted 12 of Swoopes 27 deep passes as uncatchable (44 percent) compared to just 17 percent for Heard.
Heard’s 44.8 percent completion rate on passes 20+ yards downfield is impressive for any quarterback, especially when you consider the fact that his receivers also dropped three passes which could have raised his rate to 55.2 percent.