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Pace of Play – 2009-2012

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A Wider Angle Look at Pace of Play Stats

Adding to the first look at 2012 metrics

@CFBMatrix dave@cfbmatrix.com

Since the release of the article on 2012 pace of play and starts lost to injury article, it has been read over 400k times.   I have fielded a bundle of questions and requests for more information.   It, along with a number of football program requests, prompted a greater look over a longer period of time.  459,000+ plays later you get this chart.

Keep in mind that this does not replace the work that needs to be done to verify or refute the request of the NCAA Rules Committee but rather gives you the fans another point of view to the question of ‘player safety’ and injury risk from hurry up, no huddle (HUNH) offenses.

Click & Read The CFBMatrix Pace of Play Summary Report

)))Listen with me!!!  You can find the AUDIO portion of this summary report in the Matrix Casts in the Menu above.  I walk you through my thoughts page by page in the Summary.

If they are correct in their assertion, then if the true interest of player injury risk due to fatigue should we not put greater controls on practice and weight room fatigue?  Game fatigue and reduce the schedule?  Injury risk by restricting all injured players from taking the field in a game?  This is a road to nowhere and in my opinion the initial numbers point to size and speed being the ultimate tool for creating injuries in players.

Here are some bits and bites for your consumption:

  • From 2009-2012 the Big 12 teams averaged more snaps played on offense and on defense than any other conference.  They had the fewest starts lost to injury on both offense and on defense as well as the lowest injury rate per play on offense and defense.
  • Funny note that means nothing: If injury math was transitive the SEC would have had to slow its pace to a snap every 44.5 seconds to match the Big 12 totals.  Or the Big 12 would have had to pick up the pace to a snap every 12.2 seconds for every game for 4 years. 
  • Starts lost to injury from 2009-2012 in FBS FB were 4,898 Offense and 4,795 defense.
  • 2011 had the highest number of plays and thus the highest number of starts lost to injury.
  • In 2012, there were approximately 3,400 more plays run than in 2010, but fewer starts lost to injury as well.
  • In 2012, plays were down about 1,600 (1.42%) but starts lost to injury were down 19.5% and injuries per play were down 19.4%.  Like any sport, are we seeing an evolution in the way the game is played.
  • From 2009-2012 the Big 5 conferences that faced the fewest plays from slowest to fastest, were also ranked the same in starts missed per play.  #1 = the SEC.  Slowest pace on offense and defense had the highest injury rate of starts lost per snap.
  • In the Big 5 conferences from 2009-2012, 1 start on D was lost to injury every 99 snaps. In the SEC it was once per 88. Big 12 was once per 154.  You might want to start a study in those two conferences. (hint f=MA. The Big 12 = lightest conference and SEC = heaviest conference).
  • If each team from the Big 5 conference lost just one (1) starter in the  preseason to a season ending injury from ’09-’12 it would account for 61% of all starts lost to injury in this period.
  • From 2009-2010 an SEC team played in an average of 162 snaps per game.  In 2011-2012 the average dropped to 160.  In spite of the slower pace, SEC teams lost 184 more starts to injury from 2011-2012 than they did in 2009-2010.  55% of the ’11-’12 starts lost were on offense.
  • From 2009-2012 the number of plays per team faced per game ranked as follows: #1: SEC 161.3 PPP, #2 Big Ten, #3 ACC, #4 PAC12, #5 Big12.   AND in a comparison, the conference ranking by starts lost to injury per play #1 SEC .0114, #2 Big Ten, #3 ACC, #4 PAC12, #5 Big 12.

OBSERVATION:  If you are going to start a player safety study on pace of play and tempo it might be good to look at the SEC with it’s slowest POP and highest rate of starts lost per play and the Big12 with the fastest POP for offenses and defense and their lowest rate of starts lost to injury per play.

NEXT: 2013 Metrics.  D-linemen vs the top 30 fastest POP teams and D-Linemen vs bottom 30 POP teams in FBS football

POP and Injury Rate By Conf 2009-2012

Information and Stats from ESPN, CBS Sports, NCAA.c0m teamrankings.com, cfbstats.com and PilSteele.com


  1. Adam Korzeniewski

    February 19, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    You got to be kidding me. Does your study at all account for the the difference in play selection (i.e. a run vs a pass). Please tell me you will evaluate this before you put out there an assumption based on a low rank, disorganized “study” such as this. Undoubtedly consideration must be given to the type of play in which not as many players will be involved in contact. On a passing play – which if incomplete would stop the clock and thus increase total plays per game – there isn’t nearly the amount of contact for all 22 players as compared to a running play which may involve the overwhelming majority on every play. Less contact means more injury. Increases in incompletions leads to more plays per game. More plays with fewer contact leads to skewed data. Skewed data means crappy study. Eliminate the number of variables before you put something like this together

    • cfbmatrix

      February 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Feel free to knock yourself out trying to do better with public info within a week. It would take about 5000 hours just to review and chart every single play of FBS in a season. It would be twice that minimum for all of CFB. To get daily injury data on every single player to chart significance? Good lord that’s a lot of time. Like I pointed out, it is a start and the goal is to get the study you and I and any fan should want. A detailed one. Until then, given the timeline and available data, stop bitchin’ or start researching.

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