Speed May Kill, but Slow Can Hurt You on Offense
By Dave Bartoo
National CFB Attrition Expert and Analytics Consultant
and Founder of the College Football Matrix
(click: contact Dave)
I love assumptions about college football and finding new ways to look at data and information. Whether it is showing the near zero value of returning starters myth for elite programs, or the fact that SOS rankings are not valid and bear no purpose but to drive better OOC games, using trends and numbers to prove a point is an interesting activity.
One person, Coach Bret Bielema, caught my attention with his new found interest in ‘fast’ football causing more injuries than, ummm, ‘regular’ football? ‘Slow’ football? I did not understand what the alternative message would be for this stance. If ‘fast’ football causes more injuries, why not slow it down. But if you slow it down, then why not put a number of plays per game limit. You see, that game can be played to the crazy point of stopping football altogether.
__________________________________________________________________________________Observation Note: To even start with a review, head coaches must post daily injury reports on all players to see a pattern of injury development and occurrence. Until there is full disclosure from coaches for a full review of their complaints about HUNH offenses are just hot air.
LISTEN )))) As I walk you through this article Speed Kills But Slow May Hurt You
I am digressing from the “fast’ versus ‘slow’ point of his statement and my simple review. The way I see it just take the top teams with the most plays per game (‘fast teams’) and divide out the games lost to injury in an offense to total plays run. thus getting an injury per play ratio. Do the same for the bottom 20 teams of plays run per game (‘slow’ teams) to get a comparable injury per play ratio.
Top 20 ‘Fast’ Teams in FBS Football 2012
Average Plays per Game: 83.12
Total Starts Lost to Injury: 143
Average Number of Starts Lost Per Team: 7.15
Average Starts Lost per Play: .086
Top 20 ‘Slow’ Teams in FBS Football 2012
Average Plays per Game: 65.85
Total Starts Lost to Injury: 151
Average Number of Starts Lost Per Team: 7.55
Average Starts Lost per Play: .115
For all of FBS football in 2012, the ‘fast’ teams averaged over 17 plays per game more than the bottom 20 ‘slow’ teams. This is 26% more plays run per game than a ‘slow’ teams. Even though this adds up to over 340 more plays run in a season, the ‘slow’ teams still lost 8 more starts to injury than the ‘fast teams. Additionally, the average number of starts lost per play was 33% HIGHER for the ‘slow’ teams. Although this is all FBS programs and just the 2012 season, that is a huge argument in favor of ‘fast’ play.
I know, I was thinking the same thing you are “That’s all FBS teams Dave, how about just big boy AQ football.” If you were hoping the numbers got better. Stop. It gets worse. Much worse.
The top 15 ‘fast*’ teams in AQ football in 2012 ran 2697 MORE plays than the 15 ‘slow’ teams in 2012. This resulted in 24 FEWER starts lost to injury to the ‘Fast’ teams. The ‘fast’ teams lost just 5.87 starts to injury in 2012 which is 22.7% less that the 7.50 starts lost per team for the ‘slow’ teams. The amazing stat is that injuries that created starts lost per play occurred at a rate 56% greater for teams that play ‘slow’.
Top 15 ‘Fast’ Teams in AQ Football 2012
Average Plays per Game: 81.2
Total Starts Lost to Injury: 88
Average Number of Starts Lost Per Team: 5.87
Average Starts Lost per Play: .072
Top 15 ‘Slow’ Teams in AQ Football 2012
Average Plays per Game: 66.2
Total Starts Lost to Injury: 112
Average Number of Starts Lost Per Team: 7.50
Average Starts Lost per Play: .113
While this may not settle the argument of the safety of ‘fast’ up-tempo for coaches or fans against the up-tempo style of play, it certainly does not cement the suggestion that ‘fast’ play causes more injuries. The ‘slowest’ conference for play in 2012 was the SEC. The highest rate of injury per play, the SEC.
Certainly in 2012 it was the opposite of the suggestion that ‘fast’ play cause more frequent injury rates as total starts lost to injury and frequency of this injury per play was higher across the board for all of FBS football and AQ football teams.
As my buddy Hudgins pointed out, in a different but interesting point, to hate fast offense and doing things differently is to be Un-American. It was George Washington that decided that lining up against an opponent and playing war the ‘traditional’ way was a disadvantage to his future. By being an innovator to what was commonly accepted style of play, he found out a way to win.
Football is a high contact, high speed, high injury sport. The conferences that have the biggest and fastest guys are going to have a higher injury rate year over year. The only way you can stop it, is to quit it. If I want to watch guys doing the same thing for a set number of plays, I’ll watch bowling.
Data thanks to the folks at teamrankings.com for their contributions and philsteele.com for injury numbers
|*2012 ‘Slow’ Teams||2012 ‘Fast’ Teams|
|Mississippi State||Texas A&M|