Tuesday, December 09, 2014

UConn progress report by the numbers

There's a lot more to football than merely crunching numbers but that's not going to stop me from comparing the year-end statistics from the 2013 season against those from the recently-completed 2014 campaign.

The running game, while hardly dynamic for most of the season, saw an increase of yardage of nearly 22 percent going from 1013 to 1296. The average per rush went from 2.6 to 3.3. There's still work to be done but it is a start especially considering that three of the four tailbacks never had a collegiate career coming into the season.

UConn's pass defense, despite the midseason loss of star cornerback Byron Jones, showed improvement. Not only did the Huskies allow nearly 500 fewer passing yards but the yards per attempt (from 7.6 to 6.4) and yards per completion (from 13.5 to 10.9) bodes well for the direction the defense is headed.

UConn did not allow a sack in three of the last four games and overall the number of sacks allowed dropped from 42 to 29 to tackles for loss dipped from 92 to 81.

In no area did UConn show more improvement than on special teams units. UConn led all Football Bowl Subdivision teams in kickoff return coverage. The 15.5 yards per return was nearly a 10-yard improvement from a season ago. UConn's net punting and net kickoff numbers both moved in the positive direction despite the loss of a pair of senior specialists.

While UConn ran for more yards, it also gave up more yards as well. The final tally shows an increase of 413 yards with yards per carry jumping from 3.7 to 4.2. The feeling that a team should get better as the season move forward goes out the window as the Huskies gave up 258 rushing yards and an obscene 5.2 yards per carry in the final four games of the season.

UConn ran 91 fewer plays than a season ago and the time of possession dropped by 30 seconds off an already poor number. The result was the defense wearing down in the second half of games.

The Huskies' defense did not make as many splash plays as in season's past recording three fewer sacks, five fewer tackles for loss, six fewer interceptions and four fewer fumble recoveries.

The increase in penalties is staggering as there was a jump of nearly 25 percent in accepted penalties against the Huskies. That translated to 22.8 penalty yards per game against the Huskies. Some of that could be explained away to a more aggressive mindset but the continued appearance of pre-snap penalties throughout the season is inexcusable.

While the interceptions dropped from 18 to 12 (although attempting eight fewer passes per game needs to be factored in), the fact that only Eastern Michigan and West Virginia lost more fumbled than the 16 given away by the Huskies is clearly an area that will need to improve. What's most troubling is that most of the fumbles came on seemingly low-risk plays. The result was not only five defensive TDs and two safeties allowed but 25 scoring drives of less than 50 yards.

One offensive touchdown in the first quarter of games is pathetic and resulted in UConn playing from behind as UConn did not have the lead heading into the second quarter in any game this season.

The red zone offensive numbers are downright offensive as UConn only got points on 58 percent of the trips to the red zone, which is last among 128 FBS teams. South Florida was the only team to score fewer touchdowns on red-zone possessions than the 10 recorded by the Huskies.


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