Last year North Texas averaged a whopping 4.9 yards per play. That would rank them around 101 out of 128 teams. It ranked them 11th in CUSA. It was painful to watch an offense that was limited in explosiveness. How many of y’all turn on the TV on a College Football Saturday afternoon and saw two teams playing with a wide open exciting offense? I know I did. Its all you see in now a days except at North Texas. For 2013 it was nice to see the Mean Green win games with big plays from the defense and special teams, but you cant always rely on those units for points. You need dynamic play makers making explosive plays on offense in todays college football game.
So Why must North Texas Improve Explosiveness?
The answer is simple:
From 2011-14 the G5 teams that have finished ranked in the final AP Poll have had an average of 6.6 YPP. The last 4 winners of CUSA have averaged 6.2 YPP.
North Texas averaged 4.9 YPP in 2014.
If North Texas wants to be a major player in CUSA and eventually in CFB they have to find a way to increase their offensive explosiveness dramatically.
WHY YARDS PER PLAY IS IMPORTANT
Bill Connelly from SB Nation published an article awhile back exploring the most important stats when it comes to determining winning football games. What makes YPP important is it helps determine the explosiveness of a team. Acording to Connelly teams that win the explosiveness battle (Yards per Play & Points per Play) win 86% of the time. You can see Connelly’s chart above on how YPP relates to win% and the winning margin.
YPP IN CUSA/SUN BELT 2011-2014 (McCarney Years)
The Mean Green have never been known for an explosive offense under Coach Mac. They were above average in YPP 2 out of McCarney’s 4 years (2012 & 2013) here at NT. The other 2 years were examples of lack of FBS level play makers and an offense designed to ground and pound rather than fly.
Being tops in YPP is nice, but it doesnt always translate to a winning record.
DEFENSIVE YPP IS IMPORTANT TOO
Limiting explosive plays is important too. The only time that North Texas has had a positive ratio in this category was 2013. That would be the only time NT has had a winning record under Dan McCarney.
I don’t think North Texas can hit that 6.2 or 6.6 YPP this year, but the improvements listed above would be enough to get NT to a winning record. As you can see the offense has a ways to go. I think they need to get some where around the 5.8 YPP range. The defense doesnt have that far to go if the offense can raise their level. If the offense cant improve to that 5.8 YPP level and they only reach around 5.6 YPP or 5.5 YPP thats fine, but the defense would have to be on a 2013 level.
In 2013 during just conference games the offense averaged 5.7 YPP and the defense only gave up 4.2 YPP! Compare that to Mr. Connelly’s chart and NT should’ve been winning games +17.5 points. Well, in conference play they were winning by 18.6 ppg so pretty close. Last year in conference play NT was at 4.7 YPP on offense and 5.6 YPP on defense. Offensively thats just pathetic. Changes need to be made to the offensive scheme and more play makers must step up in order for the 2015 Mean Green football team to have a winning season.
WHO WILL PROVIDE THE EXPLOSIVE PLAYS?
I’m putting a lot of stock into what the coaches are selling on J. Wilson. He looks the part on the field and he could be the RB who is game changer this year. Carlos Harris was one of few offensive play makers last year. Harris is explosive with the ball in his hands and a beast of a competitor. The reason Wilson gets the nod over Harris at my top spot is because I believe Wilson’s ceiling is much higher than Harris. Willy Ivery may shock some of you that he is so high, but he should be a big part of next years offense. His ability in both the running and passing game make him a legitimate threat. Turner Smiley is a guy who gets over looked, but he just seems to have a knack for making a big play. Jimmerson seems like he has been forgotten with all the buzz about Wilson and Ivery. You cant forget that Jimmerson is a guy who has 22 TDs and 1900+ total yards in his career. He is very capable of making explosive plays.
Neither one of the QB’s Andrew McNulty or DaMarcus Smith will be an explosive play maker on this year’s Mean Green team. They dont have to be for North Texas to go bowling. I believe that there are enough explosive play makers on this team for the QB to just be a distributor. If designed correctly this year’s offense should focus on the QB position making quick decisions and getting the ball out his hands and in the hands of play makers. So many good college spread QBs are just distributors. It would do wonders for the NT offense if their QB could just be a good distributor instead of having to be a play maker.
DMN Rick Gosselin published an article recently about North Texas following the Boise St model to transform into a powerhouse program. Gosselin didnt really lay out the blue print of how the Mean Green could make that monumental climb. I wanted to do further research to see what the Boise model entailed. One of the things that was included in the model and related to explosiveness was “Getting Noticed.” Getting noticed meant putting points on the board and being exciting. If NT ever wants to jump out of obscurity they better start taking offense seriously. Defense is great and its equally important to win games, but offense sell tickets, wins recruits, and gets you noticed nationally.
North Texas has a long way to go to reach an offense that is capable of being noticed on a national level. I will say that I do think NT is capable of reaching Boise St type of stats. Its going to take Coach Mac seeing the light and opening the offense up. I know its hard for a defensive minded guy like McCarney to take the reigns off his offense, but in order to awaken the sleeping giant he better do it. Coach Mac isnt a dummy he has seen the benefits of other defensive minded coaches allowing their offenses to be wide open. You can still have a good defense will a spread up tempo wide open offense. I believe this is the year we as fans start to see a difference in the offense. There are more explosive players at the skill positions and the QB position should be better.