The Hidden Yards

This is a follow up to a couple of posts that I've placed that tries to quantify the "little things" that have given K-State such a huge advantage this year. Certainly, the 24 : 4 turnover ratio turns heads, (as does the recent revelation that turnovers have led to an 111 - 0 advantage for the Cats this season. And the whole world knows that the Cats don't commit many penalties and have good kick return teams.

The chart below indicates that the Cats have averaged roughly 80 yards per game through a combination of penalty, turnover returns, punting, and kickoff yardage differentials. Against Iowa State and Oklahoma, the two teams were essentially equal in these regards. Probably it is no coincidence that these are the only two games this year that have been particularly close. A bit more commentary after the chart....

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(Grr...I just noticed that on the jpeg I made and uploaded, I identified one category with two sets of initials. Too lazy to change it.. Just know that NPA = NYP. Sorry 'bout 'dat.)

The impacts of kickoff and punting net yardage are hard to quantify, as the Cats have generally kicked off more and punted less than their opponents. To put both teams on an equal footing, I have calculated the differential in each game based on the LCD (yes, Lowest Common Denominator) number of kicks.

Additionally, the yardage advantage that comes via the turnovers is likely underestimated quite a bit, as turning the ball over usually denies the opponent the chance to gain yards via a punt.

Finally, the 80+ yards per game is actually significantly less than I calculated in a post last week. But on this one, I gotta plead victim of They continue to list the K-State "net kick(off) average" as 51.7 yards. This is crazy wrong, as it would mean that after a Wildcat kickoff, the average opponent starting point is at their own 13 yard line. Given all the touchbacks and the two TD returns, this is obviously wrong. The correct average is closer to 39 yards per each of the 75kickoffs.

As imprecise as this is, I think it says a lot about why this team has been so successful. There is a tendency for people to pay homage to "the little things" while at the same time sort of dismissing them extraneous factors in assessing how good a team really is. This is unfair. The Wildcat offensive and defensive yardage totals don't match those of Oregon or Alabama. But when factoring in these numbers (and considering the unquantifiable psychological impact that turnovers and huge kick returns can have), we see an other indication as to just how elite this year's Wildcat team is.

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