Loyal Cougars

BYU v. Cincy Statistical Review

As was the case last week, I wanted to close the book on Cincinnati by taking a look back at how BYU performed in the six key statistical areas I mentioned in last week’s preview piece leading up to the game. Here are the six categories and the benchmarks I set for BYU’s success:

  1. Turnovers– A turnover margin of +2 or better.
  2. BYU Red Zone DefenseHold Cincinnati to TDs on half of its Red Zone trips or fewer.
  3. BYU Red Zone OffenseScore points on every trip inside the Red Zone.
  4. BYU Pass GameAchieve a pass efficiency of 140 or higher.
  5. BYU Run DefenseHold Cincinnati below 175 yards rushing.
  6. BYU 3rd Down DefenseHold Cincinnati to 38% or less on 3rd Down.

Anyone who watched the game knows that it was certainly a tale of two halves for BYU (and the 4th Quarter was even better than the 3rd!), so I wondered how many of my six metrics were attained in the first half, how many were reached in the second half on its own, and if the improved late performance was enough to reach these goals for the entire game.

First Half

  1. The only turnover of the game was a tipped Tanner Mangum pass that was intercepted by Cincinnati near the beginning of the 2nd Quarter. BYU’s -1 turnover margin in the first half certainly didn’t put the Cougars on pace to reach my lofty goal.
  2. The Bearcats entered the BYU Red Zone three times in the 1st Half, with the Cougars starting strong, holding them to a FG in their first trip, but then allowing touchdowns on both subsequent attempts. 2-for-3 doesn’t meet the metric.
  3. BYU entered the Red Zone just twice in the First Half, coming away with a Field Goal and an Algie Brown 5-yard touchdown run. 2 scores in 2 chances: mission accomplished.
  4. Between the missed throws and the dropped balls, Tanner Mangum and his receivers couldn’t seem to get on the same page in the 1st Half. BYU finished the half with just 5 completed passes on 15 attempts for 80 yards, no touchdowns, and an INT, resulting in an efficiency of just 64.8. No dice.
  5. Cincinnati finished the half with 98 yards, which put them on pace for 196 for the game, exceeding my goal of 175. If not for BYU’s seven tackles for loss (including five sacks) in the 1st Half, this number could have looked much worse. As it was, it took Cincy 31 attempts to rack up those 98 yards. The respectable 3.2 yards per carry allowed by the BYU defense was a sign of things to come in the 2nd Half.
  6. The Bearcats converted on 5-of-10 3rd Down attempts in the First Half. Fail.
Oct 16, 2015; Provo, UT, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Hayden Moore (8) is tackled by Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Harvey Langi (21) in the fourth quarter at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 16, 2015; Provo, UT, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Hayden Moore (8) is tackled by Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Harvey Langi (21) in the fourth quarter at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a meager 1/6 for the 1st Half. And with a performance like that, perhaps the Cougars were lucky to be within a touchdown at halftime. Now, let’s look at the results from the 2nd Half on its own:

Second Half

  1. There were no turnovers by either team in the 2nd Half, which still didn’t meet my goal.
  2. BYU’s defense held Cincinnati to just one Red Zone trip in the half, on which the Bearcats scored a touchdown. That’s a good performance, but still a failure to meet the metric.
  3. The Cougars scored three TDs (Kurtz’s 19-yd catch, Brown’s 2-yd run, and Bernard’s 11-yd scamper) on three trips inside the Blue Zone in the 2nd Half. Success.
  4. Tanner Mangum played much better in the 3rd Quarter, completing 10/13 passes for 104 yards and a TD, good for a 169.51 rating. As if that weren’t enough, he one-upped himself in the 4th, completing all four of his pass attempts for 68 yards and a TD, an amazing pass efficiency of 325.30. Mangum’s 2nd Half QB rating was 206.16, easily surpassing the benchmark I set.
  5. Cincinnati was held to just 23 rushing yards in the 2nd Half on 15 attempts (1.5 ypc). What an outstanding performance by the BYU defense!
  6. After halftime, Cincy converted on just 2/7 3rd Down attempts. That 28.6% conversion rate meets the standard.
Oct 16, 2015; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Nick Kurtz (5) catches a third quarter touchdown pass against Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Leviticus Payne (9) at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 16, 2015; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Nick Kurtz (5) catches a third quarter touchdown pass against Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Leviticus Payne (9) at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

You don’t need to be a statistician to see that BYU played much better in the 2nd Half. BYU reached my benchmarks in 4 of the 6 areas, definitely winning the 2nd Half. Now, let’s see how BYU fares against the stats when the two halves are combined:

Overall

  1. This is area in which I expected BYU’s defense to perform better. Cincinnati’s QB Hayden Moore did fumble the ball three times, but managed to scoop up all three himself. If you would have told me at halftime that BYU would not force any turnovers in the 2nd Half, I would have given BYU very little chance to win the game. Luckily, BYU’s offense and defense both improved dramatically upon their 1st Half performances.
  2. Cincinnati finished with 3 scores on 4 trips to the Red Zone, a failure to reach my goal of 50%. The BYU defense did well to hold Cincy to an opening drive FG and almost enough to stop the Bearcats’ next two Red Zone TDs: it took a 4th Down RB pass to score on the first one and a questionable holding call that erased a 3rd Down stop on the second. The defense only allowed the Bearcats to even enter the Red Zone once in the 2nd Half- an accomplishment in itself.
  3. The BYU offense finished with 6 scores in 6 chances to reach the goal. An continued effort to crack down on penalties in the Red Zone would be the only improvement BYU could make. BYU was forced to settle for a field goal on an early drive after a holding penalty on 1st and 10 from the Bearcat 12. But, the Cougars have been outstanding inside the 20 this year, currently ranking 4th in the country in Red Zone scoring.
  4. Tanner Mangum finished the game 19/32 for 252 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception for a rating of 139.90, which is statistically right on my metric. That’s good enough in my book.
  5. Cincy finished the game with 121 rush yards- a big win for a BYU defense that had allowed 98 in the 1st Half.
  6. The game ended with the Bearcats holding a 41.2% completion rate (7/17). While the BYU defense didn’t quite reach this benchmark, it was only because Cincinnati had the ball so much less in the second half. Though each half featured six Bearcat drives, Cincinnati’s offense ran 51 total plays, gained 16 first downs, faced 10 3rd Downs, and punted just twice in the 1st Half. In the 2nd Half, Cincinnati ran only half as many plays (26), had only five first downs, faced just 7 3rd Downs, and punted on five of the six drives.

So, some quick math tells me that BYU reached 3 of my 6 goals. That could also be broken down as 2 big passing grades, 1 barely passing, 2 barely failing, and 1 big fail. Either way, you look at it, BYU met about half of my metrics. And, as I said last week, I felt comfortable with BYU winning if the Cougars could achieve half of the 6 benchmarks. As the season rolls on, we’ll see if BYU is able to dominate the statistical battles in its upcoming games, come away with some more clear-cut victories, and save me from the heart attack that undoubtedly awaits me if I have to endure any more 4th Quarter comebacks.