Can We Please Stop Using Stats Like These?

Excuse the mini-rant, but I just can’t help it. Look, I love stats, they are great for determining trends and trying to dive deeper into games and a season. But can we stop using ones like this?

I got nothing against BGI or ND Rivals or any of their reporters who do solid work, but this kind of stat is beyond worthless. No, I’m not saying this because it breaks my narrative/agenda or anything other ridiculous claim. There are several logical reasons why relying on stats like this is worthless.

Notre Dame is also undefeated when Cam loses his helmet AND we have fun with the resulting meme in the Roundup.

Notre Dame is also undefeated when Cam loses his helmet AND when we have fun with the resulting meme in the following Roundup.

Firstly, 29 isn’t some magic “rush this many times and we will win” number. Want proof? Oklahoma: 29 rushing attempts, South Florida in 2011: 29 rushing attempts, Michigan in 2011: 33 rushing attempts, Stanford in 2011: 31 rushing attempts…and I could go on. The point is that the stat has the aura of showing a recipe for success, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Second, the number itself is obtained from laziness at best and cherry-picked at worst. I’m assuming someone simply looked at all the ND wins and found the lowest number of rushing attempts (or threw everything in a spreadsheet and had Excel tell them). That isn’t analysis, that’s “hey look at this number I found!”. As I’ve shown above, ND can run the ball 29 times or more and still lose. So what was accomplished in this “analysis”? Nothing.

Third, rushing attempts aren’t even clearly defined. Did they exclude sacks? Have they taken into account QB scrambles? Are they concerned with how much the QB handles the ball? Are we excluding kneel downs? Again, this is quick/lazy “analysis” as these very important questions aren’t answered. Notre Dame could call 70 passing plays and, have 30 result in a combination of  sacks and QB scrambles, win, and then this stat would still be “true”.

Finally, attempt totals are rather dumb, percentages are better. Let’s say Notre Dame runs the ball 30 times, but passes 50 times. I guarantee the “RUN THE DAMN BALL” crowd is far from happy with that imbalance in a win. Yes 80 total plays is an extreme example, but the fact is that play totals can greatly vary from game to game. The 29 rush attempt metric simply doesn’t take that into account and thus gives no real context to the balance/flow of the games that we won.

Look stats are great, but this kind of stat just needs to go away. If you give credence to stats like these, you’d also have to accept these hard truths:

About NDtex

Editor-in-Chief
Texan by birth, Irish by choice.

Born and raised in the great state of Texas, Tex is a first-generation Domer and a former student manager. After graduation, he left the cold winters of South Bend behind and returned back to his home state with a computer engineering degree in tow. Missing the daily grind of working football practices and talking football with fellow Irish fans every day, he took to blogging, a path which eventually led him to Her Loyal Sons. Continuously diving into stats and game film, Tex strives to break down every aspect of Fighting Irish football--even though it's determined to kill him.

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  • Bill Meehan

    Do vacated wins count as losses? If so, I can think of at least one game where ND did not win, and USC lost.

    God I hate myself for thinking about pointing that out.

    • NDtex

      Nope. Vacated wins are just that, a win removed. Technically, USC never won or lost that game.

      Yes, vacated wins are a very, very weird thing.

  • http://gravatar.com/clearwall trey

    Wow, someone must have left a window open to get Poot back on this site…;0)

    ND is 19-6 at home when they play on natural grass.

    • http://gravatar.com/clearwall trey

      …in the Kelly era

  • http://garrett jim

    True fact: Notre Dame plays in the Northern United Stats where it tends to be colder than those who play in the Southern half during this time of the year, and the Irish win some and they lose some,

  • Jere

    Please rant more often if you’re going to read my mind on this stuff.

  • KyNDfan

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR-H-FQDenw
    That Gatorade thing does not always equal a win.

    • NDtex

      But Brian Kelly has never lost when he gets a Gatorade bath! The stat stands!

  • IndyIrish

    Choosey mothers choose Jif 100% of the time!

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