To the Booth: Purdue By the Numbers

By Chad Peltier on October 31, 2013 at 11:15 am
I wish I knew the context for this Purdue duck and roll

Purdue is bad.

Really, really bad. As in the-worst-team-that-OSU-has-seen-all-year (according to the F/+) level of bad. Here's the Buckeye's schedule according to the F/+ rankings (note that Penn State was better on F/+ before last week's historic beatdown): 

F/+ -6.5% -15.6% -17.3% 25% 3.4% 11% -2% -21.6%

These numbers have the potential to change significantly as the season progresses, but Purdue is the worst team the Buckeyes have faced (not counting FAMU) by a healthy margin.

If Darrell Hazell wants to continue the Danny Hope tradition of West Lafayette lifelines, he'll need a bottle of pure, unadulterated luck on November 2nd. 

You know the drill at this point. Below are some important metrics for comparing Purdue and the Buckeyes, including offensive and defensive points per play, offensive and defensive yards per play, explosive play ratio, the turnover ratio, and red zone efficiency.

  Off PPP DEF PPP OFF YPP DEF YPP EX Play Turnovers Red zone
OSU .628 .287 6.87 (11) 5.04 (20) 44 (21) +8 80%
Purdue .204 .488 4.24 (120) 5.66 (75) 17 (123) -5 44%

Like Penn State last week, Purdue turned to a true freshman quarterback with high upside in Danny Etling. Etling was a composite four-star recruit and has a pretty decent skill set as a passer, but is prone to throwing interceptions.

The Offensive Numbers Are Blinding

Purdue turned to Etling after incumbent starter Rob Henry wasn't getting it done for Hazell and company, but the offense has yet to really see the benefits of the switch, ranking almost last in the country in offensive yards per play. If being 120th in the country in YPP didn't convince you of Purdue's offensive woes, then the fact that the Buckeye offense averages over three times as many points per play should be enough to convince you. It's not just short fields or poor red zone offense that dooms the Boilermakers – they're just not there yet on offense. 

New stat alert! I turned to Football Outsiders for a new metric this week, which they call running back block success rate. The idea is to break down the rushing statistics to see how much can be attributed to the offensive line and how much to the running back. Here's their definition: 

If line yards offer 100 percent credit to the offensive line for yards gained up to five yards, what percentage of a teams runs then reach five yards? The use of "success rate" here might be confusing (I'll search for a better name) but we'll use this for now. This is the percentage of runs by a running back that go at least five yards.

Urban has said over and over that, “I’d take this offensive line over any that I’ve seen. Tremendous players, work ethic, cohesiveness.” What do the numbers say? Simply enough, that the Buckeyes have one of the top lines in the country according to this metric. 53.9% of runs go for at least five yards, which is tops in the entire country right now. The Buckeyes are also eighth in "line yards" (3.68) in the quote above. The line isn't perfect, as they aren't as great on passing downs or in various sack rates, but you've got to hand it to Warinner for cleaning things up. 

  • Purdue on the other hand? 119th in line yards (2.52) and 102nd in running back block success rate. The bright side is that the line is only average in giving up sacks on passing downs. So there's that! 
  • Against Big Ten opponents (Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Michigan State), Purdue has had a total of 14 three and outs. That's not good. However, one bright spot is that the Boilermakers have had fewer and fewer three and outs per game: six against Wisconsin, five against Nebraska, and only three against MSU. The goal for any offense is to get under two per game.
Looking at the numbers and their roster, Etling is really Purdue's only shot.The offense has Etling but almost no running game 

Let's Get Defensive, Boilermakers

  • If the Boilermaker offense has struggled this season, the defense has merely been mediocre-to-bad. They give up roughly 170% as many points per play as the Buckeye defense. 
  • One bright spot for the Purdue defense is that they are actually 36th in the country in opponent explosive plays with 30 on the season (Ohio State is 5th with 20).
  • With the defense being as mediocre in PPP and YPP as it is, however, this suggests that Purdue's opponents have been really good at both third down conversion percentage and red zone scoring...which they have. Purdue ranks 111th in opponent third down conversion rate and 117th in opponent red zone scoring. 
  • That, in turn, suggests that Purdue's opponents have been efficient on standard downs and have limited negative plays. Look for the Buckeye offense to have success on first and second down to set up more than manageable third downs for Hyde and company. 
  • Purdue is 107th in sacks with ten on the year and 104th in tackles for loss, which gives credence to the hypothesis that Purdue allows opposing offenses to be highly efficient and "on track" in terms of stringing together long drives (while, to their credit, limiting big plays). 
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