Bud Elliott has a really smart piece up exploring some of the reasons behind why scoring in SEC games has increased significantly (16% over 2019) so far this season.
Surprising, though, it’s not so much because teams are moving the ball much more on a per play basis.
While points might be up 16 percent per game, yards are not up in the same amount. In fact, SEC teams are averaging 5.96 yards per play in 2020, which is only about 4.5 percent higher than last year.
And the median yards per play has not increased at all. It’s actually gone slightly down, from 5.44 to 5.43.
So points are up 16 percent but yards per play are up just 4.5 percent. The points are not all coming from offenses being better at moving the football, though it is part of it.
He finds a bunch of other factors in play that have contributed to the scoring gain. Here are some:
- Pick-Sixes per game have doubled.
- The SEC is throwing more.
- Teams are playing faster.
- All four new head coaches are offensive-minded and embrace pace.
- More close games mean more teams are trying to score for longer.
One thing that hasn’t changed, surprisingly, is that there aren’t more explosive plays.
The rate of 20-, 30-, 40-, and 50-yard plays per game has stayed almost exactly the same year over year. And on a per-play basis, explosive plays are actually down. So the idea that teams are bombing it over the top more, or breaking more explosive plays, is simply not true.
Teams have been more efficient on early downs, though.
Teams are having more success in early downs, however, which is a major component of being a successful offense. Tennessee had done an amazing job of avoiding long down and distance situations until it faced Georgia, shown in Every SEC Game Reviewed: Week 6.
“Tennessee had a success rate of just 19 percent on passing downs (second and eight plus, third and five plus). And it faced 21 of them, which is huge. Tennessee had to avoid those long down and distances by using its big offensive line to stay ahead of the chains, but Georgia physically whipped the vaunted Tennessee line at the line of scrimmage. Tennessee had just two yards per carry without sacks and finished with negative rushing yards when including sacks in, of which there were five.”
At least until they haven’t.
Read the whole thing.