Monday, August 20, 2007

Many Happy Returns

Chances are you don't want to get caught having that extra beverage at the tailgate before kickoff this year. It could mean that you miss the most exciting play of the game. A return specialist like California's DeSean Jackson can make a team pay, especially this season.

In a rule change we applaud, kickoffs have been moved back five yards to the 30. And if you get a celebration penalty on the touchdown before the kick, you really risk putting your team in a hole. We are waiting for Wisconsin's Bret Bielema to figure out a loophole in this new rule.

But how much will this change impact play? Our man Marty at cfbstats is back at it, giving us a glimpse of what to expect. Only Marty can do this because he has data on every play for every team from the 2005 and 2006 seasons, including kickoffs.

Now we're not going to give away all of his company secrets. You'll have to visit Marty's site to get the goods. But we will tell you a few tidbits as a teaser:
  • Kickoffs from the 30 resulted in 21.1% less touchbacks than kickoffs from the 35. That would average out to about two more returns a game this fall.
  • Kickoffs from the 30 resulted, on average, with the ball landing at the 8.78 yard line, which was 3.22 yards further into the field of play than kicks from the 35.
  • The average change in field position on a kick from the 30 was 5.13 yards and the rate of returns for touchdowns was about the same as a kick from the 35.
Marty has redesigned his site, added defensive statistics, and now has a blog. Check it out!

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