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Stating It Up: Looking at the Big 12 Offenses and Why Colorado Buffalo Fans Should Be...

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It's a bye week for the Colorado Buffaloes which is a perfect time for reflection and searching as to why the Buffs are one game away from so call "regressing" on last year. Last night on 850KOA radio, coach Dan Hawkins continued to profess that next year things will get better because a) the Buffs will be healthier and b) the Buffs will be more experienced. Since that was the 1,023rd time that Hawkins has said that this year, I decided to put some empirical data together to test out what the effect of experience has on a Big 12 team. Sort of like a science project and proving or disproving his claim. (Make Sure You View In Wide Page View -

The Question at Hand:

Statistically, are the Buffs the youngest offensive team in the Big 12? By that I mean is CU heavily reliant on underclassmen to get the job done compared to other teams in the Big 12 and what is the win trade off between underclassmen and upperclassmen? Sounds good, right? It is good. This post is a little long but I believe it is well worth your time.

The Results:

Just how important is experience? Let me rephrase that: Just how important is getting production from upperclassmen? Important. How important? About two wins. How important is having an upperclassmen quarterback in the Big 12? How about four wins important. First of all, lets look at the passing statistics by team in the Big 12:

Passing
Team Underclassmen Stats (Fr&So) Upperclassmen Stats (Jr&Sr)  
Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total  WINS 
Colorado 2,079 100.0%    18 100.0% 0 0.0%    -   0.0%            5
Iowa State 2,502 99.3%    14 100.0% 17 0.7%    -   0.0%            2
Baylor 2,000 96.3%    14 93.3% 77 3.7%      1 6.7%            4
Oklahoma   3,406 95.8%    38 97.4% 149 4.2%      1 2.6%            9
Texas A&M 2,381 86.3%    20 90.9% 379 13.7%      2 9.1%            4
Kansas St 290 9.8%      2 11.1% 2,666 90.2%    16 88.9%            4
Texas Tech 260 6.0%      2 5.3% 4,077 94.0%    36 94.7%          10
Texas 140 4.3%      2 6.3% 3,134 95.7%    30 93.8%          10
Oklahoma St 64 2.5%    -   0.0% 2,481 97.5%    21 100.0%            9
Nebraska 53 1.7%    -   0.0% 3,135 98.3%    23 100.0%            7
Missouri 43 1.1%    -   0.0% 3,800 98.9%    32 100.0%            9
Kansas 11 0.3%    -   0.0% 3,242 99.7%    24 100.0%            6

see after the jump for analysis on the rushing, receiving and total yardage of the Big 12....(Make sure you view in wide page view - Click in the top left corner so you can see the tables)

Just to help you read this, the first four columns in every chart after the team name are the stats the underclassmen have accumulated so far this year for every Big 12 team. The next four columns are the stats compiled by upperclassmen. Every chart will be sorted by underclassmen yardage % with the teams most heavily reliant on underclassmen at the top of the column, which is column 3. No surprise on this one, the Buffs lead the Big 12 in passing yardage by underclassmen. 100% of the Buffs passing yardage has come from either Cody Hawkins or Tyler Hansen. If you look at the far right of the table, you will see team wins. It is a pretty amazing (but not surprising) the correlation between the number of wins and an increased percentage of underclassmen production. How correlated? The top 6 teams in the chart are the teams with the most underclassmen production in the Big 12 at the quarterback position (Colorado Buffaloes, Iowa State Cyclones, Baylor Bears, Oklahoma Sooners, Texas A&M Aggies and Kansas State Wildcats). The average wins of those teams this year is 5. The bottom 6 teams (Texas Tech Red Raiders, Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Missouri Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks) in the chart represent the least underclassmen production from the quarterback position in the Big 12. Those teams average 9 wins. That is a 4 win difference. That statistic is staggering. The only player/team who defies the rule is Oklahoma and Sam Bradford, who we can all agree is a different quality of quarterback and may win the Heisman this year. As you will see later, Bradford is surrounded by upperclassmen at the tight end and wide receiver position which is also a reason for increased wins.

First Finding: The Big 12 teams with more quarterback production from upperclassmen have averaged 4 more wins this year than the teams with a stronger reliance on underclassmen!

Next, let's look at the receiving production. The breakdown of experience at the wide receiver position and the correlated success is not as groundbreaking as the passing chart above. The reason: OSU's WR Dez Bryant, Tech's WR Michael Crabtree and Tech's WR Detron Lewis.

Receiving
 Team Underclassmen Stats (Fr&So) Upperclassmen Stats (Jr&Sr)  
Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total  WINS 
Texas Tech 2,967 68.4%    25 65.8% 1,370 31.6%    13 34.2%          10
Oklahoma St 1,741 68.4%    18 85.7% 804 31.6%      3 14.3%            9
Texas A&M 1,694 61.4%    14 63.6% 1,066 38.6%      8 36.4%            4
Colorado 1,196 57.5%      9 50.0% 883 42.5%      9 50.0%            5
Kansas 1,852 56.9%    15 62.5% 1,401 43.1%      9 37.5%            6
Baylor 879 42.3%      8 53.3% 1,198 57.7%      7 46.7%            4
Missouri 1,529 39.8%    12 37.5% 2,314 60.2%    20 62.5%            9
Iowa State 989 39.3%      7 50.0% 1,530 60.7%      7 50.0%            2
Nebraska 1,005 31.5%      7 30.4% 2,183 68.5%    16 69.6%            7
Texas 1,030 31.5%    11 34.4% 2,244 68.5%    21 65.6%          10
Oklahoma   929 26.1%      9 23.1% 2,626 73.9%    30 76.9%            9
Kansas St 229 7.7%      1 5.6% 2,727 92.3%    17 94.4%            4

Again, like the Sam Bradford anomaly in the passing chart, the trio of WR's mentioned above defy the rules of equating success with experience. The teams that have gotten the most production from their underclassmen (Oklahoma State 68.4% and Texas Tech 68.4%) also have two of the best win totals in the Big 12. The Buffs still rank 4th in most production from underclassmen with 58% of their total receiving yardage coming from freshmen and sophomores. The top 6 teams with the most production from underclassmen average 5 wins. The bottom 6 teams with the least production from underclassmen average 6 wins. A win difference is still significant. The key finding here is that it is more important to have a quarterback with experience than having junior and senior receivers. Big 12 wide receivers seem to have an easier time making an impact early in their careers. If this holds true, next year the Buffs should be welcoming two incoming freshman in WR Diante Jackson and WR Jarrod Darden, a sophomore in WR Markques Simas and a Junior College transfer in WR Andre Simmons. Youth doesn't necessarily mean a lack of production at the receiver position which will be a positive for next year's team. The key to a Big 12 team's success looks to lean even more to the quarterback position. We need Cody Hawkins to step his game up next year. End of story.

Second Finding: The Big 12 teams with more wide receiver production from upperclassmen have averaged 1 more win this year than the teams with a stronger reliance on underclassmen. Not as significant as the quarterback position having experience. The Dez Bryant's and Michael Crabtree's of the world ruin the correlation.

Like the passing Big 12 comparison, no team in the Big 12 has relied more on underclassmen at the running back position than the Buffs. 97.7% of the Buffs rushing yard and 100% of the teams' touchdowns have come from underclassmen. Baylor is about 20% points behind Colorado which is a huge margin.

Rushing
 Team Underclassmen Stats (Fr&So) Upperclassmen Stats (Jr&Sr)  
Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total  WINS 
Colorado 1,444 97.7%      8 100.0% 34 2.3%    -   0.0%            5
Baylor 1,676 78.4%    19 73.1% 462 21.6%      7 26.9%            4
Iowa State 1,159 77.1%    11 64.7% 345 22.9%      6 35.3%            2
Missouri 1,377 76.5%    19 70.4% 423 23.5%      8 29.6%            9
Oklahoma   1,163 58.7%    18 60.0% 818 41.3%    12 40.0%            9
Nebraska 1,107 57.9%    14 53.8% 806 42.1%    12 46.2%            7
Kansas St 787 54.2%      9 36.0% 664 45.8%    16 64.0%            4
Texas 1,022 53.4%    15 55.6% 892 46.6%    12 44.4%          10
Texas Tech 700 52.6%      6 24.0% 632 47.4%    19 76.0%          10
Oklahoma St 1,500 51.2%    16 47.1% 1,429 48.8%    18 52.9%            9
Texas A&M 555 50.9%      4 28.6% 535 49.1%    10 71.4%            4
Kansas 35 2.4%    -   0.0% 1,453 97.6%    21 100.0%            6

The teams who rely most on underclassmen for rushing yardage average 6 wins a year and those team that rely the least on underclassmen average 7 wins a year. Once again, one game is not terribly significant but what would the Buffs do for one win? And the results are somewhat misleading as all but Kansas get 50% of their rushing game from underclassmen. The main point to this chart is the Buffs, once again, are at the top of the list in terms of the dependency on underclassmen to produce. The more dependency on underclassmen, the less wins a team will have.

Third Finding: The Big 12 teams with more running back production from upperclassmen have averaged 1 more win this year than the teams with a stronger reliance on underclassmen. Not as significant as the quarterback position having experience. Colorado has 20% more reliance on underclassmen than any other Big 12 program. Kansas is the only team with less than 50% rushing production coming from underclassmen.

Finally, what happens when you add all of these yards up. Surprise, Colorado relies the most on underclassmen to get their offensive production. Not by a measly 1 or 2% but almost 8% over Texas Tech. The chart below totals wide receiving yardage and rushing yardage, not passing yardage as to not double count.

Total Yardage - Rushing and Receiving Yardage
 Team Underclassmen Stats (Fr&So) Upperclassmen Stats (Jr&Sr)  
Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total  WINS 
Colorado 2,640 74.2%    17 65.4% 917 25.8%      9 34.6%            5
Texas Tech 3,667 64.7%    31 49.2% 2,002 35.3%    32 50.8%          10
Baylor 2,555 60.6%    27 65.9% 1,660 39.4%    14 34.1%            4
Oklahoma St 3,241 59.2%    34 61.8% 2,233 40.8%    21 38.2%            9
Texas A&M 2,249 58.4%    18 50.0% 1,601 41.6%    18 50.0%            4
Iowa State 2,148 53.4%    18 58.1% 1,875 46.6%    13 41.9%            2
Missouri 2,906 51.5%    31 52.5% 2,737 48.5%    28 47.5%            9
Nebraska 2,112 41.4%    21 42.9% 2,989 58.6%    28 57.1%            7
Kansas 1,887 39.8%    15 33.3% 2,854 60.2%    30 66.7%            6
Texas 2,052 39.6%    26 44.1% 3,136 60.4%    33 55.9%          10
Oklahoma   2,092 37.8%    27 39.1% 3,444 62.2%    42 60.9%            9
Kansas St 1,016 23.1%    10 23.3% 3,391 76.9%    33 76.7%            4

If you substitute receiving yardage for passing yardage (as shown below), 99% of the Buffs offense this year has come from underclassmen. 99%! 8% more than Iowa State.

Total Yardage - Rushing and Passing Yardage
 Team Underclassmen Stats (Fr&So) Upperclassmen Stats (Jr&Sr)  
Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total Yards % of Total  TD  % of Total  WINS 
Colorado 3,523 99.0% 26 100.0% 34 1.0% 0 0.0%            5
Iowa State 3,661 91.0% 25 80.6% 362 9.0% 6 19.4%            2
Baylor 3,676 87.2% 33 80.5% 539 12.8% 8 19.5%            4
Oklahoma   4,569 82.5% 56 81.2% 967 17.5% 13 18.8%            9
Texas A&M 2,936 76.3% 24 66.7% 914 23.7% 12 33.3%            4
Oklahoma St 1,564 28.6% 16 29.1% 3,910 71.4% 39 70.9%            9
Missouri 1,420 25.2% 19 32.2% 4,223 74.8% 40 67.8%            9
Kansas St 1,077 24.4% 11 25.6% 3,330 75.6% 32 74.4%            4
Nebraska 1,160 22.7% 14 28.6% 3,941 77.3% 35 71.4%            7
Texas 1,162 22.4% 17 28.8% 4,026 77.6% 42 71.2%          10
Texas Tech 960 16.9% 8 12.7% 4,709 83.1% 55 87.3%          10
Kansas 46 1.0% 0 0.0% 4,695 99.0% 45 100.0%            6

Fourth Finding: These numbers are staggering. From the chart above, the top 6 teams who depend on underclassmen average 6 wins. The bottom 6 teams, which represent the teams with the least amount of dependence on underclassmen, average 8 wins. A two win difference for the teams that depend on experience to direct their offensive production. The Buffs will still be young next year but hopefully this shows as the Buffs gain more experience, they are bound to win more.

Just looking at the two charts above, this sort of shows why Ron Prince got fired at Kansas State. He didn't necessarily have a young team at all and still lost games. The JUCO experiment didn't lead to more wins. It is also interesting to see how experienced Kansas is. They definitely are the odd man out in terms of guaranteed wins with more production by experienced players. The bottom tiered teams in the Big 12; CU, Texas A&M, Iowa State and Baylor are the youngest in almost all of the charts. Texas is very experienced and getting a ton of wins because of it. Texas Tech and Oklahoma are the outliers of the whole exercise. Oklahoma is very experienced at the wide receiver position but inexperienced at the quarterback position while Texas Tech is just the opposite. The key to these teams is that where they lack in inexperience they make up with unbelievably talented players like QB Sam Bradford and WR Michael Crabtree. They also surround these players with an experienced supporting cast. Both Texas Tech and OU have big experienced lines and OU has an experienced receiving corp while Texas Tech has a stud at the quarterback position in Graham Harrell. The Buffs are inexperienced everywhere as their is little experienced support roles like OU and Texas Tech have.

To finish the title of this post, Buffs fans should be optimistic.

*If they get solid play from the quarterback position!