The Scoop on Stats: Best of the Best (Offense)

College football pundits also refer to a team's running game, pass rush, etc., as the best in college football, but how often is that true? In Part 1 of our three-part series, we decided to compare stats across all divisions of the NCAA and see who stands the tallest. 

Here's a look at the statistical champions across key offensive statistics (through Saturday). Tomorrow we'll examine defensive statistics, and Tuesday we'll take a look at special teams and penalties. 

Rushing Offense - Georgia Southern (FCS): 399.36 yards per game. In 14 games, the Eagles ran the ball a mind-numbing 850 times for 5,591 yards (6.58 ypc) and 55 touchdowns.

Passing Offense - Harding Simmons (D-III - TX): 432.3 yards per game. Anyone who follows college football won't be surprised to see the NCAA's most prolific passing offense come from the state of Texas. Hardin-Simmons' Lone Star State brethren also occupied two of the top three spots in FBS and the runner-up position in FCS. The Cowboys were the only NCAA team to top 400 yards per game.

Passing Efficiency - Mount Union (D-III - OH): 188.34. This statistic was dominated by teams with strong running games and Mount Union was no different. The Purple Raiders completed nearly 72% of their passes for 10.33 yards per attempt with 43 TDs and 8 INTs. 

Total Offense - Sul Ross State (D-III - TX): 581.9 yards per game. Sul Ross State narrowly edged out another Texas team, Baylor. In 10 games, the Lobos throws 3,330 yards and rushed for another 2,489 yards.

Scoring Offense - Mount Union: 52.8 points per game. The Purple Raiders totaled 792 points and 109 touchdowns in their  15-0 march to the national championship.

Other offensive statistics...
Turnovers Lost - Wagner (FCS): 8
Tackles For Loss Allowed - Bloomsburg (D-II - PA): 2.5 per game
Sacks Allowed - The Citadel (FCS): 2
First Downs Offense - Louisiana Tech (FBS): 31.5 per game
Third Down Conversion Percentage - Cal Poly (FCS): 55.78% (111-for-199)
Fourth Down Conversion Percentage - Clemson (FBS): 86.67% (13-for-15)
Red Zone Offense (minimum 25 attempts) - Louisville (FBS): 96%. (34 TDs, 14 FGs in 50 attempts)
Time of Possession - Randolph-Macon (D-III - VA): 35:53

The Scoop on Matt Rhule to Temple

We have learned that Temple has tabbed Matt Rhule as its next head coach. Rhule replaces Steve Adazzio who left for a similar position at Boston College.

Rhule returns to Temple after spending one season as the New York Giants' assistant offensive line coach. He spent the previous six years as an Owls assistant, occupying various spots on the staff - defensive line (2006), quarterbacks (2007-10), tight ends (2011). Rhule was elevated to Temple's offensive coordinator in 2008. 

It is believed Rhule will split time between Temple and his duties with the Giants through the end of the team's season. Given that we are entering a recruiting dead period, seems like the right thing to do.

Rhule played linebacker at Penn State from 1994-97 and, apart from this year with the Giants, has spent his entire coaching career in the college ranks. He started his career as the linebackers coach at Albright (Pa.) before working as a graduate assistant at Buffalo and UCLA. Rhule then spent four years on the staff at Western Carolina, coaching special teams, linebackers and the offensive line. 

Though the Owls went just 4-7 in 2012, Rhule returns to a program on the upswing after spending decades in the doldrums of college football. In 2009, he aided the Owls to a 9-4 record, a MAC East title and the program's first bowl game since 1979. Temple then posted an 8-4 mark in 2010 and a 9-4 record in 2011, capped by the second bowl victory in program history.

The Pistol offense, the NFL and one great idea


The NFL is often referred to as a copy cat league, and right now the Pistol offense is the concept quickly spreading through the league. By some estimates, around 40% of NFL offenses now include some facet of the Pistol and guys like Robert Griffin III and Colin Kapernick are bringing more and more attention to it. 

For those watching & listenting to the Arizona vs. Nevada bowl game going on right now the Pistol is just about the only thing the announcers are talking about; and they just had Bob Davie in the booth and he added that most college and NFL teams either have or are implementing pieces of the Pistol. 

Nevada head coach Chris Ault is well known to be the guy who introduced most of us to the Pistol; but for those that know him, or those that heard him speak at one of his pre-bowl game press conferences, Ault says there are really two guys who truly understand the Pistol inside and out, Ault and his former running backs coach Jim Mastro (now running backs coach with Mike Leach at Washington State). 

We recently (including one 5 minutes ago) asked a few NFL coaches about how they study the Pistol and every single one referenced Ault or Mastro. Over the last five years or so both Ault and Mastro have openly shared with and hosted other staffs who brought their offensive staff up to learn the Pistol. 

So, the question comes to mind, would an NFL team try to hire either Ault or Mastro? Well, for what it's worth, Ault, who is 66, has been head coach at Nevada for over 35 years and isn't looking for a new gig. Mastro, who was with Ault for a decade, is currently coaching with his good friend Mike Leach and we think he's very happy where he is. Thus, hiring either guy away likely isn't in the cards. However, in a fairly interesting twist, one NFL coach said to us, "Know what those two guys (Ault & Mastro) should do, they should begin consulting for NFL defenses.  They'd be able to print money." That's an interesting idea. Clearly the guys who have had so much success running the offense must also know how to stop it. 



Skip Holtz introduced at Louisiana Tech

Skip Holtz was introduced as Louisiana Tech's newest head coach at a Friday afternoon press conference, and he certainly looked the part. After previous head coaching stints at Connecticut, East Carolina and South Florida, Louisiana Tech marks Holtz's fourth stop as a head coach. He holds an 88-71 in 13 years as a head coach. 

As a coach that has held the top job at three institutions previously, Holtz has a clear idea of what route he wants to take with his staff.

"We're going to have to put together a staff that does a good job of recruiting this talent-rich state of Louisiana," Holtz explained. "After doing this (for so long) you have a little bit of a rolodex of coaches that you've worked with. We need some coaches and some recruiters, I don't think you have a staff full of either. We're going to need some Louisiana ties and we're going to need some Texas ties."

Holtz indicated that he was looking forward to taking some time off and wasn't pursuing any open jobs but was intrigued by the chance to coach at Louisiana Tech. He met with Louisiana Tech officials on Tuesday of this week, and things happened quickly after that. "I wanted to talk about the opportunity with my wife," said Holtz. "I landed in Tampa at 1 p.m. on Thursday, and by 5 p.m. (my famiy) was at the mall buying red and blue."

One of Holtz's first comments noted the progress the Bulldogs have made not just on the field, but in the classroom.

"I'm excited to continue to build on the academic success that's been built here because ultimately that's the number one goal that we have, to graduate every player that plays here," said Holtz.

Louisiana Tech will leave the WAC and join Conference USA in 2013, a league Holtz spent five years in as the head coach at East Carolina. He led the Pirates to Conference USA titles in 2008 and 2009. "Nothing will make me more excited than to put my third Conference USA championship ring on my fingers after one of these years," he said.

Holtz noted that Louisiana Tech will only have two carryover opponents from its 2012 schedule. "There's a lot of excitement and a lot of great challenges with that."

Holtz will inherit a roster that has settled into a very productive identity, but loses 31 seniors to graduation.

"Both Coach Dooley and Dykes have spent six years recruiting to this offense, and they've done very well. I love the passing game. I love the enthusiasm and the up-beat tempo."

As successful as the Bulldogs' offense was in 2012, the defense struggled to keep up. Louisiana Tech ranked 120th nationally in total defense, 117th in scoring defense, 107th in pass efficiency defense and 85th in rushing defense. 

"There's going to be games where you say, hold on we've got to outscore them," said Holtz. "There's going to be some games when you have to protect your defense and slow things down on offense. Not leave what we do, but not snap the ball with 28 seconds left on the play clock."


The Scoop on Mike Sanford to Indiana State

We have learned that Utah State assistant head coach Mike Sanford has been named the head coach at Indiana State. 

Sanford steps in at Indiana State for Trent Miles, who departed for the same position at Georgia State. Miles executed a remarkable turnaround at Indiana State, leading a program that went 2-54 from 2005-09 to a 6-5 record in 2010 and 7-4 seasons in 2011-12. Under Miles, the Sycamores played outstanding defense, ranking fifth nationally in pass efficiency defense and total defense and placing third in scoring defense. On offense, they were led by junior running back Shakir Bell, who ranked sixth in FCS with 134.1 rushing yards per game. 

Sanford is a coaching lifer with 35 years of experience spread through 14 different stops. He played quarterback at USC from 1973-76 and began coaching as a graduate assistant a year later with the Trojans. Sanford has spent the majority of his career in the West, with stays at San Diego City College, Long Beach State, another stop at USC, the San Diego Chargers, Stanford, Utah, UNLV and, most recently, Utah State. He has also ventured off the West Coast a number of times, with stints as a position coach at Army, VMI, Purdue and Notre Dame, and as the offensive coordinator at Louisville in 2010-11. 

Sanford was the head coach at UNLV from 2005-09, compiling a 16-43 record. He spent the 2012 season as the assistant head coach and also coached running backs and tight ends. Sanford helped the Aggies post a 10-2 record and win the WAC title. Utah State ranked in the top half of the WAC in every offensive category, and running back Kerywnn Williams led the conference and placed 23rd nationally by rushing for 106.4 yards per game. Williams, a First Team All-WAC honoree, also led the team and ranked eighth in the WAC with 43 grabs for 663 yards and five touchdowns. Utah State tight end Kellen Bartlett earned Honorable Mention All-WAC honors by snagging 37 catches for 261 yards and five scores.

We hear Sanford plans to bring some exciting young assistants to Indiana State. Really like this hire!


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