Friday, November 8, 2013
Stats that matter: Texas-West Virginia
By Max Olson
Each week, we team up with the ESPN Stats & Info crew to dig into the numbers that matter most and find three statistics which could make a big difference on Saturday. Here are the numbers to remember going into Texas’ road game at West Virginia:
No. 1: 15
Since Texas’ five-game winning streak began with a 31-21 victory over Kansas State, the Longhorns have put together a top-15 defense under new coordinator Greg Robinson and his staff.
Since Sept. 21, Texas ranks No. 14 in scoring defense, No. 15 in total defense, No. 10 in red zone efficiency defense, tied for 14th in sacks, 13th in points per drive, 12th in plays per drive allowed and tied for ninth in giving up plays of 10 yards or more.
Also, during this streak, Texas’ defense is one of only seven in FBS to give up fewer than 10 touchdowns and fewer than three passing touchdowns. And after playing porous, shoddy run defense to start the year, Texas is giving up 126.2 yards per game on the ground, which ranks No. 24 nationally, in the last five games.
So, long story short, impressive defense has been a major reason for the Longhorns’ winning streak.
No. 2: 60/40
How important has the run game been to Texas’ recent success? In the past four games, the Longhorns are averaging 52 rushing attempts per game, which ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 and tied for eighth in FBS.
During those four games, Johnathan Gray has gained 374 yards on 4.4 yards per carry and Malcolm Brown has chipped in 298 on 4.7 per carry.
It’s worth noting, too, that the Longhorns haven’t used the rushing talents of the elusive Daje Johnson much during that run -- he has 12 carries for 43 yards in the last four games.
If you’re wondering how that run-pass balance is working out, Texas’ offense has been 60/40 rushing during its five-game win streak. Don’t expect that to change much until somebody can slow down this rushing attack.
No. 3: 26
While Texas’ run defense has improved, West Virginia’s Charles Sims should not be underestimated. The senior running back, a Houston transfer, has a knack for busting big runs for the Mountaineers.
Sims has produced 26 rushes of 10 or more yards this season, which ranks second in the Big 12 behind Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk (28). Nobody has more of those runs in Big 12 play than the 16 Sims has posted.
To its defense’s credit, Texas’ Big 12 opponents are averaging just 5.2 rushes of 10-plus per game. That is definitely an improvement since BYU had 18 against this defense earlier in the year.
Three more to remember
13.0: Opposing passers have a combined QBR of 13.0 against the Texas defense in their past four games. That’s second-worst in FBS.
78: Points that West Virginia has scored off turnovers in Big 12 games this season, best in the conference.
6-11: West Virginia’s record since beating Texas in Austin last season.