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Cougar Tracks: Numbers and Notes

Cougar Tracks: Numbers and Notes

Estimated read time: 8-9 minutes

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It's a relatively quiet week on the BYU Football and Basketball front, with players from both team teams taking final exams to conclude the Fall semester. The Armed Forces Bowl-bound Cougars are lifting and conditioning but not practicing, while for their coaches it's a week of recruiting. The BYU hoopsters were back at practice today after days off on Monday and Tuesday; their week-long game break ends Saturday at home to #6/#7 Baylor.


The down time lets us take a breather and recap some of the accomplishments of both teams, and let's start with the 9-3 football squad:

BYU is playing in a bowl game for the seventh straight season, the longest streak since LaVell Edwards strung together 17 in a row from 1978 through 1994.

BYU has won four its last five bowl games; prior to that, the Cougars had won only four of their previous 16 bowl games (4-11-1).

BYU has won back-to-back bowl games, and has won consecutive bowl games on five separate occasions. BYU has never won three bowl games in a row.

With a win over Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl, BYU would reach ten or more wins for the fifth time in seven seasons under Bronco Mendenhall, and the fifth time in six seasons overall. The only other times BYU had five or more 10+ win seasons in a six-season stretch: 1979 through 1984 and 1980 through 1985.

Only Georgia's Mark Richt and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops can claim five 10+ win seasons in their first seven seasons at the FBS level.

BYU's seven consecutive bowl appearances represent the 15th longest active streak among FBS schools.

With a win over Tulsa, BYU will almost certainly end the season ranked in the Top 25, and will be ranked for a fifth time in six seasons. The only other instances of BYU ending the season ranked five times in a six-season stretch: 1979 through 1984, 1980 through 1985 and 1989 through 1994.


Statistically in 2011, BYU is ranked in the top 25 nationally in:

Third Down Conversion Percentage (4th)

Tackles for Loss Allowed (7th)

Pass Efficiency Defense (7th)

Red Zone Defense (12th)

First Down Defense (13th)

Total Defense (17th)

Rushing defense (21st)

Scoring Defense (23rd)

Sacks Allowed (25th)

BYU is ranked in the Top 50 in Passing Offense (46th), Total Offense (41st), Scoring Offense (41st), Punt Returns (34th), Kickoff Returns (31st) and Pass Defense (29th).

Only 17 FBS teams have fewer than BYU's three losses.

BYU has had 18 players score touchdowns this season, one away from the school record.

Individually, Riley Nelson is three pass attempts shy of being eligible for NCAA pass efficiency rankings. With 18 pass attempts in the Armed Forces Bowl, Nelson would qualify; his current PER of 163.6 would rank him 7th nationally.


Here's more on BYU's third down numbers, since BYU is one of the tops in the country in conversions:

Last season, BYU converted 64% of rushing 3rd down attempts, but only 36% of passing third down attempts, for a season percentage of 46%.

In 2011, the rushing conversion numbers have increased to 68%, while the passing conversion rate is up to 46%, for a season conversion rate of 53%.

Last year's average third down distance was 6.3 yards; in 2011, it was 6.2 yards. In Riley Nelson's six starts, that number was 5.9 yards.

On 3rd and 2 or shorter, BYU was 36/43, for an 84% conversion rate on those downs. Opponents were 16/28, for 57%.

When rushing on 3rd and 2 or shorter, BYU converted 31 of 35 attempts (89%). Opponents only had 17 rush attempts on 3rd and 2 or shorter and converted only 11 (65%).


BYU rushers, converting on 3rd and 2 or shorter:

Bryan Kariya, 14 conversions on 15 attempts

Riley Nelson, 7/7

J.J. DiLuigi, 5/7

Michael Alisa, 2/2

Ryan Folsom, 1/1

James Lark, 1/1

Juice Quezada, 1/2


BYU rushers/receivers, third down conversions, total:

Bryan Kariya, 16 (team-high 19 in 2010)

Cody Hoffman, 15 (8)

Riley Nelson, 12 (5)

J.D. Falslev, 11 (0)

J.J. DiLuigi, 10 (17)

Ross Apo, 8 (N/A)

McKay Jacobson, 5 (9)

Michael Alisa, 3 (N/A)

Marcus Mathews, 3 (0)

Richard Wilson, 2 (0)

James Lark, 2 (0)

Juice Quezada, 1 (7)

Kaneakua Friel, 1 (N/A)

Ryan Folsom, 1 (2)

Total 3rd down conversions: 90, in 170 attempts


Among BYU's top six receivers (20 catches or more), here are the conversions/number of times targeted on third down and 10 or shorter (failures to convert are any incomplete/intercepted pass or a pass caught with the receiver stopped short of the line-to-gain. As a result, these numbers reflect passes broken up, bad passes, drops, or anything else that prevented a targeted receiver from converting on third down):

Cody Hoffman: 15 conversions on 20 targets (75%)

J.D. Falslev: 11 conversions on 15 targets (73%)

Ross Apo: 8 conversions on 21 targets (38%)

McKay Jacobson: 5 conversions on 13 targets (38%)

J.J. DiLuigi: 4 conversions on 13 targets (31%)

Marcus Mathews: 2 conversions on 6 targets (33%)


Run/pass distribution, by down:

1st down: 61% runs, 39% passes

2nd down: 48% runs, 52% passes

3rd down: 33% runs, 67% passes



"24 or More"

Bronco Mendenhall has a game-by-game offensive goal to score 24 points or more. This season, BYU is 8-1 when scoring 24 or more, and has won 23 of the last 24 games when reaching that plateau.

Under Mendenhall, BYU is 58-7 (89%) when scoring 24 pts+, and since 1972, BYU is 300-34 (90%) when scoring 24 or more.

Under Mendenhall, BYU also has a goal to allow 24 points or fewer, and this season, BYU is 8-1 when reaching that goal. Since Mendenhall took over in 2005, BYU is 57-5 (92%) when allowing 24 or fewer, and since 1972, BYU is 275-49 when the opponent fails to score more than 24.


BYU has numerical special teams goals associated with kickoff coverage, kickoff returns, punt coverage and punt returns--all with end goal of holding a field position advantage. Although BYU had no kickoff returns at Hawaii, that was the only game this season in which BYU reached all of its remaining special teams goals.

BYU was 4-0 when reaching its kickoff return goal, 5-1 when reaching its kickoff coverage goal, 2-1 when reaching its punt return goal and 5-0 when reaching its punt coverage goal. Again, the only game in which all goals were reached was the game at Hawaii, albeit without any punt returns.

Every team wants to win the field position battle, but Mendenhall's teams rely on that factor perhaps more than most.

This season, BYU was 9-0 when holding the advantage in average starting field position (ASFP), and 0-3 when the opponent held the edge. While this is the first time in seven seasons that Mendenhall's team has been undefeated with the edge and winless without it, the following numbers illustrate how key that stat has been:

"Plus" ASFP: 50-6

"Minus" ASFP: 12-14

"Even" ASFP: 3-3

In BYU's 65 wins under Mendenhall, the average ASFP edge has been +5.7 yards. In BYU's 24 losses, the average ASFP deficit has been -5.1 yards.


At Hawaii, BYU was turnover-free for the first time this season. BYU is now 19-2 under Mendenhall when committing zero turnovers (two losses: v. Boston College in 2005 and v. Nevada in 2010). BYU was also +1 in the turnover margin at Hawaii, giving BYU ten straight wins with a positive turnover margin.

Under Mendenhall, BYU is now 37-3 (93%) with a positive turnover margin, and has a losing record (17-18; 49%) when minus in the margin. Since 1972, BYU is 167-22-1 (88%) with a positive margin and 114-104-2 (52%) when on the minus side.


The game at Hawaii saw BYU reach a rare statistical landmark: 150+ yards rushing and 350+ yards passing in the same game. Under Mendenhall, the 150/350 combo has occurred only six times:

2005: v. Air Force, W 62-41 (300 rush yards/383 pass yards)

2006: v. New Mexico, W 42-17 (189/464)

2006: v. Oregon, W 38-8 (173/375)

2007: at Tulsa, L 55-47 (157/537)

2008: at Colorado State, W 45-42 (162/389)

2011: at Hawaii, W 41-20 (167/363)


More on the basketball team later in the week, but here are a couple of quick hits on the hoopsters, who are 8-2 and on a four-game win streak with 6th/7th-ranked Baylor coming into what should be a sold-out Marriott Center on Saturday at noon (KSL Newsradio/BYU Radio/BYUtv).

While it's a little early to consider RPI too seriously, BYU is currently ranked 79th according to Jerry Palm RPI ( and 16th according to Ken Pomeroy. Generally speaking, RPI measures who/where you've you've played and beaten; Pomeroy's rankings measure how you play, along with the results.

The West Coast Conference is rated 10th in Palm RPI and 11th by Pomeroy.


In the WCC stats, BYU leads in eight of 21 categories (scoring offense, scoring margin, 3pfg% defense, rebounds, blocked shots, assists, assist/turnover ratio and defensive rebounds). The Cougars are second or third in the league in seven other categories.


I have updated my BYU PAP (Points Available Percentage; explained here) stats since the win over Utah (note: at least 10 mpg needed to qualify; *= starter)

1. Nate Austin 66.7 (up from last update; even on rank)

2. Noah Hartsock 60.1* (up; even on rank)

3. Charles Abouo 53.2* (up; +2 on rank)

4. Brandon Davies 52.2* (down; -1 on rank)

5. Stephen Rogers 49.7 (down; -1 on rank)

6. Josh Sharp 48.4 (DNP at Utah; unchanged on rank)

7. Brock Zylstra 45.7* (down; even on rank)

8. Craig Cusick 43.1 (up; +1 on rank)

9. Anson Winder 36.2* (down; -1 on rank)

10. Damarcus Harrison 33.3 (down; even on rank)


On his KSL Newsradio coach's show last night, BYU head coach Dave Rose updated us on F Chris Collinsworth's exploratory arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday, calling the results "great news."

Rose said last winter's microfracture surgery had healed well and that the knee weas structurally sound. He said doctors shaved away some calcification that was causing residual swelling and soreness.

"It could be as early as 3 weeks or as long as 6 weeks," said Rose, "but he's gonna be back... I feel really good about it."

Collinsworth tweeted Tuesday night that the "surgery went well! I'm looking at 6-12 weeks recovery time." So, while the recovery time may be up for debate, Collinsworth will begin rehab within days, and the hope is he will return at some point during conference play.


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SportsBYU Cougars
Greg Wrubell


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