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Mike Gundy Sets Rushing Benchmark at 4.2 Yards Per Carry



Mike Gundy has never been a huge numbers guy. I think he looks at them and thinks about them, but I don’t think he sets up John Nashian systems to make sure OSU achieves certain goals by quarter, game and season.

In other words, this has never been a thing that has taken place.

On Saturday, though, he touted the importance of reaching a certain rushing number per carry on offense. It stood out to me because I wanted to go back and look at how good OSU has been when hitting that number.

“If you could average 4.2 yards a carry running the ball, you got a chance to be a decent offense,” said Gundy. “And when we weren’t, we weren’t very good offensively. When we do rush the ball for 4.2 or better, we’ve been a pretty good offense.

“The reason being, it forces the defensive to do a lot of things originally to stop that because most defensive coordinators don’t like coming out of the game when they say we allowed them to run the ball. If you can’t instigate that frustration on the defensive coordinator, in our history it hasn’t been very good for the offense.”

Thankfully we have CFB Reference to fact check the head ball coach. I sorted on the number — 4.2 yards per carry — and got the following W-L records.

  • 4.2 or better: 69-26 (73%)
  • 4.19 or worse: 45-27 (63%)

When you dig a little deeper, though, the numbers pop even harder. I looked at points per game on average in these games, and the Cowboys average nearly 10 more points when they rush for 4.2 yards or more than when they rush for 4.19 yards or fewer.

  • 4.2 or better: 41.6 points per game
  • 4.19 or worse: 32.2 points per game

On an individual level, it’s hard to know what to do with these numbers. OSU averaged a whopping 0.9 yards per carry in that famous Fiesta Bowl win against Stanford to kick off 2012 but still beat maybe one of the three best teams it has faced in the Gundy era. On the other hand, they averaged 6.3 a pop against OU last year and got beat.

However, from an overall perspective, Gundy is right about this being a pretty good number. Scoring 41.6 points a game is no joke, and the resulting winning percentage of 73 percent is about as good as any college football fan could hope for.

The good news for him is that he has a host of running backs who can post these numbers. Justice Hill averaged 5.5 yards a carry last season while J.D. King chipped in 4.7. LD Brown also threw in 6.6 yards a carry in a more limited role, and it’s hard to see Chuba Hubbard being put in positions where his YPC isn’t going to be sky high.

OSU as a team should hit this number just like it has done for most of Gundy’s time in Stillwater.

Year Att Yds Avg
2008 582 3191 5.5
2012 519 2799 5.4
2007 592 3161 5.3
2011 392 2062 5.3
2006 522 2704 5.2
2010 450 2267 5
2017 501 2368 4.7
2016 491 2223 4.5
2009 555 2441 4.4
2013 503 2231 4.4
2005 432 1693 3.9
2015 460 1644 3.6
2014 506 1776 3.5


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