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The unsung stat of this season

Field position rules for Oklahoma State.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

I’m not sure why this story isn’t getting more buzz but I have a stat for you that’s one of the biggest reasons OSU is sitting at 9-1 right now.

OSU is currently second in the country in starting field position on offense, trailing East Carolina by 1.18 yards. Here’s the top five nationally:

1. East Carolina — Own 35.76
2. Oklahoma State — Own 34.58
3. Michigan State — Own 34.36
4. Houston — Own 34.16
5. Arizona State — Own 34.05

The national average is Own 29.86.

That’s a big deal for OSU, especially since it has an offense that isn’t as explosive as some recent OSU offenses. It has been just crushing its Big 12 opponents in field position differential, too.

Own 44 vs. Own 25 against Kansas State.
Own 38 vs. Own 24 against Iowa State.
Own 40 vs. Own 25 against TCU.
Own 31 vs. Own 31 against Kansas (??)
Own 35 vs. Own 27 against Tech.
Own 33 vs. Own 19 against Texas.

Most of these are on account of OSU leading the country in interceptions with 19. It’s nice for Clint Chelf when you have Caleb Lavey picking off passes at opponents 20-yard-lines every other game but kick and punt coverage have been excellent, too.

OSU is ninth in the country in punt returns at 15.12 yards per return (get well soon, Josh Stewart). It’s also ninth in kickoff returns, averaging 25.82 yards per return. 20th in kick returns against (18.4 yards)[1. Even though Kip Smith is 80th(!) in kickoffs.] and 43rd in punt returns against (6.31 yards).

Add all that to an elite defense and you put yourself in a position to score…often.

Why is that a big deal? You look at the numbers above and see that OSU is only beating its opponents by 10-15 yards consistently over the course of a game in field position.

That adds up though.

Let’s look at the difference in points per game of starting at your own 35 vs. starting at your own 25 — basically the numbers OSU has been averaging against its opponent in Big 12 play.

According to this 2007-2012 data there’s a difference of 0.3 points per possession in those two spots.

OSU games average 15ish possessions so if you carry the numbers out that’s the difference of 4.5 points a game.

That’s a big deal.

Hopefully it will be a really big deal against Baylor.

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