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Penn State by the Numbers

At the risk of burning everyone out on Penn State previews, I figured I would take a look at Penn State's Offensive tendencies based solely on the numbers. Personally, and I bet this is true for most USC fans, I have not watched PSU play a full game all year so I cannot really say specifically what they try to do offensively. Luckily statitistics can tell a large part of the story:

Rushing Passing
Attempts 482 346
% of Attempts 58.21% 41.79%
Yards 2584 2892
% of Yards 47.19% 52.81%
Yards per Attempt 5.36 8.36

Unfortunately these numbers are a little misleading. Penn State does favor the run, but only slightly. The 60/40 split between run/pass above does not reflect PSU's desire to run the ball down the opponents throat so much as it indicates how much they have been leading their opponents this year. When looking at the situational stats Penn State uses a fairly balanced attack as long as the game is close, but the team favors the run more and more as the score opens up. The only real clear situational tendency is that PSU runs the ball more on 1st and 2nd down (and in short yardage 3rd down situations) while they pass more on 3rd down. I know I know, a real revelation huh?

Evan Royster Stephfon Green Daryll Clark Derrick Williams
Attempts 185 95 72 39
% of Attempts 38.4% 19.7% 14.9% 8.1%
Yards 1202 521 265 221
% of Yards 46.5% 20.2% 10.3% 8.6%
Yards per Attempt 6.50 5.48 3.68 5.67

Obviously from the numbers above, Evan Royster is a very good running back. His 1202 yards rushing put him at 24th in the nation in total rusjing yards and his 6.5 YPA put him at 9th among backs with at least 1000 yards. Thankfully for SC, Royster is a normal sized running back at 6'1" 210 lbs and not a diminutive HB like Oregon State's Jacquizz Rogers. Stephfon Green does not appear to be a serious threat, and it seems like he is more of a second option to spell Royster. There is some talk about Daryll Clark being a running quarterback, but the statistics only partially support this. Even when adjusting for sacks, which count as ruishing attempts, Clark's numbers do not present him as an elite running QB like Dennis Dixon or Juice WIlliams. It is important, however, that USC accounts for the fact that he will likely be able to escape pressure more easily and that Clark can be a scoring threat with his legs in the redzone as he has nine of the teams thirty five rushing touchdowns.

Deon Butler Jordan Norwood Derrick Williams Running Backs
Receptions 43 38 40 27
% of Receptions 21.2% 18.7% 19.7% 13.3%
Yards 713 605 451 361
% of Yards 24.7% 20.9% 15.6% 12.5%
Yards per Reception 16.58 15.92 11.28 13.37

So this is what everyone already knows, Penn State has three quality senior receivers who all have similar numbers reception wise. Although Norwood and Butler are a bit more explosive, all three average over 10 yards per reception and it appears as though all three are easily capable of making a big play. What most don't know about the PSU trio is that they are relatively short. All three come in at 6'0" or shorter, and if there is one glaring advantage that SC has in this game it is the size matchup in the secondary as all of the Trojan's DBs are at least six feet tall. In addition, there has also been some mention of Derrick Williams being a multi threat athlete and lining up all over the field. In addition to the above stats Williams has also attempted three passes with one completion for 23 yards. Although he provides a wrinkle to their offense, he is not a game changing multithreat like Reggie Bush or Percy Harvin and I think that as long as the USC players are aware of him that he will not have a huge impact due to this aspect of his game. Finally, the RBs are somewhat of a threat to catch out of the backfield, but Stephfon Green is a much more productive receiver than Royster. It is pretty clear though that the tail backs do not play a particularly large role in the passing game, and they likely act as more of a second option or safety route.

I almost wish I would have seen more of PSU this year to give more analysis with regards to the formations they prefer to use and what aspects of there game make up the spread part of the "Spread HD". What I can say though is that their offense is relatively balanced. There is not a solid indication that they are a pass based spread as there are three clearly dominant receivers. Look at a team that runs passing based spread attacks like Missouri and Texas Tech and you will see a larger number of high reception and high yardage receivers. Conversely, look at spread option teams like Oregon and the 2007 West Virginia team who featured a running quarterback paired with two tailbacks in the backfield.

There is nothing particulalry shocking about what I have written, but it is nice to have a bit of a more concrete idea of who does what in the offense. That being said, I think it will be a great game this Thurday, and the Rose Bowl promises to be one of the better games of this bowl system. Fight On and beat the Nittany Lions!

*Thanks to

** Please view in Wide so that the entirety of the tables are shown. You can change this on the left panel in you are having problems.