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Rushing Explosiveness

Josh Hancher

I wanted to come up with a witty headline, but decided on less is more.... which is what UGA rushing might have become. Well, lookie there.... I showed a little wit.   It's a dad joke wrapped in college football analysis disguised as a pun.  I got the inspiration to dig into these numbers after listening to John and Jim on the Missouri Preview episode of "May God A Podcast".  The guys just felt that the running game stats and what we see on the field don't match.  I actually kinda think the same thing.  So, I fired up the spreadsheet and got to work.

First let me refresh everyone's memory how explosiveness is calculated - at least how I calculate it.  Each play has an expected value which is based on what down it is, yards to gain for a first down, and where the line of scrimmage is.  The closer to the opponents end zone, the higher expected value is. If the result of the play exceeds that expected value (exprected points), then that play has a higher EPA.  In short, it is a grading scale for a play.  Higher is good for offense, and lower is good for the defense.  Success Rate is Binary (was the play successful? yes/no).  EPA and explosiveness measure HOW successful (or unsuccessful) it was.  I should note that "explosiveness" is the EPA of the successful plays - "how good are your good plays"

Monken has a completely different valuation of explosiveness.  He calculates explosiveness as percentage of plays which gain 20+ yards per pass and 12+ yards per rush.  Let's track all this for the Georgia rushing attack since 2018. Note: These stats count sacks as pass attempts, filtered out kneel downs, and include garbage time.

Offensive Rush Success Rate

  • 2018    48.0%
  • 2019    47.3%
  • 2020    49.6%
  • 2021    50.6%
  • 2022    64.8%

Offensive Rush Yards Per Attempt

  • 2018    6.5
  • 2019    5.6
  • 2020    5.3
  • 2021    5.8
  • 2022    5.9 (current Official is 5.4 but includes sacks, etc)

Georgia is actually incredibly successful and is top 5 in rush success rate this season.  These are actual rush attempts, not short passes, screens, etc which can be debated as extension of the run game.  Pretty good, right?  Let's look at the EPA and advanced metrics calculation of explosiveness for some more context.

Rush EPA

  • 2018    0.308
  • 2019    0.148
  • 2020    0.191
  • 2021    0.211
  • 2022    0.440

Ok, this is a wow. But, keep in mind that we are still in a pretty small sample size and Georgia has had several rushing TDs outside of the 10, which are very high EPA plays. What is wild is that Kendall Milton's 12 yard TD on 3rd and 3 versus Oregon had a higher EPA result than Bower's 75 yard jet sweep.  If you want me to calculate all of that - you have to ask me in the comments (a call to action as they say in the biz).  EPA does put a value on 3rd down conversions.

Rush Explosiveness (EPA Model) 

  • 2018    1.097
  • 2019    0.882
  • 2020    0.938
  • 2021    0.852
  • 2022    0.889


This stat is pretty interesting, but it's value must be taken with context.  2018 was one of the best UGA offenses in playoff era.  2021 was the best.  2019 was one of the worst. The key here is to remember that he 2018 and 2019 offenses were much more reliant on running than the 2021 and 2022, so seeing a lower rush explosiveness around 2019 shouldn't be taken into consideration without realizing that he overall offensive efficiencies for 2019 and 2020 were mid 40% and the 2021 and 2022 offenses are near 50% offensive success rate.  Now let's look at the Monken rush explosiveness.  Here are percentages of rush plays which gain at 12 yards.

  • 2018    14.9%
  • 2019    13.5%
  • 2020    9.5%
  • 2021    12.7%
  • 2022    10.2%

Definitely down in terms of volume of rushing chunk yardage plays, but they are gaining the yards they need to, with a very low stuff rate with just 10% of plays stopped at or behind line of scrimmage down from 17% in 2020 and and 15% in 2021 and a season rush success north of 60%  And also, look at the passing play success rate over these same season.

  • 2018    53.8%
  • 2019    45.1%
  • 2020    37.7%
  • 2021    48.8%
  • 2022    61.1%

Passing to set up the run, if you ask me.  So, what's the  Monken Pass Explosiveness?

  • 2018    12.9%
  • 2019    9.4%
  • 2020    12.1%
  • 2021    13.3%
  • 2022    14.4%

Yeah, gimme all of that.  I am not worried about the run game or who is the RB.  This offense is humming. 

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