Sunday, October 26, 2014

Time of possession, fourth-down success set Terriers apart

It's just a simple fact of Wofford football: the Terriers like to stage long, meticulous drives that are both time-consuming and exhausting for the defense. When a snag is hit, the defense has to prepare for the fact that Wofford, led by coach Mike Ayers, who "hates to punt," isn't afraid to go for it on fourth down.

Last week, in their 38-3 disposal of returning SoCon member VMI on homecoming Saturday, the Terriers had the ball for 36:38, a large amount of time that was greatly aided by a 21-play drive that took over twelve minutes off of the clock. Wofford also went for it on fourth down three times, converting successfully in each instance.

Is there some kind of correlation between holding the ball for extended periods of time and quality wins. The Terriers' running game would like to say so.

Here's how the Terriers' time-of-possession battles have gone in this season's Division I games:

Wofford T.O.P.
Georgia Tech
L  19-38
L  36-43
The Citadel
W 17-13
L 14-26
W 24-20
W 38-3

As you can see, except in the Georgia Tech game (where the FBS Yellow Jackets scored rather quickly on their possessions) and The Citadel game, the Terriers saw a bit of a trend: the longer they hold the ball, and wear down defenses with the never-ending rushing attack, the more apt they are to pull out a victory, as the longer drives also give the defense more opportunities to rest and prepare to do their job when the other team finally gets the ball back.

In both The Citadel and Gardner-Webb games, whose time-of-possession battles were relatively even, the Terriers either held their own for most of the game, then lost it due to a big third quarter (Gardner-Webb), or had to execute a huge defensive stand in the final seconds (The Citadel).

That brings us to another factor that has undoubtedly had a huge impact on how we preform: the sheer strength and determination of our defense. With their stops, our offense is granted the ability to pull off some great drives.

In the Division I schedule to date, the Terriers average a little under 31 minutes of possession time per game. Based on those numbers, if the Terriers hold the ball for over thirty minutes in a game, they have a 75% of winning said contest. However, that's not always going to be the case.

It will instead depend on how we can execute, on both sides of the ball, and put up some numbers. 

As for fourth-down conversions, here's how Wofford's done in the SoCon schedule this season:

Wofford Conversions
The Citadel
4-4 (100%)
Western Carolina
1-3 (33.3%)
2-2 (100%)
3-3 (100%)

In each of their wins, the Terriers have a 100% fourth-down conversion success rate. In the lone loss, Wofford went 1-for-3. That's something to think about.

After all, don't you just hate to punt?

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