I love stats. So every Thursday at noon I'm gonna deliver some to chew on for lunch. I'll keep it relevant to the season going forward, but since there have been no games I'll have to go with 2011 stuff. Today's numbers: offensive 3rd down conversion percentage.
This will be a key stat for MSU (as it is for any team) this year. There has been no signs that Chris Wilson has heard my pleas to play bump and run coverage, and he will likely stick to a bend but don't break style of D. So...it will be huge to get some first downs to gain field position and keep the defense from over-exerting itself. That, of course, is stating the obvious. But with State's intent to pass more with Tyler Russell, 3rd and longs will probably be commonplace with incomplete passes and/or sacks, so will it be harder to convert on 3rd down in a pass-oriented offense or easier? We'll see how the line, Russell and the receivers answer that question.
In 2011, State converted on 37.8% of their 3rd downs. That was good for 82nd in the country. So really I should say it was bad for 82nd. You might remember the horrid struggles against Louisiana Tech when Relf & Co. were 3 of 16 on 3rd down.
37.8% put MSU 7th in the SEC. So it wasn't horrible, but it could have been better. All the teams behind the Dawgs were just flat awful ranked past 100 (Auburn - 102, Vandy - 105, Mississippi - 110, Florida - 111, Kentucky - 115). All the top teams in the SEC had a % > 40. From Tennessee all the way to Alabama. The average win total of those teams was 11.5 - and that includes 5 win Tennessee, the exception to the rule.
Hopefully Mississippi State's offense will be able to convert on 3rd down this year. If passing will be more of an option this year the chances of having a 2nd & 10 are 40-45%, so 3rd & 5 or longer is a high probability on a frequent basis. The new passing game could compound our 3rd down woes, but it could just as easily remedy them with the ability to gain chunks on yardage on one play. We'll see how it goes in 2012.