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Postseason Meal: The Running Game

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Anthone Taylor's and UB History

Anthone Taylor made UB history in a way no one ever expected. Taylor is the first UB back to run for 1,000+ yards in the season after replacing a 1,000+ yard runner. The transition from BO to Taylor was near seamless, and as in 2013, we seemed to win when our RB gashed the defense for a hundred (or two) yards.

1400+ Yard Teammates 2013-14
2013 2014
Yards Back Team Back Yards
1444 James White Wisconsin Melvin Gordon 2587
1521 Carlos Hyde Ohio State Ezekiel Elliott 1632
1816 Tre Mason Auburn Cameron Artis-Payne 1608
1730 Antonio Andrews Western Ky Leon Allen 1542
1535 Branden Oliver Buffalo Anthone Taylor 1403

Taylor ran for 1,403 yards in 11 games, the second highest total in UB history. Chances are he would have taken the crown if not for a foolish truck driver from Ohio. Most impressively, with 4.98 yards per carry, Taylor was also the second most efficient thousand-yard runner at UB behind OD Underwood who ran for 1,189 yards at 5.19 yards per carry in 1986.

UB Back First 74 Carries
1 Dawson 487
2 Gill 462
3 Nduka 410
4 Taylor 389
5 Johnson 361
6 King 348
7 Henry 343
8 McDuffie 317
9 Starks 299
10 Campbell 298
11 Leeper 296
12 Thermilus 294
13 Patterson 287
14 Oliver 210

Taylor amassed his 48% of his season yardage during three 200-yard rampages. Each game he carried the ball 36 times, most impressively his 237 yard output in the season finale against UMass. The UMass defensive line is a friend of ours, Rashad Jean had a big day against them in 2012, and over the past two years, BO and Taylor combined for 453 yards.

# UB Back First 159
1 Dawson 913
2 Nduka 830
3 Taylor 723
4 King 714
5 Campbell 684
6 Henry 667
7 McDuffie 665
8 Leeper 664
9 Starks 658
10 Thermilus 651
11 Oliver 564
12 Patterson 511

Taylor has a year left, and is impressively sixth on UB's career rushing list. With 178 yards next year, Taylor will be the sixth Bull to run for 2,000 yards, and the third in ten years.

# UB Back first 246
1 Dawson 1383
2 Taylor 1220
3 Thermilus 1092
4 King 1042
5 Oliver 963
6 Leeper 961
7 Patterson 926
8 Starks 889

yards per carry

Yards vs Expected 2013 vs 2014

With such a good year, the question remains, how good was Taylor really?

Overall, Taylor ran for 63 yards more than the expected rate. He was expected to score 12.72 TDs, he scored 12. In his FBS games, Taylor ran for 43 yards more than the expected rate. I compared this to Branden Oliver, who in 2013 ran for 51 yards less than the expected rate and scored 15 TDs instead of the expected 14.61.

Player Result Yards Expected TDs Expected
BO 2013 Exceeded 4-0 4-2
Not Met 3-5 3-3
Taylor 2014 Exceeded 4-1 4-2
Not Met 1-5 1-4
Total Exceeded 8-1 8-4
Not Met 4-10 4-7

In wins, BO ran for 15 yards more than expected on average, while in three FBS wins, Taylor ran for 42 yards more than expected. In losses BO ran for 28 yards less than expected on average while Taylor ran for 14 less yards.

In MAC play, Taylor ran for 58.66 yards more than expected, while BO ran for 27.8 more than expected in 2013 MAC play.

Long story short, both backs were key to our success, but Taylor's performance was actually more impressive than Oliver's record setting 2013.

Short Yardage Game

Last year, in FBS games, when UB ran the ball needing 3 yards or less, they converted 62.65% of the time. This year, that number fell 4% to 58.23% and proved costly in losses to EMU, CMU and BGSU. If you asked me, I'd say the decrease was due to Taylor lacking the power of BO. That said, BO only converted 55.77% of short yard situations last year, while this year Taylor converted 53.85%. The drop off between backs was only 1.92%.

Last year Oliver was the worst short yardage back despite getting 64% of short yardage carries. Campbell led all backs, converting 5 of 6 short yardage runs. Taylor converted 9 of 11 and both Potts and Licata converted 75% of their short yardage runs.

This year, Campbell only converted 1 of 6 short yardage runs while Johnson converted 9 of 14.

The numbers reflect what the eye test already told you, Johnson needs to be UB's short yardage back. When needing 1 yard, Johnson averaged a 6.5 yard gain.

Campbell can be an effective short yardage back, as his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield forces the defense to play lighter. A more effective coach should be able to use Campbell to improve short yardage efficiency.

Meanwhile in two years, Licata is 5-1 (83.3%) from 1 yard out. In 2013, UB's backs were 26 for 39 (66.6%) with a yard to go. In 2014, UB's backs were 16 for 29 (55.2%) with a yard to go. Pretty clearly UB should just stick to the QB sneak. Licata's only failure was a fumbled snap on a sneak attempt in the Horseshoe for Ohio State, outside of that, the sneak has been automatic while the handoff has been a coin flip.