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Were Tyree’s numbers inflated by garbage time?

NCAA Football: Buffalo at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

A constant question during year 1 of Tyree was, “how much of his success was a result of garbage time?” Looking back at the season, only 17% of Tyree’s touches came when UB was tied or leading a game, 27% came when UB was trailing by 1 score, and a whopping 56% of his touches came with UB down at least 9 points.

I look at 9 key stats for Quarterbacks, so I broke these stats down by UB’s point differential:

Yards Per Completion - Is the QB dinking and dunking?

  • Even and Leading: 11.32
  • Trailing 1 Score: 8.96
  • Trailing more: 11.50
  • Overall: 10.74

Trailing, by 1 score, UB seemed to get more conservative in passing routes. The increased yards per completion when trailing more makes sense as UB would get more desperate for large chunks of yardage, and the opposing defenses would get softer.

Yards Per Attempt - Is the QB efficient?

  • Even and Leading: 4.78
  • Trailing 1 Score: 5.24
  • Trailing more: 6.13
  • Overall: 5.70

Tyree got more efficient the more UB trailed. This fits the narrative that UB got more conservative once they fell behind one score, as more passes were completed, but for a shorter gain on average.

Yards Per Dropback - Yards per attempt numbers are inflated for QBs who take sacks rather than throw incomplete passes, yards per drop back solves this by taking sacks into account.

  • Even and Leading: 4.59
  • Trailing 1 Score: 4.85
  • Trailing more: 5.73
  • Overall: 5.70

Again Tyree was more efficient the more UB trailed.

Yards Per Touch - Incorporates QB runs

  • Even and Leading: 4.83
  • Trailing 1 Score: 4.84
  • Trailing more: 5.66
  • Overall: 5.30

Adding run stats, Tyree become less effective when trailing (compared to yards per dropback), but more effective when ahead. My theory, when tied or ahead, UB runs longer more ambitious routes, which opens up running lanes for Tyree if he wants to scramble. Once UB falls behind, they run shorter routes, which clogs scrambling lanes for Tyree.

Dropback per TD / Touch per TD (Lower better)

  • Even and Leading: 23 / 17.50
  • Trailing 1 Score: 42.50 / 37
  • Trailing more: 38 / 32.71
  • Overall: 35.67 / 29.29

When even and leading, Tyree is a pretty efficient scorer. When trailing, especially down 1 score, he is woefully inefficient, probably why UB only tied/led 17% of the time, they couldn’t score when down 1 score.

Dropback per INT / Touch per Turnover (higher better)

  • Even and Leading: 46 / 70
  • Trailing 1 Score: 14.17 / 15.86
  • Trailing more: 95 / 76.33
  • Overall: 35.67 / 37.27

When leading or tied, Tyree turned the ball over at a rate of once per 70 touches. When trailing by 1 score his ball security falls by 77%. If you’re with me on the narrative that UB went conservative when down 1 score, then this points to the result of UB pulling everything short was opposing defenses suffocating the offense and this led to mistakes from the young QB.

Sack Rate

  • Even and Leading: 2.17%
  • Trailing 1 Score: 3.53%
  • Trailing more: 3.16%
  • Overall: 3.12%

This seems normal, once down, Tyree would reasonably hold on to the ball longer to make a play and take more sacks, also more passing when down allows the defense to “pin back their ears” and focus more on pass rush.

***

My quick analysis is that yes, Tyree’s numbers are disproportionately skewed by garbage time, but mostly because a majority of UB’s games have consisted of garbage time.

More concerning, was that Tyree’s was at his worst when UB was down 1 score. Instead of maintaining their aggression, or getting more aggressie to tie the game, UB seemed to get more conservative and eventually self-destructed. When down 1 score, you need to stablize the game, if you don’t score, you need to flip field position and churn clock to give the defense rest. Instead it seemed UB was most destabilized when down 1 score, and this led to bigger deficits.