Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has infamously stated that "stats are for losers". He believes. and a lot of coaches agree, that the only stat that really matters at the end of the day is the final score (and wins of course).
But in order to gauge efficiency and areas to improve on both sides of the ball, some of us find the post game stats (and cumulative stats) vital to our overall success. Middle Tennessee offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner is one of those coaches. Faulkner told GoBlueRaiders.com that he will take a look at the stat sheet following a game with a few things in particular in mind in order to gauge offensive success.
"The first thing is our percentage in the red zone then our third down conversions. Last year we were really good on third down and not very strong in the red zone. We moved the ball but just did not punch it in consistently. We have made it a point of emphasis this spring to be better in the red zone."
The Blue Raiders excelled on third downs last year, converting on just over 46% of their attempts last year to extend drives (ranking 25th nationally). They emphasized it last year during practice and saw impressive results, converting on 20 more attempts than in 2012 (an increase of about 5%)
Third down conversions equal a new set of downs, which translates to more scoring opportunities, and a higher red zone conversion percentage means more points on the board. Both of those seem like no-brainers for every offensive coordinator to keep an eye on each game, and as the season progresses, but the other thing that Faulkner looks for isn't a common stat that you'll see in the box score.
"I also like to look at how many plays of zero yards that we had because that will play a huge role in all of the above."
While zero yardage plays aren't exactly a popular "box score stat", it's something that's just as important as red zone percentage and third down percentage for Faulkner and his staff because it does play a part in the other two key areas that he keeps an eye on.
What stats are you and your staff looking after games? Or are you from the Fitzgerald school of thought where "stats are for losers"?