Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust

It don't take no rocket surgeon to figure out that even in this newfangled age of spread offenses and 5 wides, it's pretty dadgum important to be able to matriculate the ball down the field via the ol' runnin' game. For the Fightin' TOBs, the chuck-and-duck pass has become an extension of the runnin' game in recent seasons. For example, running back James Washington was second on the club with 42 balls grabbed last season, and his understudy, James Creecy, added 25 more. Those little check downs and dump offs are like adding 5 runnin' plays per game. But let's bottom line it: you get your 3 yards and a cloud, you win. You keep them from gettin' their 3 yards and their cloud, you win.

These here statisticals from 2011 bear it out:

Pack rushing defense in wins:

Attempts

Average Yards per game

Yards per carry

TD per game

31.6

109.3

3.5

0.9

Pack rushing defense in losses:

Attempts

Average Yards per game

Yards per carry

TD per game

41

166.4

4.1

2.2

Pack rushing offense in wins:

Attempts

Average Yards per game

Yards per carry

TD per game

38.8

125.3

3.2

1.0

Pack rushing offense in losses:

Attempts

Average Yards per game

Yards per carry

TD per game

27.6

72.2

2.6

0.4

Of course game situation dictates a lot of this mess. If you're losin' you're heavin' it down the field all willy-nilly, and that ties in to the other stat that pretty damn well tells you if you won the game or not: turnovers. The Pack forced 4.3 turnovers per game in their wins last year but collected just 1 per game when the scoreboard read bad as the final gun sounded.

I keep hearing Pack faithful bandying about all sorts of 9-3 and 10-2 prognostifications for the fall 2012 campaign, but nearly 40 freakin' years of State fandom has taught me to temper my expectations. Good news: we return a veteran offensive line. Bad news: these are the same guys that have anchored our sorry ground game for the last couple of seasons. Our bread and butter is that tall fella with the big arm, but with nary an experienced wideout returnin' next season, the fightin' TOBs better get that cloud of dust week in and week out if program-record win totals and conference title games are to be in the offing. Two year ago, some youngin' named Mustafa angered the football gods by getting 4.5 yards before the cloud of dust descended and ever since has run afoul of the injury bug and the law. I reckon if he can get back on the field come fall then maybe we can start dreamin' them 9-10 win dreams.

But then you got the other side of the ball to cipher for and them 3 yards and that cloud them other guys want. Can we expect to stuff the run after our entire linebackin' corps and the whole middle of the line went on to chasin' NFL dreams (or study halls, for the case of one youngin' who was not a champion in the classroom)? Can we count on the 4.3 turnovers it took us to get a W last year, and to get ‘em 9-10 times? Last year's D give up 408.3 yards per game in September, 383.3 yards in October, and just 264.3 yards per game in November. That there is a fine trend, but with all the attrition the Pack might be back to square numero uno this year and to win them 9-10 ballgames you just can't wait to get good on D until the final month.

What're ya'lls' pigskin prognostifications for the 2012 campaign?

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