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The Spike Factor: How Ineffective Was Boston College Football's Offense in 2012?

How many plays did BC make that went nowhere?


For the past two years the great SB Nation blog Every Day Should Be Saturday has done an analysis on college football efficiency, or should I say inefficiency. If you haven't already heard about it, they have created their own metric entitled the Spike Factor.

Basically the Spike Factor is the percentage of plays that go for zero or negative yards. This could include sacks, incomplete passes, stuffed runs etc. While it may seem kind of pointless it does show how ineffective a team's offensive play book is. Today EDSBS released their ratings for the year, and let's just say Boston College didn't perform so hot.

For all the talk of Doug Martin fixing the Boston College offense, BC finished second to last in the FBS using the Spike Factor. Out of 71 in the big conferences (sorry no #MACtion), BC scored second to last, only beating Mike Leach and the Washington St. Cougars. If you can believe it, BC had a whopping 44% of plays that went literally no where or backwards. Compare that to the leaders, Georgia Tech who had only 22%--mostly because of the triple option is so run heavy, and Alabama at 23% because they are a beast.

Now why did BC have such a high number? I have a few guesses. First, BC played mostly from a shotgun spread offense, that relied heavily on the pass instead of the run. Running teams tended to have better scores than passing teams, hence why Wazzu was dead last. Couple that with the fact BC's spread was rather ineffective, minus the big plays from Alex Amidon, and voila, you have a terrible score.

EDSBS had a treasure trove of data, so let's break down BC's ineffectiveness by game:

Maine Black Bears -- 35%
Miami Hurricanes -- 36%
Notre Dame Fighting Irish -- 38%
Virginia Tech Hokies -- 40%
Army Black Knights -- 42%
Northwestern Wildcats -- 43%
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets -- 44%
Wake Forest Demon Deacons -- 45%
Clemson Tigers -- 46%
Florida St. Seminoles -- 46%
Maryland Terrapins -- 50%
N.C. State Wolfpack -- 52%

If you watched the final game BC played this season, then the ineffectiveness against the Wolfpack shouldn't be a surprise. Guess I am a little curious about Maryland, but at this point all the game sort of blur together from last season. It shouldn't be a surprise that Maine was BC's most successful offensive game, though 35% still seems awfully high for a game against an FCS school.

For those curious about how Steve Addazio and Temple fared in the Spike Factor, he scored slightly better than BC with a score of 33%, good for 55th in the ratings. If Addazio is serious about returning to the run game, I bet BC will not be near the bottom of the Spike Factor come 2013.