RB Statistics & The Ty Isaac Debate

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      Was thinking I would put various thoughts on Ty Isaac here, as he has been the origin of much debate. The intent is to bring some useful data to the debate…

      Much has been made about his impressive YPC numbers for Ty Isaac going back to his days at USC. I’ve argued that a lot of his success was the byproduct of context. As a 5th string back, most of his carries at USC came against bad defenses, backup personnel, or simply defenses not giving 100%.

      There’s some data to back this up. The link below shows that while the 3 top backs ahead of Isaac all had almost identical OL blocking (as measured by the Opp Rate stat) at about 38.5%, while Isaac and 4th stringer Justin Davis got good blocking significantly more often: 43%.


      Through 4 games in 2015, the blocking disparity is even greater. Isaac’s getting good blocking on 60% of plays. Smith’s at 39%, Green’s at 30%. Johnson’s at 55%.

      Anything about 40% is good, as the national average is just under that. Michigan’s OL is slightly above that as a whole.


      That goes a long way to explaining the YPC disparity. Against UNLV, your OL is going to have an easier time blocking for you than against Utah, BYU, and other quality teams.

      There IS some credible evidence however that Isaac is a big play threat. His highlight yards/opportunity (i.e., the yards HE gets credit for after the OL does their thing) is tops among the team by a long shot. How much of that is up to the one long run I don’t know…

      Also – this: Much to my surprise, the 2013 USC OL actually rated out as below average across the board on OL metrics including Opportunity Rate (OL Run Block success). Perhaps that’s a testament to the RB talent they had there (and thus a useful point for anyone who wants to make the argument that Ty Isaac is actually quite good, despite being a 5th stringer at USC and a 3rd stringer at Michigan.)

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