Sorry Jermaine, but it looks like TJ, with his break-out game in Provo, is the one to watch. Read on to hear my thoughts on Jones' first 3 weeks, his shot at 1,000 yards, and some general observations about the Seminoles ground game.
Jones, along with the Noles ground game, seems to be getting stronger each week. Notice in the chart that not only has our YPC improved since week one, but our Yards Lost Per Carry has steadily decreased. It will be hard to match this past week's astounding 0.02 YLPC! (FSUncensored has persuaded me to exclude yards lost due to sacks from the rushing totals. Those losses are better understood as the result of a failed pass play.)
There are several possible ways to explain the dramatic improvement -- some have pointed out that unlike Miami and JSU, BYU did not stack the box to stuff the run. But some credit has to go to steadily improving O-line play.
Here's what I said last week about Ponder running the football:
"if Ponder has at least 40 rushing yards (excluding sacks) in the first half, then our running game will succeed. In fact, there's reason to think that if Ponder reaches that mark, we will win. FSU has won every game in which Ponder ran for 30 or more yards."
Ponder had 45 yards rushing in the first half! Consequently, we were amazing on the ground. It will be interesting to follow this stat through the season -- Ponder runs for 30, Noles win.
As better football minds than mine have opined, a QB who can run effectively forces a defense to account for 11 men instead of only 10. I take this to be a good reason to think that there is a causal relation between Ponder's success in running and a thriving offense. Here's another remarkable correlation: 60% of our rushing yardage (189 yards) came in the first half and 58% of Ponder's rushing yards also came in the first half. As Ponder goes . . .
TJ's running plays looked like this: +6, +6 (1st down), +9, +4 (TD), +2 (1st down), +4, +47, +6, +8 (1st down), +4, +8 (1st down), +1, +9, +2. Did I leave out the negative plays? No. JONES RAN FOR NO NEGATIVE PLAYS. Amazing! That translates to a YLPC of 0.0. 5 of his 12 carries went for a first down, and one plowed into pay dirt.
Also notice the freakish 9 YPC. Here are his numbers for the season.
|09/07/09||9 Miami (Fla.)||Grass||L 34-38||14||59||4.21||0|
|09/12/09||Jacksonville St.||Grass||W 19-9||8||40||5.00||2|
|09/19/09||@ 19 Brigham Young||Grass||W 54-28||12||108||9.00||1|
For the season, Jones' YPC is 6.09 and his YLPC is an excellent 0.37. (13 yards lost on 35 carries -- I included one carry for no gain against JSU that is left out of the chart.) If you add in his 4 receptions for 29 yards, you get 6.05 YPP for the season. Let's keep giving Ty the ball! I'm still keeping the faith with regard to Jermaine Thomas, but Ty separated himself from the pack this week. And given the excellent pack of ground-pounders we have, that's saying something.
Can Jones reach the 1,000 yard milestone? Here's how it breaks down:
|Yds this week||Yards so far||Yds remaining||Yards per game||On pace for||New avg. needed|
Let's hope that the running game continues to click this week. Here's how the USF D has fared against the rush so far this season:
|09/12/09||@ Western Ky.||Turf||W 35-13||37||200||5.41||1|
|09/19/09||Charleston So.||Grass||W 59-0||17||53||3.12||0|
The Bulls yielded an average of 143.3 yards per game to some pretty poor teams. This bodes well for our ground-pounders. This is also a surprise given most experts' prediction for the USF front 7. They returned some first-rate talent and were 10th in the nation at stopping the run in 2008 according to one metric. In 2009, the runts they've played so far have had more success running than passing (430 yards rushing vs. 253 yards passing). For a first-rate, detailed analysis of the Bulls' defense, read this piece from FSUn back in July. If they put 8 in the box, as FSUn predicts, we'll rely more heavily on Ponder slinging the ball down field.
Look for a more modest ground total this week -- perhaps 200-220 yards -- with Jones springing for 80-90. As with last week, if Ponder gets his 30, we will win; if Ponder gets 30 in the first half, our ground game will crack the 200 mark.