Differentiating Running Plays Between the Running Back and Quarterback

Ronald Martinez

Taking a closer look at the total rush attempts for Kliff Kingsbury while he was at Houston and Texas A&M and how many of those rushing plays were by the quarterback and by the running backs.

I have been wanting to delve into the rushing yards and get a bit more into the numbers for what head coach Kliff Kingsbury has done offensively, both at TAMU and UH. For grins and giggles, I also did the Texas Tech numbers for the same time period.

More than anything else, I really wanted to try to figure out what we might expect in terms of a rushing offense for Texas Tech and wanted to use all three seasons that Kingsbury was the offensive coordinator as a comparison.

2010 UH 2010 UH% 2011 UH 2011 UH% 2012 TAMU 2012 TAMU%
Total Plays 894 1102 1025
Total Yards 5766 8387 7261
Rushing Attempts 410 45.9% 420 38.1% 533 52.0%
Rushing Yards 1839 31.9% 2086 24.9% 3147 43.3%
Rushing Attempts by RB 339 37.9% 322 29.2% 308 30.0%
Rushing Yards by RB 1623 28.1% 1942 23.2% 1671 23.0%


For clarification purposes, I wanted to take a look at not just the rushing attempts and yards, overall and by a percentage, but also look at the same numbers without the benefit of a running quarterback, namely Johnny Manziel. So, you have the total number of plays, the total yards of offense, total rushing attempts, total rushing yards, rushing attempts of running backs and rushing yards of running backs. The percentages are based upon total plays and total yards.

Also, there is no way that I can differentiate between running plays where Manziel just took off and ran the ball after a pass being called. I don't know of a website that keeps those sorts of statistics.

A quick history lesson. The 2010 season at Houston was a disaster. Case Keenum tore his ACL after three games and Houston relied heavily on David Piland for the most part as well as Terrance Broadway and Cotton Turner. Houston went 5-7 that year and Piland carried most of the load, but I think that Piland just wasn't quite ready for prime time and Sumlin and Kingsbury tried their best out of a bad situation. The 2011 season at Houston was where Keenum returned and it was glorious. It led Sumlin and Kingsbury to Texas A&M the next year and it was an amazing offensive year for Houston. Over 8,300 total yards.

Overall, I think that you can see what Kingsbury tried to do all three years. In 2010, he leaned heavily on his running backs as they accounted for almost 38% of the offensive plays and 28% of the rushing yards. The 201 season was the most, by a pretty good margin in terms of percentage for the running back carrying the load offensively.

2011 was the year of the quarterback for Kingsbury. He let Keenum go at it for the most part and it resulted in a prolific offensive year.

If you just do the math, you can see that Manziel and/or some other quarterbacks and receivers accounted for 225 carries. For the most part, the 2011 UH and the 2012 TAMU teams look pretty similar in terms of rushing attempts by running backs, especially considering both of those offenses were over 1,000 plays in terms of offense.

2010 TTU 2010 TTU% 2011 TTU 2011 TTU% 2012 TTU 2012 TTU%
Total Plays 1054 991 993
Total Yards 5983 5647 6446
Rushing Attempts 437 41.5% 391 39.5% 399 40.2%
Rushing Yards 1837 30.7% 1502 26.6% 1819 28.2%
Rushing Attempts by RB 363 34.4% 324 32.7% 323 32.5%
Rushing Yards by RB 1842 30.8% 1445 25.6% 1756 27.2%

Now we get to the Texas Tech offense and as you can see, Neal Brown is as consistent as the day is long. Texas Tech ran the ball about 40% of the time and about 32% of the carries were from running backs. It is almost like Brown was meeting a quota or something.

And I don't have an answer for you, just presenting the data more than anything else. I really don't know what to expect either. I did find it interesting that the Texas Tech running back had more carries than any of Kingsbury's offenses except for the 2010 Houston offense.

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