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Shannon Woods, Taurean Henderson and Red Zone Efficiency: An Answer, Maybe

PB at BON wondered as to why the disparity in production between Texas Tech running backs Taurean Henderson in 2005 and Shannon Woods in 2006. Having nothing else better to do I started to look at some of the season stats for 2005 and 2006, but more particularly the average yards for each touchdown both rushing and passing.

Let's look at some initial numbers:

Year Passing Average/TD Rushing Average/TD
2005 20.3 7.9
2006 16.2 7.6

What's a decent conclusion here? Although Henderson had 7 more rushing touchdowns to Woods (17 to 10) they were both pretty damn close in terms of average yards for each touchdown run. Also, most of the rushing touchdowns came within the 10 yard line. Woods only had 2 rushing touchdowns of more than 10 yards and Henderson also had 2.

There's also a number of factors that could explain the difference, none of which could be replicated from one year to another. Some of the comments in PB's post and mentioned that it could have been the play of the two different offensive lines, quarterback play, wide receiver play, and the fact that it was Graham Harrell's first year as starting quarterback. Those are all plausible and likely reasons why there was an increase or decrease, depending on your point of view.

An interesting sidenote is that Henderson had 11 rushing touchdowns against conference opponents while Woods had just 4. Particularly, Henderson had 3 against Kansas State, 3 against UT, 4 against A&M and 1 against OU. Meanwhile Woods only had 3 against Baylor and 1 against OU.

The point is maybe that Woods is just as effective, but it takes time for him or any other running back to be an effective runner in this offense, much like it takes a quarterback time to mature. There's no doubt that Henderson has a nose for the goal line with 17 rushing touchdowns in 2005, 16 rushing touchdowns in 2004, but only 10 rushing touchdowns in 2003. Much like Woods in 2006, Henderson was a sophomore in 2003 and it was his first year as the starting running back Tech. Let's see how the season plays out and notice if Woods makes a significant jump in production over the next year.

From a passing perspective, Harrell had a greater yards per touchdown, but almost 4 yards per touchdown seems fairly dramatic. I reckon it could be the methodology in which Harrell ran the offense versus Hodges. I would imagine that no two quarterbacks will run any offensive system the exact same way and the same could be said here.

Harrell was able to effectively complete 23 touchdowns for less than 20 yards (Hodges completed 23 touchdowns from 20 yards in as well) which means that he was pretty effective in the red-zone, but the increase in yards per touchdown is they key here and most probably the key to a more successful season in years to come.

With the basic same group of receivers, Harrell was able to get 4 yards per touchdown pass more than Hodges, the biggest difference between the 2 years was the contribution of Henderson and Hicks in 2005 versus the contribution of Filani in 2006. Even then, it's not as if we had the fastest wide receivers in the nation, but somehow Harrell could stretch the field more from a vertical perspective than Hodges.

Now enter into the equation some true speedsters (Crabtree, Britton, and Hawk) and some fellow who catches everything thrown his way (Leong) and we have the makings for a receiving corp that has the potential to be more explosive than last year's group to go along with a quarterback who is capable of delivering the ball in the red-zone and is able to make plays down the field.

I'm officially excited it's football season.