Useful yardage

September 29, 2009
Maryland running back Da’Rel Scott in happier times, running against Cal in a 2008 win. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Maryland running back Da’Rel Scott in happier times, running against Cal in a 2008 win. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Three feet is three feet. All yards are equal.

But in football, as in Animal Farm, some rushing yards are more equal than others.

No ACC running back illustrates that better than Maryland’s Da’Rel Scott.

Scott looks like one of the better running backs in the ACC. Through four games, he’s fourth in the conference in rushing, with 297 yards. He’s averaging more than 5.7 yards per carry, third among ACC backs with at least 45 carries. Scott has put up two 100-yard games in the season’s first four weeks.

Look a little deeper, though, and it’s clear Scott’s not as effective as his standard statistics suggest. Scott is a classic boom-and-bust back. Nearly 40% of his season yardage total came from just three carries.

Scott’s success rate better illustrates his true value this season.

My definition of “success” is a derivative of the one used at footballoutsiders.com: a carry is successful if it (a.) gains at least 40% of needed yards on first down, (b.) gains at least 60% of needed yards on second down, (c.) converts a first down on third or fourth down or (d.) yields a first down or touchdown, under any circumstances.

Scott’s success rate is 36.5%, the second-lowest among conference running backs averaging at least 10 carries per game:

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