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Midseason Stats Check: The Offense

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UNC is halfway through the season with a 5-1 mark and 2-0 in ACC play. Here is how the numbers look so far for the Tar Heel offense.

UNC National Rank ACC Rank
Points per game 40.5 10th 1st
Total offense per game 482.2 21st 1st
Total offense yards per play 7.57 4th 1st
Passing yards per game 263.7 33rd 3rd
Passing yards per attempt 9.4 11th(tied) 1st
Rushing yards per game 218.5 20th 2nd
Rushing yards per attempt 6.15 5th 1st
3rd down conversion 50.75% 4th 1st
4th down conversion 50.00% 65th(tied) 9th(tied)
Red zone conversion 84.62% 63rd(tied) 9th(tied)
Red zone conversion(TDs) 65.38% 41st 5th
First downs per game 23.2 27th 1st
Total plays run 382 121st 12th
Plays of 10+ yards 106 30th(tied) 1st
Plays of 20+ yards 41 13th 1st
Plays of 30+ yards 18 21st(tied) 2nd(tied)
Plays of 40+ yards 9 37th(tied) 2nd(tied)
Plays of 50+ yards 4 44th(tied) 5th
Plays of 60+ yards 3 23rd(tied) 2nd

Despite some inconsistency at times and a few lapses from Marquise Williams, the offense has been incredibly good. In fact the offense this season is operating in "as advertised" territory. Of particular interest is how well UNC is doing on a per play basis. While much attention is often given to per game stats those fail to account for tempo or offer anything substantive on efficiency.

In UNC's case the per game yardage is good but the per play averages are really good. UNC is putting up over 7.5 yards per play which is 4th nationally. On the ground UNC is getting over six yards per carry and in the air over nine yards per pass attempt both national top ten stats. UNC is leading the ACC in most of the relevant offensive stats including points per game at over 40 per contest. And that number includes the 13 point outing versus South Carolina to start the season. Since then the Tar Heels have scored 46 points per game.

Despite UNC professing to be an uptempo offense, UNC is actually 121st nationally in total plays with 382 through six games. That works out to be about 63 per game. While short fields and big plays can impact this number it also important to remember UNC runs a lot of no huddle but doesn't always snap it right away with plays being changed when the team is lined up. Still when UNC does score touchdowns, it does so rather quickly. 21 of 31 touchdown drives this season have taken under two minutes.

Also highlighting UNC's efficiency is this stat via ESPN's David Hale.

Granted UNC's schedule will toughen significantly moving forward with a stretch that includes Pitt, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech and NC State. Those games and the stakes in them could lead to UNC's numbers moderating a bit though it should be noted UNC's offense probably hasn't played a complete game yet.

In case you are wondering how this season stacks up to how the others in the Larry Fedora era finished here is the comparison.

2015 2014 2013 2012
Games 6 13 13 12
Points per game 40.5 33.2 32.7 40.6
Total offense per game 482.2 429.8 425.7 485.6
Total offense yards per play 7.57 5.56 5.87 6.49
Passing yards per game 263.7 278.4 277.4 291.8
Passing yards per attempt 9.4 7.1 8.0 7.9
Rushing yards per game 218.5 151.38 148.31 193.83
Rushing yards per attempt 6.15 3.97 3.93 5.09
3rd down conversion 50.75% 42.42% 41.27% 41.18%
4th down conversion 50.00% 47.83% 66.67% 66.67%
Red zone conversion 84.62% 83.64% 89.36% 80.95%
Red zone conversion(TDs) 65.38% 72.73% 65.96% 61.90%

2012 is Fedora's best offensive season at UNC. That year UNC had Bryn Renner, Dwight Jones, Eric Ebron and some guy named Giovanni Bernard. It was also the last time UNC had a true threat at running back. This season is similar with Elijah Hood in the backfield plus the mobility of Marquise Williams. UNC has oodles of receiving talent with speedsters like Mack Hollins who can stretch the field, quick dart guys like Ryan Switzer who can turn screens into big gains plus big receivers like Bug Howard and Quinshad Davis who can make tough catches in traffic. The per play numbers are more explosive than we say in 2011 while the points per game is about the same.

The upcoming games will test UNC's offense but with this personnel, the 2015 Tar Heels should end up being comparable to the 2011 team.