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You Be The Analyst: Third Down Conversion Rates

One of DJ Hall's four receptions in the 2007 Independence Bowl was for a third down conversion.
One of DJ Hall's four receptions in the 2007 Independence Bowl was for a third down conversion.

Two very unrelated things got me thinking about conversion rates this week. First was a blog post by the only Auburn fan worth reading on the internet, Jerry Hinnen over at War Eagle Reader. He took regression to the mean and applied it to the Barn's prospects next year and name checked Football Outsiders' theory of third downs

Then I happened to watch the 2007 Independence Bowl where we simply abused the Colorado for a quarter-and-a-half then decided to take off early for the holidays. Not only did we seem to have developed an addiction to three-and-outs, our defense kept making bone crushing plays on two downs and then would give up a conversion to the Buffs.

We were making the decidedly mediocre Cody Hawkins look so good that Bob Davie was gushing over him like Gary Danielson over Tebow. And, no, I'm not exaggerating.

Davie kept making great hay about the fact John Parker Wilson entered the game ranked the second worst quarterback in all of Division I in terms of third down conversions. I have no idea if that was true or not but I did get curious about Wilson's performance for the game and I went and dug up the numbers.

While they weren't as bad as I thought, that's not saying they were particularly good either. Alabama went 50% (7/14) on third downs while allowing Colorado to beat 56% (9/16). And then I started wondering what our overall numbers looked like for the Saban Era. And it turns out they look like this...

Third Down Efficency

Alabama Opponents
2009 39% (76/194) 30% (58/194)
2008 42% (76/183) 28% (56/199)
2007 38% (75/198) 40% (82/203)


Then, because I had the info right in front of me, I looked up fourth down as well...

Fourth Down Efficency

Alabama Opponents
2009 59% (10/17)
38% (9/24)
2008 80% (8/10)
50% (10/20)
2007 50% (6/12)
61% (11/18)


So what does any of this mean? I have no idea. So I figured I'd post it and see what you guys could come up with in the comments.