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SEC Running Back Success Rates | Week One

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In years past we've kept up with our own running back's success rates, but at a certain point that becomes a meaningless data point without anything to compare it to.  So this year, I'm likely biting off way more than I can chew we're going to keep track of not just our running backs, but the top running backs from the rest of the conference as well. 

For those of you who are new to this, the Running Back Success Rate is a measure of how "successful" each of a running back's rushing attempts is. A "successful" run is one that :

Gains at least 40% of the yardage needed to move the chains on 1st down
Gains at least 60% of the yardage needed to move the chains on 2nd down
Gains at least 100% of the yardage needed to move the chains on 3rd and 4th down

There are admittedly some issues with the metric (i.e. "give up" running plays on 3rd and very long with almost zero chance of success adversely effect a RBs numbers, and etc.), but for the most part it's a good measure of a running back's overall performance that goes beyond the kind of basic stats that can be effected by big outlier runs and give a more favorable impression of a running back than he really deserves.

We'll keep this big board updated throughout the season with our top four backs, plus the top backs from each SEC team. Some players might get dropped if they are no longer a significant part of the team's offense, but for team's like Auburn, Florida, and LSU that legitimately feature two backs in their system we'll keep up with both.  So, without further ado the week one numbers look like this:

Player Team Games Total Att Successful Att Success Rate Gained AVG
Trent Richardson Alabama 1 13 7 54% 30 2.3
Eddie Lacey Alabama 1 8 5 63% 54 6.8
Jalston Fowler Alabama 1 4 3 75% 69 17.3
Blake Sims Alabama 1 6 4 67% 11 1.8
Ronnie Wingo, Jr. Arkansas 1 11 7 64% 38 3.5
Michael Dyer Auburn 1 14 7 50% 58 4.1
Onterio McCaleb Auburn 1 9 4 44% 45 4.9
Michael Ford LSU 1 14 8 57% 96 6.9
Spencer Ware LSU 1 26 13 50% 97 3.7
Enrique Davis Ole Miss 1 12 3 25% 33 2.3
Vick Ballard Miss. State 1 10 9 90% 166 16.6
Jeff Demps Florida 1 12 5 42% 99 8.3
Chris Rainey Florida 1 11 7 64% 74 6.7
Isaiah Crowell Georgia 1 15 6 40% 60 4.0
Josh Clemons Kentucky 1 11 4 36% 42 3.5
Raymond Sanders Kentucky 1 13 3 23% 35 2.7
Marcus Lattimore South Carolina 1 23 15 65% 112 4.9
Tauren Poole Tennessee 1 24 8 33% 97 4.0
Zac Stacy Vanderbilt 1 8 5 63% 48 4.4


The category leader is highlighted in grey, and as you can see Mississippi State's Vick Ballard had a spectacular showing against Memphis, leading the league with a 90% success rate, 166 yards rushing, and a 16.6 ypc average (and yes, I know our Jalston Fowler had a 17.3 ypc average but it was on four carries in junk time so...). 

LSU, South Carolina, and Tennessee all leaned very heavily on their run games, producing the only three 20+ carry backs, with SC's Marcus Lattimore actually producing the most total successful attempts.  It will be interesting to see how that holds up over the coming weeks.

Considering we only have one game to work with right now, there's not much more we can say about the numbers, but over the coming weeks we'll be able to chart each back's progress and see how well they hold up as the level of competition changes.