Thursday, August 14, 2008

2008 VT Stat Projection: Running Backs

In Monday's stat projection for the offense as a whole I predicted the Hokies to average 155 yards per game on the ground. Multiply that by 12 regular season games and that's 1,860 rushing yards that need to be accounted for by Virginia Tech's ball-carriers.

Last year, the Hokies tallied 1,638 rushing yards on 482 carries (3.4 Ypc) in their 12 regular season games. How will the Hokies average 155 yards per game this year? Easy. I think the yards per carry will up significantly in 2008. The offensive line is much better and with Tyrod Taylor scrambling for yards, you'll see a significant rise in yards per carry.

If you read Wednesday's stat projection for the quarterbacks, you saw that I predict the Hokies to throw four more passes per game this year as opposed to last. Lets say the Hokies run the same number of plays this year as last year. That means they would have to rush for 1,860 yards on 438 carries in 2008. That puts the team yards per carry at 4.2 yards per carry, an improvement of almost a full yard over last year's team.

Again, I think this is possible because of Tyrod's rushing ability, the improved offensive line, and fewer sacks taking away from the yards per carry. Basically, you'll see a lot fewer carries for Glennon this year. He had 66 in 2007.

I'll focus the individual projections on the four players I think will get the most carries in 2008: Kenny Lewis, Jahre Cheeseman, Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams. While Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby are good players, there just aren't enough carries for them.

Between mop-up time rushing yards, rushing yards for receivers and quarterback sacks, the Hokies had 112 rushing yards on that weren't accounted for by the top four rushers. I think that will stay the same this year (less reverses but less sacks). Since there are more backs competing for mop-up yards (but mostly to keep these numbers round), let's say the top four rushers for the Hokies need to combine for 1,740 yards (120 yards to others) on 390 carries (48 to others) in 2008. That would be just under 4.5 yards per carry. Last year, the top four rushers for the Hokies had 1,524 yards on 385 carries during the regular season (4.0 Ypc).

Regular Season Only

Tyrod Taylor in 2008
90 Car, 550 Yds, 6.1 Ypc, 7 TD

Jahre Cheeseman in 2008
140 Car, 550 yds, 3.9 Ypc, 7 TD

Kenny Lewis in 2008
90 Car, 320 yds, 3.5 Ypc, 3 TD

Ryan Williams in 2008
70 Car, 320 yds, 4.5 Ypc, 4 TD

I think you will see Cheeseman as the primary back early in the year with more and more of his carries going to Williams as the season progresses. Lewis will stay in the same role as the third down back or change of pace back for the duration of the season.

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