Stats Academy: Numbers That Shaped 2012

Zach Watts

This week's analysis of service academy football dives into Navy's passing game, Army's fourth-down defense, and Air Force's resilience.


STATISTICAL SPOTLIGHT: ONE STAT THAT STOOD OUT FOR EACH ACADEMY TEAM IN 2012

NOTE: Army and Navy stats are courtesy of the website http://www.cfbstats.com

Air Force: Comebacks – completed two comebacks from double-figure deficits


Air Force wobbled at times in the 2012 season, but the Falcons also found some steel and resolve on other occasions. A 10-point comeback against New Mexico, complemented by a 14-point comeback at Wyoming (13 in the final 17 minutes), showed that the Falcons could find some second-half fire. This was not the prevailing pattern for the season, but Air Force's ability to surprise itself shows that this program could become even better in 2013. It's not as though the Falcons couldn't take a punch; they just didn't respond well with great consistency. Solving this issue in full could generate a nine-win season this autumn.

ARMY: Fourth-down defense – allowed 10 of 13 fourth-down conversions (77 percent)

Army's offense converted 46.67 percent of third downs in 2012, while its defense allowed a third-down conversion rate of 47.62 percent. The fact that Army's third-down splits were so even on offense and defense is precisely the reason why the defense's fourth-down failures were so conspicuous… and costly. Imagine how different Army's season would have unfolded if those 10 conceded fourth-down conversions had been cut in half, to five. Let that thought linger.

NAVY: 4-1 record in FBS regular-season games when it threw at least one TD pass

Triple-option teams butter their bread with the running game, but they need to find daggers in the passing attack. Navy has generally been better than its service-academy brethren in this aspect of football, and last season was no exception. When Navy caught just a little lightning in the air, the Midshipmen regularly succeeded. This shouldn't be shocking to anyone who follows the academies on the gridiron each year.

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