Mississippi State has run the ball effectively through two games, averaging 5.0 yards per carry with five touchdowns. But what really tells the story of MSU’s rushing efficacy is the numbers inside opposing teams’ 40-yard line.
According to cfbstats.com (an indispensable site), the Bulldogs are averaging 5.3 yards per rush on carries between opponents’ 39-yard line and 1-yard line. The raw totals: 32 carries for 171 yards. That means that 46.5 percent of State’s total rushing yards have been gained in that area, which the easy math tells us is 39 percent of the total available playing surface. To break it down further, MSU is averaging 5.36 yards (22 carries, 118 yards) between the 39 and 21, and 5.3 yards (10-53) from the 20 on in.
Of the 10 carries in the red zone, four have gone for touchdowns.
Again, this is only a two-game sample, but the numbers are up from last year. In 2011, MSU averaged 3.5 yards per carry inside opponents’ 40. The breakdown: 4.19 ypc between the 39 and 21, 2.48 between the 20 and 1.
Does this mean MSU could have a better running game this year than last, when Vick Ballard rushed for 1,189 yards? Quite possibly, considering the depth at tailback. LaDarius Perkins (141 yards, 6.1 ypc, 3 TDs) is the lead horse, but MSU has been getting quality snaps out of Derrick Milton (95 yards, 6.8 ypc) and Josh Robinson (65 yards, 5.9 ypc) as well. In fact, MSU is one of only four BCS schools with at least three running backs averaging 5.0 yards or more per carry (minimum 10 carries).
Once MSU really gets into SEC play, expect these numbers to take a dip. Still, it’s a fine start for a backfield that’s got a lot to prove this season.