With two of their three featured running backs heading for the NFL Draft, the Virginia Tech Hokies will be relying on David Wilson for most of their significant carries in 2011. Wilson had his share of big plays, despite being third on Tech's depth chart behind Ryan Williams and Darren Evans.
The question is whether or not Wilson's abilities while sharing carries will translate to being a featured back. One statistic that might give us a good idea about his potential is success rate. Football Outsiders uses success rate to rank NFL running backs by looking at whether or not they're able to gain 40 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down and 100 percent of needed yards on third and fourth down.
According to FO, a running back is considered very consistent if he's successful on over 50 percent of his carries and very inconsistent if he's successful on under 40 percent of his carries. We'll look at Wilson's success rate in 2010 after the jump.
In addition to looking at Wilson's carries based on downs and quarters, we're also going to divide them up based on garbage time. FO defines garbage time as any carry when one team is ahead by more than 24 points in the first quarter, 21 points in the second quarter and 16 points in the second half. I've also thrown drives in which the Hokies were trying to run out the clock at the end of a half into this garbage time category.
First up is Wilson's total carries. Abbreviations: Rush - total carries; Succ - successful carries; Pct - Succ/Rush.
|All Garbage Time||29||16||0.552|
By FO's definition, Wilson was a consistent running back when you consider all of his carries. Next, we'll divide them up by downs.
|1st Garbage Time||15||8||0.533|
|Total 1st Down||57||30||0.526|
|2nd Garbage Time||9||6||0.667|
|Total 2nd Down||41||21||0.512|
|3rd & 4th Non-Garbage||10||5||0.500|
|3rd & 4th Garbage Time||5||2||0.400|
|Total 3rd & 4th Down||15||7||0.467|
First down was obviously Wilson's best down and was also the down in which he had most of his big gains. However, his success rate goes down when you look at second, third and fourth down. What this tells me is that the Hokies need to find a third down back that can pick up tough yards on third and short.
Wilson was stuffed on a good percentage of third and four-and-shorts this year. While some teams prefer a smaller back on third downs because of their ability to get to the line of scrimmage quicker, it's obvious the Hokies need a bigger back for these situations. If Josh Oglesby can prove himself as a good option for Virginia Tech, he'll be a very good complement to Wilson in the Hokies' offense.
Next, by quarter.
|1st Garbage Time||0||0||---|
|All 1st Quarter||20||10||0.500|
|2nd Garbage Time||0||0||---|
|All 2nd Quarter||29||12||0.414|
|3rd Garbage Time||14||9||0.643|
|All 3rd Quarter||36||23||0.639|
|4th Garbage Time||15||7||0.467|
|All 4th Quarter||28||13||0.464|
Wilson was at his most consistent in the first and third quarter. The question will be whether or not the Hokies can rely on Wilson to be at his best late in halves when he's been getting the majority of carries. Williams and Evans seemed to get stronger as the game went on the opposing defense wore down.
Will Wilson's frame be able to take the pounding of being the featured running back in a ball-control offense like the one Virginia Tech runs? We won't really know until next year when he's going to be the guy. I like Wilson as a running back and he's obviously done some impressive things in Virginia Tech's backfield as a freshman and sophomore. But the Hokies definitely need to find someone else to split carries with him and take some of the burden off his shoulders.