August 31, 2018 8:08:13 AM
Every day from 99 days out (May 25) until kickoff, I'll put up a post telling you how many days until kickoff and breaking down something about the upcoming season related to that number.
Today, since we are 98 days away from kickoff, we take a look at: One stat that could determine the fate of each side of the ball.
Offense: Passing IsoPPP
First, an explainer on what this is. It's a Bill Connelly statistic which stands for Isolated Points Per Play. Here's how it works: his metrics system incorporates a Success Rate, which he deems as gaining 50 percent of yards to gain on first down, 70 percent on second down and at least 100 percent of yards to gain on third down. What IsoPPP does is isolate the plays that are successful and see how many points per play a team gets on those plays. It's basically a measure of explosiveness: when you are successful, how often are you gaining 4 yards on third-and-3, or how often are you busting a play for 45 yards and a touchdown? Obviously, the more points per play you have the better.
MSU's passing attack finished 122nd in the nation last year in this stat, which is clearly abysmal. All of the optimism around the Joe Moorhead offense is based on his ability to train teams to throw the deep ball well, and this is a great measure of how MSU is doing in that department. (For the record: passes of 20 yards or more or 30 yards or more is another excellent measure, but that is in a way tied to how many plays a team runs per game, so I wouldn't advise turning to that number faithfully until it's proven Moorhead and Mullen operate on similar tempos per snap.)
Defense: Linebacker and cornerback PBUs
I got to this point kind of by process of elimination. We assume the defensive line is going to be good and the safeties are going to be good enough to prevent big plays in bunches, which forces opposing offenses to the quick game: slants, screens, etc., to neutralize pass rush. This is where linebackers and corners come into play: are they getting in the way of slants or breaking up drags over the middle? Are corners getting past blocks and stopping screens behind the line? This is what we need to know from those groups.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson