I couple of weeks ago I looked into some statistics around returning players
. It left a kind of bleak picture for 2011 as there is a large amount of production that Iowa must replace next year, especially on offense. One thing I noticed in the Insight Bowl, however, is that there were a lot of younger players stepping up and making big plays. It also would make sense to me that younger players have a larger potential to improve throughout the season have a bigger impact. So, I wanted to look a little bit deeper into a couple of offensive statistics to see how players returning in 2011 performed throughout the year. I didn't look at passing yards, because it was basically all Stanzi the entire year...so I just did Rushing and Receiving Yards.
|Opponent||Rushing Yards||Receiving Yards|
While not on the chart, I did run the analysis to find the linear regression line and both the rushing and receiving yards had a positive slope. It is more obvious on the rushing yards and Iowa averaged a 7% growth in contribution by returning players per game. The growth on the receiving yards was more subtle: a little over 1% growth per game. Still, both categories showed improvement throughout the year, so my hypothesis was supported.
The increase in production from returning players at running back was due to a couple of factors...the main one being Marcus Coker. Once Coker recovered from his broken collar bone, he started seeing some time late in games after Iowa had the victory sealed (like against Ball State). Then, with injuries to Jewel Hampton and later Adam Robinson, Coker was quickly thrust to the top of the depth chart. He performed well in the last couple of games in the regular season, then had a spectacular performance in the Insight Bowl. Without Coker there would be zero experience at running back going into 2011, so he emergence throughout last year was absolutley critical.
Brad Herman was on of the biggest contributors to that growth as he really solidified his place as the second tight end. Though he finished with just 9 catches for 154 yards, most of his production was in the second half of the year. He set himself up to be the starting TE in 2011. The majority of the receiving yards by a returning player were from Marvin McNutt. However, his production didn't really rise as the year went on. He was pretty consistently getting around 70 yards per game. He did increase his touchdowns toward the end of the year, catching a TD in each of the final 6 games of the season.