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SEC Rushing Yards Adjusted for Sacks

Statistics are a great way for measuring what goes on in football games, but you always have to be careful with them. Sometimes they can be misleading.

A classic example in college football is rushing offense and defense. The NCAA counts quarterback sacks as rushing plays, so they influence the carry totals and yardage totals. A team with a particularly good pass rush might show up as having a better rushing defense than it really does, while a particularly statuesque quarterback might make his team's rushing offense look worse than it actually is.

To help illustrate how this works, I created an interactive bar chart of SEC rushing from 2004-10 that includes offense and defense both with and without an adjustment for sacks. I also created it as a way to teach myself some of the new web technologies out there, so you'll need a fairly recent version of a modern web browser for it to work properly for you. If you're stuck at work with only IE6 (and I feel your pain on that one), just wait 'til you get home.

Click a year tab to switch to that year. Click the yellow tab to toggle between offense and defense. By default, it shows unadjusted numbers; click where it says "Not Adjusted" to switch to the numbers where sacks have been factored out. You'll see that adjusting the totals for sacks almost always changes the order of a couple of teams, particularly in 2006 for some reason.

Have fun with it, and if you run into any problems: 1) first try a browser with better HTML5/CSS3 support, and failing that, 2) leave a comment here.