Assessing Offensive Line Performance in College Football

Though football analytics doesn’t have as long a history, or as robust a following, as baseball analytics, there are some pioneers in the industry that have helped blaze a trail. The good folks at Football Outsiders are among the early adopters, and one of their contributions to the field is the development of several “Innovative Statistics” that help isolate offensive line performance. Football Outsiders offers six run-blocking stats - Line Yards per Carry (overall, on standard downs and passing downs), Opportunity Rate, Power Success Rate and Stuff Rate – and three pass-blocking stats – Sack Rate, Standard Downs Sack Rate and Passing Downs Sack Rate. Those familiar with the work of Bill Connolly will probably recognize the names.

Football Outsiders has a database of college football O-Line stats dating back to 2014. We used that database to convert each stat into a useable point value on the 0-100 scale we use for all our ratings. We threw in a few other important stats, such as yards per pass attempt (arguably the most informative passing stat overall, but for our purposes because, in theory, a long pass play is likely to occur thanks in part to good pass blocking, either because the QB needed time to throw long, or because key blocks helped turn short passes and screens into long gainers).

After assessing the importance of each metric, weighed the stats and averaged the point values to develop ratings for both passing performance and rushing performance. We then blended those ratings to get our final Offensive Line Performance Ratings. The results: