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A Random, Haphazard Attempt At Analyzing Football Penalties

via <a href="">johntrainor/Flickr</a>
via johntrainor/Flickr

Maybe this is a one-week experiment that will die a quiet death. Wouldn't be the first time.

But I've been curious about all the penalties they call, who gets them, what the most common penalties are, and so forth. Do they keep track of this stuff? Most stat banks will provide team sum total of penalties and first downs caused by penalties. But that's really about it. No individual false starts, or pass interference calls, or what the situation is. And for the penalties that are declined, those are wiped off the face of the earth.

So here's what I did: I went through the 13 box scores and culled as much information about each penalty called on a MAC school. I put 'em into a nice little spreadsheet and ran some pivot tables.

Before I go any further, I should preface that:

  • Some of the box scores did not list individual players for holding calls, false starts, and the like.
  • And for whatever reason, individuals were not listed on ANY of the penalties for the Akron-OSU, OHIO-NMSU, or NIU-Army games. All they were good for was the most common penalties.
  • Again, I have no idea what this is going to prove. If this is of interest to you going forward, chime in so I may gain the will power to continue this charade.

First, the repeat offenders:

CMU defensive back Jahleel Addae, he of the 2010 third team All-MAC, was flagged for three penalties: two pass interferences and a personal foul. That's 45 yards simply on his shoulders.

Buffalo defensive back Dwellie Striggles had two penalties, both on punt coverage. One was holding, the other was a block in the back. Both were 10-yard penalties. This will no doubt be something he works on, if he still plays. And if this exercise didn't teach us anything else, it's that there's a player on the Buffalo team named Dwellie Striggles.

EMU was twice flagged for being offsides as they were kicking off. One of them was committed by linebacker Herb Waits; on the second time it's not documented who ran offside, but Waits assisted on the ensuing tackle which was negated. Showed him how it feels.

BGSU quarterback Matt Schilz was called twice for delay of game. One was on a fourth down in Idaho territory which appeared to be giving the punter more room to kick it freely. On a third play, punter Brian Schmiedebusch was charged with the penalty; again, this was likely to give him more room to pooch punt.

Miami was twice given 5-yard penalties for substitution infractions on offense. Typically on the coach, are they not?

Finally, a breakdown of the 82 penalties:

False start: 19
Holding: 15
Personal foul: 9
Pass interference: 8
Delay of game: 6
Offside: 5
Illegal substitution: 4
Face mask: 3
Illegal block: 3
Roughing the passer: 3
Unsportsmanlike: 2
Illegal formation: 1
Illegal procedure: 1
Illegal shift: 1
Roughing the kicker: 1
Sideline interference: 1

On offense: 42
On defense: 24
On special teams: 16