It starts in the trenches: O-line continuity an excellent indicator for success

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While channel surfing a couple weeks back, the Ohio State vs. Michigan football game caught my attention. One of the analysts was suggesting the Wolverines had suffered massive challenges on offense because of an ever-changing starting lineup on the o-line.

 “They’ve had to use five different combinations this year,” I’ll paraphrase the announcer as saying in his defense of the Wolverines’ inability to rush the ball.

 For context, realize that Iowa State had nine different starting combinations on the line in ’13.

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 Six years ago, a football statistician named Jason McKinley, introduced a statistic called the “OL Continuity Score”.

 It measured how much change/stability that NFL teams had in their offensive line starting lineups throughout a season.

 With a perfect score – meaning the same five starters played every game – of 36, here is how the Big 12 schools would have ranked for “OL Continuity Score” in 2013:  Kansas State (31), Baylor (29), Texas (26), West Virginia (25), Oklahoma (24), Oklahoma State (21), Texas Tech (20), TCU (18), Kansas (16) and Iowa State (14).

 That order ranking closely resembles the final league standings. The outlier is West Virginia. The Mountaineers were fourth in the continuity stat but tied for seventh – with the Cyclones and Horned Frogs – in the league standings.

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 Michigan may have had some problems with continuity on its offensive line last fall. Their “OL Continuity” for the 2013 score was 20. I wish the Cyclones had been so fortunate.