Monday Thoughts: Red Zone Woes in Historical Context

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Tre Turner Virginia Tech
Tre Turner vents his frustration after Saturday’s final play. (Ivan Morozov)

There are a lot of what-ifs for Virginia Tech in this loss to WVU, and most of them have been covered in endless message board discussions and by Chris in his excellent Sunday column.

The big, fat glaring issue in this game was red zone scoring. Not just red zone scoring, but specifically scoring from first and goal situations. For those who aren’t sure what the red zone is (I know you’re out there), it’s the area inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

“Red zone scoring” is a big metric in football, and it has been tracked for many years by the NCAA as an official statistic.

I dislike the way they track it. They count the number of rushing touchdowns plus passing touchdowns plus field goals, then divide by the total number of red zone opportunities. Then they rank teams by that percentage.

If you enter the red zone 20 times and kick 20 field goals, you have a red zone percentage (in NCAA stats) of 1.000. If you enter the red zone 20 times and score 19 touchdowns, you have a red zone percentage of 0.950, which is “worse.”

Which team would you rather be?