Successful running backs have to be able to create on their own. Get more than what’s blocked. And according to numbers over at the website Fantasy Points, rookie Anthony McFarland has been one of college football’s best.
They’ve compiled data of college backs over the last several seasons for a variety of categories. One of those is a stat they call YC/A, which they define as “the amount of yards a running back gains on their own after they reach the second-level past the offensive line’s blocking.” So basically, yards gained once he broke through the line of scrimmage.
Over what appears to be the last five years, McFarland ranks 6th on the list, averaging 5.89 YC/A. That only trails:
1. Joe Mixon – 6.75
2. Darrell Henderson – 6.44
3. Kenyan Drake – 6.11
4. Saquon Barkley – 6.04
5. Ezekiel Elliott – 5.98
6. Anthony McFarland – 5.89
Pretty good company to be apart of, no? McFarland was a terror in the open field at Maryland, 4.44 wheels with the ability to outrun defenders who had the angle, as we broke down weeks ago.
Their data also gives us some insight into his pass protection, one of the biggest questions we had on him coming out of school. According to their numbers, McFarland was successful in pass pro 63% of the time. That’s on the low end of their entries, 50th out of 57. Definitely an area he’ll have to work on in the NFL and one aspect of his game he’ll likely never be great at.
One last stat. McFarland also had the benefit of avoiding eight man boxes in college. Just 16% of the time, a number that’s sure to rise in the NFL. It’s a surprisingly low number given the fact Maryland wasn’t known for its vaunted aerial attack. Compare that to the backs who saw the highest amount, Rashaad Penny (77%), Leonard Fournette (67%) and James Conner (64%).
That certainly helps a back have a higher YC/A but still, on tape, McFarland is an explosive player and breath of fresh air for the Steelers’ run game.