Sunday Morning Quarterback dives back into the stat pool to tell us what statistics best correlate (not cause) with winning and losing in 2007.
Much as last year, he finds that what matters most is playing good defense – stopping the run is foremost – and being efficient on offense.
… the best teams in the three major non-scoring defensive categories not only won more than teams excelling in any other category, but the worst defensive teams lost more, too. Among the top 20 teams, this is exactly the same result as last year and in the much smaller look the year before that.
Offensively, we see that the best teams were far more efficient that they were necessarily explosive: turnover margin, passing efficiency and third down percentage correlated to better records at the top and worse records at the bottom than even total offense, and to much better/worse results at the poles than rushing or passing yards per game…
I was a bit curious to see where Georgia stacked up based on his analysis. I took the eight categories that SMQ found the highest correlation with wins and losses and checked them against Georgia’s national rankings at the NCAA stats site. To get some idea of their relevancy, I did the same with four other teams – two schools in the SEC (LSU and Florida), West Virginia (because of the way the Mountaineers stood out when I did this rather crude analysis) and Southern California (the other “hot team” besides Georgia in the national media’s mind at season’s end).
Here’s how it all shook out:
|SCHOOL||RUSH DEF.||PASS EFFIC. DEF.||TOTAL DEF.||3RD DOWN OFF.||T/O MARGIN||PASS. EFFIC. OFF.||TOTAL OFF.||3RD DOWN DEF.|
What can we tell from this? First off, if winning programs excelled in these eight categories last season, it’s apparent why LSU wound up as national champs. These numbers also give a pretty clear indication why Florida’s season went the way it did.
Georgia’s numbers, to be honest, are meh for the most part. The Dawgs did lead in one category, 3rd down defense, but it’s the eighth most important stat on the list and it’s the only category in which none of the five schools finished in the national top ten. On the other hand, Georgia finished last in two stats and in both cases they were bad lasts.
Still, the numbers show that Georgia did a fine job stopping the run and playing good defense and that while Bobo’s charges weren’t too great on the passing efficiency front and gaining yardage, they were good at moving the chains on third down. I still think there’s more to this story, though.
In any event, if you’re a believer in room for improvement, it’s a good thing that there are some areas where Georgia can step up next year. You have to think that if Stafford grows into the job even more, this team has a chance to be very good in ’08.