In posting yesterday that I thought calls for Mike Bobo’s dismissal were unwarranted, I generated several comments that were critical of Bobo, particularly his playcalling. I’m not going to argue that he’s been anywhere near flawless in that department this season. I, like many others, couldn’t fathom what happened after the first drive of the Oklahoma State game, and there have certainly been head-scratching moments in almost every game this season.
But if the primary task of an offensive coordinator is to make sure that his team generates points, at least in the context of SEC play, it’s hard to fault Bobo for what he’s directed in 2009. Let me show you what I mean.
I traveled over to the always invaluable cfbstats.com and looked at three things: total number of plays in conference play, total number of points in conference play and turnover margin in conference play. I wanted to get some measure of how efficient each school’s offense was in scoring and to see what impact turnovers might have on that efficiency. I divided the point totals into the play totals to come up with a plays per point ratio. The lower the PPP, the more efficient the offense.
Here’s how the SEC shapes up for 2009, based on the eight conference games each school played (I left out the non-conference games, seeing as the level of OOC competition each SEC school took on varied considerably), ranked in order of efficiency:
TEAM PLAYS POINTS TO MARGIN PPP Georgia 488 234 -12 2.09 Arkansas 527 234 12 2.25 Florida 522 221 6 2.36 Alabama 523 208 12 2.51 Tennessee 530 199 6 2.66 Auburn 557 200 -4 2.79 LSU 499 178 4 2.8 Kentucky 534 180 0 2.97 Miss. State 537 180 -6 2.98 Ole Miss 540 180 -13 3 S. Carolina 545 144 -6 3.78 Vanderbilt 510 71 1 7.18 AVG 526 185.75 2.83
It’s not even close. In SEC games, Bobo’s offense scored far more efficiently than any other team in the conference. And before you start in with the argument that there are other ways to score (and keep in mind that doesn’t just go for Georgia, but equally for all schools on the list), even if you omit the Boykin TD kickoff returns and the Rambo pick six from the math, Georgia’s PPP still winds up a conference second-best 2.29. I’m not saying the man’s perfect, but those numbers suggest pretty strongly that Bobo must have been doing a lot more right than wrong this season.
Looking at the conference overall, the weird part of this analysis for me is that while turnover margin has an effect on the numbers, it’s not the effect I anticipated. I thought that there would be a direct relationship between turnover margin and the number of plays run, as it seemed logical that the more a team turned the ball over to its opponents, the fewer number of opportunities it would have to run offensive plays. But that didn’t turn out to be the case at all. The top four teams in the conference in terms of running plays (Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi and Mississippi State) all had negative turnover margins. And of the seven schools ranked lowest in number of plays, only one had a negative turnover margin – Georgia.
There is more of a correlation between turnover margin and PPP, though. Notice that of the top five teams in PPP (the ones that were significantly below the conference average), all but one – Georgia, again – all were in the black in turnover margin. And of the five worst teams in PPP (the ones that were significantly above the conference average), only one had a positive turnover margin, and that was Vanderbilt’s modest plus-1.
Speaking of Vandy, if you didn’t realize it already, that is one bad offense.