Another statistical vote of confidence for Aaron Murray

I’ve been a fan of Chase Stuart’s blog for a while now.  My only quibble is that he spends a lot more time delving into the statistical universe of the pro game than he does college football.  But thanks to Marty (who deserves a lot more attention for the work he does at cfbstats.com than he gets, by the way), it sounds like I’m about to get a lot happier.

A few weeks ago, I discovered cfbstats.com, which has made available for download an incredible amount of college football statistics from the last eight seasons. Thanks to them, I plan to apply some of the same techniques I’ve used on NFL numbers over the years to college statistics. If you’re a fan of college football, you’re probably already reading talented writers like Bill Connelly and Brian Fremeau, but hopefully I can bring something new to the table for you to enjoy.

Since that’s the start of a piece on the best passing college quarterbacks from last season, I’d say he’s already succeeded.

You can read about the metric he employs to rate quarterbacks here.  (Short explanation:  “ANY/A is calculated by starting with passing yards per attempt, adding 20 yards for each touchdown and subtracting 45 yards for each interception, and subtracting sack yards lost from the numerator and adding sacks to the denominator.”)  He then describes the tweaks he made for the college game:

There’s a small problem, however, if you want to calculate ANY/A at the college level: the NCAA counts sacks as rush attempts and sack yards lost as negative rushing yards. I manually overrode2 that decision in my data set, so going forward, all rushing and passing data will include sack data in the preferred manner (keep this in mind when you compare the statistics I present to the “official” ones).

But calculating each quarterback’s ANY/A isn’t enough, as the varying strengths of schedule faced by college quarterbacks are too significant to ignore. So using the method described here, I came up with SOS-adjusted ANY/A for each quarterback in each game last year. This method involves an iterative process, so each quarterback’s performance is adjusted for the strength of the opposing defense, which has a rating that is adjusted for the quarterbacks it faced (including the quarterback in question), and so on, until the ratings converge. The usual caveats apply about defenses and quarterbacks that change in ability level over the course of the year.

Adjusted for defensive strength, Aaron Murray tops his list.

Let’s use Georgia’s Aaron Murray as an example. He averaged 3.88 ANY/A over average against a schedule that was 0.68 ANY/A tougher than average; that means he gets credit for being 4.56 ANY/A over average against a neutral schedule. Since he had 412 dropbacks last year (386 passes, 26 sacks), we multiply 4.56 by 412 to get his value added over average.

Honestly, I’m not that surprised, given Murray’s statistical dominance in the generic ypa stat last season.  What is a little more surprising is the presence of SEC quarterbacks high on Chase’s list – five of the top ten.  Some of that can be chalked up to the strength of the defenses they saw – six of the top ten SOS numbers belong to SEC quarterbacks, and another, Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace, ranked eleventh – but those players still had to perform well.

One other thing that caught my eye was his list of top 25 quarterback games of 2012.  Murray’s was the only name to appear on that list three times.  And it’s the third one, against Kentucky, that made me go back and think about something.  Murray gets his fair share of criticism for not winning the big game, but does Georgia win that game if he doesn’t pick the team up and put it on his back?

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22 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

22 responses to “Another statistical vote of confidence for Aaron Murray

  1. fuelk2

    The answer to your question is “no.” UGA inexplicably loses to UK that night if Murray doesn’t carry them to victory. He’s almost literally the only one to show up that night. Thing is, Lynch dropped a sure TD at the end of that game – his numbers should have been better.

  2. Murray put the team on his back that night, and Tavarres King had a pretty good night o his own catching the ball.

  3. PTC DAWG

    Without a doubt, Murray is one of the big reasons that UGA had the 2nd-3rd best team in the Nation last year..

    Now if our D can channel the way they played in Jax a few more times in 2013, we just may play for it all again. Totally overlooking the MNC game, the game for it all will be the SECCG.

    • Cojones

      With the difference being this year that we all have those feelings and Spring Practice hasn’t even started. Where were we this time last year? Probably worrying that the 10 wins were a fluke.

  4. Dustin

    He doesn’t get the credit probably because most of us would hate to even think about the possibility of losing to UK.

    • Dustin

      If you read the post below regarding Sam Montgomery’s statement at the combine, Murray should really get the credit for carrying the team to a win in Lexington. IMO, there appeared to be a few players that weren’t “up” for that game. Just not sexy to say “Murray carried this team to a W in Lexington”. Would be much easier to admit if it was Jacksonville, Auburn, Atlanta, etc…

  5. Macallanlover

    Great observation, AM was the offense that night, and it would have been devastating to lose the Kentucky game at that point in the schedule. Another factor to consider is how his prowess in the passing game helps the running game. Taking nothing away from Gurshall, the number of long runs were enhanced by the DBs being taken out of the play by receivers due to respect for our ability to pass the ball.

    Murray has his share of critics because of the number of INTs but his ratio is damned good. Many of the game’s best QBs had a lot of INTs because their confidence leads them to attempt the difficult throws. We are very fortunate to have had a QB of his caliber for three full seasons, much less four. I still feel he should have left for the NFL this season, that list of college QBs for the draft is very weak.

    • Biggus Rickus

      Well, the turnover problem was real in 2011. He doesn’t get enough credit from some fans because he was QB on a 6-7 team, and it colors their opinion of everything else he does. Oh, and he can’t win the big one, of course.

  6. Dog in Fla

    But has he won any big games? Not just the one where The Joker was going to beat us and Aaron, doing his best Robin, gave CMR a stay of execution from the hot seat. Aaron only overcomes three deficits? Why not four? Plus, I blame Aaron for letting Todd’s defense getting gassed and gashed by Bama for 350 (and Kentucky for 200) plus all the others but it did help us finish first in rushing yards allowed. Aaron throws too many long touchdown passes. Why can’t he just run a ball control offense like we had with Carlton Thomas? Then we can blame Aaron for not going deep and Todd for not interviewing with the Eagles.

    And furthermore, if Chase Stuart* knew just how accurate Tyler was at hitting parked cars with beer bottles while throwing on the run from his apartment balcony, there would be three things:

    “There are two things that make me very excited about Bray: he’s very young and he’s excellent at avoiding sacks.”

    * http://isnatesilverawitch.com/

    • Macallanlover

      As UGA fans it is our birthright to whine about any imperfection and dwelling incessently on the negative. If you win some big ones we will overlook that for the opportunity to talk about the one that got away. As for wins against lesser teams, we will ignore those except to talk about how you didn’t win “pretty” and all the negative plays. Neither players nor coaches are exempt in this. Welcome to the world of DawgNation Y2K+. Of course, we were perfect before that point in time.

    • Cojones

      Damn, DIF! I rerolled back through your words like an ole Dawg wallowing on his back and gettin’ to the good places. You’re always interesting, but you put a new gear in it this year.

      • Dog in Fla

        Thanks, Balls! I wish, like Scrooge upon seeing Marley, I could blame it on a badly digested piece of meat. I could blame my director, manager and agent, all of whom love me so much that they convince me to do projects even when they know they’re shit. But most of all, I would like to blame Bobo, Travolta, SOD, Nicole Kidman, the other hot chick who divorced Tom Cruise and “Battlefield Earth,” an historical hygiene study about the extinction of the human race and after seeing this hose work I’m all for it

  7. AthensHomerDawg

    I think the Eeyore Dawgs will be somewhat subdued this season. Chaffing a bit at a dearth of opportunities to howl one more time ” Didn’t I tell you so?”

  8. Uglydawg

    A win against Kentucky is never a big win. A loss to Kentucky is the end of life on Earth.
    I’ll never forget the frustration I had watching that game. As it went along, a realization set in that if Murray faltered, we had nothing…but he came through and the Dawgs won. There will always be a game or two like this, but it brings to mind the blog on and LSU player admitting that he sometimes mailed it in, effort wise, against percieved easy opponents. I wonder if any Georgia players would admit to having done the same.

    • 69Dawg

      I think that is what drove Shawn Williams to call the team out. This taking games off is not a new thing for UGA. We have been beaten by Vandy at homecomming for Dawgs sake. Kentucky practically killed Mat Stafford one year and two years later it took a last second TD pass to saves us again in KY. It seems to be the nature of that game.

    • Macallanlover

      Is it even necessary for them to admit that? We know how bad KY was last season so for that game to be in doubt is proof enough that we didn’t get everyone’s full attention. I would like to see more discussion about how ANY athlete can work 330 days a year preparing for just a dozen chances to strut their stuff, and take a few Saturday’s off. I can see them slacking in practice some, but gamedays? With millions watching? With potential employers worth billions reviewing the video? I can accept not being good enough in every matchup, but I cannot understand not laying it all out with fans, friends,, family, and all others mentioned previously, watching you. Forget the money aspect, your pride and legacy should be enough to inspire a full effort. I realize it obviously isn’t to all athletes, but why really?

      • AthensHomerDawg

        Hard to get kids to play up to potential week in and week out. Ky was an off game. Please somebody explain how uSC shat the bed against the Turds….Gators bested the OBC by 33 points and Turds went on to beat the Rajun Cajuns by a mere 7. Shades of uT huh? I suggest Bulldogs fans has a crayon. CC? What say you? Hijo …. lighten up. I got this.

  9. Cojones

    Great info concerning our top-ranked QB or didn’t anyone notice? Senator, the suggestion would be to return here at the end of Fall Practice. It’s great and I’m happy as a clam about Aaron and sometimes wonder what his parents are going through. They all have sacrificed for the sake of the fans and am thankful.

    Interesting to see Boyd’s numbers rivaling Aarons. Looking forward to that Clemson matchup. UGA’s D is ranked 25 in his system and Clem is rated 62. Interesting to see how that plays.

  10. Always Someone Else's Fault

    You would think with those sorts of ratings, SEC fans would be quick to take up the “SEC! SEC!” chant when it comes to being the Premier QB League (always claimed, seldom justified by the P12). But with SEC fans and their QBs, it’s always a glass half-empty. Some traditions die hard.

  11. mdcgtp

    When one stops to consider the statistical train wreck that the UF and USC games were relative to the rest of his games, it is even more apparent how great he was. When I think about his season, I can’t help but remember how accurate he was on passes both long and short.

    Further, one could argue that he rarely put the ball in harm’s way in the second half of the season, with the the two bad interceptions against UF being the outliers (the third was on wooten). the INT against bama and the first INT against Nebraska were both physical errors and not mental mistakes. The pick 6 against Nebraska was on a screen and was arguably not his fault as Marshall fell down and Dallas Lee missed a block. the point being that he is an insanely great QB who has both the physical and mental skills to hurt defenses. Obviously, our defense in 2012 taught us the perils of assuming that success carries over from one season to the next, but assuming Gurley and Marshall stay healthy, Aaron should have another great year next year.