Matt Melton runs the number on how SEC schools have fared against the spread in conference games since 2005. LSU has the worst record against the spread in that time (by far), but Florida and Georgia are substandard, too. There’s no real rhyme or reason to the numbers; what’s there is probably the results of what you get from a combination of winning ugly and the public doing a poor job of evaluating certain programs.
Category Archives: Stats Geek!
More interesting stuff from Connelly’s play charting project:
If you combine the previously-discussed 99 big plays that went for touchdowns with the additional 73 big-play drives that eventually resulted in a touchdown, 172 of 214 charted drives that involved big plays ultimately finished in the end zone. Simply put, from the games we charted during the 2012-13 college football season, if an offense had a drive that contained a gain of 40 or more yards, 80.8% of those drives resulted in a touchdown. [Emphasis added.]
If you dig a little further, you’ll see there were 17 field goals that concluded drives including big plays. If you add the 17 field goals to the aforementioned number of drives ending in touchdowns (172), you’ll find that 189 of the 213 total drives (88.7%) that included a big play this past season resulted in some sort of scoring for the offense.
Now I don’t know if Mike Bobo had any direct knowledge of that correlation, or if he was just lucky, but let me take a moment to remind you which offense was second in the country last season in plays of 40+ yards from scrimmage.
Chase Stuart has a follow up to his college passer rating post that I mentioned last week in which he looks at the top passing quarterback seasons from 2005 through 2012.
Aaron Murray’s 2012 performance ranks eighth on his list. Combine that with his standing in a variety of passer statistics compiled since 2000, and it seems to me you can make a case that Murray’s been one of the best passers in the SEC in the last decade. Nor has he been too shabby on a national level.
Agree or disagree? And why?
While I concur with Seth Emerson that “Aaron Murray… could throw a dozen interceptions on G-Day and kick his head coach in the hip, but Murray will still be the starting quarterback on Aug. 31 at Clemson”, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things in Georgia’s passing game that couldn’t stand improvement.
Take a look at Bill Connelly’s latest post about the quarterback charting data his bunch compiled from last season, for instance. Here’s part of the pass distribution data for a group:
Notice that about 57% of Murray’s passes are thrown less than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage and are fairly evenly distributed in the three sub-groups.
Now here’s the completion rates for those passes.
Throws behind the line of scrimmage are completed at a fairly meh rate compared to his peers, but check out the completion rate for Murray’s throws within four yards downfield. That’s pretty bad, relatively speaking.
Now look at his completion rate on throws 15-19 yards past the line. He killed those. The thing is, those throws made up less than ten percent of his completions. He threw twice as many passes of 0-4 yards.
Now, obviously the lower completion rate on those isn’t all on Murray. You have to factor in drops, for example. But I wonder if some of it’s due to pass protection and throws being batted down (height and pocket awareness matter too, of course), and if some of it’s due to predictable play calls in certain circumstances. (With regard to the latter, that’s hard to tell from the situational stats. Check out Murray’s completion ratio on third down and short.)
In any event, it’s something worth looking at. And maybe it’s worth chunking a few more intermediate-length passes this season.
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?
Bill Connelly takes an exhaustive look at how the empty-backfield set did last season. And I do mean exhaustive.
Here’s what Bill has to say about Georgia: “… teams like … Georgia (2%)… neither made frequent use of the no-back, nor fared amazingly well against it (at least compared to its other results).” In fact on defense for Georgia, there’s a pretty big spread between defensive ypp on all plays versus ypp on no-back sets.
Some of you may be surprised to hear that Todd Grantham took time out from his busy career plotting to answer a few questions from Chris Low about his day job. The good thing is that he seems to have a handle on what needs to get better this season.
What the Bulldogs didn’t do as well was stop the run, and it cost them against Alabama in the 32-28 SEC championship game loss. The Crimson Tide rolled up 350 rushing yards and manhandled the Bulldogs in the second half.
The takeway from that game for Grantham was pretty simple.
Georgia needs to play more players up front and tackle better from the inside linebacker positions.
“We did some good things in that game,” Grantham said. “We blocked a field goal and ran it back for a touchdown. We were really good on third down, and got a turnover in the red zone. The thing we didn’t do was stop the run in the second half.
“We’ve got to play more players up front and keep them fresh, and from the inside linebacker position, we’ve got to learn to tackle backs like (Eddie Lacy). Those are two things we’ve got to do better.”
He’s got plenty of options, even if many of them are young.
One thing Grantham’s right about is that Georgia’s 2012 rushing defense stats are skewed (although I don’t know where he got the 3.3 ypc in conference play from, unless he wasn’t counting the SECCG). Check out this page at Marty’s blog. And this one. No wonder Grantham knows he needs more bodies.
Here’s something I posted about Tavarres King a little over a year ago:
King’s numbers are interesting. His catch rate is barely above 50%, but some of that can be attributed to the number of deep routes he ran. What’s really noteworthy is the breakdown of his catch rate between standard downs (63.3%) and passing downs (38.5%). Despite that disparity, he was actually targeted more on passing downs than on standard downs. For comparison’s sake Charles’ standard down catch rate was 72.7% and passing down catch rate was 56.5%; Mitchell’s respective rates were 71.4% and 78.9%. Both Charles and Mitchell were targeted less on passing downs than on standard downs.
Of course, I can’t say whether that was by design (i.e., the play call) or the way that Murray let the play develop, but either way, it seems there should be some focus on making the passing game more efficient with the targeting of the big (in terms of numbers) receivers.
There were two ways to accomplish that. One would have been to throw to receivers with better catch rates. The other would have been for King to step up his game.
Per Bill Connelly, that’s exactly what happened. If you click on the link that takes you to Bill’s spreadsheet, you’ll find that King improved his catch rate numbers across the board, with his catch rate percentage on passing downs skyrocketing to 57.7%.
Bill’s come up with a new metric to judge receivers. Here’s how he describes it:
The idea behind RYPR is to figure out who were the most truly dangerous receivers in the country in a given year. (In this sense, “RYPR” is a pretty good, menacing name, huh?) It combines your yards per target data with a look at the frequency with which your team passed and the quality of the passing game as a whole. It isn’t a measure of pure productivity, necessarily, but pure per-target quality.
In other words, the more your team passed, the more your team passed to you and the more yardage you gained on your catches, the better your RYPR. King’s 2011 RYPR was 109.9, good for 73rd nationally. His 2012 number was 184.7, good enough to be eighth best in the country. That’s what you want out of your #1 receiving option.
King is gone, but if you want some good news for Georgia’s passing game in 2013, check out Malcolm Mitchell’s catch rates last season. Talk about your heir apparent.
Matt Melton takes a look at how every D-1 game in 2012 performed against the point spread. The results won’t surprise too many of you.
Out of the 697 regular season games involving IA opponents, 261 of them (or 37.45%) finished within one touchdown of the betting line. In other words, more than a third of the time, you’re hard-earned money was one play away from either nearly doubling or floating away. Think about that the next time your buddy has a ‘sure thing’. Overall, over two thirds (67.00%) of the games finished within two touchdowns of the betting line and fewer than one of every five games differed by more than 20 points.
That translates into the average game being roughly twelve points off from the spread. Not exactly a lock.
Well, they’re cracking jokes on Twitter this morning about Grantham’s agent putting his name in play for the papal opening, so I guess we’re not done with that meme quite yet, but assuming that he’s roaming the sidelines in 2013 and most of his starters from last season aren’t, I figure Georgia’s defense will likely be “the” offseason topic here (if for no other reason than that most of us have shifted from being in a blame Bobo mode to an expect Bobo one). I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that Georgia’s chances for a third straight return to the SECCG hinge on having a defense that’s more consistently stout in crunch time than what we saw in 2012.
Which begs the question: how good (or bad) were those guys last season? I was going to start doing some data mining on that, but fortunately for me, Tyler Dawgden did the heavy lifting for me with a couple of posts he knocked out this past weekend. (I love the Internet, by the way.) Take the time to wade through both. I don’t think you’ll find anything particularly shocking – it’s pretty obvious which games were poorly played (South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky were the worst) and which weren’t (Vanderbilt, Florida, Tech and Ole Miss).
The overall picture is a defense that gave up too many big plays, but managed to hold things together in the red zone. When you only lose twice, there are obviously more successes than failures. But, still… I will be curious to hear if Grantham identifies any particular areas that need shoring up in his opinion, like he did after the 2010 season with regard to third down conversions. Speaking of which, given the slide from 2011 to 2012, maybe that’s an area he needs to point at again.
UPDATE: More fun stuff to come from the Internet.