Category Archives: Stats Geek!

How Georgia rides “that big hoss.”

To read much of the national media, you’d think Todd Gurley has struggled with injuries throughout his Georgia career.  That’s not entirely accurate, but you can tell Mark Richt is sensitive to that perception when he discusses how he’ll use Gurley in the running game this season.

“So are we gonna give it to (Gurley) 30 times a game and wear him to a nub, no. But there may be a game or two where he’s feeling in, and we’ve got momentum, and he’s pounding, we’re gonna let him pound. But Douglas pounds pretty good too. Keith Marshall can hit a home run at any moment. So we’ll use all those guys.”

The thing is, that’s not really a departure from how he’s been deployed so far.  Looking at Gurley’s career rushing stats, here’s how his number of carries per game breaks down (he was out three games last season):

  • Less than 10:  3
  • 10-19:  13
  • 20-29:  7
  • 30 or more:  1

As those numbers indicate, Keith Marshall’s made it pretty easy for Richt and Bobo to manage Gurley’s workload.  With Chubb and Michel being added to the mix this season, there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.

Interestingly, there is one area of Gurley’s workload that’s increased dramatically.  He has 53 career receptions.  26 of those came in his last four games.  (Ten versus Auburn.)  I don’t know whether Richt counts that as part of the pounding or not.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Friday morning buffet

Enjoy the morning’s offerings.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, It's Just Bidness, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Fun with numbers – Georgia’s 2013 offense

At his site, College Football by the Numbers, Scott Albrecht’s done some stat crunching I found of interest.

You’ll find a table here that breaks down a bunch of offensive information per possession.  Here’s the story on Georgia:

  • 16th nationally in points per possession
  • 17th nationally in plays per possession
  • 13th nationally in yards per possession
  • 86th nationally in starting field position
  • 25th nationally in touchdowns per possession
  • 8th nationally in field goals per possession
  • 78th nationally in possessions per game
  • 61st nationally in points per red zone trip

Basically, outside the red zone, this was an offense that was quite effective when the rest of the team managed to stay out of its way.  The problem was, as indicated by the starting field position and possessions per game stats, that didn’t happen as much as it needed to.

The most impressive part of that, of course, is how much Georgia was able to do on offense despite all the injuries.  With the walking wounded hopefully returning to full strength, it lends support to the argument that the most important part of Hutson Mason’s role this season is to be a good game manager.  Now if something can be done about that whole rest of the team staying out of the offense’s way thing…

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Fun with numbers, ESPN-style

Before we get all wrapped up in that “Murray Deficit” ESPN’s stats department cooked up, it’s worth noting that any outfit coming up with a statistical model that ranks Georgia’s preseason defense higher than its offense and shows the Dawgs’ special teams as the 18th best in the country might want to go back and refine the model a little more.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

“The Murray Deficit”

ESPN pitches its preseason list of the top sixteen playoff contenders, and there aren’t really any surprises there.  But this little statistical tidbit caught my eye:

4.9

The Murray Deficit

That’s how many more points per game Georgia QB Aaron Murray contributed to the Bulldogs’ offense compared to an average FBS quarterback.

That doesn’t mean Hutson Mason has to pick up the slack entirely by himself.  It’ll take a village on offense to do that.

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Strengths and weaknesses

Friend of the blog Ed Kilgore had a comment last week that I wanted to revisit:

Assuming we might now go a couple of weeks without additional attrition, it’s increasingly clear the ’14 Dawgs will be an outfit with large strengths harnessed to one big weakness and a question mark. When Phil Steele’s unit ratings come out, I betcha Georgia is in the top five nationally at RB, WR and LB. That would be amazing, and usually the sign of a serious national championship contender. But Lord only knows where we would rank in the secondary (not in the top 50), and the OL rating has to be relatively mediocre at present.

I think Steele will also have the d-line ranked respectfully.  But special teams will likely also fall into the “Lord only knows” group.  (For 2013, he ranked Morgan 3rd in the country and the rest of special teams 107th.)

Overall, Ed’s spot on, it seems to me.  This year’s edition of Georgia football will marry big pluses to some very shaky minuses.  Which is where coaching comes in, figuring out how to maximize the strong suits to work around the flaws.  Shoot me if you like, but I’m not particularly worried about Bobo holding up his end of the deal on that.  Last year, despite all the injuries, Georgia’s offense managed to average 112.6 yards per game more than its opponents allowed.  Steele ranks that tenth best nationally.

Defensively?  Maybe Pruitt’s got more to work with than we suspect.  Steele measured Georgia’s 2013 defense holding its opponents below their average yards per game.  Obviously, that doesn’t tell the entire story.  Special teams killed Georgia on several occasions.  So did a poor turnover margin.  (Georgia was +1 in its wins and minus-8 in its losses.)  Turnover margin is partly random and partly good preparation, so there’s only so much you can do beyond putting your faith in our old friend regression to the mean. (Improvement in this category certainly couldn’t hurt.)  But special teams have been crying for a fix for several seasons.  Now would be a good time to do something about that.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, Stats Geek!

Seventy years of excellence

I’m not sure what I most like about this – the methodology, the list itself or the conclusion – ah, let’s go with the conclusion.

Simply put, I think there is no better than a 20% chance we get a better coach. Only 2 of 10 coaches have been demonstrably better as far as team performance than CPJ: Dodd and O’Leary. But I think even if we got another Dodd or O’Leary, the chance is good that they would be lured away by $10Ms to go to a factory. The game of football has changed and Dodd was disheartened at the end about GT’s chances. So the upper end estimate of getting a better coach is 20%.

In other words, at Georgia Tech, you can’t do that.

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Expectations for the opener: your guess is as good as mine.

Bill Connelly’s updated his preseason S&P+ rankings.

This time around, my major tweak was in looking more closely at offensive and defensive trends instead of full-team trends as a whole. Instead of using a weighted five-year history figure for the team, I tinkered with the proper weights for offense and defense. It’s the same with returning starters — attrition affects the units differently.

Using eight years of returning starter data, bouncing it off of S&P+, and using some general regression, I was able to derive the following:

Returning Starters Proj. Change in Off. S&P+ Proj. Change in Def. S&P+
1 -21.3% -10.1%
2 -16.1% -8.4%
3 -11.5% -6.6%
4 -7.4% -4.6%
5 -3.9% -2.6%
6 -0.8% -0.5%
7 +1.7% +1.8%
8 +3.7% +4.1%
9 +5.2% +6.5%
10 +6.2% +9.0%
11 +6.7% +11.7%

Inexperience matters more on offense than on defense, while experience makes more of a difference on defense, if that makes sense. Let’s put that another way: returning almost no starters will hurt an offense more than a defense, while returning 10 starters helps a defense more than an offense. And returning 5-8 starters affects each unit pretty much equally.

The reason I bring this up is Georgia’s season opener.

  • Yes, Clemson fifth. I’ve removed draft points from the equation for now, simply because I don’t like the way I do it and don’t think it has much of a positive effect, so losing Sammy Watkins will look like simply losing a starter. But the major positive impact for Clemson comes from experience on defense; the Tigers have improved by quite a bit over the last couple of years, and they return a relatively experienced unit in 2014. They’re one of only three teams projected in the top 15 on both offense and defense. (The other two are pretty obvious.) You don’t have to actually believe the Tigers are a top-5 team if you don’t want, but you might want to set the bar a little higher than you were thinking.

Now, Georgia did alright against that defense on the road last season (35 points, 545 yards total offense), despite losing Malcolm Mitchell for the season and Todd Gurley for over a quarter’s worth of action.  And Bill’s analysis doesn’t take into account a starting defensive lineman and reserve defensive back being suspended for the first game.  But it does suggest that Georgia’s strength may be going up against Clemson’s.

Yeah, Georgia’s defense is in a state of flux, to put it mildly.  But don’t forget Harvey-Clemons didn’t play in last season’s opener.  And that as far as impact goes, Clemson’s departures on offense far outstrip Georgia’s departures.  (There’s also the possibility that Pruitt has a better idea how to defend Clemson’s offense than Grantham did.)

At this point, it’s a lot harder to put a finger on what to expect than what we thought going into last season.

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Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Sometimes, stats do have a story to tell.

It’s when you break that down that it gets a little interesting.  In 2012, Georgia led the nation in yards per passing attempt, at 10.0 ypa.

Last season, Georgia’s 8.9 ypa was good for eleventh nationally.  Aaron Murray threw past 20 yards only 9.6% of the time. His throws were focused more on the shorter zones, hitting the 6-10 yard range 23% of the time compared to an average 16.6%.”

Either Murray developed a noodle arm, or his game was affected by all the injuries to his receiving corps.  Which do you think?

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Friday morning buffet

Plenty to sample…

  • Here’s a shocker“But as the College Football Playoff’s selection committee wrapped up two days of meetings at the Gaylord Texan on Thursday, it’s clear that objectivity is a sticking point as the college football season draws closer.”
  • Patrick Garbin tells us that over the last two decades, experience has nothing to do with the performance of Georgia’s offensive lines.  I think that’s supposed to relieve us.
  • For some reason, Vanderbilt has decided to move its home game against Ole Miss to the Titans’ stadium, which seats 68,798.  That seems like an invitation for OM fans to come fill the place up.
  • This doesn’t sound good:  “The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation of Florida State University into whether its handling of the Jameis Winston rape allegations violated Title IX laws…”
  • How would you like it if Finebaum hosted a live show from Sanford Stadium?
  • Texas paid $266,990 to a search firm to help find Charlie Strong.  I bet most of us would have offered to do the job for a tenth of that.
  • Here’s a look at how much of a role conversion rates and big play potential on both offense and defense as well as field position played in determining the last ten BCS champs.
  • Marc Weiszer takes stock of how Georgia’s new focus on special teams is going.
  • Tramel Terry, on life as a new defensive back:  “Each day it’s getting better and better. I’m just trying to get all the little terms and get them out on the field instead of thinking so much. Other than that I’m fine. I’ve just got to work hard in the summer time and get my feet right. I feel like I’ll be fine and be ready to play this year.”

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, PAWWWLLL!!!, SEC Football, Stats Geek!