Brian Cook links to a post at Barking Carnival that explores the concept of “pace” – how many possessions an offense can cram into a game. While that article evaluates the Big XII in that context, there’s also a chart provided that ranks all 120 D-1 teams according to pace.
As Brian notes, pace doesn’t necessarily equate with excellence. He points out several reasons for that.
… It’s a good start, but there are a lot of limitations to the study. KenPom adjusts his official pace measures by the pace of your opponents. That corrects for situations like playing Northwestern’s basketball team a lot. This study doesn’t have it. Also, there’s no shot clock in football* and game situations dictate hurrying up or slowing down depending on who’s in the lead, so one reason you might find a bunch of good teams at the bottom is their ability to get in front and then boa constrictor the life out of a game.
All of which reminds me of a post I threw out here last December, in which I looked at Georgia through the prism of yards per play. Here are a couple of things I noted in particular about Bobo’s offense:
- Average yards per play (offense). Georgia ranks a staggering ninth in the country, at 6.8 ypp. That’s Big XII country, folks. Indeed, Georgia is right up there with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas. The only SEC team with a better number is Florida.
- Total yards per game (offense). Georgia ranks 21st nationally, which isn’t bad, but isn’t close to where the top Big XII schools rank. The reason for the disparity in these first two categories is that the Dawgs are a woeful 92nd in the country in the number of plays run on offense. That adds up to a lot of yardage not being gained. Texas, for example, runs almost nine more plays a game on offense than does Georgia, so that while its average yards per play is less, its total yardage is over forty yards a game more.
The question is, how much of that was by design and how much of it was forced on the team by game circumstances? It’s hard to quantify. I think Richt prefers a controlled pace, overall, to protect his defense, but he’s also a guy who’s seen a lot of value in no-huddle stuff going back to his salad days as the FSU offensive coordinator.
And, of course, as we all ruefully remember, there were a few games last year where the defense couldn’t be protected enough.
Brian’s promising some follow up on drive efficiency, which I’m looking forward to seeing. (And we probably shouldn’t forget about Steele’s scoring efficiency metric, yards per point, as we try to evaluate college football offenses.)
One other thing, off-topic, but intriguing. Did you catch this throwaway stat in the Barking Carnival post? “…I will still ignore the fact that the SEC called holding 30% more often than the Big 12 last year.” Assuming that it’s an SEC crew we’ll see calling the game in Stillwater, that could lead to some interesting moments. I’d love to hear Mike Gundy’s opinion of Penn Wagers. After the game.