Some of you probably think I’m beating a dead horse with this stuff, but in a world where Mark Richt feels compelled to remind the fan base that his five-star, highly-sought-after-as -a-recruit, two-spring-practices-under-his-belt quarterback might not, you know, actually suck, I don’t think it hurts anything to explore a few statistical reasons why Georgia might win a few games in 2010.
Today’s segment comes via data compiled by a blogger who maintains a stat diary at MGoBlog. He’s got two diary posts up of interest.
The first is a look at special teams. There are a couple of direct quotes about Georgia’s two stars there:
… Punters evaluations on each punt are measured on gross distance, net distance and then compared to punts from that spot on the field. A punt from your own 20 yards that nets 35 is below average but a punt from the opponents 40 that has a net of 30 is above average.
Last year, Georgia led the nation in my measurements in gross punting, it was worth 8.2 points above average on the season…
… Field goal kickers have never really had a good stat with which to measure them by. So much depends on where you are kicking from. Leigh Tiffin from Alabama garnered All-American honors despite missing 4 extra points and making 24 of his 30 field goals from inside 40 yards. Meanwhile in the same conference, Blair Walsh from Georgia makes a nation leading 12 field goals of 40 yards or longer versus only one miss from the same distance and is perfect on extra points and doesn’t even sniff All-American. Walsh’s performance gave Georgia 21.6 paa where Tiffin providing a respectable but not that close 7.4 paa.
Both of which are nice from a chest puffing perspective, but it’s his conclusion that should give us some hope for this season.
In general, for any one special team unit, the difference between average and the best and worst is about 2 touchdowns in either direction over the course of the season. Being the best at special teams is worth about a half game a season versus the average team and a full game a season versus the worst team. If there is one unit to excel at, the opportunity is on the kickoff team where last year there was a 53 point differential between the best (Nebraska) and the worst (West Viriginia).
Say goodbye, Jon Fabris.
By the way, this is totally unrelated to Georgia, but I found it amazing nonetheless:
In the last 3 years there have been 13 punts from inside the 30 yard line, Virginia Tech and Temple have both done it twice. Last year Southern Miss was the worst offender, punting from the 29 on 4th and 6. The punt was of course a touchback.
Outside of having a three-touchdown lead with less than five minutes to go, I can’t imagine for the life of me why anyone would punt from their opponent’s 29. And even then, how hard can it be to find somebody who can deliver a ten-yard punt?
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. His other post analyzes the value of returning starts on offense and defense, based on a comparison of the ’08 and ’09 seasons. Some of his findings may surprise you a bit, some not so much. Here’s how I’d summarize them:
- A returning quarterback is a good thing, but not as much as returning very few starts at the position is a bad thing.
- Returning starts at running back mean little.
- Returning starts are receiver are a big sign of offensive success.
- A significant lack of returning starts on the offensive line is a negative; otherwise, experience on the o-line isn’t that big a deal.
- While running back returning starts aren’t significant, overall returning starts on the offense have a big positive correlation with the success of the running game.
- There’s little correlation between returning starts at any specific defensive group and defensive success. The highest correlation was again with little returning experience on that side of the ball and overall poor defensive performance.
What that hints at if you’re a Dawg fan – assuming some consistency in these numbers for 2010, of course – is that there are indeed some legitimate grounds for expecting the offense to perform successfully this season. The key will be Bobo playing to his strengths, the running game and the experience in the receiving corps, and managing his weakness, the lack of experience at the QB position. Neither of which is exactly a big surprise, but at least there is some statistical basis for the strategy.
And one other note: check out this brief mention of turnover margin.
… turnovers are random! Both forcing them and committing them shows virtually zero correlation from one year to the next. If anything there is a slight negative correlation between turnovers one year to the next.
I’m for all the negative correlation we can get this season.