Daily Archives: March 17, 2011

Strategery point of the day

Here’s a wonderful observation from Chris Brown:

And in the NFL, you don’t make the run game better by adding option plays or doing anything too exotic like the college guys. Instead, you find as many ways as you can to run the inside and outside zones. And Charlie’s big wrinkle with the Chiefs was the same one that a lot of NFL teams adopted: the unbalanced line, or simply an extra offensive lineman. The Chiefs did this, the Ravens did it, and even Stanford, under Jim Harbaugh, often did it too. The reason why you do it, particularly on zone runs when the quarterback is not a threat, is obvious: create more gaps to run through and for the defense to worry about…

… The whole point of zone running is to block the defenders in those zones and to create vertical running lanes; creating the extra gaps should help create additional running lanes. In this instance, it worked brilliantly for Charlie (and it helps having Jamaal Charles). Indeed, I think this is the wildcat offense‘s lasting legacy for NFL coaches — more about unbalanced lines and playing with gaps than having a quarterback who can run.

I don’t why that’s made me think about Georgia deploying a 272-pound fullback this season, but…



Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Doc Saturday’s road to hell

Matt Hinton’s been one of the most rational playoff proponents in the college football blogosphere, so I was hopeful that there would be plenty to like about his postseason plan (or at least those parts worth stealing to make a better one).  Alas, such is not the case.

He’s constructed a ten-team format, with byes and home field advantages, in pursuit of three goals:

Creating an opportunity for every team with a plausible claim on a shot at the championship.
Valuing the regular season with automatic bids for major conference champions and incentives (first-round byes, home games) based on the final BCS standings.
Setting a high bar to filter fringe riffraff that threaten to water down the field and/or give ammunition to critics who like to argue (ridiculously, I think) that a playoff jeopardizes the importance of the regular season.

The problem I see is that there’s an inherent conflict between the first and third of those.  And his own historical review of how things would have gone had his system been in place over the past few seasons goes to illustrate that.

… out of 50 teams here, only three finished the regular season with more than two losses: Wake Forest in 2006 (10-3), Virginia Tech in 2008 (10-3) and UConn last year (8-4), all major conference champions. All three would have also been forced to win a first-round game to get into the round of eight…

Well, yeah, but that simply begs the question of why three- and four-loss teams are deserving of a crack at that in the first place.  And that’s the risk inherent in allowing a field as big as Hinton does.  As Brian Cook, who’s also a playoff proponent, notes,

… DocSat’s still grasps the three-point tao of a college football playoff:

  • Reward in-season success more heavily than most playoffs do by having byes and allow teams to play at home.
  • Restrict the size of the field so 9-3 teams are told to GTFO.
  • Create a system that guarantees the last team standing also has the best resume.

The more I think about that last one the more I think it would be hard to create a playoff that didn’t do this as long as you kept the field relatively small, but the byes and home games aid greatly.

I think that’s right.

The other problem I have with this is that Hinton is far too dismissive of those of us who worry about the impact of an expanded playoff on the regular season.  The reason I say this is because it seems inevitable to me that a ten-team format is an invitation to grow, not just because it lets in those three- and four-game losers, but also because it’s easy to structure a twelve-team format (the top four teams get byes, which is justified by the increased size of the total field and a need to differentiate between the very best and the rest).  That feeds in to a more games means more money and more opportunities for coaches to look good attitude that generates even more postseason expansion.  Basically, we’re off to the races at that point.

Given D-1’s current structure, I still haven’t seen a playoff format I like better than this one.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

One less criminal mastermind to worry about

No doubt you’ll be relieved to hear that Mitch Mustain will avoid misdemeanor charges if he keeps his nose clean for the next year.


Filed under Crime and Punishment, Mustained

Sometimes, when matters more than how many.

Here’s a statistical tale for you to ponder.  Georgia finished last season +10 in turnover margin.  Not surprisingly, the Dawgs were better in that metric in their wins (+15) than in their losses (minus-5).

But here’s the strange part:  in both cases, they ranked quite well in comparison with their conference peers.  Georgia finished first in the SEC in turnover margin in wins – with a big gap between them and the rest of the SEC when you measure on a per game basis – and fourth in losses (third on a per game basis).  So on a quantitative basis, you might think turnovers mattered more last season in helping the team win than in contributing to the losing.  Yet, if you’re like me, it’s the key turnovers in the losses that stick in your brain.  The Florida game was the only one where the sheer number of times Georgia flipped the ball was the controlling factor.  To the extent that turnovers negatively affected the outcome, the rest came more from bad timing than the numbers.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!