Daily Archives: May 4, 2017

Today, in bungled metaphors

Regardless where you find yourself on the political scale, you ought to recognize this as the kind of moronic quote you get from politicians who don’t follow sports closely, but try to act like they do.




Filed under Political Wankery

When they were bad, they weren’t so bad.

Bill Connelly dives into what advanced stats say the best and worst games of 2016 were.

Ask, and you shall receive. Below is a list of what the stats say were the top 50 games of 2016. I added one slight tweak, though. Along with percentile performances, the stat profiles also include a postgame win expectancy figure that basically says “based on this game’s stats, you could have expected to win this game X percent of the time.” If your postgame win expectancy was 50 percent, that means it was a perfect tossup, per the key stats.

If we’re truly judging the most high-quality games of the year, then in my mind they should be games in which both teams not only played well (per percentiles) but also played almost perfectly even. So the closer each team’s win expectancy was to 50 percent, the better the game.

So here are the top 50 games based on what I’m so cleverly calling the Great Game Score — the teams’ combined percentile ratings minus a win expectancy factor…

Best games make for a fun list, although from a pure entertainment standpoint, my favorite game of last season, the USC-Penn State meeting in the Rose Bowl, only finished fourth, but it’s when you get to the worst games that you get the crack that stings, Dawg fans.

And in case you’re curious, here are the 20 worst games of 2016…

The main surprise for me: no Georgia-Nicholls State! Too close, I guess.

Last season was so mediocre, they couldn’t even do awful well.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

On second thought, maybe that wasn’t such a great idea after all.

The judge who excoriated Charlie Strong in open court has recused herself from the underlying case, citing a state judicial rule about a defendant fearing he won’t get a fair hearing because of “prejudice or bias of the judge.”

Obviously, Mark Richt has lost control over the Florida criminal courts.


Filed under Crime and Punishment

Eason, and a reason to believe

Ian Boyd, in praise of Jacob Eason, pretty much knocks down the major issues that plagued Georgia’s offense last season.

Poor pass protection?  Check.

For the offense, this looks like a busted play, and it’s not really clear what they were trying to run. Somehow the Dawgs made a positive gain, thanks to Eason just barely getting this toss off to Chubb releasing down the field.

Poor protection and overall execution on the part of the offense regularly put Eason in the role of improv artist. His heralded ability to throw the ball on the move was often all that stood between the Dawg offense and disaster. At times, he even flipped disaster into success, averting pressure and making long completions.

Lack of support from the receiving corps?  Check again.

Beyond their shaky protections, Georgia lacked scary receivers on the outside for Eason to target with his big arm. That it made it hard to effectively attack the middle of the field with more talented options like Nauta or Isaiah McKenzie, because defenses were loading up between the hash marks.

Nauta averaged eight yards per target and McKenzie 9.9, but outside receivers Terry Godwin and Javon Wims averaged only 6.3 and 5.8 yards, respectively. The combination of Eason’s arm strength and anticipation and UGA’s tight ends and running backs should’ve created lots of opportunities outside. It didn’t work out in 2016.

None of which is to say that Eason is a finished product.  Boyd notes more than once that he has to get smoother and faster with his progressions, but as the spring game showed, his success in 2017 will still be largely tied to the help he gets from his surrounding cast.


Filed under Georgia Football

‘Well, maybe you need new coaches, not new quarterbacks.’

This is a great read on the evolution of the spread offense, through the eyes of coaches.  There’s a lot of fun stuff in there — Hal Mumme’s confidence that his tinkering would work, Bob Stitt’s continuation of that confidence, the need to play fast to keep defenses on their heels, Dino Babers’ explanation of why he doesn’t use a playbook with his team — but what comes out more than anything is the motivation behind the increasing embrace of the spread.

It’s an equalizer.

In 1997, Mumme’s first year at Kentucky, his team played Steve Spurrier’s No. 1 Florida. The Wildcats offensive line was overmatched, so Mumme drew up a different kind of option.

Mumme: We couldn’t block Jevon Kearse, and so we told Tim Couch to either throw a bubble screen or hand the ball off. It was so easy to do. I don’t know why we didn’t keep doing it. We probably should have.

Which is what pisses off Nick “Is this what we want football to be?” Saban, of course.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

The SEC and yards per play, 2016 edition

Let’s welcome back our old friend, regression to the mean!  Matt Melton returns with his annual conference yards per play analysis.

… Since 2005, I have collected YPP data for every conference. I use conference games only because teams play such divergent non-conference schedules and the teams within a conference tend to be of similar quality. By running a regression analysis between a team’s Net YPP (the difference between their Yards Per Play and Yards Per Play Allowed) and their conference winning percentage, we can see if Net YPP is a decent predictor of a team’s record. Spoiler alert. It is. For the statistically inclined, the correlation coefficient between a team’s Net YPP in conference play and their conference record is around .66. Since Net YPP is a solid predictor of a team’s conference record, we can use it to identify which teams had a significant disparity between their conference record as predicted by Net YPP and their actual conference record. I used a difference of .200 between predicted and actual winning percentage as the threshold for ‘significant’. Why .200? It is a little arbitrary, but .200 corresponds to a difference of 1.6 games over an eight game conference schedule and 1.8 games over a nine game one. Over or under-performing by more than a game and a half in a small sample seems significant to me. In the 2016 season, which teams in the SEC met this threshold? Here are SEC teams sorted by performance over what would be expected from their Net YPP numbers.


I’d like to get excited about some of this, namely the part about Florida overachieving, but looking back on last year’s analysis,


… the depressing truth may simply be that Jim McElwain is a good coach.  Of course, maybe it just means the Gators are overdue to come back to earth.

On the other hand, those stats certainly give every indication that Bret Bielema may be the SEC’s most underrated coach.  Take that for what it’s worth.

In any event, keeping Matt’s caution about the significance of over or under-performing by more than a game and a half in a small sample in mind, what’s particularly striking about the 2016 numbers is that a majority of conference schools posted variations under .100, and half were under .050.  If I didn’t know any better, that looks to me like conference YPP was a pretty good measuring stick.


Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Is the balance of power in the SEC shifting?

Jim Donnan, in the aforementioned Finebaum interview, believes the East is on the upswing, in significant part because of improved quarterback play.  Maybe he’s even right about that, but I’m in a wait and see mode.

That being said, what may level things out more is that the West appears to be in something of a decline.  Take a look at this divisional power poll from Roll ‘Bama Roll.  There don’t appear to be many strong defensive teams in the West this season (the line about Nick Fitzgerald throwing four interceptions in MSU’s spring game against a Todd Grantham secondary probably deserves an Envy and Jealousy post).  I wonder if the shift of several teams in that division to spread attacks — admittedly, to varying degrees — has contributed to a decline on the other side of the ball.

I’m not sure how this all shakes out, to be truthful.  Other than 2017 likely being a rerun of 2016’s Alabama and the Thirteen Dwarfs, that is.


Filed under SEC Football

You can take the coach out of Georgia, but you can’t take Georgia out of the coach.

My favorite thing about this Finebaum interview with Jim Donnan is that Donnan refers to the SEC East as “we”.


Filed under Georgia Football

The ACC’s need for reassurance

There’s so much to love about this.

Experts in scare quotes, for starters.  The absoluteness of “total confirmation”, too.

All that bravado doesn’t mask the fact that Swofford has felt the need to conduct multiple conversations with the suits at ESPN to make sure the ACC Network is still a thing, or that he in turn has had to provide confirmation to his conference members that it’s still a go.

Don’t rush to spend that money, boys.


Filed under ACC Football, ESPN Is The Devil

Speaking only for themselves

In a unique twist on the old saw about it’s what’s on the front of the jersey that matters, not the back, LSU advises its student-athletes of its support for them to publicly express their opinions regarding the Alton Sterling case — as long as they don’t wear LSU gear or use LSU branding when doing so.


Filed under Political Wankery, SEC Football