Daily Archives: June 21, 2017

Another Georgia Bulldog point of pride

If you were frustrated by Rodrigo Blankenship’s lack of dominance on kickoffs last year, Seth Emerson points out that he was merely continuing in a long line of mediocre to poor performance by Georgia freshmen kickers in that regard.

Blankenship’s kickoffs weren’t all that different when compared to some other past freshmen at Georgia. Blankenship averaged 62.2 yards, and was 36.4 percent on touchbacks. Marshall Morgan averaged 63.2 yards and had touchbacks on 36.8 percent as a freshman. Blair Walsh — who kicked off when the kickoff was at the 30-yard line, thus his touchbacks were much less — had 5 percent touchbacks, with an average distance of 60.0. Brandon Coutu, who like Walsh kicked from the 30-yard line, averaged 29 percent touchbacks, with an average distance of 60.5.

Ah, consistency.  Although fairness requires me to offer some defense of the honor and ability of Walsh, who was victimized by a special teams position coach who was obsessed with the concept of directional kicking, to Walsh’s detriment.

Would only someone be equally obsessed with touchbacks.  Sigh.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Holmes, I believe you may have cracked the case.

Bill Connelly looks at three-and-outs.

As I put it in the Illini piece, creating and avoiding three-and-outs is merely step one toward having a good offense or defense. Purdue, for instance, was pretty good at moving the chains once and pretty iffy at everything else. Still, it’s something we draw reference to here and there, but it’s not a list I share frequently enough.

We’ll start with offense. Here’s a list of FBS teams and their three-and-out rates for 2016. I’m also including what I call three-and-out-plus, which features all possessions that ended in three or fewer plays and didn’t include points. That means a few end-of-half possessions for everybody, but more importantly, it includes quick turnovers, maybe the most deadly kind of possession in existence (and something Illinois was particularly bad at avoiding last year).

If you want the tl;dr version, skip straight to the end.

Best three-and-out margins in the country:

(As in, defensive percentage minus offensive percentage.)

  1. Clemson +19.7%
  2. Southern Miss +18.4%
  3. Alabama +15.9%
  4. Tulsa +14.9%
  5. Michigan +14.6%
  6. Temple +13.9%
  7. Appalachian State +13.8%
  8. Virginia Tech +12.4%
  9. Oklahoma +12.4%
  10. Toledo +12.3%

Worst three-and-out margins:

  1. North Texas -16.8%
  2. Rutgers -14.4%
  3. Illinois -13.1%
  4. Fresno State -11.9%
  5. UConn -11.6%
  6. Charlotte -10.3%
  7. Buffalo -10.1%
  8. UNLV -9.8%
  9. Arizona -9.6%
  10. Marshall -9.1%
Combined record of the top 10 teams: 111-31, with five conference titles and both spots in the CFP final.
Combined record of the bottom 10 teams: 30-89.

I believe there might be a correlation there.

Hmmm… he may be on to something there.

Georgia, in case you’re wondering, finished a tick under plus-two percent, mainly because of the offense.

6 Comments

Filed under Stats Geek!

Today, in Larry Scott is a true genius.

The Pac-12 commissioner is being paid nearly $4.2 million a year, more than any of his peers, to oversee a revenue gap between his conference and Jim Delany’s that amounts to a $228 million, single-year conference-wide deficit.  Nice work, if you can get it.

In my next life, I want to come back as a P5 conference commissioner.

1 Comment

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football

Another one of those “It’s June” posts

If you haven’t seen the latest edition of ESPN’s 2017 FPI (Football Power Index) rankings, here’s what they say about Georgia:  a 9-3 regular season, 6-2 in the conference, with losses to Notre Dame, Tennessee and Auburn.  Only the Auburn loss isn’t considered a close call.

As best I can tell, that would be good enough per FPI to get the Dawgs to the SECCG, by virtue of winning the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Gators, strangely enough.

I suppose that’s good news, with the obvious caveat that FPI is one of those ESPN-created stats we all love to mock, but there are a couple of things that make me a bit cautious about embracing that.  One is that I find FPI rates Georgia’s strength of schedule absurdly high, at fourth.  (Florida’s is fifth, which might help explain Georgia’s slight edge.)  One reason for that is that FPI loves the SEC East.  Every team in the division is in the top fifty (Vanderbilt, at 46, brings up the rear), with three, including Georgia, in the top twenty.  I’m not sure I’m ready to buy into that just yet.

Sure, on the surface that may favor Georgia.  But it may favor Florida.  Or it may favor the West teams in their cross-divisional games.  It’s hard to map that out at the start of the summer.

The second thing that makes me nervous is a statistical analysis that suggests one thing FPI isn’t so good at is picking upsets.

From all of this, I come to my second main conclusion from all this analysis: In-season algorithms don’t do a good job of predicting the outcomes of actual games, but they can do a good job of predicting the Vegas spread. In this regard, the FPI (and to a lesser extent, my algorithm) does have value in doing things such as projecting point spreads out 2-3 weeks in advance. That type of analysis is appears to be fairly robust. I also must concede that the FPI does a better job of predicting these spreads than my algorithm does (which I would expect considering they most likely have more than one dude working on it in his spare time). But, you could argue that the FPI is so good at predicting the spread that it doesn’t add much to the discussion. It is on some level too conservative. At least my algorithm takes some chances and will make more than 1-2 upset picks a week. But, at the end of the day, the gold standard is the Vegas spread, which honestly makes sense. After all, if there was a computer program out there that could beat Vegas, somebody would be very rich and they would certainly not tell the rest of us about it.

Again, maybe that’s a good thing.  For one, I have a hard time assessing Auburn’s chances of beating Georgia as being as strong as FPI does; recent history suggests it takes a once in a generation talent at quarterback or a ginormous rabbit’s foot for Auburn to take down Georgia on the Plains.  (Not to mention Smart outcoached Malzahn in last year’s meeting.)  But upsets, as we know, cut both ways, and it’s not hard to pick out a few likely opportunities for the Dawgs to wet the bed.

Anyway, summer has started and this is food for thought.  Comments?

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Filed under Georgia Football

“Getting down in a [three-point] stance isn’t natural.”

So what makes for a seemingly can’t miss, second pick in the NFL draft offensive tackle’s failure to stick with the team that drafted him only three years ago?  How about playing for Gus Malzahn?

… It’s been sort of mystifying; he’s a top-tier athlete, a guy that consistently bullied defensive linemen in the run game in college, and yet he can’t seem to beat anyone at the pro level. What happened?

He was essentially playing a different game at Auburn. The Tigers’ offense was a spread-out, space-based option system, a modern derivative of the Wing-T, and it required completely different things of Robinson than what the Rams’ old-school, I-formation-style scheme would. Robinson, like many college linemen transitioning to the NFL of late, had little experience with the types of blocks he needed to be able to execute at the next level. In former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz’s informative piece on SB Nation breaking down the difficulties of transitioning to the professional game, he notes that “Robinson played in [a college offense] that barely resembled anything that exists in the NFL. I could hardly find any clips to make comparisons [for what he’s done with the Rams].”  [Emphasis added.]

The lack of overlap in technique from the college game to the pros is becoming an increasingly common issue for scouts and evaluators, making a position that’s traditionally been considered a relatively safe bet much trickier to hit on in the draft. “Sometimes you go through 80 plays [on a college tape] and only eight of them are truly gradable, where they’re at the point of contact and they’re actually doing something you’re going to ask them to do,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said at the combine in February.

“A lot of the [spread offense] offensive linemen, they’re not necessarily asked to run off the ball, and [set] a guy up, and try to move [a big defensive end] three yards down the field,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said in 2016. “They’re kind of asked to just ‘zone and occupy,’ and let the backs cut off the blocks. So you really have to dig through those plays where you can really see him unroll his hips, and dig his cleats in, and really get moving.”

It appears it’s not just the Nick Marshalls of the world who have trouble transitioning from Auburn’s offense to the pros.  I hope Kirby and Sam Pittman are printing off copies of this article to pass around to as many high school lineman recruits as they possibly can.

(h/t)

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics

Ambassador to the Champions of Life

If you’re the current head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, I’m not sure if hearing that Phillip Fulmer has been named to a paying gig as special adviser to the president for community, athletics and university relations is actually worse than a vote of confidence… but it’s close.

Don’t look over your shoulder, Booch.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange