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?

Advertisements

71 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

71 responses to “Another one of those “It’s June” posts

  1. HVL Dawg

    Smart outcoached Malzahn in last year’s meeting…..

    I know you are giving just credit where it is due, but it is hard for me to remember the 2016 body of work and think Smart outcoached anybody.

    Congratulations for having a sharp mind.

    Like

  2. Rebar

    Seems like I say this every year, but why is there so much love for Auburn?

    Like

    • MGW

      Because they have the hot new thing at QB. Nobody’s ever seen him do too much, but when he did something, it was pretty good, so he pretty much could be the greatest thing since Johnny Manziel. Probably isn’t true, but its impossible to deny that it could be the case, so here we are.

      Like

      • I’m assuming he’ll have to play against SEC defenses, though. They must have forgotten that. We’ll see how that works out.

        Like

        • Stidham is perhaps the single most important player in the SEC this year. If he’s as good as AUB seems to think it puts The Barn in a position to succeed at a very high level. It also greatly impacts the SEC East race as AUB gets the presumed favorite (UGA) at home.

          Auburn is going to have a stacked DL and a pretty damn good No. 1 CB. That will let them cover up some deficiencies in the middle of the defense and at safety, where Matthews is still a liability in my opinion.

          On offense Auburn will have a great RB and some okay-to-good WRs. If Stidham can play well it changes the dynamic with that offense so much.

          Like

          • Mayor

            Here’s the problem this year: Georgia gets ND in South Bend, UT in Knoxvegas, Auburn in Auburn and FU in JAX (a de facto home game which FU wins almost all the time) plus Tech in Atlanta. I see 4 losses (maybe 5) there frankly unless the coaching is way better than last season and I don’t see Kirby or Chaney growing a couple of brains in the off season. Agreeing to switching Auburn to a home game in odd years was/is a stupid decision. I know it was done for the SEC’s convenience but it is time to switch it back to the original sequence so we don’t have this problem. Where the hell is that overpaid ass of an AD we supposedly have?

            Like

            • Rocketdawg

              Man you are so Jekyll and Hyde sometimes. Unless we beat ourselves ND will be a W. Booch has no talent left on offense and we seem to have Auburn’s number lately unless they have a once in a generation player or the flukiest play in football history. If Kirby loses to the Nerds two years in a row it won’t matter what other games we win. I can’t argue against FU though.

              Like

              • Mayor

                You might want to take a look at ND’s historical winning percentage in South Bend before making a prediction like that–it is the best in college football. Bootch has won the last 2 and UT is at home where the Vols win well over 70% of their games historically. Again, there is an “if” about Auburn’s QB but if he pans out Auburn is expected to challenge for the SEC West–this Dawgs team ain’t winning any titles with this bunch of coaches. Tech has beaten the Dawgs 2 out of the last 3 games–what else can I say. At least we agree on FU. And I am not Dr. Jekyll. I am Mr. Hyde all the time.

                Like

          • Got Cowdog

            i disagree. The most important player in the SEC is the UGA lineman that can control his assigned number opposite him.

            Apologies, Wednesday is drinking night. Guiness is not just for tempura batter anymore.

            Like

        • To mykiesee’s point, Stidham started three games for Baylor and destroyed Kansas St in one of them (400+ yards) but there are a few caveats.

          1: Baylor’s system makes QBs look better than they are
          2: The three teams he faced averaged around 85th in YPP, with Kansas State being outside of the top 100
          3: Baylor’s skill players were insane, many of whom are now in the NFL.

          This doesn’t mean Stidham will struggle at AUB. He’s probably going to be quite good, actually. But I wouldn’t expect him to light the world on fire against LSU, UGA, Bama, Clemson, etc… as those defenses are really, really good, something Stidham has quite literally never faced before

          Liked by 2 people

          • Otto

            Malzahn when he succeeds is using a more system QB so Stidham is looking good. It is easy to forget Malzahn had Auburn rolling until White was injured and playing injured last year. Stidham is looking good and White is back as well. Auburn can win the SEC next year. Do I expect him to torch the SEC with his arm? No but the weapons and defense are in place at Auburn to make a run.

            Like

      • You mean a QB just like Jeremy Johnson? Remember him? The Nick Marshall backup who got robbed of the Heisman in 2015? I’m with Rebar – why all the love?

        Like

    • dawgtired

      I understand Aub getting a little respect but some have them challenging Bama. That’s a lot of love! I won’t count UF a win for us until I see it. I’m not sure why ND is getting the love. Oh yeah, I forgot, they were the best 4-8 team in the country last year. UT will be breaking in a new QB so I like our chances. I don’t doubt we could have 3 losses, I’m just not sure from whence the 3 losses cometh.

      Like

  3. Macallanlover

    I feel the SEC East will be significantly better this season with some very competitive games. Having all of them among the Top 50 teams isn’t unreasonable (at least in June) but people polls will discount Vandy and Kentucky simply because they are seen through historical glasses and :shouldn’t be there”. There is no “walk over” team in the East this year from what I see. Could be that depth problems for SC, Vandy, and TN could cause them to have a fall off later in the year. The East may not be a beast, but it should be competitive with about any division in CFB, and not too far behind the West when viewed top to bottom.

    Like

  4. Dawgy1

    If Georgia plays true to recent tradition, we will beat ND, Auburn, and Tennessee, and lose to Vandy and GT.

    Like

    • Otto

      Nice snark. I don’t understand the Tennessee pick by the talking heads as they have turnover. ND is coming off a down year and wasn’t winning at the end of the year.

      Losses to Auburn or UF, I admit and agree are very possible. I picked 9-3 but only agreed with one of the games they picked as losses.

      Like

      • theothermj

        Butch Jones teams are sound on offense and defense usually via ESPN’s football power index. They have a ton of talent, have recruited very well for many years.

        Notre Dame, despite their win/loss record, were top 50 in offense and defense via fpi.

        Florida just picked up an experienced QB transfer yesterday that I’m sure the fpi didn’t account for. To me, that flips the odds over to Florida to win that game, plus McElwain just flat out outcoached Kirby. The defenses at Florida has been among the best and will be the difference vs an oline with 12 starts.

        Like

      • Jeff Sanchez

        We’re playing in Knoxville, so they probably expect 2-3 shredded knees by the end of the game

        Like

  5. theothermj

    If we play like we have recently, that’s 0-2 record vs Tenn, 0-2 record vs Florida, 1-2 record vs Ga Tech.

    Notre Dame on the road I agree with ESPN will be loss #4.

    This has been happening for a decade, we win the games that don’t matter, and lose the games that do matter, it’s the Georgia way.

    Like

    • Otto

      UNC last year gives me hope that Smart can focus the team for an early season out of conf. game. GT seems to win every time UGA gets a new DC and then it gets turn around. Smart knows GT is a must win or the igniter button for the hot seat warmer will be switched on.

      Miss. St. will be the one most of the fan base views as the head scratcher. Auburn and UF to crush the fan bases hopes of getting to Atlanta. ’18 is the year I am looking to for the trip to Atlanta.

      Like

    • Got Cowdog

      Dead on, Theo. Throw in a face-plant against Vandy or Kentucky, or even a bed wetting against App State, we could easily go 8-5 or 7-6. I ain’t drinking the Kool Aid any more.

      Like

      • theothermj

        Yep Cdog, there are 3 games that matter most to UGA fans are UF, UT, GT. We usually lose those in the last few seasons(0-2, 0-2, 1-2). I don’t have any reason to think our offense will be any better, if the Spring game was any indication at all, could be worse if you at the run game, run blocking, and pass protection with all the sacks. The oline is a major concern.

        Coin flips will be SC with their terrific QB and Muschamp’s defensive prowess and Miss St with Mullen and Grantham. Appal St could be a coin flip if you look at how tough they played a stocked UT team last year and they have a winning tradition there.

        Like

        • Macallanlover

          Everyone has an opinion, but I have to say you have taken the darkest side to every UGA question while praising some very questionable teams/players/coaches. Even Munson would be optimistic compared to your analysis. Not sure I buy any of that, I think I will have a more fun summer than you….we will see in the fall if your angst has any justification.

          Like

          • theothermj

            ok, I’ll be more positive, UGA is 16-3 vs unranked teams in 2015-2016. Great in games that don’t matter, t’s the Georgia way.

            Like

        • Macallanlover

          And, while no one likes to lose to little sister, the GT loss is no where near the impact of a conference loss.

          Think I smell an old visitor who has been shipped away before in this poster. Must be a sad little life for someone this miserable.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Got Cowdog

            Mac, I have some serious bipolarity about the team right now. If we don’t see considerable improvement up front and at receiver the doomsday scenario is a real possibility.

            On the other hand, the potential is there to have an 11 or 12 win season, or even run the table. If we have the team to run the table in the east, the cupcakes should be no problem. Can ND hang with that team? Probably not, IMHO they are one of the most overrated teams in CFB. MSU and Auburn are middle of the pack west teams, right? So where is the loss? Bama in the championship game?

            Either scenario is as likely as the other. I’m channeling my inner Munson until events dictate otherwise.

            Like

            • theothermj

              Considering the lack of experience at oline and wr, it would be a great season to finish 9-3. I don’t see it, I mean we had Chubb & Michel & top 20 defense last year too, didn’t help win more than 8 games. I don’t know how Eason gets better without real simulation, and to do that, like blitzing and sacking, risks injury. I wasn’t impressed with Chaney’s playcalling, it was basically run up the middle 2x then try to convert a 3rd and long when the defense expected pass, it was very predictable, which is why the scoring finished up ranked @100+. Also, the special teams were really, really bad. I think virtually worse than almost every team in the fpi, that can lose you 2-3 games right there. I do feel strong about the defense, if they can fix the red zone issues and improve the tackles for loss and sack totals.

              Like

            • Macallanlover

              Was talking to the troll Cowdog. I understand the questions about the offense, but feel we will better at QB for sure, and think we will see better OL play, but certainly not dominant yet. Both Chubb and Michel will be healthier this season, and are both in a “contract year”. I also expect the offense to get the ball more often and in better field position because of the defense. We should also have a better FG kicker, and a kicker who can put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. Thought we had better WR play this spring, no AJ like guy, but some dependable guys with good speed.

              Not a slam dunk, but feel pretty confident we will get more offensive production as a result of the above.

              Like

              • Got Cowdog

                No worries, Mac. I want us to be better, I think the potential is there. But…..

                Your earlier comment about an improved east is spot on and recently the east is never as weak as we are led to believe. Unfortunately Theo’s comment on recent history is right on as well. There are glimmers of hope to be sure, but I’m still riding with Larry so Mrs. Cowdog won’t have to make me hand over my belt and shoelaces again.

                Like

    • DoubleDawg1318

      That’s some revisionist history there. Vandy wasn’t a big game last year until after we lost. In 2014 we crushed good teams like Clemson and Mizzou but lost to a dreadful Florida team. We have won our share of big games but those annual no show games that hold us back are more often than not games that don’t seem big until we lose. It would not shock me if we lose to Miss St and beat Auburn because that’s just how Georgia seems to roll.

      Like

      • theothermj

        What I meant was going 0-2 in 2015 vs ranked teams, and 2-3 last year, so that’s 2-5 vs ranked teams last 2 seasons.

        And the UT and UF games are the 2 best SEC opponents, and it’s an 0-2 record vs UT, 0-2 vs UF.

        Throw in the 1-2 vs GT

        and a great Notre Dame coach in South Bend.

        And an Auburn team that everyone’s saying could be one of those years for Auburn.

        Like

  6. Greg

    9 & 3?????……He is gonna have to win at least 12 to meet his predecessor’s average. I certainly hope he can do better than that……otherwise, it was fruitless to make a change.

    Like

  7. 69Dawg

    Has anybody gone back and looked at the results of this ESPN fantasy after the season. What were their preseason picks for 2016?? How did they do??

    Like

    • Otto

      Interesting question.

      http://www.espn.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_/id/128576/breaking-down-fpis-performance-in-2016

      FPI’s preseason projected win totals were within one win of the actual win totals for more than a third of FBS teams, and within two wins for nearly two-thirds of teams. There were a number of teams, however, that FPI over- or underestimated.

      Like

    • theothermj

      The fpi is pretty conservative, for example it predicted 2 losses for Kirby in 2016, where Kirby ended up losing 5. So when it predicts 3 losses in 2017, might be looking at 4 or 5 losses. The Fpi also factors in transfer Qb’s, so UF would have been higher had they known about the Zaire transfer yesterday. On the upside, fpi takes away value for first time head coaches like Kirby was in 2016 (see endings of GT, UT, and Vandy games) his experience should mean something. Also, Eason’s experience in fpi (all returning Qb’s) results in 3.3 more points per game on the average, and 3.3 less points per game for first time starters like Eason was in 2016.

      Like

      • You have a high opinion of Malik Zaire. Why?

        Like

        • I think this guy must work for the WWL

          Like

        • theothermj

          Didn’t mean to imply that. Just fpi rates teams better if they have a returning starter or transfer with experience is all. They had UGA favored at 52.6 before the transfer. I think his experience tilts it 3.3 to UF, thus making UF the favorite in that matchup.

          Like

          • UF’s FPI has changed from 14.5 in ESPN’s initial preseason FPI to 14.6 now. There is no explanation provided as to what led to the .1 change. How are you so sure it’s attributable to Zaire?

            Like

            • theothermj

              The 14.6 rating was not attributable at all to Zaire, and that score was tallied before Zaire officially transferred yesterday.

              Like

              • So why, then, are you talking about Zaire?

                He lost the starting job at ND and never got it back. He’s got one really good game to his name. He’s never played in a system like UF’s and has to learn it in less than three months.

                Like

                • theothermj

                  Zaire brings experience at the Qb position which could have tipped the fpi advantage to UF had fpi been able to know for sure Zaire was transferring to UF before their update, since it was so close between UGA-UF before Zaire transferred. I think his experience is worth at least 3 % points.

                  Like

                  • So this is simply based on your opinion. That’s fine; I was just making sure you didn’t have any FPI data to back that up.

                    Like

                    • theothermj

                      Right on, I haven’t seen an fpi update since the Zaire UF transfer. Who knows they might not have even factored in Ramsey’s decision to stay at UGA in the latest update so maybe it’s a wash. After what I saw in the Spring game for UGA’s oline, run game and Eason’s development, Zaire or Franks don’t have to be great to continue their winning streak, especially if they keep playing defense like they have the last two seasons.

                      Like

                    • theothermj

                      I feel sorry for Eason as I don’t know how he improves without taking pressure, hits, and getting real game simulation. He really needs real game simulation, but I fear Kirby isn’t doing it for fear of injury. So Eason’s development might not happen until the real bullets start to come in the Fall.

                      Like

                    • No starting QB takes hits in practice unless as a coach, you have no desire for job security. That pretty much goes all the way down to the high school level now.

                      At the college level, pretty much no player with the QB designation by his name takes a single hit from his own guys whether you’re the starter or a redshirt running the scout team.

                      Like

                    • Mayor

                      I’ve seen the Zaire kid play and he’s pretty good. He is certainly better than any other QB at FU so he can’t do anything but help them.

                      Like

  8. Captain Obvious

    I absolutely love the pressure placed on Auburn. keep it up wwl

    Like