Welcome back.

Bill Connelly’s preview of South Carolina“So South Carolina is improving but isn’t and is gaining ground on the division but isn’t” is essentially spot on — led me to something he posted in January that I evidently missed.

The East was crazy-young in 2016, and division teams ranked seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th, 31st, and 50th in my initial returning production figures. Only Tennessee returns less than 67 percent of production.

Click on that link and you’ll find that Bill wrote this about the SEC East’s upcoming season:

As things stand, four SEC East teams rank among the top 10 in overall returning production: Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, and Vanderbilt. Plus, Missouri ranks in the top 10 in returning offense and is 31st overall.

Granted, last year’s two best East teams — Florida (15th in year-end S&P+) and Tennessee (28th) — have some inexperience to deal with. The Gators should show gains on offense but also rank 103rd in returning defensive production, while Tennessee ranks 109th in overall production.

Still, the division as a whole should improve. It won’t catch the West, but expect a little more balanced playing field in the SEC.

More specifically, and based on his metric…

How returning production in four different offensive stats correlates with changes in Offensive S&P+ ratings:

(The higher the number, the more likely returning production in these areas is to coincide with strong offense.)

  • Receiving yards correlation: 0.320
  • Passing yards correlation: 0.231
  • Rushing yards correlation: 0.126
  • Offensive line starts correlation: 0.096

The conclusion remains: Continuity in the passing game matters a hell of a lot, and continuity in the run game doesn’t have as strong an impact.

On defense, where returning production appears to matter more in general, the correlations are both stronger and more diverse. Since teams use different numbers of defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs, I look at both unit-specific categories and those for defense as a whole.

Correlation between defensive stats and changes in Defensive S&P+:

  • Overall passes defensed correlation: 0.406
  • Overall tackles correlation: 0.369
  • Defensive back passes defensed correlation: 0.363
  • Defensive back tackles correlation: 0.352
  • Overall tackles for loss correlation: 0.296
  • Defensive back tackles for loss correlation: 0.291
  • Linebacker tackles for loss correlation: 0.174
  • Defensive line sacks correlation: 0.171

The main takeaways are similar to last year: disruption and continuity in the secondary are key. And the ability to get hands on passes, via interception or breakup, is harder to replicate than any other, when it comes to box-score disruption.

… Georgia turns up 35th in returning offensive production, 5th in returning defensive production and 9th overall.  Interestingly, with regard to the overall rankings, Georgia is essentially tied with three other teams at 81%, and all four teams reside in the SEC East.  And in a comparison of the four — Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt — I think most would say that Georgia has the most talented roster.

One other interesting thing about Bill’s analysis is that, contrary to Phil Steele, he finds a low correlation between returning production on the offensive line and statistical improvement on offense.  If you’re Georgia, that’s good news, right?

There’s one other thing to consider from Georgia’s perspective with regard to Bill’s metric.  Florida was already showing badly in returning defensive production when he posted this, and with the loss of two more members of the Gators’ secondary, one of whom led the team in tackles last season, you’d have to think that number goes even further south now.  That’s some potentially bad news for a team that has relied heavily on its defense to win the division the past two seasons, so, to repeat, if you’re Georgia, that’s good news, right?

Again, none of this guarantees success for Georgia in 2017.  It is another indication, though, that the coaching staff should have enough raw material available to it to fashion a successful season.


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

18 responses to “Welcome back.

  1. Dave

    It’s interesting to me that O-Line carries such unfavorable ratio of returning starters to success. Interesting, but not surprising.

    At first blush, you’d think continuity on the O-Line would be huge. We always hear about them needing to function as a unit, which is true. However, especially in Georgia’s case, it seemed like those guys knew what they were supposed to be doing, they just weren’t able to do it.

    Kublanow was often physically overmatched, and Catalina was athletically overmatched for a LT. But, in the coaches minds, it seemed the better option.

    I think the only time you’re probably better off for sure w/ a full complement of returning O-Linemen is if you were having to start 5 freshmen and sophomores, who maybe took their lumps but have another year of seasoning.

    If you have a lousy O-line who were all sophomores and juniors returning, as was very much the case going into last year, then turnover is probably not the worst thing in the world.

    Here’s hoping, anyway.


    • Chris

      I used to get annoyed at your posts, but now find myself agreeing with you partly, if not most of the time.

      Is this the Georgia Way I keep hearing about?

      I do remain optimistic about the future though. Worst case scenario, Kirbs is in over his head, but leaves a stocked cupboard for his successor.


  2. Greg

    Never thought I would see a season like they had in ’84…..”Black Magic”. Then Spurrier and company wins 11 games 3 years in a row, an anomaly. Thinks they will never get there again, not with Muschamp…or anyone else for that matter.


  3. Skeptic Dawg

    Given the advanced stats, personal attrition, in addition to what we witnessed last season, South Carolina is my favorite to win the East this season. Yes, they are still young, but I think that it is a given that Boom will have their defense playing at an extremely high level…too much defense this season for Georgia and their struggles on offense to overcome. Here at home, we are still waiting to see what Kirby and Co. are capable of. We are more than likely looking at an East finish of South Carolina first, Florida second and then Georgia third. Why you may ask? Well, we begin every season 11-1 with that 1 loss being to the Gators. The Dawgs simply have far too many questions on offense to show vast improvement (OL, QB, WR and play calling, not to mention the health/ability of Chubb), and we will yet again witness a frustrating offensive season.


    • Greg

      Agree, too many questions….talent (young), HC (not proven), OC (got worse from year before), DC (regressed from Pruitt), no QB coach to develop QB’s…..all we have are running backs and a strong DL. I predict losses to Vandy, GT, TN and UF again. This will be a repeat of last year, which was the first time in history we lost to these four all in the same season. Throw in ND at South Bend and that is another. Auburn is due…..gonna be lucky to finish .500…… # Shambles.


    • Dave

      Of course, you may end up being correct, but seems like a major double-standard from your skeptic standpoint.

      USCjr was awful last year, but they will improve with another year under Muschamp, while Georgia will not under Kirby? Cocks gave up 41 sacks and had a mere 12 Passing TDs, and averaged 40 fewer yds per game than Georgia last year (which is a feat in and of itself). Yet, again, you feel they will automatically be improved?

      If it’s just a gut feel for you, then fine, but not sure your stance is defensible with any real evidence.

      Or, strange troll job.


    • Gurkha Dawg

      Damn Skeptic. I know you’re the skeptic dawg, but I enjoy a little kool aid this time of year. Your post is so pessimistic I suspect it is a little tongue in cheek. Hey, a new season is at hand and we are undefeated, right?


    • PTC DAWG

      I’ll take that bet..


  4. Rebar

    I think Carolina & Kentucky are going to surprise some folks this year with how competitive they will be.


  5. Cojones

    What are the thoughts of Huntley-Johnson’s roiling of FU’s Title IX efforts as to how that may affect the playing time of Antonio Callaway? Will it drag Callaway back before a Title IX hearing and off the playing field? If so, could that happen before the end of Oct?


  6. John Denver is full of shit...

    We will win every game this season.


  7. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Please, stop. I don’t want to drink the Kool-Aid, but it’s summer, and it’s hot and I’m thirsty. Still, I am afraid to drink it.


  8. If we lose to that rag tag bunch from Columbia this year, I would suggest one blonde headed head coach’s seat will be red hot by December.