“Our old friend Regression to the Mean shows up at the party.”

Allow Bill Connelly to explain:

When a team improves by 18 or more adjusted points per game in S&P+, it averages a dip of 4.9 ppg the following year. When a team improves by 9-18 points per game, it sees a dip of two points. On the flip side, when a team regresses by 18 or more points, it averages an uptick of 5.8 points per game the following year. Regressing by 9-18 points? That’s followed by a surge of 3.4 points per game on average.

That being said, Bill finds a couple of factors that may mitigate a return to the middle and allow a team to retain its gains.

That said, this group of improved programs has solid stability in that only one team lost its head coach, and only four lost their starting QBs. Nine return both, which maybe makes for a softer landing?

As I like to say, that question mark is doing a shitload of heavy lifting, but for now, let’s work with Bill.  Here’s one of those nine teams:

Florida Gators
Last year: Improved from 4-7 to 10-3, from 34th to ninth in S&P+, and from 50th to 11th in FPI
2019 projections: Sixth in S&P+ (8.7 wins) and eighth in FPI (8.2 wins)

A lot of Florida’s 2018 improvement came after people had stopped paying attention. Florida’s decades-long win streak over Kentucky ended early in the year, and the Gators lost to Georgia and Missouri by a combined 40 points. But the Gators won their final four games, averaging 45 points and wrecking Florida State and Michigan in the process.

Better yet, they return most of those responsible for that late-season surge. Quarterback Feleipe Franks and an ultra-deep skill corps are back, and last year’s sophomore-heavy defense is now junior-heavy. The offensive line is undergoing a major rebuild, but the continuity is strong everywhere else despite recent attrition in the secondary.

Florida also has history on its side. While the 2010s haven’t been nearly as fun in Gainesville as the 2000s, the Gators have still finished four of the past five seasons in the S&P+ top 25. It’s more likely that 2017 was the outlier, not 2018.

To some extent, I can see where he’s coming from, particularly that last sentence.

I’ve been thinking about my SEC preseason prediction list and I have to admit I can see Florida at a 9 or 10 win level this season, with one huge caveat.  The starting 22 for the Gators will be competitive, but depth is a scary issue for Florida.  Injuries in the secondary or offensive line I suspect will derail that train quickly.

If the Gators are going to defy regression to the mean in 2019, Dan Mullen is going to need some real injury luck.


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Stats Geek!

13 responses to ““Our old friend Regression to the Mean shows up at the party.”

  1. And they were what? +11 or +12 in turnover ratio and returned 17 starters with 10 of those on offense. Could win 10 – could win 6 and anywhere in between.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The offensive line is in the middle of a major rebuild. That’s the reason I believe FU is seriously overrated entering the season.

    They are going to face multiple defensive fronts that could give them problems.


    • Cojones

      The overrated part gives us a two-faced FU whereas:

      Their athletes acquitted themselves well on the field last year to the tune of 10 wins. No matter what you use as a yardstick (they squeezed by two games they should have lost) and considering their fumble recovery/turnover luck, you can’t quite get that nagging little ear puller called 10 wins out of the figuring.

      FU is favored against Miami by 7 points. Excepting you ee, if anyone is a betting man, now’s the time to clean up some big ones and put your money where your written thoughts are.

      No 2. is not so easy? That means that you think they can beat the point spread that’s based on the finish of FU’s season.

      And Manny Diaz isn’t new to this scene at Miami. His top 10 recruiting class thus far stands as testament that at least some of the kids think Miami is better as well. Double down on the importance of this game being slightly heavier for Miami and you have the scene set for an unexpected blowout; that is, if you think the spread is overrated

      Have to leave and head for the bettor’s window before some of you read this and make the points drop.


  3. Biggus Rickus

    Well, yes, 2017 was an outlier for Florida, but a regression from the top 10 would still probably keep them in the top 25. I also don’t think their supposed improvement at the end of the season means anything. They beat two mediocre teams, Idaho and a disinterested Michigan team. I’d peg them at 8 or 9 wins, but if they drop the Miami game, that number could fall to 6.


  4. Mick Jagger

    Beat the rush! Hate Florida early!


  5. Salty Dawg

    I think the starters for FL will be the bread and butter for this team, but as we saw the injuries take out a lot of our players early in last season, FL is on a slippery slope. Their backups won’t last into the season against against us.


  6. Dawg19

    They have to play Auburn and LSU back to back in October. That offensive line will be severely tested then. They follow that up with a trip to South Carolina. They could easily lose all three of those games.


  7. practicaldawg

    Without elite LOS play, no team has a chance to make, much less win in the modern CFP.


  8. W Cobb Dawg

    An OL rebuild killed aubie in 2018 – even though they had the starting QB, both WRs, and a batch of good defensive players returning from a team that played for the sec championship in 2017.

    fu’s OL losses are even worse. Throw in a handful of players who used up eligibility, 5 early nfl entries, a mediocre recruiting class, and an off season attrition rate Mark Richt would envy. Even with bounces going their way, I think they’ll have a tough time winning 8. Maybe they get 9 if they pull an upset like LSU last year.


  9. Bluto, no doubt you’ve looked at both sides of the win total coin, when you play if, and or buts…5-3/ 4-4 going into the WLOCP can’t be far from reality, given FU’s real short comings with regard to roster management…i’m still o-line negative with FU, repeating those close game wins or turnover ratio from 2018 just to much to ask for a 9 -10 win season


  10. Macallanlover

    8-4 seems most likely for them, 7 and 9 wins are very possible. Sure losses to UGA and LSU, with very probable loss to AU leaves them no room for errors/injuries. Pick any of Mizzou, Miami, TN, SC, or KY for the 4th, or more, loss. OL is the killer, but depth and culture are two factors that often play a large role.

    Bill nailed it, FU slipped into respectability last year while o one was looking. It was pretty shocking to see them rated in the Top 10 after the bowls, leader for most over rated at that point but not many care when the season is over. 2018 FU might have been in the 14-17th position, certainly not near the top.