Daily Archives: July 14, 2021

In America, anything’s possible.

How it started:

How it’s going:

In Nebraska’s defense, Trev probably can’t be as bad at the job as Jeff Long’s been.


Filed under Big Ten Football

This one’s for you: a statistical journey

I’m not a statistics guru, but I’ve always appreciated what you can glean from stats.  One reason I latched on to baseball early on was because there was so much fun to me in following all the numbers players generated.  That being said, until Bill James came along to analyze things, I didn’t appreciate there were numbers and then there were numbers.

Compared to football, baseball is a relatively easy enterprise to analyze statistically, because the bulk of the action is individualized.  Baseball is much farther along than is football in internalizing the information; analytics rule the day in modern baseball.

That isn’t to say we aren’t seeing a similar effort made for football.  But devising a statistical framework that both enlightens and affects strategies and tactics is a more difficult enterprise than is the case for baseball.  My first inkling of what you could do with stats came with Matt Hinton’s sadly missed Dr. Saturday blog, where he sought to discover the level of correlation between different metrics and wins and losses.  Although it was a somewhat crude approach, it wasn’t without its revelations.  For example, Matt was the first person who made me realize that penalties had very little effect on wins and losses.

There have been plenty of others in the years since then, like Bill Connelly and Brian Fremeau, who have added much to the framework.  I find myself convinced by some metrics, not so much by others, but I do my best to delve into the expanded body of work.

Stats at their most relevant, I think, accomplish two different things:  they provide insight into the relative quality of play and they also can be a useful tool, analytically speaking, for devising a game plan.  The former is more useful to me as a fan; the latter should be more useful for a coach.  Either way, if the data isn’t presented in a meaningful way, it’s worthless for either purpose.  As yesterday’s PFF post indicated, there is a lot of noise in the system and that encourages people to tune out the story good stats tell.

That’s why I posted the bit from the guys at Dawg Sports Live the other day.  Sure, college football is enjoyable to follow on its own terms and if you find statistics to be nothing more than a distraction to that, fine.  But, if you dismiss statistical analysis because you find it unconvincing, that’s a mistake.

And apparently some of you do feel that way, because Josh felt a need to tweet something in response to some of your comments to my post.

He provides two charts.

This first one is near and dear to my heart.  If there’s only one college football stat you choose to follow, make it yards per play.  (I’ve even made it easy to do so at the blog, as I’ve started tracking net ypp in the SEC on a weekly basis.)  As you can see from that graphic, there is a very clear correlation between net ypp and wins.

Granted, this chart is more in the weeds-y (and it would help if you listened to the linked clip to understand Josh’s data better), but it tracks two of the more important analytic buzzwords of the day, explosiveness and efficiency.  (Kirby may not geek out on the numbers, but he’s hammered steadily about Georgia’s offense needing to be more explosive for some time now.)  Where this sort of data can help with game planning and play calling is that you can use it to drill down to what works for given down and distance sets — and if you don’t believe there aren’t coaches already out there doing that to gain an edge, buddy, you’re kidding yourself.

I’m not trying to make your head spin with this stuff.  I’m just telling you to approach it with an open mind, because I can assure you I will keep referencing it here at the blog.  You’ve been warned!

[By the way, I’ve asked Josh, and he’s graciously consented, to answer any questions you might have about his work.  So feel free to query away in the comments.]


Filed under Stats Geek!

“The preseason is always telling and not telling.”

Marc Weiszer has a great Q&A with one of my favorite Dawgs, Ben Watson, you can read here.  (He is going to work as an analyst starting this season on Saturdays for the SEC Network.)

Anyway, read the whole thing, but I’m just gonna say this is my favorite part:

Q: I can’t let you go without asking you about tight ends at Georgia. This year’s team has Darnell Washington, Arik Gilbert who transferred and is going to play wide receiver, Brock Bowers and of course John Fitzpatrick. What are your thoughts on the ability of those guys to be difference makers for this offense?

A: Washington is the one that’s huge, right? I remember seeing him …in texting with some my tight end buddies that played there. Who is this dude and why isn’t he out there all the time? The tight end position, I’m obviously biased, but it’s unique in that you have players with the combination of speed and size and intellect and they create very, very tough matchups, especially at the college level. What happens so many times at the college level because time is limited, if you have a guy that is superior athletically, give him the ball, the defense is not able to stop him. We saw that with Florida last year with Kyle Pitts. I’m excited for the tight ends. I think Kirby has a vision for them. We saw flashes of it last year for sure and even with the transfer from LSU. He’s going to fit in but I think the tight end has to be a part of any good offense because you just create so many mismatches.

If you’re a fan of Georgia football, next season is always the season they’re finally gonna utilize the tight end position.  LOL.


Filed under Georgia Football

Since he’s asking…

Quick question from David Hale:

Post your answer in the comments.


Filed under Georgia Football

247Sports’ SEC preseason poll

If you’re looking for what might be a foreshadowing of next week’s media projections at SEC Media Days, 247Sports polled 32 of its staff on how the conference races shape up.  Here’s what they came up with:

I’m not sure anything there qualifies as edgy, frankly, although I’m curious to know what the two folks picking Florida to win the East are seeing.

This, on the other hand, surprised me.

Somebody didn’t get the memo on the narrative.

There’s some fun stuff in the bold predictions section, so you might want to read the whole thing.


Filed under SEC Football

Man with a plan

Thought these two maps were interesting:

It’s not that Smart is just throwing offers up from coast to coast and waiting to see what sticks.  He’s putting more emphasis into California and Texas, because that’s where the talent is outside of his immediate vicinity.

Speaking of immediate vicinity, it also appears he’s got the luxury of being more choosy on his home turf, at least as far as this year goes.  The question is how far can you go with that without alienating high school coaches in the state.  (Not that I’m exactly worried that Kirby hasn’t already done the calibrations on that.)


Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

You almost have to admire the bravado behind this.

It’s nice that Georgia has something to measure itself against.  Can the Dawgs win by more than 32 in Knoxville this year?


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football

The seat, she is ice cold.

Kirby’s that is, according to Dennis Dodd’s 2021 hot seat rankings.

He is among a group of 22 whom Dodd considers “untouchable”.  Only one other among those is an SEC head coach, and no, his name isn’t Dan Mullen.


Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles