EPA is one of the stats which we will reference a lot on this site as we break down not only the X and O’s of the game, but add to the context with some advanced stats. It stands for “Expected Points Added” and all you need to realize is that is give a number to each and every play’s result based on:
- Field Position
An offense wants a high number for a play and opposite is true for the defense. A play has an “expected value” based on the conditions of the play. A 3rd and 11 from your own 19 isn’t expected to add as much “value” as 2nd and 3 inside the opponent’s red zone. An offense that can convert a 3rd and 11 on a consistent basis will have a higher average EPA and will likely be one of the more explosive offenses. Ohio State ranked #2 in Offensive EPA in 2021 and 1st in Points Per Game (46.3). That is the picture of efficiency. Georgia had a EPA average of .302 which was good for 17th in all of FBS (10th in Power 5) and 11th (38.7) in Points per game. That points to efficiency, high valued plays tend to put points on the board. Teams which you wouldn’t expect to see, but had both high average EPA and PPG.
- UCLA 6th in EPA/33.4 PPG
- Oregon State 8th EPA/ 34 PPG
- Virginia 9th EPA/35.3 PPG
These teams were statistically efficient and put up a lot of points, but not elite in actual points. Alabama was 19th in EPA but 3rd in PPG… that tells us that they depended on bigger plays, and made a lot of them. A Heisman Trophy winner and two NFL 1st Rounders will do that. But, it isn’t ideal. The 2021 Alabama (.299 EPA) offense wasn’t near as efficient in terms of EPA as the 2020 (.450 EPA) truly elite offense.
And here’s an illustration of Georgia’s eight biggest non-scoring EPA plays last season:
They’re all good plays, no doubt, but they’re also a reminder that we’re gonna miss James Cook a little this season. But I digress…