Kentucky and regression to the mean

It’s one of last season’s odder statistical anomalies:  Kentucky managed to win ten games while finishing last in the conference in turnover margin, at minus-11.  That is not an easy thing to do.  Perhaps this had something to do with it:

Good teams find ways to win close games, and Kentucky has gone 16-8 in one-score games since 2017. But they exceeded even their own pace last year. After going 11-7 in such games from 2017-20, the Wildcats were 5-1 last year. That includes a 3-0 mark in the SEC with two of those wins against teams they’ll face on the road this year in Florida and Missouri. Their lone one-score defeat was a three-point loss at home to Tennessee, who the Wildcats have to face in Knoxville, Tennessee, this year.

Mark Stoops is a good game day coach, and I can’t figure out what that might portend for the ’22 season.  Does UK maintain its winning ways as turnover margin swings back more favorably?  Or do one-score games come back to bite the ‘Cats in the butt?  I have no idea.


Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

15 responses to “Kentucky and regression to the mean

  1. I can’t remember the year, but Florida was getting away with murder in the t.o. Category and it did bite them in the butt the next year.


  2. Dawgfan1995

    Just looking at UK’s game log is pretty informative. They were Negative NINE in turnovers in their first four games — -3 against La-Monroe (45-10 W), -1 against Missouri (35-28 UK win), -2 against UT-Chattanooga (28-23 UK win), and -3 against South Carolina (16-10 UK Win). So that’s three of their one-score wins right there. They were also -2 again New Mexico State (56-16 UK win) and -4 against Mississippi St. (31-17 UK loss).

    They simply didn’t cause turnovers much last year. Their best ratio for turnovers was in the finale against Iowa — +2 in a 20-17 win.

    Putting it all together, it seems like it is Stoops’s defensive philosophy to limit the other team’s gains with schemes that make the other team have to drive down the field methodically. We know that’s pretty difficult, generally, and their team runs the ball a lot — thereby using up time and limiting possessions.

    I guess the answer is, yeah, I don’t know either, but I could see them legitimately having better luck on not losing fumbles and recovering more fumbles (only forced 10 and recovered 3, fumbled 16 on offense and lost 10) and improving slightly. But the turnover ratio may have just allowed some bad teams to stay close rather than costing UK any games.

    Liked by 2 people

    • biggusrickus

      Their turnover margin was luck-based in two ways. Being -11 is general bad luck, but that most of their negative margin came in the games they could afford it was extremely good luck. Against the teams they most needed to break even or be positive, they were. The Mississippi State game was the only one all year where they weren’t enough better than the opponent to overcome their negative turnover margin.

      I also disagree with the Senator that Stoops is a good game-day coach. I think he and his staff have been very good at player evaluation and development, but they’ve blown plenty of winnable games over the course of his tenure because of odd decisions or brainfarts. The loss to Florida where they left a guy uncovered twice comes to mind immediately.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dawgfan1995

        Yeah, I mean, how good of a game day coach can you be to be down four scores and go on an epic 11 minute drive to score at the end of the game and only lose by three scores…

        Liked by 3 people

        • archiecreek

          That’s what we call a….
          Chickenshit Gameday coach!!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Got Cowdog

          That was the last game Got. Sr. and I listened to together. Scott Howard was about as entertaining as drying paint, then SH goes “Another first down for Kentucky!” and Dad starts laughing his ass off. I asked him what was so damn funny, he says “Kirby’s doing this on purpose to keep from running up the score. Smooth.”
          Still cracks me up.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Harold Miller

        I forgot about that. That was some epic WTF right there.


  3. Ran A

    QB’S getting all kinds of love; but they have losses on the O-Line; receiver room is looking to replace virtually all of their production from the two guys that left for the NFL (one was drafted – not sure about the other).

    Mullen handed them the UF game and they handed the Vols the UT game. Hard team to read. But I am glad we have them later. A good QB can make up for a lot – so glad we are seeing them in November; even if it is likely to be pretty cold up there.

    I’ve been on the Kentucky band-wagon for about 3 years; but sensing that they may take a step back this year. And with their coach whining about the possibility of having to play 9 SEC games – I think some of that comes from the feeling higher expectations than in the pasta and knowing that it just might not be in the cards this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They do a good job of shortening the game. They don’t hurry and keep the clock moving.


  5. Texas Dawg

    Have they handed down the punishment for Chris Rodriguez yet for his DUI? I will defer on any predictions on KY’s season until I know if he is going to be playing or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 79dawg

    My magic 8-ball says if they have those same TO margins against Fla., Mizzou and Tenn. this year – on the road – they will lose all 3 of those games (instead of just 1)….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cats, Vols, Cocks, Mizzou….shuffle the deck to get their finishing order. What’s wonderful is how the gators have sat down and asked to be dealt-in for the mix. Hey Vandy…go get us some drinks!

    Cue card game scene from Goodfellas when Pesci shoots the kid in the foot.

    Liked by 1 person

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