Category Archives: Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

Draft value as food for thought

One thing Phil Steele tracks in his annual college football preview magazine is the amount of talent every program loses to the NFL draft.

… Basically I assign a point total for players selected in the different rounds of the draft and here is what the numbers have totaled.

Over the last 12 years teams that earned more points than the previous year and accumulated….
12 or more points – Weaker or same record 164 of 216 (75.9%)
24 or more points – Weaker or same record 47 of 55 (85.4%)
35 or more points – Weaker record 13 of 15 (86.7%)

We’ll have to wait another month or so for his 2018 assessment, but in the meantime, here’s Chase Stuart’s compilation of 2018 NFL Draft value by program.

You will not be surprised to learn that Alabama, Ohio State, and Georgia were the three schools that dominated the 2018 NFL Draft. Players from the Crimson Tide were taken using draft slots worth 83.9 points of value, the most of any school; second was Ohio State with 70.4 points of value, followed by Georgia (68.7)…

So, top three, with a bullet.  Not sure how many of Steele’s draft points that translates into, but I’ll just point out that Georgia ranked second on Steele’s 2009 list and I think we all recall how that year went.  The good thing is that the 2018 roster is far deeper than that 2009 team’s was.  We’re about to find out if Smart’s got things to the reloading, not rebuilding stage in Athens.

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2018 Phil Steele’s Spring Guide

He posted it yesterday.  It’s a free download you can access here and contains the following information:

• Phil Steele’s 2018 Projected AP Preseason Top 10 (available by 5/21/18).
• All FBS & FCS Coaching changes.
• Returning starters and last years stats with rankings.
• Find out who is back and who is not with Phil Steele’s 2017 Postseason All-Conf Teams.
• All FBS 2018 Schedules.
• Toughest Opponent Records for 2018.

(And, yes, I see the typo about Roquan Smith returning.  Sigh.  I wish.)

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An early look at strength of schedule

Phil Steele checks in with a ranking of the 130 FBS teams based on the NCAA’s approach, which is to combine opponents’ records from the previous season.  By that measure, Georgia ranks a solid middle of the pack 63rd, hardly the stuff of Finebaumian indignation.  (‘Bama is nine slots higher, Paul.)

Of course, as Steele notes, the way the NCAA measures strength of schedule is not without its flaws.  Playing a 10-2 powerhouse 1-AA team that’s fattened up its record against opponents from that level is likely not the same as playing an 8-4 program in a P5 conference, but the NCAA treats them as so for purposes of this metric.

Steele looks at other factors:

There are other ways to measure schedule strength. Who played the most teams with a winning record last year? Well that way came up with two teams. #1 on this list Florida St and #76 Rice both play 10 teams with winning records. For Florida St all 10 of their teams went on to play in a bowl game. On the opposite end New Mexico St will only face 4 opponents with a winning record.

How about who faces the most teams who made the postseason in 2017? For purposes of this article, we’ll count the 78 FBS bowl participants, the 24 FCS playoff teams, and Grambling St and North Carolina A&T, who played in the Celebration Bowl. Here, Florida St, Utah, NC State, Kansas, Iowa St and Oklahoma are facing 10 teams off a post season appearance last year. New Mexico St is the only team that will face less than three bowl teams in 2018 (2).

Opponents who finished last year in the Top 25? Michigan was on top with six teams that were ranked at the end of the season last year. Florida St, Auburn, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, LSU and Rutgers follow with five teams.

The Dawgs face two teams that were ranked last season, seven teams with winning 2017 records and six schools that played in bowl games.  That’s not Florida State, but it’s not any worse that Ohio State, either, and I don’t hear a whole lot of moaning from the national media about Corch’s team in that regard.

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Player development, for the win

I thought it might be fun to go back and look at Phil Steele’s preseason projections of Georgia’s standing in each of his 2017’s top individual units, not because I want to take a shot at Steele’s analytical acumen — honestly, I couldn’t find much to disagree with at the time I first read them — but in the hopes that it might provide some indication of the job Georgia’s staff did developing the talent in the course of what wound being one of the program’s best seasons in decades.

Here come the bullet points, with Steele’s ranking and my comments.

  • Quarterbacks.  24th.  (A fair assessment, based way more on potential than on results to date.  It’s just that Fromm exceeded expectations by a wide margin.)
  • Running backs.  2nd.  (Hard to go up here, but I’d argue that Swift wound up with a better freshman season than most thought he’d have coming in.)
  • Receivers.  21st.  (This one is a little hard to judge, given that the passing game wasn’t exactly a point of emphasis.  I would argue, though, that between the improved blocking, the emergence of Wims and that Georgia finished 11th nationally in yards per passing attempt, that the group was a little underrated going in.)
  • Offensive line.  46th.  (I have the feeling next year’s bunch will be somewhat more favorably rated by Steele.)
  • Defensive line.  11th.  (This one strikes me as about right, both then and now.)
  • Linebackers.  6th.  (There were some higher ranked units that didn’t pan out as well as Georgia’s, so, yeah, this one wound up a bit on the light side.)
  • Defensive backs.  16th.  (Before the CFP, I might have questioned this ranking, but as Georgia wound up 15th in defensive passer rating, I can’t object too much.)
  • Special teams.  Unranked, i.e., outside the top 55.  (Yeah, that would ordinarily rank as a major whiff, except nobody else saw this special teams’ season coming.)

Bottom line, no lapses –that’s as much about good coaching as the improvements are, by the way — and three major leaps at quarterback, offensive line and special teams.  Pretty much explains the season, don’t it?

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Today, in fun with numbers, Phil Steele edition

Steele charts what he calls Strength of Wins, which tracks the number of wins a team’s losing FBS opponents have compiled themselves.  Georgia currently stands third, behind Alabama and Wisconsin, neither the latter of which hasn’t played an FCS team this season.

He’s got a Strength of Losses list, as well.  Georgia is seventh.

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When you’ve lost Phil Steele…

You guys know I’ve read Steele’s College Football Preview for years.  He’s typically optimistic about Georgia’s chances, and even in down years is rarely downright negative.  He’s not a harsh observer, in other words.

For some reason, the 2017 edition comes off a little differently, tone-wise.  Take, for example, what he writes about the offensive line:

The Bulldogs have gone against the grain of my experience rankings each of the last 6 years with 4 veteran units having weaker numbers and the 2 inexperienced units improving… They lose 120 career starts and only return 45 but given the history of the position, the unit may post improved numbers.  [Emphasis added.]

For Steele, that’s scathing sarcasm.  Maybe he’s getting tired of the Dawgs defying his analysis.

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Friday morning buffet

Indulge yourself.

  • Kirby Smart is “hoping and praying” the two players from the 2017 signing class not yet on campus are able to enroll.
  • There are how many new coordinators in the SEC this season?
  • Penn State and its former defensive coordinator Bob Shoop (now at Tennessee) are suing each other.  Play nice, fellas.
  • Here’s a list of the ten teams that Phil Steele says will enjoy the biggest drop in schedule strength from 2016 to 2017.  (I’m not sure I’d argue Ole Miss is getting that big a drop from last year’s Georgia team to this year’s Kentucky team, though.)
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat, offensively speaking.
  • Jeez, I hate this question.
  • Dawg fans, if you’re looking for some nice UGA-themed photo work, take a peek here.

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