Category Archives: Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

Outlier seasons and freshmen contributors

Phil Steele takes a look at how much freshmen wide receivers played the last two seasons.  If you figured the results for 2020 and 2021 would look different, you’d be right.  Steele explains:

… Now 2020 was an odd year as with no spring practice, the true frosh WR’s could not benefit from being in early for the spring. With some conferences cancelling their seasons and then starting them up again that put them even further behind. Now in 2020 technically every WR redshirted as 2020 did not count against their eligibility so coaches were more likely to play them.

… My original thought was that Wide Receivers do have to learn route concepts and be in tune with the QB so they may have a little less play as true frosh than the RB’s. The top WR in 2020 was Kayshon Boutte of LSU who had 735 receiving yards and five TD’s. Quentin Johnston of TCU was second with 487 yards and an impressive 22.1 ypc. Jermaine Burton of Georgia was #3 with 404 yards receiving (15.0). Only 22 WR’s had more than five receptions and overall 32 WR’s had at least one catch which was 64% or 8% below the RB’s.

Now let’s look at the 2021 True Freshmen. I know that technically all of 2020’s true frosh were still true frosh, but I will just look at the ones that were in their first year on campus. We will just look at the 2021 signing class of WR’s and how much they played.

With everyone back from Covid and unlike in 2020 if a player played more than 4 games the player would lose a year of eligibility you would think that less true frosh WR’s would play. One advantage the 2021 true frosh had was being able to be on campus for spring if they enrolled early. The uninterrupted summer probably helped the WR’s gain cohesion with their QB’s.

In the end,

In 2020 the top 50 true frosh WR’s combined for 4051 yds rush, 24 td and 13.2 ypc.

In 2021 the top 50 true frosh WR’s combined for 5849 yds rush, 96 td’s and 14.1 ypc.

That TD differential really jumps out at you.  I would assume ’22 will look more like ’21 and ’20, for obvious reasons.

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Steelemas, nugget no. 4

Somehow, Phil manages to rank Florida 32nd on his preseason top 40 list while also making the Gators his #2 Most Improved Team.  Helluva 2021 season, guys.

Then he goes on to ask Florida fans “Are we friends again?” in his SEC forecast.  LOL.

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Steelemas, nugget no. 3

Phil Steele has his own YPP metric, although in this case, it stands for yards per point.  The higher a team’s defensive YPP, the stingier the defense has been, and the more likely it is that the team’s record will either regress or remain the same the following season.  Since 1990, 84.7% of the teams with a defensive YPP of 21.35 or higher have followed with a weaker or same record the next year.

There was only one team in college football which managed a defensive YPP higher than 21.35 last season.  That team?  Georgia (26.4).

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Steelemas, nugget no. 2

Phil Steele tracks something he calls Draft Day Party Hangover, which sounds like something you’d expect — teams that have more players drafted by the NFL after a given season have a marked tendency to do as well the following season.

His metric works as follows:  he assigns a team 7 points for every player it has that goes in the first round of the draft, 6 points for second round selections, etc.  Over the past 25 years, teams with 12 or more points have a 73.4% chance of having a weaker or the same record the next season.  For teams with 24 or more points, it’s an 80.2% chance.  And for teams with 35 or more points, it’s 75%.

That does look a little bell curvy there, but I digress.

There is only one team going into the ’22 season that qualified for Steele’s top category.  You only get one guess as to which team that is.

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Steelemas, nugget no. 1

Picked up my copy of the 2022 Preview yesterday, and as is my want, on the first day I just tend to wander randomly through the contents.  Here’s a factoid that caught my eye:

If the 12-team playoff was in effect back to 2014 then 14 teams in that 7-year span would have been in the playoffs with 3 losses.

But think of all the extra money the P5 would have taken in over that time!  Seems like a fair tradeoff, at least to Mickey.

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Steele projects the AP preseason top 10

Here you go:

(For shits and giggles, you can find how the AP finished out the 2021 season here.)

Three SEC teams in the top five, eh?  And look at Oregon, last year’s number 22.

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Only in America…

… can a coach dare to start a substandard walk-on at quarterback in a national championship game and still be acclaimed by some.

Coach Smart did an exceptional job building this team with top recruiting classes each year. Georgia has had some close calls and some “almosts” the past couple of years, with Alabama getting some late comeback wins to spoil their chances of winning it all.

2021 was a turbulent year in college football where an AP record 14 teams from the preseason Top 25 finished the year unranked. Every week, there were upsets across the college football landscape, with many of the powers suffering multiple loss seasons.

Coach Smart did an excellent job of having the Bulldogs dominant every week during the regular season, going a perfect 12-0 and winning their games by 33.8 points per game, and having the top defense in the country. After a loss in the SEC title game, Coach Smart got the Bulldogs to dominate Michigan in the semi-finals and finally get past their nemesis Alabama to win the national championship!

Hmph.  I mean, what has he done for us lately?  Steele needs to spend some time reading Georgia fans’ social media to get the real down low on Kirby’s shortcomings, I guess.

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Steele’s Vegas Power Rankings

For what it’s worth

When I worked for ESPN full time, I put out a weekly article entitled the Vegas Power Ratings. I still have all the sources that I used to produce that article as it featured my plus/minus ratings which closely resemble Vegas’s numbers as well as three different casinos including the fine folks over at the Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook @SuperBookSports. We are now four full weeks into the season and I will post these numbers weekly.

This is not the AP poll but gives you an idea of how much teams would be favored over another team if they met on a neutral field. I use these to get an idea of lines on upcoming games and it is very accurate in that respect.

Two things there.  One, Auburn and Arkansas are basically a toss up for the casinos.  Two, take the ratings spread between Georgia and Auburn, add back in something for homefield advantage and you’ve basically got this week’s point spread.

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Moar Steele rankings

Here’s a nice daily double.

Offense is good, not not quite as good.

Georgia’s problem, of course, is that it likely faces two teams in the regular season ranked higher on all four lists.

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Georgia in Steele’s 2021 position group rankings

Honestly, the first thing I do when I get home with Steele’s Preview is check out where the Dawgs stand (or fall) in his top individual units rankings.

The good news is that Georgia is only one of two teams with all eight position groups finishing in the top twenty.  (I won’t bore you by naming the other program, although it’s worth mentioning that Oklahoma just missed by finishing 22nd in special teams and Clemson was also 7 of 8, outside the top 63 in special teams.)

Here’s where each unit sits:

  • Quarterback.  Georgia is 11th, Ole Miss is second.  Oklahoma is first.
  • Running back.  Dawgs are second, behind TAMU.
  • Receivers.  20th.  (Yes, receivers includes tight ends.)
  • Offensive line.  7th.  (Surprised?  Maybe a little, but Steele sees a lot of talent at the position.)
  • Defensive line.  2nd, behind Clemson.
  • Linebackers.  4th, behind Alabama and Clemson.
  • Defensive backs.  20th.  Alabama is first.
  • Special teams. 2nd, behind Alabama.

All in all, not too shabby.

Head to head, Alabama finished 5-3 against Georgia, but two of those units where ‘Bama ranked higher were back to back with the Dawgs.  It’s close, in other words.

What do y’all think?

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