Category Archives: Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

Steele’s Vegas Power Ratings

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.

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.

And…

Screenshot_2020-12-24 Vegas Power Ratings Week 17 Dec 24th – Phil Steele

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Steele’s revised 2020 toughest schedules

All 14 SEC teams are in his top 25, including the entire top eleven.

Screenshot_2020-09-02 Toughest Schedules for 2020 Updated – Phil Steele

He’s about the only one I’ve seen rank Georgia’s schedule easier than Florida’s.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Damn, Phil.

It’s a little hard to read (duh!), but that doesn’t stop the last line of Steele’s analysis of the Georgia-Alabama game from stinging:  “Dawgs have led or been tied with Bama 119 of 120 min in L/2 games but lost both.”

Sigh.

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Steele on Georgia, 2020 edition

Steelemas came Saturday.

Screenshot_2020-07-20 Senator Blutarsky on Twitter My 2020 Steele Preview has arrived, so at least I can pretend for an aft[...]

After I got it, I spent the first hour doing what I do every year: figuring out his take on the Dawgs.

His 2020 Preview isn’t too high on Georgia’s prospects.  He does favor UGA to win the SEC East, but his preseason Top 40 has Georgia sixth, behind two SEC teams, Alabama (natch) and Texas A&M (!).  His Power Poll has Georgia seventh, behind those two SEC teams and LSU.

There are several reasons I gleaned for that.

  • Georgia finished fourth-highest in his NFL Draft Day Party rankings, although five of the top six teams are from the SEC.  Georgia’s score translates into an 82% chance of the same or weaker record.
  • Georgia finished 2019 with three net close wins.  Less than 15% of teams with three improve their records in the following season.
  • Defensive yards per play in 2019 was 21.9.  83% of teams that hit that number have the same or weaker records the following season.
  • Georgia dropped from 36th to 120th on his Experience Chart.
  • Concerns about the offensive line, noting the coaching change and only three returning starters.
  • He projects almost no improvement on the offensive side of the ball, with points per game increasing just slightly to 31.2.

His national unit rankings are revealing.

  • Quarterback:  16 (ranking doesn’t include Daniels, so you have to think it’s higher now)
  • Running back:  14
  • Receivers:  28
  • O-line:  17
  • D-line:  5
  • Linebackers:  1
  • Secondary:  4
  • Special teams:  43

There’s only one Georgia player on his four All-America teams, Richard LeCounte at second team safety.  LeCounte is also the only Georgia player he lists at first team All-SEC.  There are 12 Dawgs total on his four All-SEC teams.  (By comparison, Alabama has nine on his first team alone.)

In conference unit rankings, Georgia is in a six-way tie for first at quarterback, which, if you think about it, is a great way to show how mediocre the conference picture is at that position.  Georgia is also first at defensive line and linebacker.  Its lowest ranking, sixth, is at special teams.

If there’s one puzzling thing, it’s how little mention he makes of the change at offensive coordinator.  He cites Monken’s resume, but that’s it.

It’s not a bad picture overall, but considering that Georgia was third in his 2019 Power Poll, it does come off as something of a let down.

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Thursday morning buffet

Around the horn in college football:

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Squint

Andy Staples has the best Phil Steele story.

There’s a reason Steele’s category here is named what it is.

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Steelemas is back.

Good news.

Another sign of returning normalcy…

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You can’t keep a good magazine down.

Death, taxes and…

Though it will be sad not to find it on newsstands this year.  Damn you, COVID-19!

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Steele’s 2019 preseason SEC teams

One last snapshot from the Preview, and then you’re on your own.  (Buy the mag, in other words.)  Here’s his four preseason conference teams.

Steele

That’s 116 players in total.  Here’s the breakdown by individual teams, with the first team numbers in parentheses:

  • Alabama 15 (10!)
  • LSU 13 (4)
  • Auburn 9 (2)
  • Georgia 9 (4)
  • Missouri 9 (2)
  • Florida 8 (1)
  • Ole Miss 8 (0)
  • South Carolina 8 (1)
  • Texas A&M 8 (2)
  • Arkansas 7 (0)
  • Kentucky 6 (1)
  • Mississippi State 6 (0)
  • Tennessee 5 (1)
  • Vanderbilt 5 (1)

And a few random observations:

  • You may not like seeing it, but this is yet another confirmation that Alabama is still on a completely different level of existence, talentwise, from the rest of the SEC.
  • Gee, maybe Tennessee isn’t quite back yet.
  • Everyone talks about Florida being the clear number two team in the East, but between its schedule and talent base, Mizzou could be the sneaky number two instead.
  • LSU matched Georgia with four picks on the first team and finished with thirteen players overall, four better than the Dawgs.  The Tigers aren’t Georgia’s problem this year, but, as always, they’ll be Florida’s.
  • Another reminder as South Carolina struggles its way to bowl eligibility:  the ‘Cocks aren’t a bad team; they’re a decent team with a bad schedule.
  • Auburn has a total of two offensive players on all four teams.  Gus has his work cut out for him, it seems.
  • You can pick a few bones here and there — four LSU offensive linemen seems a stretch to me, at least based on what I saw at their spring game — but this is one of the more conservative projections I’ve seen from Steele, who usually has more than a few real stretches on his lists.  I could be missing something, but he only projects  a single true freshman, LSU’s Stingley, into the entire 116.

Your thoughts?

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Steele on Georgia, 2019 edition

Okay, time to dig into my initial impressions on Phil Steele’s take on this year’s model of Georgia football.  I hinted at some of it yesterday — overall, it’s quite positive (third in his power ratings; fourth in his rankings once scheduling is factored in), but a little lackluster in comparison to Alabama and Clemson.

To illustrate, here’s how the three shape up in his unit position rankings:

QUARTERBACKS

  • Clemson 1st
  • Alabama 2nd
  • Georgia 9th

RUNNING BACKS

  • Georgia 2nd
  • Clemson 3rd
  • Alabama 4th

RECEIVERS

  • Alabama 1st
  • Clemson 2nd
  • Georgia 25th (and that’s counting Holloman)

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Georgia 2nd
  • Clemson 3rd
  • Alabama 6th

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Alabama 3rd
  • Clemson 5th
  • Georgia 17th

LINEBACKERS

  • Alabama 1st
  • Georgia 6th
  • Clemson 14th

DEFENSIVE BACKS

  • Alabama 3rd
  • Clemson 7th
  • Georgia 16th

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Alabama 18th
  • Georgia 20th
  • Clemson outside top 57

In areas where Georgia is best, the other two are generally close behind.  But there are significant gaps at several positions where the Dawgs lag behind the other two.

All of this, it should be said, is extremely relative.  Georgia is ranked in his top twenty-five at every unit position, which is nothing to sneer at.  In fact, it reinforces a point I made a while back when I was debating Allen Kenney and Ian Boyd about Lincoln Riley’s comment about Georgia, namely that Kirby’s built his team to excel by making sure that there are no true weak links.

This is nicely illustrated with Steele’s SEC unit comparison chart.

IMG_0346

The Dawgs may not be the best in the conference at everything, but they’re no worse than above-average in any category.  There is no other team on that chart, including Alabama, that can make the same claim.  (Don’t miss his coach rankings for Georgia and Florida, by the way.  But I digress.)

Coming from someone who watched Mark Richt fail to manage to field consistent units from year to year, that’s not damning with faint praise, either.  In fact, it’s hard to do.  Even Alabama during its current run has had seasons fall short because of poor special teams play.

The problem is that in the context of the 2019 season, Georgia’s high level of consistency may not be enough.  For one thing, it appears that Saban’s team can make the same claim, except at an even higher level.

None of this is etched in stone, of course.  But I don’t think it’s unfair to state at this point in the preseason that Georgia has some work to do in order to catch Alabama and Clemson by the time the postseason rolls around.

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