Category Archives: Stats Geek!

Bill Connelly previews the SEC East.

S&P+ sez the SEC East is gonna be a bitch, y’all.  (Although not quite as rough as its Western counterpart.)

  • Georgia:  2019 S&P+ projection: 10.1 wins (No. 2)
  • Florida:  2019 S&P+ projection: 8.7 wins (No. 6)
  • Missouri:  2019 S&P+ projection: 8.1 wins (No. 16)
  • South Carolina:  2019 S&P+ projection: 5.9 wins (No. 18)
  • Tennessee:  2019 S&P+ projection: 6.5 wins (No. 21)
  • Kentucky:  2019 S&P+ projection: 6.1 wins (No. 37)
  • Vanderbilt:  2019 S&P+ projection: 4.9 wins (No. 53)

It’s something to expect the eighteenth-ranked team to be engaged in a season-long struggle for bowl eligibility.

One side note worth sharing is the second-year effect in the SEC.

There’s one more factor in UT’s favor: the second-year effect. If a coach is going to oversee a major surge in his program, it’s probably happening in either his second or third season. Pruitt’s division rivals, and a certain former boss, provide anecdotal proof of that.

Kirby Smart’s second UGA team went from 42nd in S&P+ to fourth. South Carolina improved from 85th to 41st in Will Muschamp’s second year. Missouri went from 70th to 28th in Barry Odom’s second season. Kentucky improved from 74th to 51st in Year 2 under Mark Stoops. Former Pruitt boss Nick Saban oversaw a leap from 31st to 10th at Alabama in 2008.

There are a lot of SEC head coaches entering into their second year at the helm.  Given how tough the conference appears to be shaping up, I doubt they can all shine in 2019, but we’ll see.

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Bill Connelly previews the SEC West.

So, in the switch of platforms from SB Nation to ESPN, we lose Bill’s voluminous, meticulous team-by-team analysis in exchange for a division-by-division look.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to garner from his take.  You’ll find his SEC West preview quite informative.

For one thing, S&P+ projects the West to be one tough neighborhood:  its top five teams rank 1, 4, 8, 10 and 13, respectively, and even the two lowest teams come in at a respectable 39 and 48.  Only one team projects to win at least 9 games (do I really have to tell you which?).

This is a pretty typical story for most of the teams in this division:  “S&P+ projects A&M 13th overall — and projects an average win total of seven. That says a lot.”

There are also some great individual tidbits, like this one about Nick Saban’s management skills:

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has, of late, gone through coordinators like Spinal Tap drummers.

• 2015: offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, defensive coordinator Kirby Smart
• 2016: offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin (and, for one game, Steve Sarkisian), defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt
• 2017: offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt
• 2018: offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi
• 2019: offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, defensive coordinator Pete Golding

That’s insane. That’s eight different coordinators in five seasons.

Interestingly, Bill thinks we’re starting to see a few cracks in the ‘Bama foundation.  If so, that’s good timing for Georgia.

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Georgia, in two charts

Bill Connelly, in his new gig at ESPN, started spewing some great stuff yesterday — more on that in a sec — but he tweeted a couple of charts that, in particular, are worth sharing.

Screenshot_2019-07-16 Bill Connelly on Twitter

Screenshot_2019-07-16 Bill Connelly on Twitter(1)

There’s a lot to unpack there, so let’s do some unpacking.

  • Over fourteen seasons, there’s only one when Georgia was below the conference average — 2016.  Crap on Richt all you like, but that’s a remarkable run of consistency.
  • That being said, it’s impossible to deny that over the past two seasons, Smart has rapidly elevated the program to a level superior to Richt’s.
  • If you don’t think Bobo’s departure killed Richt, take a close look at that week-to-week graph for 2014 and 2015.
  • As bad as Schottenheimer sucked, Chaney managed to outdo him the next season.  Good luck with your transition this season, Vols.
  • Speaking of 2015, we all heard stories about how Pruitt was throwing his weight around that year, as the defense was carrying the offense, but that was after a 2014 season in which the reverse was true.  Not to mention the first half of 2015 was a bit rocky for Georgia’s defense, too.
  • You can really tell when Smart and Tucker got things sorted out for Georgia defensively, can’t you?  It started coming together Week 10 of the 2016 season and what’s really noticeable from that point on is how consistent the performance level of the defense has been.

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Big bang theory

David Hale posted a series of tweets on a statistical topic worth your time to read.

And?

Wait a minute.  Fromm outdid Tua?  Well, not exactly.  Here’s the whole story.

Smart and Tucker sacrificed pressure up front — you know, havoc — to keep teams from beating them with big plays.  And it worked!  That was kind of a big deal.

So there’s a big question for this year’s defensive strategy:  will Smart’s new emphasis on havoc weaken Georgia’s ability to prevent the big play?  If so, what sort of impact will that have?

By the way, here’s a bonus tweet that blew me away.

Second.  Against Alabama.  In the SECCG.

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S&P+ preview, Georgia edition

Bill Connelly has left SB Nation for greener pastures at ESPN, which means we don’t get a 2019 Georgia preview from him.  Fortunately, Bill has been gracious enough to do his annual Google data dump of all D-1 teams, so at least we can mine those to paint something of a picture of his statistical projections for this season.

It makes for a good comparison with the FPI numbers I posted yesterday.  Here, for example, is his schedule projection:

Screenshot_2019-07-10 2019 college football preview data

FPI version:

Georgia is favored in every game here, just as it is by FPI, but note that Tennessee is not nearly the close call ESPN finds it to be.  Auburn’s another case where the win projection is widened.  Florida is the only game both formulas project to be tighter than the norm.

This is probably the point where I should remind you that Bill’s preseason projections rest to a larger extent on 2018 results than they will as the season progresses, so take all this with a grain of salt, if you want.

Georgia finished 2018 ranked second overall in S&P+, 3rd in offense and 8th in defense.  S&P+ projects Georgia at number two again for 2019, 4th in offense and 6th in defense, with approximately 10 wins.  For context, here’s how the conference as a whole plays out on wins (order based on S&P+, ranked nationally):

1 – Alabama (10.7)
2 – Georgia (10.1)
4 – LSU (8.9)
6 – Florida (8.7)
8 – Auburn (7.8)
10 – Mississippi St (8.4)
13 – Texas A&M (6.9)
16 – Missouri (8.1)
18 – South Carolina (5.9)
21 – Tennessee (6.5)
37 – Kentucky (6.1)
39 – Ole Miss (5.4)
48 – Arkansas (5.5)
53 – Vanderbilt (4.9)

How much do you think those rankings will change as we get into the season?  Can’t say I’m too confident Mississippi State finishes tenth in S&P+.

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Georgia and the latest ESPN FPI

Mickey’s stat geeks have the Dawgs third in the country in FPI, while projecting something like a 10-2 regular season.  How come?

Screenshot_2019-07-09 ESPN Football Power Index - 2019 - ESPN

Welp, it’s the schedule, stupid.  Fifth-ranked strength of schedule, based on playing seven of the top twenty teams.  (By the way, how about the ‘Cocks going 6-6 with the 18th ranked team in FPI?)

To give you an idea of how tough ESPN projects the SEC East to be, Georgia only has a 2.5% chance of running the table in the regular season, and the next best chance of doing so goes to Missouri… at 0.4%.

Here’s how FPI projects Georgia’s regular season schedule:

Screenshot_2019-07-09 Georgia 2019 FPI - Bulldogs - ESPN

You read that right — Georgia projects to have an easier time with Notre Dame than with Tennessee.  FPI favors the Dawgs in each game, but cumulative effect is a beyotch, I suppose.

Thoughts?

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Jake who?

I’m really fascinated by this statistical deep dive ($$) into which college quarterbacks are likely to step up into the elite territory manned by Murray and Tagovailoa last season that somehow manages to neglect mentioning Jake Fromm, other than to note his place in this chart:

qb_ypp_2018_returning_leaders

That’s it.  29 other quarterbacks are mentioned — including Justin Fields — but no Fromm.  Kinda weird.

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