Category Archives: Stats Geek!

Hey, everybody, ESPN’s back with those stats with initials!

Nah, not QBR.  It’s ESPN’s Football Power Index.

The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.


FWIW, Georgia’s ninth in FPI, which sounds nice, except that’s only good for fifth-best in the SEC, which doesn’t sound as nice.

I only mention this because it’s early April and I’m bored.  You can ignore this proprietary measurement for the rest of the season now.  Except when the WWL is shoving it in your face, that is.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Stats Geek!

Some guys have all the luck.

David Wunderlich looks at the 2015 version of turnover luck.  And, yes, there is some.

Ball security is a skill. So is forcing fumbles. But recovering fumbles? It’s basically all luck. The football has a funny shape and bounces in ways that people can’t predict in real time. Besides that, it’s not possible to control what mix of players from the two teams will be near the ball when it comes loose.

Here’s the picture for the SEC:

Fumble recovery percentages:

National Rank Name Total Fumbles Total Recovered Recovered Pct.
1 Arkansas 29 19 65.5%
9 South Carolina 38 23 60.5%
25 Missouri 36 20 55.6%
27 Tennessee 36 20 55.6%
40 LSU 36 19 52.8%
49 Georgia 46 24 52.2%
54 Vanderbilt 43 22 51.2%
61 Florida 44 22 50.0%
65 Kentucky 32 16 50.0%
72 Ole Miss 49 24 49.0%
74 Auburn 39 19 48.7%
117 Texas A&M 42 17 40.5%
123 Alabama 37 13 35.1%
127 Mississippi State 36 11 30.6%

Interception percentages:

National Rank Name Int. Passes Defended INT Pct.
13 South Carolina 12 42 28.6%
21 Georgia 12 45 26.7%
62 Auburn 14 67 20.9%
67 Florida 14 68 20.6%
69 Arkansas 11 54 20.4%
77 Alabama 19 99 19.2%
78 Mississippi State 13 68 19.1%
80 Texas A&M 11 58 19.0%
83 Kentucky 11 59 18.6%
84 Tennessee 12 65 18.5%
91 LSU 10 57 17.5%
94 Ole Miss 15 88 17.0%
96 Missouri 9 53 17.0%
123 Vanderbilt 6 60 10.0%

National ranks in both:

Team Fumble Rank INT Rank Average Rank
South Carolina 9 13 11
Georgia 49 21 35
Arkansas 1 69 35
Tennessee 27 84 56
Missouri 25 96 61
Florida 61 67 64
LSU 40 91 66
Auburn 74 62 68
Kentucky 65 83 74
Mississippi 72 94 83
Vanderbilt 54 123 89
Texas A&M 117 80 99
Alabama 123 77 100
Mississippi State 127 78 103

There isn’t that much correlation between turnover luck and having a great defense. Just ask Alabama.


Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Three and out or up?

No pressure, Kirby.

If something big is going to happen, the odds are good that it will have happened by the end of a head coach’s third year on the job.

Since 2006, 46 teams have improved by at least 14 adjusted points per game (per S&P+) from one year to the next. That’s about four to five big leaps per season for the entire country. From this group of 46, 36 were led by coaches that were either in their first (10), second (13), or third (13) years…

By your third year on the job, the program is mostly yours. Sure, there are some fourth- or fifth-year guys who were recruited by your predecessor, but the depth chart is mostly filled with guys you signed. Plus, you’ve got the lay of the land by now — you’ve got a decent read on your conference foes, you know which boosters you have to most obsessively placate, etc.

You could argue that Smart already has a leg up on Bill’s “lay of the land” point there.  And those seniors he was bequeathed by Richt aren’t exactly chopped liver.

Does a three-year time frame for success in Athens sound like a reasonable expectation to you?


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Starting field position: it’s kind of a big deal.

In 2014, Georgia was eighth in scoring offense nationally, at 41.3 ppg.  Last season, the bottom fell out in that department, as the Dawgs’ scoring dwindled to 26.7 ppg, good (bad?) for 85th.

As far as the contributors to that decline go, you can point your finger in more than one direction.  But here’s an area in particular worth noting.  Check out this chart from Brian Fremeau that graphs points per drive by starting field position over the period of 2007-2015:


Pretty obvious correlation there.  Now, consider that Georgia fell from first in Brian’s field position efficiency ratings in 2014 to 63rd last season.  (Also, note which teams were 4th and 5th in 2015.)

Field position is affected by a number of factors:  turnover margin, 3rd down efficiency, special teams all come to mind.  None of those were exactly areas of real strength for Georgia last season.  How much of that can the new staff focus on and fix may give us a real clue about Georgia’s chances to put more points on the scoreboard in 2016.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

PAWWWLLL, why does Bill Connelly hate Tommy Tuberville?

There’s not much I can add to Bill’s header here (“Revisiting the 2004 college football season: Picking Oklahoma over Auburn was justifiable”), even if I wanted to.  Which I don’t.


Filed under Stats Geek!, Tommy Tuberville - Mythical National Champ

Georgia football: expecting an excellence that’s never existed before

I’ve said on more than one occasion that Georgia is a program that believes itself to be better than it is, historically speaking.  What do I mean by that, exactly?

Well, here’s an example.  The Massey College Football Ranking Composite
is a composite of more than 100 college football rating systems compiled to produce a consensus ranking order of teams.  Brian Fremeau has gone back and looked at the last ten years of Massey rankings and grouped teams on the basis of how they’ve finished over that period.

He’s grouped team types as Elite (1-5 composite average), Very Good (6-15 composite average), Good (16-30 composite average), Above Average (31-50 composite average), and so forth.  So here’s the test for you: off the top of your head, without wading back through the Massey archives, which group would you place Georgia in?

If you’ve chosen, then you can see the answer:

  • 2015 — 25
  • 2014 — 6
  • 2013 —  23
  • 2012 — 5
  • 2011 — 18
  • 2010 — 50
  • 2009 — 27
  • 2008 — 13
  • 2007 — 6
  • 2006 — 23

The average of those ten seasons?  20th.  That puts Georgia firmly in the ranks of the Good over the past decade.  Take a look at how Good teams have performed against other team types in Brian’s analysis, and you’ll get a pretty good picture of how Georgia has fared during that time.

To be fair, if you go past the ten-year point and take in all of the Richt era, there’s a definite bump upwards in the rankings.

  • 2005 — 9
  • 2004 — 10
  • 2003 — 4
  • 2002 — 4
  • 2001 — 17

The Massey average over Richt’s first five years was 8.8, or Very Good, according to Fremeau’s breakdown.  Remember how excited we were about Richt and the program’s future at that time?  It still wasn’t elite by Fremeau’s definition.

Further, if you average the entire fifteen-year period, you get a result of 16, still within the Good team type grouping, which doesn’t really change my point.  And this result comes from one who I would say is no worse than Georgia’s second-best head coach in the program’s football history.

You can talk all you want about the natural advantages the program has in terms of resources.  The reality is that over time, it’s never delivered on that promise.  Which means that either we’ve been unrealistic about those, or we’re expecting Kirby Smart to do something we’ve never seen before, despite those natural advantages – elevate the program to an elite level and sustain that.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

A brief slog through Georgia’s offensive efficiency numbers put up this chart of the 2015 national leaders in points per play plays per point:


Pace doesn’t matter for purposes of efficiency, but things like turnover margin, starting field position and special teams play do, of course. (Yeah, so does scoring, smart ass.) Anyway, Georgia doesn’t appear anywhere on that list and I thought it might be interesting to get some perspective on the Dawgs’ offensive efficiency last season.

Start with the SEC.  Here’s how the conference’s fourteen teams ranked last season (all stats via, natch):

  • Mississippi — 1.79
  • Arkansas — 1.90
  • LSU — 1.99
  • Alabama — 2.07
  • Mississippi State — 2.07
  • Tennessee — 2.16
  • Georgia — 2.38
  • Auburn — 2.50
  • Texas A&M — 2.73
  • Kentucky — 2.76
  • Florida — 2.82
  • South Carolina — 2.94
  • Missouri — 4.72
  • Vanderbilt — 4.79

Okay, Georgia’s seventh place finish wasn’t scintillating, but it wasn’t totally awful either.  Georgia’s problem on offense was that in addition to not being particularly efficient, it wasn’t particularly prolific, either, running only 62.54 plays a game on average.  Even Missouri ran more plays per game.  That’s how you wind up below the conference average in scoring.

Not only that, but when you put Georgia’s points per play plays per point number in historical perspective…

  • 2014:  1.63
  • 2013:  1.98
  • 2012:  1.75
  • 2011:  2.27
  • 2010:  1.95
  • 2009:  2.11
  • 2008:  2.02

… it was Georgia’s worst in eight seasons.  And that’s a stretch that covers all kinds of situations – new quarterbacks, the rash of injuries in 2013, negative turnover margins, the Logan Gray fair catch specialist era, etc.  Like it or not, the 2015 squad struggled harder to score than any Richt team we saw for many years.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!