Category Archives: Stats Geek!

Throw the damned ball to the tight ends, Chaney.

Seth Emerson makes a point about how Georgia’s offense utilized the tight end position this season.

But the tight ends – other than Nauta – were also used less than expected. They combined for 38 catches and 472 receiving yards, which was better than last year (28 catches for 306 yards), but it was mostly Nauta, while Jeb Blazevich saw his catches go from 15 to six, and Jackson Harris didn’t catch any.

The tight ends actually played better: They combined for 38 catches and 472 receiving yards, an improvement over last year. But that was mostly Nauta. The usage of the tight ends, despite a deep unit, was less than expected: Jeb Blazevich went from 15 catches to six, and Jackson Harris from four to zero.

In defense of Jim Chaney (admittedly, words I didn’t think I’d have much need to type this offseason), usage of the tight ends as a group, at least from a percentage of total receptions standpoint, actually increased fairly significantly in 2016 over the previous four seasons, per

  • 2012:  14%
  • 2013:  14%
  • 2014:  14%
  • 2015:  14%
  • 2016:  19%

Nauta’s 29 catches were the most for a Georgia tight end since Arthur Lynch’s 30 in 2013.



Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

I’ve got some good news for you and I’ve got some bad news for you.

Per Bill Connelly, advanced stats suggest the typical coach sees a big bump up in S&P+ ratings in his second year.  (Yay!)

Unfortunately, things flatline from there.

No matter how good you’ve been, you’re likely to improve in your coach’s second year. But outside of that second-year window, your fortunes depend as much on recent fortune as tenure. To some degree, everybody regresses or progresses toward the mean.

Now, this is an overly gloomy assessment in any individual coach’s case, of course.  (Not to mention Bill hedges on whether the data is statistically significant.)  But it’s probably worth keeping in mind that a positive move in Georgia’s fortunes next season wouldn’t be a shock.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

If you don’t bend, you can’t break.

Let’s get the easy thing out of the way first:  Georgia’s defensive red zone conversion percentage for the 2016 regular season stunk on ice, no ifs, ands or buts about it.  It was also a stunning drop from its third-place national finish from the season before.

The question I’ve got is how much does that matter to Smart and Tucker?  I’m not being facetious.  Check out Alabama’s national ranking in that stat over the past few seasons:

  • 2016:  40th
  • 2015:  63rd
  • 2014:  74th
  • 2013:  4th
  • 2012:  3rd
  • 2011:  1st
  • 2010:  3rd
  • 2009:  3rd

It sure seemed important for a while, but it’s almost like Saban’s lost interest lately (which, admittedly, is still a long way from finishing 127th out of 128 teams).

But look at where the Tide ranks in red zone attempts defended over that same period.

  • 2016:  1st
  • 2015:  2nd
  • 2014:  49th
  • 2013:  1st
  • 2012:  3rd
  • 2011:  1st
  • 2010:  7th
  • 2009:  1st

Now that’s consistent excellence there.

What’s Georgia’s story?

  • 2016:  26th
  • 2015:  7th
  • 2014:  30th
  • 2013:  73rd
  • 2012:  54th
  • 2011:  21st
  • 2010:  35th
  • 2009:  70th

Okay, that’s not as abysmal as next to last, but it’s pretty mediocre.

I joke about the Auburn game that the key to keeping Auburn from scoring regularly from the red zone was to keep Malzahn’s offense out of the red zone, but that’s actually how things played out in Georgia’s most impressive defensive effort of the year.

The trick to that, though, isn’t simple or one-sided.  You have to think turnover margin and field position play major roles in aiding a defense in keeping opponents from crossing its twenty.  So does stopping teams on third downs, though.  All of which has been a mixed bag for Georgia over the past few seasons.

All I’m saying here is, if indeed this is something that matters to Smart — and his track record at Alabama would indicate that it does — there’s a lot of work across the board left to be done.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Looking back and hoping to move forward

It’s December, a time of reflection if you’re a college football blogger.  Bill Connelly looks back on the hits and misses from his preseason projections here.  The basic data was the subject of an earlier post I linked to, but Bill’s commentary is worth an added note.

Georgia, as we saw in the first piece, went through one of college football’s biggest drops in advanced stats, but wasn’t alone in that department.  Bill looks for some similarities among the underperformers and finds this:

You can find some themes here, too. Six of these teams (BGSU, Baylor, Georgia, Syracuse, Rutgers, Georgia Southern) were led by first-year coaches, as were Illinois (off by 26 spots), Virginia (26), and Maryland (25). Sometimes even good coaches just don’t get all the pieces in the right places in the first 12 or so games.

Another commonality: Most of these teams have had great seasons recently. Bowling Green won 28 games from 2013-15 before losing Dino Babers to Syracuse. Oregon was in the national title game in 2014. Georgia won 50 games from 2011-15 but decided that wasn’t good enough and made a change. Baylor won 50 from 2011-15 but headed into 2016 with an interim coach after Art Briles’ swift downfall. Marshall won 33 from 2013-15. Sometimes your slope for regression to the mean is pretty stark, especially if you also have a first-year coach.

One more correlation worth mentioning: Eight of these 18 teams were among the top 25 in 2016 recruiting, and nine were among the top 28 in two-year recruiting. There is a strong correlation between good recruiting and good play, but it’s scattershot. It doesn’t affect each team the same in the short-term, and for all the predictive value recruiting can have (the top six teams in two-year recruiting are among the top 11 in S&P+, as are seven of the top nine in five-year recruiting), there will be misses.

That goes for all projection factors. Recent history wasn’t helpful in projecting Oregon’s or Georgia’s S&P+ rating…

Advanced stats have expectations, too.

The interesting part is where he looks for correlations among the overachievers.

What do these teams have in common? First of all, 12-of-13 are from Group of 5 conferences. Colorado is the only exception.

Second, seven of the 13 are led by coaches in either their second or third seasons in charge. Three others are in their fourth. Only Memphis (under Mike Norvell) was led by a first-year guy, and only ODU was led by a guy who’s been around at least six years.

If you’re going to take a leap, your second or third season is probably when you’re going to do it.

The experience stuff seems pretty obvious.  And when you think about it, the non-P5 stuff does, too.  Those aren’t typically your heavy hitting programs when it comes to recruiting and that’s going to show up in Bill’s preseason projections.

What does that say about Mike Bobo, whose CSU program finished the regular season with the greatest improvement in S&P+ ratings this season and who cut his teeth recruiting well in the SEC wars?  It says to me that if he keeps it up, he’ll wind up treading the Jim McElwain path to bigger and better times.

There’s hope in that experience factor for Kirby Smart, of course, and, while there’s no guarantee, it certainly doesn’t hurt that at this early point he appears to be even more skilled in hauling talent to Athens than Bobo was.  But there’s also Bill’s final word to consider.

Of the current S&P+ top 10, nine were projected in the top 11 at the start of the season, and the only outsider (Louisville) was projected 18th. The current six best have spent exactly one week outside of the top 11. There was, and will always be, chaos and turmoil in the middle, but the top of college football fell into place mostly according to plan.

In other words, to be the best you… uh, gotta be the best.  Maintaining at the top seems to be easier than the climb to get there, at least in 2016.  Grab your backpacks, peeps.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

The meaning of “Bama ain’t played nobody”

Bill Connelly does a deep, advanced stats-driven dive into conference strength rankings and discovers that while the SEC may be down, it’s far from out.

With a decent bowl season, the SEC might end up with the top S&P+ average in the country. It would be the eighth straight year. The last time a conference other than the SEC ranked first was 2008, when the Big 12 did it. Back then, the ACC was barely better than the Mountain West. Fortunes change, but the SEC’s has stayed mostly the same.

Still, this is the worst SEC since probably 2005, and that’s with maybe the best Alabama team of Nick Saban’s tenure. The ACC could end up first.

But the real story of 2016 is conference parity. The top four conferences are closer together than they’ve been in quite a while.

The SEC is the best long-term conference in college football because it is the most consistently strong. It still holds that mantle, but the slippage of the last two seasons has been undeniable.

I’m not gonna argue with that.  But the SEC had best hope some of those new coaching hires and the young quarterbacks come in to their own sooner rather than later.


Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Monday morning buffet

Get ‘yer feedbag on…


Filed under Academics? Academics., ACC Football, General Idiocy, Georgia Football, Look For The Union Label, Recruiting, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

Pressure drop

This is reassuring.

Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason is growing, but he had issues when teams put pressure on him. When he was under duress this season, Eason completed just 27.1 percent of his passes with one touchdown to three interceptions. He was sacked 18 times and lost two fumbles. He threw for just four first downs and had a raw QBR of 1.7 under duress. Eason still has some issues reading defenses at times, but to really throw him off his game, you just have to get some pressure on him without having to blitz.

The response to that is to devise an offensive game plan that keeps Eason out of obvious passing situations.  Yeah, I know.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics