Category Archives: Stats Geek!

Georgia football is like a box of chocolates.

At least, writes Patrick Garbin, that’s the case when it comes to meeting preseason expectations.

… I decided to see how strong of a positive relationship—if positive at all—there has been between the preseason AP poll and the final AP rankings in regard to Georgia, and several neighboring schools of interest. Beginning in 1950, the initial year of the preseason AP poll, through 2016, the preseason and final rankings of Georgia and eight other often nationally-ranked teams from the South were correlated annually to reveal their correlation coefficient, or r. Simply, think of “r” as how efficient the Associated Press has been at preseason ranking each team in association to where it finishes in the AP’s final poll (whereby if r is between 0 and .200, there is a very weak positive relationship between the AP’s preseason and final polls; .200 and .400 is weak; .400 and .600 is moderate; .600 and .800 is strong; and .800 and 1 is very strong).

Ranked according to r, each team is also listed with the number of 67 seasons (63 seasons for Florida State) whereby it appeared in the AP’s preseason poll (followed by, of those appearances, the number of seasons ranked and not ranked in final poll), and number of seasons appearing in the AP’s final poll (followed by, of those, number of seasons ranked and not ranked in preseason poll).

(For example, Georgia, although borderline moderate, has had a weak relationship at .395 since 1950 in regards to what the AP ranks the Bulldogs in the preseason as it relates to where they finish in the final poll. In the last 67 years, Georgia has been preseason ranked on 35 occasions: 22 times it finished in the final poll, 13 times it finished unranked. In the last 67 years, the Bulldogs finished ranked on 30 occasions: 22 times they had been preseason ranked, 8 times they had not.

Of the nine schools he looked at, only Auburn had a worse correlation than Georgia’s, which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense.  In fact, if you shorten the term under analysis to the last ten seasons, the effect is consistent, and, with regard to Auburn, even more intensified.

I next figured the exact same as above, but for just the last 10 seasons (2007-2016) and, interestingly, found somewhat similar results with Clemson, Alabama, and Florida State all having strong relationships, Tennessee at nearly strong (.587), and Georgia (.313) and Auburn (minus-.263) again in the weak zone. This should be no surprise considering the Bulldogs were preseason ranked each of the last eight years (with an average ranking of approximately No. 13), yet finished ranked in the final poll just three times.

In Georgia’s case, I’m not too sure what that says about 2017.  The Dawgs are ranked in most preseason discussions I’ve seen, but the consensus seems to relegate Georgia to somewhere in the high teens to low twenties, which is lower than the average from the past ten years, but still means the Dawgs are ranked.  It’s not exactly a traditional vote of confidence, so you can draw all sorts of conclusions about what sort of omen that might be for how things turn out this season.  On the other hand, we’ve seen that Vegas has shown a stronger degree of confidence in Georgia’s chances than the pundits have, so who knows where the AP goes?  Take your chances, in other words.

Now that I think about it, that randomness is pretty much Patrick’s point.

(Now what that says about Auburn’s chances this season… well…)

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A little more GATA is needed.

Not sure how I missed Pete Fiutak’s Georgia 2017 preview, but digging back through the CFN site, I saw he posted it a week or so ago.  While it’s hard to argue with his conclusion…

The Georgia Season Will Be A Success If …

It wins the East. There’s absolutely no excuse. There’s too much talent, too much depth, and too much upside and potential not to get to the SEC title game. Whether or not the Dawgs are good enough beat Alabama – or whoever gets by the Crimson Tide to get to Atlanta – is going to be up in the air, but the East isn’t going to be that great. Don’t win it, and the season is a disaster.

… I’d rather focus on something else he wrote.  Fiutak dug up one stat from last season that maybe hasn’t gotten as much attention as it should:  “they came up with just 62 tackles for loss, by far the lowest total in a long, long time”cfbstats.com confirms his observation.

  • 2016:  62
  • 2015:  76
  • 2014:  71
  • 2013:  81
  • 2012:  91
  • 2011:  100
  • 2010:  79
  • 2009:  90
  • 2008:  74

That’s beyond anemic.  When you can’t even meet Willie Martinez’ standards, you’ve got a serious problem.

Now, we all know that Smart, like any other defense-minded coach, wants players on that side of the ball who are disruptive.  As I discussed in this post from last year, Smart comes straight out of the Saban school of dominant run defense.  A nine-year low mark in tackles for loss isn’t something he wanted, but it may have been the inevitable result of a very green defensive line and installing a new system (Smart and Pruitt may both come out of the Saban system, but that doesn’t mean they share identical approaches on defense.)

Then again, it may have simply been the result of shitty coaching.  (If you think I’m kind of blown away comparing 2016 to 2008 and 2009, well… you’re right.)

In any event, the youth and transitional excuses are gone for 2017.  It’s the second year in the system for everyone and the defense returns every starter from the front seven, plus a bunch of the two deep.  Coming back to one of yesterday’s posts, this is an area where you hope Bellamy and Carter can elevate their games.  All told, if the Georgia defense can’t return to its traditional level of TFLs this season, that would raise some real questions about how it’s being directed.

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UPDATE:  For those of you in the comments writing off Lorenzo Carter, have a look at something from the bowl game.

No, that wasn’t a tackle for loss, but it was one helluva play.

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When stats aren’t convincing

Interesting assertion from the AJ-C’s Brandon Adams yesterday:

Georgia football podcast: One stat could determine SEC East winner

Beginning of the show: In three of the last four seasons the winner of the SEC East has collected more than 40 sacks as a team.

Now that’s true, as far as it goes.  Missouri cracked the 40-sack mark in 2013 and 2014, while Florida did the same in 2015.  However, the Gators, while leading the East in sacks last season, only managed 31 on the way to winning the division.  So, maybe the key is simply topping the division rather than a specific number.

Except when you go back to 2012, you find Georgia’s 32 sacks were only second-best in the East, behind South Carolina’s 43 (I think some dude named Clowney was a Gamecock back then).

There really isn’t much of a rhyme or reason to this, then.  Which shouldn’t come as a surprise when you think about how chaotic the division has been, in the sense that the favorite never seems to win it these days.  In fact, scrounging around the cfbstats.com site, I couldn’t find a single statistical category over the past four seasons that the East winner topped in all years.

None of which is to say I wouldn’t love for the Dawgs to manage forty-plus sacks.  I would venture to say were that to happen, it would be an indication that the defense enjoyed a dominant 2017.  But as far as that guaranteeing a trip to Atlanta in December, who knows?

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Today, in greasing the skids

What do you get if you use ESPN’s preseason 2017 Football Index (I know; just roll with me here) to rank SEC schedules in order of difficulty?  This:

Here are the SEC’s toughest schedule rankings, based on ESPN’s Power Rating Index:

1. LSU and Mississippi State 83.6; 3. Vanderbilt 82.5; 4. South Carolina 80.3; 5. Florida 80.1; 6. Texas A&M 79.8; 7. Alabama 79.3; 8. Arkansas 78.3; 9. Auburn 78.1; 10. Tennessee 77.4; 11. Kentucky 74.6; 12. Ole Miss 73.7 13. Georgia 73.5; 14. Missouri 68.7  [Emphasis added.]

Favorable schedule, loads of starting experience on defense, a starting quarterback and coaching staff with a year under their belts… you can’t deny the stars are aligning for Georgia’s chances in 2017.  I won’t pronounce it a given that the sea has parted, but it’s gonna be a lot harder to excuse another year without winning the division.

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Pythagoras is impressed with Kirby Smart.

If you had “5-7 was more likely than 11-2” as the pick in the Oh, How Georgia’s 2016 Season Could Have Gone Pool, Matt Melton is here to tell you that you may be on to something.

And here are the APR standings sorted by division with conference rank in offensive touchdowns, touchdowns allowed, and APR in parentheses. This includes conference games only with the championship game excluded.

Finally, SEC teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.

Look who’s number one!  The question is whether that could be chalked up to coaching or luck.  We’ll see what regression to the mean has to say about that in 2017.

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Notre Dame: best 4-8 team of 2016…

… or best 4-8 team ever?

By the way, Mr. Connelly projects Notre Dame as an almost four-point favorite when the Dawgs come calling in September.

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When they were bad, they weren’t so bad.

Bill Connelly dives into what advanced stats say the best and worst games of 2016 were.

Ask, and you shall receive. Below is a list of what the stats say were the top 50 games of 2016. I added one slight tweak, though. Along with percentile performances, the stat profiles also include a postgame win expectancy figure that basically says “based on this game’s stats, you could have expected to win this game X percent of the time.” If your postgame win expectancy was 50 percent, that means it was a perfect tossup, per the key stats.

If we’re truly judging the most high-quality games of the year, then in my mind they should be games in which both teams not only played well (per percentiles) but also played almost perfectly even. So the closer each team’s win expectancy was to 50 percent, the better the game.

So here are the top 50 games based on what I’m so cleverly calling the Great Game Score — the teams’ combined percentile ratings minus a win expectancy factor…

Best games make for a fun list, although from a pure entertainment standpoint, my favorite game of last season, the USC-Penn State meeting in the Rose Bowl, only finished fourth, but it’s when you get to the worst games that you get the crack that stings, Dawg fans.

And in case you’re curious, here are the 20 worst games of 2016…

The main surprise for me: no Georgia-Nicholls State! Too close, I guess.

Last season was so mediocre, they couldn’t even do awful well.

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