Category Archives: Stats Geek!

At the intersection of Jimmys and Joes & Xs and Os

Bill Connelly uses the national title game to explore the topic of player matchups and advanced stats here and concludes there’s still plenty of work to be done.

But then there’s the next level of data: the matchup data where the ball isn’t involved.

Alabama clearly identified a potential weak link in Parrish and exploited him. The Tide were able to render Georgia’s offense far less efficient than normal, too, by eating up the interior of the Bulldogs’ line.

On multiple occasions throughout the national title game, a coach friend and I would end up texting back and forth — “That Georgia center is getting whooped.” “Georgia center again.” Et cetera. Poor Lamont Gaillard appeared to be pretty regularly getting his lunch eaten by Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne and others.

When the Bama defensive front was creating disruption, it was probably coming from the middle. But Payne finished the game with 4.5 tackles and no TFLs or havoc plays. Our eyes told us Payne was dominant, but we don’t have the stats to back that up. Stuff like this will show up somewhat in PFF grades (which a lot of coaches I’ve spoken with really do not tend to enjoy or trust), but the general point remains: we get far more about Xs and Os from stats than the proverbial Jimmies and Joes..

So here’s an offseason conversation topic for you (and trust me, if this indeed generates conversation, I’ve got plenty of other questions to toss to the field): what do we do about this?

It’s an excellent question.  Anybody who watched that game knows that Payne was ridiculously disruptive all night, and yet there’s no good way of quantifying his performance.  Maybe you think this is just another case of trying to count the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin, but I assure you it matters more to, say, Sam Pittman than that.

So much of football is derived from specific matchup advantages, but our overall data set doesn’t necessarily align with that. You basically win by creating numbers advantages or by having numbers that are better than your opponents’. We’re a lot better at measuring the former than the latter.

I’ll be curious to see where this inquiry takes Bill.

By the way, Bill takes this piece as a jumping off point to discuss the genius of Bill Walsh.  Genius is a word used over broadly these days, but when it comes to Walsh, it’s appropriate.  Connelly has some great quotes, but for my money, Walsh’s reflection on bringing back the Single Wing two decades before we saw the rise of the Wildcat, spread offense, zone read and Rich Rod’s offense at West Virginia is simply amazing.

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22 Comments

Filed under Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Chicks (and coaches) dig the deep ball.

For those of you proclaiming it’s only a matter of time before Justin Fields puts Jake Fromm’s ass on the bench, best to keep in mind there are a few hard realities that need to be taken into account.

Okay, I admit that ain’t G-Day QBR, but it’s not chopped liver, either.

26 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

A quarterbacks coach’s work is never done.

Speaking of Fromm, there is something he needs to improve on this offseason.  Take a look at his final passing chart.

He’s definitely got some work to do on his throwing to the right side of the field.  I don’t know if it’s a physical or a mental issue (I would guess the former), but there’s little doubt he’s more comfortable throwing across his body, based on those stats.

The other informative stat from the linked piece is this:

The Georgia offensive line definitely played a role in Fromm’s success. He was pressured on just 27.4 percent of his total drop backs, and had a pressure rate under 20 percent in seven different games.

Can you imagine how Eason’s freshman season might have gone with that kind of protection?  Or Aaron Murray’s career?

46 Comments

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

Central Florida dreamin’, on such a winter’s day

I’ve been more than amused by all the UCF fluffery we’ve seen since the Knights embarrassed Auburn in the Peach Bowl.  Some of that’s come from folks with an axe to grind against the current CFP format, some of it’s been generated by the school (you folks are adorable) and now here comes Ian Boyd to explore what advanced stats and Peach Bowl film study might say would have happened had UCF been the selection committee’s number four in place of Alabama.

Sure, it’s harmless fun and it’s not as if I’m highly offended by it.  But there are a couple of premises he makes in support that I have to question.

The first is the most obvious:  UCF wasn’t the fourth-best team in the country this year.  Even Boyd notes that Bill Connelly’s S&P+ shows that Central Florida would have lost to both Clemson and Georgia.  Alabama was ranked first.  In that regard, where I do have to give a little credit where credit is due is that UCF doesn’t look totally out of place with the actual playoff field.

Playoff S&P+ profiles

Team S&P+ Rankings
Clemson 45th Off, 1st Def, 52nd S/T
Georgia 14th Off, 11th Def, 3rd S/T
Oklahoma 1st Off, 101st Def, 71st S/T
Alabama 23rd Off, 1st Def, 52nd S/T
UCF 2nd Off, 74th Def, 51st S/T

They look like a slightly poorer version of Oklahoma there, don’t they?

Based on that — and remember that S&P+ is a stat that adjusts for opponents’ quality — I think UCF’s offense would have had some success against Clemson and Georgia, but it’s defense would have had a harder time.  The real issue for Central Florida would have been depth, something S&P+ doesn’t address.  How likely would it have been that the offense would have gone unscathed against two ferocious defenses?  Alabama lost an offensive lineman in the middle of the national title game, plugged a five-star understudy in his place and moved on.  That ain’t happening with UCF.

The other place depth matters is on special teams.  That’s a matchup that would have greatly favored Georgia had the two teams met.

As far as the other premise goes, well…

We don’t have a ton of information to go off here, save for UCF’s performance against a Group of 5 schedule and a victory against Auburn in the Peach Bowl. However, Auburn defeated both of the participants in the title game, and it’s not likely that the Tigers were any more distracted than the Knights, whose coaches were balancing bowl prep with taking over Nebraska. So we can at least learn a few things from the Peach.

… really, it’s pretty weak.  Auburn’s problem in the bowl game wasn’t that its coaches were distracted.  It’s that its players weren’t particularly motivated.  And if you’re going to play the “Auburn defeated both of the participants in the title game” card, don’t you have to acknowledge that both of those wins came in the friendly confines of Jordan Hare Stadium and that when Auburn faced Georgia three weeks later in a neutral site (the same one where the Peach Bowl was played, as a matter of fact), the Tigers lost far more decisively than they did to UCF?

68 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Stats Geek!

Good hands

It was the first thing I noticed about Terry Godwin when he hit the field.

Doesn’t appear to have changed…

6 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

When freshman meets senior

This isn’t… um, good, is it?

Pre-injury, I thought Parrish was a good, if undersized, defensive back, but he never was the same afterwards, it seems.  Alabama sure figured that out.

(The PI call was BS, by the way.)

20 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Hmmm… maybe that fabled SEC Year of the Quarterback is upon us.

Interesting stat, no?

Four of those five in the East, to boot.  (Not to mention Georgia will face every one of the QBs not named Fromm.)

17 Comments

Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!