Thursday, October 11, 2012

Has the BC Offense Regressed in 2012?

If there is one ray of hope for BC fans in this miserable, miserable season it's been that "well, at least the offense is good this year."  At first glance, the difference between this year and last year seems like night and day.  Football Outsiders had us ranked as the 101st best offense in the country last year (out of 120!!!).  This year the offense has seemed competent, if not capable of putting points up in bunches.  While doing some research for another article, I casually checked to see how BC was faring in total offense this year, only to spit out my coffee when finding that Football Outsiders currently has us ranked as the 116th best offense in the country.  116th!  How is this even remotely possible when even the most die-hard detractors of the current coaching staff agree that Doug Martin's transformation of the BC offense is nothing short of miraculous?

As an introduction, Football Outsiders is considered by many pundits to be on the forefront of evaluating team play through their combination of advanced statistics and player grading.  In short, Football Outsiders watches every play of every game, and assigns a grade to each play, and in some cases to each player in each play.  This data is then combined with certain point values that the physical result of the play is assigned.  The first part of the analysis is designed to take out luck, poor tackling, etc. whereas the second part adheres to the more traditionally objective "you can't argue with results" test.  Football Outsiders then throws out garbage time and accounts for the strength of the opposing unit.  Football Outsiders explains their methodology as follows:

"The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from the play-by-play data of all 800+ of a season's FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays). There are three key components to the S&P+:
  • Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.
  • EqPts Per Play (PPP): An explosiveness measure derived from determining the point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game.
  • Opponent adjustments: Success Rate and PPP combine to form S&P, an OPS-like measure for football. Then each team's S&P output for a given category (Rushing/Passing on either Standard Downs or Passing Downs) is compared to the expected output based upon their opponents and their opponents' opponents. This is a schedule-based adjustment designed to reward tougher schedules and punish weaker ones.
The S&P+ figures used in the tables below only look at the plays that took place while a game was deemed "close," or competitive. The criteria for being "close" are as follows: a game within 24 points in the first quarter, with 21 points in the second quarter, and within 16 points in the second half.
Passing Downs are defined as:
  • second down with 8 or more yards to go
  • third or fourth down with 5 or more yards to go
All other downs are Standard Downs."
Looking closer at the data provided by Football Outsiders, the 2012 offense has failed to out-perform the 2011 offense in both rushing offense and passing offense.  The 2011 offense was ranked 95th in rushing whereas the 2012 offense is currently ranked 122, nearly dead-last in the nation.  Similarly, the 2011 offense was ranked 98th in the country whereas the current offense is ranked an equally horrid 106th in the nation.  The reason for the regression seems to be that BC has played significantly weaker defenses this year than it did on average last year while only improving offensive output marginally.

For instance, BC ranks 77th in the country in Success Rate and 87th in the country in PPP.  Both of these numbers are troubling enough for an ACC offense, but when you consider the fact that BC has played defenses that are ranked 59th (Northwestern), 88th (Clemson), 91st (Miami), and 124th (Army), those numbers become even more troubling.  By contrast, BC's defense is ranked 51st.

So as much as we malign and groan about the BC defense, the BC defense is better than any opponent's we've played so far this year.  When you think about how awful the defenses are which we've played, the Football Outsiders numbers become much more understandable.

This season has officially gone from failure to epic failure. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a perfect example of why advanced stats are overrated. Just watch offense play. You really think they are only better than 4 offenses in the country? Please, give me a break.


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