Monthly Archives: July 2013
Gamecock Guru Johnathan Barnes drops some entertaining Over/Under Predictions.
Every off-season you get these random articles predicting things like the BCS Champs, Heisman Winner, Conference Standings, etc. They are always months and months before the start of the season though. Now, here we are…less than a month before USC v. UNC kick off to start the season. And it is still too early for all of that. I do, however have some other predictions and over/under’s for each team.
- Over/Under Targeting (Helmet-to-Helmet) Tackles on Manziel: 4.5
- Over/Under Mentions of AJ’s girlfriend on DudeYouCrazy: 18.5
- How many games before AJ throws an Interception this year: 9
- How many times will Saban speak on the “Process”: 30 (once before and after each game and twice during the bowl prep time frame)
- Over/Under Points Allowed during the Season: 359.5
- Number of times the QB is sacked before he realizes he should have gone to Bama: 15
- Number of times Runningbacks have to chase their mother for their LOI: 5
- Over/Under Points Allowed against Bama: 42.5
- How many games before they realize they should buy another Cam Newton: 0
- Over/Under Average Passing Yards per Game: 80.5
- Over/Under Driskel being sacked v. UGA & USC: 12.5
- How many games before the rest of the nation realizes Muschamp is not Head Coach material: 0
- Over/Under Touchdowns allowed in week 1: 5.5
- Over/Under Touchdowns scored in week 1: 7.5
- Over/Under Murray passing yards vs. USC: 200.5
- Over/Under Murray sacked by Clowney: 3.5
- How many times will Murray’s house be TP’d: 1 (After the USC game… Again.)
Wait… Kentucky has a football team?
- Over/Under How many times Les Miles loses a game because of poor clock management: 6.5
- Over/Under Number of Trick Plays: 4.5
- Over/Under Number of time Les Miles is called the “Mad Hatter”: 0… after the Clemson game he will now be referred to as “Idiot”.
- Over/Under Number of times Zach Mettenberger “craps his pants”: 0… he doesn’t face Clowney this year
- Will Russell advance as a QB? Only in the easy games.
- Will they really use the Pink uniforms? Yes. But only because they know the other team will be laughing too much to play.
- Over/Under Number of times there will be a close of up James Franklin’s “deer in the headlights” face as he is getting sacked: 30.
- Over/Under Number of five star recruits committed by week 6: 4.5
- Number of recruiting scandal accusations by week 6: 47
- Number of times Robert Nkemdiche laughs at the UGA/Clemson score because he almost attended Clemson: 10
- Over/Under Deaths via Clowney Comin’: 1.5
- Over/Under Number of passes overthrown or under thrown on the season: 10.5
- Over/Under Number of times people outside of South Carolina will laugh at “Go Cocks!”: Unknown
- Over/Under How many times Connor Shaw will be on the field, but not at QB per game: 4.5
- Over/Under How many times will Johnny Manziel be caught doing something stupid: 2.5
- Will Johnny Manziel win the Heisman? No. He will actually give last years Heisman to Clowney.
- Over/Under Number of times people say they hate James Franklin each week: 5.5
- Over/Under Rushing yards this season without Zac Stacy: 500.. or 200. Maybe 50.
- Who will Vanderbilt beat that they really shouldn’t have: Tennessee
This Post is Graphic in Nature: Upon Further Review, Georgia’s Defense Returns almost as much as South Carolina’s and LSU’s
Dude’s note: all statistics utilized here are courtesy of Bill Connelly of SBNation/Football Outsiders/Football Study Hall. Your team’s website may show different numbers (Heck, mine does!), but he’s organized the data I wanted already in three articles. Georgia’s data was drawn from this. South Carolina’s data was drawn from this. LSU’s data was drawn from this.
The Georgia Bulldogs will open the season against Clemson before entering SEC play against South Carolina at home. The Dawgs’ second conference bout comes at home against the LSU Tigers. To say that the Bulldogs better be ready to play from day one is an insult to stating the obvious. Hence the urgency around the Georgia football program this summer.
As we all know, Georgia lost a lot on defense. And with an opener against Clemson (a high powered offense), the absence of a dozen defensive stalwarts is magnified. But Georgia isn’t the only defense that is faced with a rebuilding project. In fact, the other two SEC teams I have already mentioned (South Carolina and LSU) have their work cut out for them as well. But you might not have heard about that.
The graph below shows (as a percentage) the amount of production from last season that is returning for each of those three schools in various areas. There is no intentional “cumulative” effect, the connection of the data points is simply for illustrative purposes.
As you can see, this data examines returning tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, pass break-ups, interceptions, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. Those are seven significant categories of measure.
If you want a more thorough numerical breakdown, here is what each team returns in each area:
That picture is admittedly convoluted, so let’s just take a look at the raw average. I don’t know that this is necessarily accurate in totality (more on that in a moment), but if we average the totals the figures above this is the amount of defensive production that each school in question returns:
So, while Georgia has certainly lost a lot on defense (the Dawgs return just 34.22% of total productivity), they aren’t light-years behind South Carolina (returning 42.63%) and LSU (43.70%).
But, I don’t think this is an entirely accurate portrayal of each team.
Some of this data is over-valued.
Tackles, for instance, are a bit of a moot point. While tackles may demonstrate how effective an individual player is within a team, total team tackles don’t necessarily demonstrate team success. By their very nature, tackles need to happen. But, there are several distorting factors in tackle numbers:
- A team that forces a three-and-out series only has three chances to record a tackle. In contrast, a team that allows long, slow drives may be forced to make 15 tackles. Which defense is better? Not the one with more tackles.
- A team that intercepts a pass or recovers a fumble doesn’t get to make any more tackles on that possession.
- Regardless of personnel, somebody (especially on talent-loaded SEC teams) steps up to make tackles. Case in point: in 2009 the Georgia Bulldogs registered 877 total tackles according to Georgiadogs.com. They fired Willie Martinez, hired Todd Grantham and dumped the 4-3 for the 3-4. The next year, Georgia registered 877 tackles. Those numbers are coincidentally (freaky) similar, but you get the point.
So, I don’t think that tackles carry much weight. Especially since statistical measurements being used (tackles for loss, sacks, pass break-ups, interceptions, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries) represent much bigger plays – both in the stopping of individual drives and in the momentum of a game.
With tackles removed from the averages, here is how Georgia, South Carolina and LSU stack up:
Georgia declines slightly (from a 34.22% average returning production figure down to 34.11%). LSU declines a little bit more (from 43.70% down to 42.58%). South Carolina declines as well (from 42.63% to 41.54%).
I also assert that the passes broken-up category is disproportionally credited. Don’t get me wrong; I recognize the merits of PBUs on two-folds:
- A PBU prevents a catch (and therefore limits the yards that go with it and possibly the movement of the chains for a first down or even the changing of the scoreboard for a TD).
- A PBU renders a passing down useless.
However, a pass breakup benefits the team much moreso than an individual player. And, although this study is ultimately being done to analyze a team, it is reflective of individual stats. A PBU limits yards, first downs, touchdowns, points and in the process makes the offense waste a down. But, a PBU tells us that a receiver did not catch a ball because a defender stopped the ball’s trajectory; nothing more. It does not tell us what would have happened had the player caught the ball. It ultimately yields an incomplete pass – something that happens 45% of the time anyway. It does not offer a firm intrinsic value. (In contrast, a sack definitively keeps a QB from passing. A tackle for loss definitively keeps a player behind the line of scrimmage. An interception or fumble recovery definitively ends a drive, every single time.)
I suggest that passes broken-up should not be included in the returning figures either. The chart below shows the production without tackles and without PBUs:
As you can see, Georgia advances slightly (up to 34.59%) with this refinement. LSU barely declines (down 0.16% from the last measure to 42.42%). South Carolina moves down to 39.84%.
Dude’s note: Before I jump into analysis and final commentary, I want to head-off the “you’re being selective with data” arguments. 1. I did not remove either of Georgia’s two worst categories (Georgia returns just 28.13% of last year’s sacks and just 30.77% of last year’s tackles for loss). 2. I did not remove South Carolina’s best two categories (the Cocks return 52.63% of sacks and 52.13% of their tackles for loss). 3. I did not remove LSU’s best category (53.85% returning in fumble recoveries). I took out two categories that I felt had minimal bearing. Now for some random points of emphasis…
Georgia vs. South Carolina:
The narrative about Georgia’s defense this offseason has been, “They lost everyone!!!”
The South Carolina narrative has been, “CLOWNEY!!!!”
South Carolina’s defense returns marginally more than Georgia’s by these standards – just over 5%. Combine that with the fact that the Cocks have lost 15 of their 23 turnovers (65.22%) as represented by INTs and Fumble Recoveries, while Georgia lost just 18 of 29 (62.01%) and I’m not sure that South Carolina’s defense returns decidedly more than Georgia’s. Does Carolina have more back? Probably so. But not by a landslide.
South Carolina returns Jadeveon Clowney. Yes, he’s the best player in the country. But the returning figures I utilized feature Jadeveon Cloweny’s performance. And, I’m not sure that his production will be guaranteed to be as good with as much as 60% of the surrounding production gone. (Dude’s note: much to the chagrin of Gamecocks, I made this point earlier this summer. They hated me for it.)
As depleted as Georgia may be (and to be fair: I think they are more depleted than the other two teams in question – but not by much), the Dawgs are surprisingly balanced.
- Georgia’s most depleted unit is the linebacking unit. That unit will return just 30.35% of its TFL, Sack, INT, Forced Fumbles and Fumble Recovery production.
- South Carolina’s worst unit is also its linebackers. The Gamecocks return just 0.89% of their production from linebackers. You read that correctly: that’s less than 1%. That happens when you run a 4-3 defense and lose your top-five LBs.
- LSU returns just 11.12% of its defensive line production.
Similarly, Georgia’s poorest statistical category is better than South Carolina and LSU’s respective low tallies:
- Georgia returns just 28.13% of its sacks from 2012.
- South Carolina returns just 12.50% if its fumble recoveries from 2012.
- LSU returns just 21.43% of its sacks from 2012.
It’s not enough for me if I still have one reader with me after all of these numbers and graphs. So I’m taking it a step further. Let’s make an official DudeYouCrazy Returning Defense Formula…just for fun.
We have five ingredients all represented by percentages:
- Tackles for loss
- Forced Fumbles
- Fumbles Recovered
Let’s figure out some weightings.
Tackles for Loss and Sacks are essentially the same thing, but one is decisively more damaging. In 2012, Georgia, South Carolina and LSU combined for 276 tackles for a loss with a resulting yardage loss of 1090 yards. The three teams combined for 110 sacks resulting in a total loss of 702 yards. So, TFLs in this short study pushed teams back about 3.95 yards each while sacks did 6.38 yards of damage. So, in the formula returning tackles for loss should be worth about 60% less than sacks.
Additionally, both of those categories should be weighted significantly lower than actual turnovers (Interceptions and Fumbles). Interceptions and Fumble Recoveries always end drives. So, they are going to be arbitrarily worth 3x the amount of a sack.
As for forced fumbles, they can’t be overvalued as they are not turnovers until they are recovered. But, it takes a forced fumble to have a fumble recovery. So they will be weighted the same as a tackle for loss.
So the impromptu DudeYouCrazy Returning Defense Formula is…
% Returning TFL + % Returning FF + (1.6 x % Returning Sacks) + (4.8 x % Returning Fum Rec) + (4.8 x % Returning INTs)
With that in mind, here’s how the teams shake out:
A disproportionate bend is put on turnovers, but I don’t think that’s an inaccurate emphasis. Playmakers make a defense.
Thank you if you stuck around this long. Real preview articles start tomorrow!
That’s all I got/
Cody Trimble takes a look at the Big 12.
I’m going to change the pace up a bit with this article and talk about A&M’s ex-girlfriend, the Big 12. Now I know that all of you will be settled in on Saturdays geared up to watch the greatness that is SEC football, I will be doing the same. But there are times when SEC games are not on or Kentucky is playing and you are going to have to pick another game to watch. Thing is, the conference that will be the most fun to watch will be the Big 12.
It all starts with how wide open the league is. There are eight teams that could be on the top of the conference by the end of the season. Now some of those eight are dark horses but nobody has any kind of grasp on what is going to happen in the Big 12 this year. Of course there are two teams that we can count out. Kansas is going to struggle as usual. As the great Charlie Weiss put it at Big 12 media days, the Jayhawks will “Look at that pile of crap out there.” Then there is Iowa State. Now sure they could get six wins and make a bowl, but they just do not have the talent to win the league. But do keep an eye out for that one game when they are playing a top 15 team who has a shot at the Big 12 title and Iowa State is in the game in the second half. Every year they pull of an upset up in Ames that ruins the year for their opponent, got to love Iowa State for that.
There are four teams that if they are playing each other it is a must watch for how fun the game will be. Texas Tech, West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma State are explosive on the offensive side of the ball and none of them really have a defense. They play the type of games that whoever has the ball last wins. They all love to spread the field and throw the ball downfield. Anytime these teams get together there is bound to be a plethora of big plays.
In Lubbock the prodigal son (Kliff Kingsbury) has returned. The momentum around Tech football is at a place that has not been seen since the Pirate Leach was there. It will probably take a couple years to get Tech back to a level of being in the top half of the league but with the momentum surrounding the team this year you never know what could happen. There is plenty of talent on offense to go back to being an offense that can score a lot of points and Kingsbury is an offensive genius. When they play TCU on a Thursday night the third week of the season we will know if they can compete or are not there yet. If Tech wins that game look out for them to go on a tear.
West Virginia is all offense, no defense. Every year they have plenty of playmakers who know how to get to the end zone but they just can’t stop another team’s offense. Last year against an offense at Texas that could barely move the ball against Kansas West Virginia gave up 45 points. Sure they still won that game but week to week it is impossible to be perfect on offense when the defense gives up a score every drive. With the talent they lost last year it could be a tough season, but with Dana Holgerson at helm anything is possible.
Baylor is just a fun team to watch. Art Briles has turned them into a real competitor that could have a real good shot at winning the Big 12 this year. Baylor always has a quarterback that is very talented and Lache Seastrunk is a stud at running back. If Baylor’s defense can just be mediocre they will be a team in the hunt until the end of the year. Be sure you make some time to watch Baylor play, if only to see one of the best offenses in all of college football work.
Oklahoma State is a very popular pick to win the league and there is no reason they should not be. The past few years they have become part of the top-tier of Big 12 teams. Mike Gundy’s offense is a blast to watch and is full of big time players. A lot like Baylor the year will ride on if their defense can step up in big games. In Stillwater they are hoping to take that final step of overcoming OU and winning the conference title. This year may be their best chance with OU having questions at quarterback and playing many inexperienced players.
Texas is the enigma of the Big 12. No doubt they have the most talent on their team and are the veterans of a league that will have most of the teams playing young players who have not seen the field a lot. But Texas has been talented the past few years and just cannot seem to get back to where they were just a few years ago. If the defense can avoid missing tackles and giving up big plays like last year they will be awfully hard to beat. However, David Ash is still the starting quarterback and it is really hard to see him being the type of quarterback who can lead a team to a conference title. In at least one game this year Texas will have to put up a lot points to win a game and I’m not sure if Ash can do it. Plus Texas has to get over the red river rivalry hump. They have been blown out of the water by OU the past few years and that’s the game where things always seem to start going downhill for the Horns. Win it this year and they could quickly become part of the National Title talk.
I have no clue what to think of Kansas State. Really this is a team that shouldn’t be near as good as they are any year but there is something special about one of the greatest college coaches of all time, Bill Snyder. He just knows how to win. KSU lost a lot last year and matching what they did last season will be extremely tough. There usually the most balanced team in the Big 12, solid on offense, solid on defense, but I think this year they will find themselves in the middle of the conference at the end of the year.
It is hard to bet against OU in the Big 12. They are just one of the most consistent teams in football. This year there is a lot of questions surrounding the team, namely at quarterback, where everybody is wondering if the bruising Blake Bell can actually pass. But you just have to expect that they will be in contention all year long. They recruit as much talent as anybody and Stoops is an elite coach. If things work out at quarterback they will find themselves on top of the league, if not two to three losses are what to expect.
Last and my favorite to win the league is TCU. They are different from the rest of the league because Gary Patterson has built this team on defense. TCU has to figure out their quarterback situation but both potential starters they have are good options. Trevone Boykin started last year of Casey Pachall was suspended. Boykin showed a great athletic ability and can make plays, but did have a great arm or accuracy passing. Pachall was a big time recruit a looks like the front runner at the moment. He is a much more traditional quarterback who will make his plays from the pocket. TCU is going to have an improved offense with a defense that should be able to help lead the team to wins. I do not think TCU will have go undefeated to win the Big 12, they could very easily have two losses, one of those coming from an out of conference game against LSU. Be sure to tune in for that game the first week of the season, it could be a little ugly but could set the tone for the season for both teams.
The Big 12 is really a must watch for any college football fan this year. The parody is top to bottom and as the season winds down each Saturday will be full of high drama games that will be the difference between a conference title or finishing middle of the road for many teams. So when you have watched all the SEC you can for the day or there are commercials, flip on a Big 12 game, you are sure to be entertained.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @cctrim.
For the record, I have written and re-written this intro at least 5 times. We’ve seen team fates altered from part 1 (Dennis Pitta, Dan Koppen) and part 2 (Jeremy Maclin) in just these few days that camps have been opened, which should teach us all a valuable lesson: gamble early, and gamble often (if gambling were legal). So grab a cup of coffee, throw on your favorite jersey, and join us as we wrap up our trip around the league through the eyes of a degenerate gambler.
I’m an Andrew Luck fan. I think his future in the League is bright, I think the ownership group behind him is smart, and I think he has the tools to be a franchise player in this league. That said, I have always valued players and play-calling over the more amorphous, spiritual side of sports, but this team went 11-5 last year, and to deny the power of all the Chuck Strong stuff would be stupid. I will say this team doesn’t win the 11 again until they get a decent running back (and no one knows what Bradshaw has left), but how do you not take this over.
Jacksonville actually intrigues me, because no one had more go wrong for them last year than the Jags. The spectre of Tim Tebow, the question marks under center and only 86 carries out of MJD – and he still led the team in rushing yards. Could all these things go wrong again? Sure, but it’s not very likely. 5 is a low number, and a healthy MJD should get you more than that. Over.
JJ Watt, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson. Those are the three names that most directly responsible for if the Texans clear the 10 win bar this year. They grabbed 12 last year, and while Johnson had almost 1600 receiving yards, I would bet everything I have (not much) that he clears his 2012 touchdown total of 4 easily. Give me the over.
Matt Hasselbeck took his veteran leadership to Indy, as the Titans are now all in with Jake Locker, for better or worse. I bet it’s worse. Under.
New Orleans 9
Tampa Bay 7.5
This is the only division in the National Football League (in my Jaws voice) that has every team’s line above 7, since Carolina’s moved to 7.5 after early action. I agree with the masses that based on Cam’s end of season, he’s turned the corner and will be the picture of stability and leadership this coming year. Over. (And if you don’t think that this is an elaborate anti-jinx on the one player in division I am legitimately afraid of every time they play the Falcons, then you don’t know me very well.)
Tampa Bay needs Freeman to bounce back to break through the .500 barrier, but Greg Schiano’s determination to undermine his incumbent quarterback points to this being unlikely. He even went so far as to say Mike Glennon would be a legitimate challenge to the starting position, and Mike Glennon looks like a Beaker/ostrich hybrid. Under.
I will never hide my hatred for the Saints. I can promise you this. But, this isn’t last year when they were being coached by…um…wait, who coached them last year? Anyway, Sean Payton is back, so the sub .500 Ain’ts are probably a thing of the past, but Payton is an offenseive coach, and this is a team that finished 31st against the run and 32nd against the pass last year, and 9 is a big number. Take the over, but be careful in the offensively explosive NFC South.
Speaking of explosive, the reigning division champs brought back the principals of the 6th ranked passing attack (even Tony Goonzalez), upgraded the running game with Steven Jackson, and have a defense in it’s second season under Mike Nolan. The biggest question mark for this team is the ability to rush the passer, and that is going to be wholly contingent on Osi’s ability to replace John Abraham. The pass defense numbers will never look good because of teams playing from behind against them and having to throw, as long as the secondary can maintain the opportunistic attitude they approached last year with, this team is a lock for the over.
New England 11.5
New York 6.5
Lots of question marks in Foxboro heading into camp. The last few years have shown Belichek and co. moving to a Chip Kelly inspired multiple tight end attack that was unique in the league, and a match up nighmare for opposing defensive coordinators. Sure, you had trouble covering the TEs in space, but as soon as you went zone, Wes Welker would sit in the soft parts of the zone, and eat up yards. As soon as you thought the passing attack was stymied, Ridley or Woodhead would gash you on the ground. Today? Hernandez is behind bars, Gronkowski is still hurt, Welker is a Bronco, Woodhead is a Charger, and Ridley was last seen getting Clowny’d by the Ravens. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it’s like that and that’s the way it is. Under.
The Dolphins got better as the year went on last year, as Tannehill grew as a quarterback and the young-ish defense seemed to play better and better. With the front office seemingly paying attention and getting new weapons for their franchise (?) quarterback, a torn ACL has already benched Armon Binns, but Mike Wallace’s ability to stretch a defense vertically will result in more being open underneath, and way more than the 12 touchdowns thrown for by the new logo having Fins this year. Over.
The Jets continue to tread water, and not-so-covertly prepare for the post-Rex Ryan era. If a team fires their GM, keeps the coach, and brings in a new GM without approval from the coach, it just means that it was fiscally responsible not to fire him at that time. Especially when the new GM brings in HIS quarterback of the future. Sanchez and Rex aren’t long for this world. Under.
Kevin Kolb vs. EJ Manuel equals the under.
New York 9
Bet against the Giants. Go ahead, do it. Since 2005, they have finished with fewer than 9 wins exactly twice. They come into the season with a healthy receiving corps, a young running back group and Eli being Eli, which means David Carr’s attempts number will be under the win total here. And that win total will be north of the 9: over.
My favorite annual tradition in the NFL is watching Cowboys fans get excited about a hot start, and proclaiming that this is the year for them to return to prominence. About 17 years and too many jokes to count later, we’re all still waiting. Last years Cowboy’s team sloughed to 8-8 and missed the playoffs, and very few of the actual concerns have been addressed. Who runs the ball? Who calls the plays? When does DeMarcus Ware start to decline? Why is the secondary so bad? What do we do when Romo starts to Romo? Under.
The most interesting team for my money has been the Eagles this offseason, and not just because I live in Philly now and have been inundated by sports talk radio. A new coach from the college ranks with a unique offense and an untested way of doing things at the professional level means at the very least, this is going to be interesting. From smoothies to making receivers do ball drills with Nerf footballs, the times they are changing in Philadelphia. Ask Steve Spurrier how changing everything worked in Washington. I mean, if he was awake those two years. Let’s just move on, cause after losing Maclin over the weekend, this seems to be trending badly. Under.
Allegedly, RG3 is sliding in practice, to the cheers of the fans. Will the father/son team of Shannahan and Shannahan be able to keep their own desire for victory in check for the greater good? How soon will Pierre Garcon’s quote come back to haunt this team? Does RG3 have any more inspirational words for Tony Romo? All this, the return of Brian Orakpo, and more in the upcoming season of The Washington You’ll Never See Me Typing This Team’s Nicknames! Over.