June 26, 2016

This Week on SUR

Check out our audio recap of this week on SUR below. Simply hit the right pointing arrow button next to the “Thumbs Up” icon below. You can find all of the articles/videos discussed right here and be sure to check out our Facebook page.

2016 Clemson Win Probabilities for all 12 games

The win probabilities below are based on metrics of 3,580 college football games and projected metrics for each team and are subject to change prior to game taking place.

Throwback Thursday – The start of 63-17

On this Thursday we look back to the first touchdown in Clemson’s 63-17 crushing of South Carolina in 2003. The scoring began with a Charlie Whitehurst bomb to Derrick Hamilton and the rout was on.

Check more Throwback Thursday and other video clips on our Facebook page or Video Vault page.

Featured image courtesy thestate.com.

Geek Speak: Simple formula for winning 97% of the time

Last week I posted some numbers on how important total yards is as a metric, specifically the importance of gaining more than your opponent. There is one metric that is more important (but it’s close) than total yards: Yards per play. Most coaches track “explosive” plays or “chunk” plays (nod to Dabo) because they are not only momentum changers, they actually often make the difference between winning and losing.

There’s no arguing that since (at least) 2011 there’s a very simple 3 pronged formula for winning (and it’s not “score more points”):

  1. Gain more yards than you allow, and the more the better.  Teams that do this win 78% of the time;
  2. Average more yards per play than your opponent.  Teams that do both 1 and 2 win 86% of the time;
  3. Turn the ball over less than your opponent.  Teams that have done 1, 2 and 3 in the same game have won 97% of the time.

Obviously, winning all three categories is easier said than done, but having a prolific offense gives Clemson a better shot than most at winning and if the Tigers avoid the turnovers that plagued the 2015 squad they will be extremely difficult to beat.

Clemson Points Per Drive by field position in 2015 (with Watson at QB)

The data below was taken from the drive charts on clemsontigers.com, includes on drives where Deshaun Watson was the sole quarterback and, with a couple of exceptions, shows what you would expect: Starting field position effects the frequency of scores and quantity of points scored.DW4

Beginning with the longest distance, the 2.4 points per drive when starting inside the 10 is remarkable.  The Tigers scored 41 points (5 TDs, 2 field goals) on 17 drives started inside their own 10.  There is a caveat however: 4 of the touchdowns game against South Carolina, North Carolina (2) and Oklahoma.

PPD With Watson 2015

On the other hand, a 98 yard drive against the number 1 defense in the nation (Boston College) along with 532 total yards stands out.

More than who they came against is when they occurred – 4 of the last 5 90+ yard drives came in games 12-14.  Some of that is out of the Tigers control as they had 0 chances for 90 yard drives until Notre Dame in game 4.Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney works the sideline. The Clemson Tigers played host to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Memorial Stadium in Clemson Saturday, October 10, 2015. GWINN DAVIS / FOR POST AND COURIER

More perplexing is the low points per drive for drives that started between the opponents 39-30.  I’ll chalk this up to a small sample size (4), but it does show an area where there is room for improvement.  Clemson scored twice (TD, FG) from this distance, but came up empty on two other possessions.  Both failures were against Notre Dame (it rained on Clemson’s side, too) where the Tigers failed to score after taking over at the Notre Dame 35 twice in the second half (punt, missed FG).  That missed field goal was Greg Huegel’s last before he went on a long streak.

The overall point is field position matters – even for an offense as potent as Clemson’s.

Featured image courtesy gwinndavisphotos.com.

Geek Speak: Total Yards and Points Scored and Pearson Correlation

In a post on Wednesday I put forward the case for why total yards are important and referenced a chart from last year.  I wanted to include 2015 data, so here it all is.

The graph below contains 7,160 data points (though it’s difficult to tell) covering every college football game between 2 FBS teams since 2011 (3,580 games x 2 data points for each game).  As you can see, the slope remains up and to the right.

Yards gained is on the y axis (left) and points scored is on the x (across bottom) axis.

Yards and Points 2016

The Pearson Correlation for this data is .78.  Anything over .70 is considered a strong uphill linear relationship, mathematically confirming my hypothesis – total yards matters, especially in the context of points a team is likely to score.

What was and what will be…Watson to Williams for a TD

On this throwback Thursday we look back to Mike Williams laying out for a pass from Deshaun Watson in 2014 and look forward to the 2016 version coming to a stadium near you.

Featured image courtesy gwinndavisphotos.com.

College Football: Total yards is one of the most important metrics in football

Gaining more yards than your opponent is one of the most reliable predictors of which team is going to win. You can argue over which is more important: gaining yards on offense or giving up less yards on defense, but the fact is that if you outgain your opponent your odds of winning have been 78% since 2011 regardless of any other metric(s).

While both the yards gained by winners (+5.3%) and losers (+3.6%) have increased since 2011, what has really grown is the difference between the two.  In 2011 the average difference was 100 yards.  In 2015 it had grown to 121 yards, a 21% increase in 5 years.

It’s about this time where someone says points are what matters, yards are irrelevant. Guess what? Points scored correlates closely to yards gained as this post shows.

More yards equals more points on offense and the inverse is true on defense. Sure, there are outliers and some teams perform better in the red zone. Statistically speaking though, the odds of winning increase the bigger the positive total yardage difference between you and your opponent.

Featured image courtesy gwinndavisphotos.com

SUR Video Vault

It’s summer and Clemson baseball is done. Now comes the long wait until fall camp opens and you get a morsel of news or peek at your beloved Tigers. What will hold you over till then?

Introducing the SUR Video Vault, where you can find video clips of your Tigers in action. Need a football fix? Just click the camera image below or the “Video Vault” tab on the menu button above.

Thanks to Chris Cox and Matt Wilczewski for their expert cutting room skills.

We’ll add new video from time to time and certainly in season, but until then enjoy.

SUR Video


70 Plays Per Game: Everybody’s doing it

Remember when 70 plays a game was a goal, a sure sign of winning and a big deal? Not anymore. Both winning and losing teams now average 70 plays per game and have since 2013.

The winning team has increased at a slightly higher rate (2.5% to 2.1%) and the overall increase is at 2.4% since 2011.