July 29, 2014

2013 Defensive Play by Play Data


I’ve uploaded the defensive play by play data for 2013 here.  There are some anomalies and strange things in the data so if you have questions you can either reply to this post or email me at seldomusedreserve@gmail.com.

The intent is to track this data moving forward much like I do on the offensive side and the data will be used when I begin my weekly post on orangeandwhite.com in August.

I’ve also included a link on the “Clemson Play by Play Data” page.

Episode 18:Brandon Rink talks first 6 games of schedule


Brandon Rink of OrangeandWhite.com joins me to talk Georgia, S.C. State, Florida State, North Carolina, N.C. State and Louisville and we both pick winners and losers.

You can also download and subscribe to the Podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Thanks to Brandon for participating and Clemson graduate Adam Eargle for the podcast artwork and all SUR graphics.  Need a graphic artist? Check out some of Adam’s work here.

Episode 17: Brandon Rink of OrangeandWhite.com talks Defense & Special Teams


Brandon Rink joins me to discuss how the Tigers address depth at DE in the Georgia game, does Clemson have the best right DE combo in the nation, fans long wait for Tony Steward to be a starter, defensive backfield conundrums, the unenviable task of being the guy who replaces Chandler Catanzaro and more.

You can also download and subscribe to the Podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Thanks to Brandon for participating and Clemson graduate Adam Eargle for the podcast artwork and all SUR graphics.  Need a graphic artist? Check out some of Adam’s work here.

Podcast: Fall Camp Primer 1 – Brandon Rink of OrangeandWhite.com talks Offense


Fall camp starts in just over a week and Brandon Rink (@brink_aim) joins me to talk offense including: When and how often Deshaun Watson plays, offensive line depth, the most underappreciated running back on the roster, which receivers he believes will break out and much more in part 1 of our preseason series.

You can also download and subscribe to the Podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Thanks to Brandon for participating and Clemson graduate Adam Eargle for the podcast artwork and all SUR graphics.  Need a graphic artist? Check out some of Adam’s work here.

Three Years of the Chad Morris Offense


You can find all 3,054 plays here for your own analysis, but here’s an overview of the last 3 years in charts and graphs.

Something you want to see not here? Pick up the internet and give me a call.

Play Selection 11213 Yards 11213 YPP 11213

Plays Per Game 11213Yards Per Game 11213Points Per Game 11213
Pass Distro 11213Tragets by Position 11213

3rd Down by Distance 11213 Chart

3rd Down by Distance 11213 Graph

Returning Receiver Detail

Mike Williams

Below are the 2013 numbers for the returning receivers for Clemson.  

Though 20 of his targets were at or behind the line of scrimmage, it’s interesting to note that Germone Hopper was targeted more than Mike Williams.

Returning Receiver Detail

Geek Speak – Yards Per Play (YPP) vs. Total Yards


Much as I did with the total yard metric, I plotted the yard per play (YPP) for the 2,116 FBS vs FBS games for the last three years.

Not surprisingly, the curves and results are nearly the same. In fact, the YPP metric has a slight edge – 79.0% to 77.7%.

YPP Chart and Graph 2014

However, two things stand out to me:

  1. With the exception of the last range, in which both are at 100%, the total yard metric has a higher percentage than the YPP metric in each range. How then does the YPP metric have a higher overall percentage? There are many more (328 to 169) games over the last three ranges in the YPP metric thereby weighting those ranges much heavier.
  2. While the ranges go progressively higher without exception in the total yards metric, it actually goes lower (slightly) from the 3-3.49 range to the 3.50-3.99 range. The sample size is small, only an average of 26 games per year fit in this range, so it’s likely to be an anomaly and will work itself out over time.

There’s not a lot of difference in these metrics in my mind and that was part of my point in the total yard post. YPP is a simple and easy calculation, but you could easily use a metric that doesn’t even require a calculation (total yards) and get similar results.

50,000 Foot View of College Football

Random Numbers

The charts below tell the big picture story of college football from 2011-2013 and cover 2,116 games between two FBS teams.

Some things that I found within the data:

  1. Almost all categories for winners increased (far right column) over the 3 seasons.
  2. Losing teams had reduced numbers in most categories in 2013 compared to 2012.
  3. Turnovers have remained remarkably consistent for both winners – 1.3 per game across all 3 seasons - and losers (slight variation in 2013).
  4. Winning teams average more penalty yards than losers.
  5. While the losing teams yard per pass average has remained constant, the winning teams have increased their yard per pass metric 2.5% over the 3 seasons.
  6. Both have increased their yards per rush, but winners have increased at a higher rate.
  7. Average rush yards for winners has increased by 9.2% and yards per rush by 5.1% for winners from 2011 to 2013.
  8. Scoring is up for both winners (5.7%) and losers (2.9%).
  9. Both winners and losers have increased plays and total yards, but winners have increased at  a higher rate than losers.
  10. As a whole, these numbers tend to lead credence to the theory that offenses are moving faster and have the upper hand (known as the Saban/Bielema Complex)

These numbers lay the foundation for an upcoming analysis by Paul Chimenti who holds an MS in Mathematical Sciences with Statistics Concentration. Paul is using a statatistics package that will arrange offenses and defenses in “clusters” based on metrics from the 2011-2013 seasons.

Winning Teams

2011-2013 Winners

Losing Teams

Losers 2011-2013

Geek Speak: Total Yards Matter – 2014 Version

Random Numbers

While I don’t believe total yardage is the “end-all, be-all of football” it’s pretty clear to me that total yards are an important stat in college football.

Besides the obvious – it generally takes yards to score points – I have some numbers that back up this theory.

There are many guys smarter than me that say total yards mean little, are an “overrated” or “simplistic” metric and spend many hours devising complicated formulas to prove why that is.

I’m not smart enough to understand all of the mathematics behind those theories, but my general operating theory is “the simpler the better”.

It’s difficult to find a simpler metric than total yards, and this seems to give those smarter than me fits.

Specifically, out gaining your opponent is important.  The more the better.  If you think about it, out gaining your opponent takes into account many factors that occur during the game.  If you turn the ball over consistently you are likely to gain less yards, score less points and win less often, for example and using the difference between teams total yardage also means defense is factored into the equation.

So while gaining  yards is important, this analysis looks at the difference in yardage between winners and losers.  Another way to put it is, if Team A gains 600 yards and gives up 575 yards in game 1 and gains 125 yards and gives up 100 in game 2, Team A has the same odds of winning both games.

It’s not about the number of yards you gain, it’s about the difference between the number of yards you gain and the number of yards your opponent gains.

The charts and graphs below cover 2,116 games (6 games resulted in teams having exactly the same number of yards) between Division I teams from 2011 through 2013 and tell a simple story: Outgain your opponent and you will likely win. The more you outgain your opponent the higher your odds of winning.

Winning Pct by TYA Chart

Winning Pct by TYA Graph

A little further proof that yards matter? Teams with more yards than their opponents cover 64.6% of the time. And, as with the winning %, the higher the yardage differential the more likely a team is to cover, without exception.


Cover Pct by TYA Chart

Cover Pct by TYA Graph

Using the Pearson Coefficient I found a solid 0.606149 correlation between total yard differential and winning.

How did Clemson fare using this metric in 2013? I’ve previously posted on why I wasn’t that worried as Clemson fell behind in the Orange Bowl vs. Ohio State and the Tigers were 9-1 (lost South Carolina) when they outgained their opponent and 1-1 when being outgained (won Georgia, lost Florida State). Against the spread the Tigers were 6-5 when outgaining an opponent and 1-1 when being outgained.

No, total yards aren’t the end-all, be-all of football. But total yards, specifically when compared to your opponents total yards, matter and this simple metric can also increase the odds of picking the team that’ll not only win, but cover the spread, too.

It’s important not to confuse correlation with causation and I’m not saying having more total yards causes teams to win by itself.  Other factors (turnovers, for example) can cause a team to have more (turnovers gained) or less (turnovers lost) total yards and win or lose the game.

I’m saying total yards is an important factor in determining winners and losers, more than many want to acknowledge.


SUR and OrangeandWhite.com to collaborate on Clemson Football Podcast


PodcastGraphic300X300Seldom Used Reserve and OrangeandWhite.com will team up for a Clemson football podcast on Clemson football beginning later this summer and through the season.

OrangeandWhite.com Clemson beat writer Brandon Rink and Seldom Used Reserve’s Marty Coleman will share their views on Clemson football beginning with position by position and game by game previews beginning in late July.

Once the season begins the podcast will review the previous week’s game, preview the upcoming game and touch on other topics of interest to Clemson fans and fans of college football in general.

Why a podcast? A podcast allows the listener to consume the media on their own schedule and not be tied to a particular broadcast schedule such as radio. Can’t listen today? No problem, it’ll be there when you’re ready.

You can subscribe and/or download the podcast from iTunes, on SeldomUsedReserve.com and OrangeandWhite.com.

How can you help? Get the word out by sharing this post via your choice of social media option below (email is an option) and let your friends and acquaintances know that a new option and new voices in the analysis of Clemson football is on its way.

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email seldomusedreserve@gmail.com.

Podcast artwork and all SUR graphics courtesy of Clemson grad Adam Eargle and the Eargle Design Company.