December 19, 2014

Successful Play Rates – Comparing Clemson and Opponents

Clemson vs North Carolina tiger walk

If you’re not familiar with success rates you can read the primer here and here.  These graphs combine Clemson’s success rates and the opponents on the same graph to give a game by game view of the season.

Only three teams had success rates higher than Clemson for all plays – two of them you can easily guess, Georgia and Georgia Tech.  The third – North Carolina – is a little surprising considering the day Deshaun Watson had.
Success Comps All Plays 2014 12Success Comps Rushing 2014 12Success Comps Passing 2014 12

Opponent Success Rates

Beasley NC State

If you’re not familiar with the concept of successful vs. non-successful plays, here’s a 30 second primer. Defining each play as successful or not successful adds some context to metrics. For instance a gain of 2 on 3rd and 1 would be considered successful, while a gain of 5 on third and 6 looks good on the stat sheet, but likely results in a punt and is therefore deemed unsuccessful. Of course, the opposite is true on the defensive side – a gain of 2 on third and 1 is not a good thing, while a gain of 5 on third and 6 is a good thing.

The criteria for a successful play are as follows: 50% of yards needed for a 1st down or a touchdown on 1st down plays, or 70% of yards needed for a first down or touchdown on 2nd down, or a first down or touchdown on 3rd and 4th down plays.

In an upcoming post I will merge these and the Clemson offensive success rates together on the same graph to give a game by game view of each, but for now here are the game by game rates for all plays, rushing (excludes kneel down plays and does not include sacks) and passing (passes plus sacks) for Clemson opponents in 2014.Obviously, the lower the number the better.

All Plays

Opponent Success All Plays 2014 12

Rushing Plays

Opponent Success Rushing 2014 12

Passing Plays

Opponent Success Passing 2014 12

Dissecting The Quarterbacks

Clemson vs South Carolina State during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

The charts graphs below are self-explanatory and are an attempt to quantify the differences between Deshaun Watson and Cole Stoudt.

The eyeball test shows the obvious, but these numbers help to quantify that difference.  Perhaps the most telling is yards per play while in the game.  Clemson averaged 2.3 (2.20 when taken to the second decimal) more yards per play with Watson at quarterback than with Stoudt.

Related to that metric is the percentage of explosive plays. A difference of 4.7% may not seem like a lot, but over the course of a season (911 snaps) that would come out to 43 more explosive plays with Watson – about 3.5 per game.

In a coming post I will show the difference in Clemson’s win probability vs. Oklahoma in 3 different scenarios: (1) With the quarterback duties shared as they have been this season; (2) with Watson alone and (3) with Stoudt alone, and in the process quantifying the expected difference in the teams performance with each scenario.

* Please note that the Yard Per Play by Game (last two graphs) contain different scales.

QB Plays 2014 12QB YPP 2014 12QB Explosives 2014 12Watson Yards Per Play by GameStoudt Yards Per Play by Game 2014 12

Figure The Odds: Revised Win Probabilities for Clemson

Random Numbers

The numbers below are based on 12 metrics that I’ve tracked since 2011 and run against a database of 2,801 college football games to reach a probability that a team with Clemson’s final game statistics would win.

It looks like the Tigers lost one they should have won (Florida State) and won one the could have easily lost (Louisville).  Most of the others are pretty cut and dried (and obvious) except for Wake Forest.  How’d the model come up with 100% win probability for a game tied at 20 with 11:08 to go?

Actually, it’s pretty simple.  We’re looking at the game retroactively, without the benefit of the ebbs and flows of the game.  In the 2,801 games I’ve tracked no team has lost with the metrics advantages Clemson had at the end of the game.  But even at the point the game was tied with 11:08 to go the metrics gave Clemson a 94.1% probability of winning because the Tigers were dominating the total yards and yards per play metrics.

Sure enough, the first play from scrimmage after the game tying Wake field goal saw Artavis Scott go 68 yards for a touchdown on the jet sweep/pass.  Wake Forest was held to 0 yards on the next drive and then Clemson drove 72 yards on 9 plays to go up 14 and end the suspense.

From the point it was tied at 20 until the end of the game Clemson out gained Wake 157 to -17 and is why, in the end, the probability reached 100%.

 

Revised Win Probs 2014 12

Offensive Success Rates

Clemson Football -  Deshaun Watson

If you’re not familiar with the concept of successful vs. non-successful plays, here’s a 30 second primer. Defining each play as successful or not successful adds some context to metrics.  For instance a gain of 2 on 3rd and 1 would be considered successful, while a gain of 5 on third and 6 looks good on the stat sheet, but likely results in a punt and is therefore deemed unsuccessful.

The criteria for a successful play are as follows: 50% of yards needed for a 1st down or a touchdown on 1st down plays, or 70% of yards needed for a first down or touchdown on 2nd down, or a first down or touchdown on 3rd and 4th down plays.

Here are the game by game rates for rushing (excludes kneel down plays and does not include sacks) and passing (passes plus sacks) for Clemson in 2014.

All Plays

Success All Plays 2014-12

Rushing

Success Rushing 2014-12

Passing

Success Passing 2014-12

3rd and 4th Down Stops

Garry Peters, Reggie Bonnaton

Who makes the tackles and breaks up passes on 3rd and 4th down to stop opponent drives? The information is taken from official play by play information and includes players listed as the first and second tacklers along with those credited for passes defensed on 3rd and 4th down plays where the opponent was not successful.Defensive Stops 2014 12

Receiver Metrics – 12 Games

A Scott SC 2014

Artavis Scott leads the Tigers in targets, receptions and touchdowns, while Mike Williams leads in yards, yards per target and yards per reception.

2014 Reciever Detail 12

Watson Drive Chart – Game 12 and Season

Clemson Football -  Deshaun Watson

The chart below includes only drives in which Deshaun Watson was on the field for the entire drive and excludes drives that include only “kneel down” plays (as in the last play of the first half vs. South Carolina).

The “Yards” column contains only yards gained and may not necessarily equal length of drive (could be more or less depending on penalties, for example).

Watson Drives 2014 12

Rushing Metrics – 12 Games

Clemson Football - Wayne Gallman

Wayne Gallman’s success against South Carolina continues Tigers recent trend of an improved ground game.

Rushing Metrics 2014 12Rushing Success By Game 2014 12 GraphRushing Success By Game 2014 12 Chart

Offensive Pace Slowest of Season in Game 12 Win

40_Sec_PlayClock_2002301

Clemson averaged a play every 28.2 seconds of possession vs. South Carolina, which is not a big deal when you average 8 yards a play (8.2 if you exclude first half kneel down).Pace 2014 12 GraphPace 2014 12 Chart