July 29, 2014

2013 Defensive Play by Play Data

Venables

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

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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

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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

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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

Morris

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: 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

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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.

2014 Forecast: Offense

Morris

MorrisLast year I underestimated the Clemson offense (or gave ACC defenses too much credit) and Chad Morris. I believed the loss of Nuk Hopkins and Andre Ellington would slow the Chad Morris juggernaut down. By and large I was wrong as the Tigers approached 508 yards per game.

Problem is, I feel the same way this year with the loss of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. Perhaps it’s the eternal pessimist in me.

Over the last 3 seasons (40 games) Chad Morris’ offense has run 3,054 plays and racked up nearly 19,000 yards while Boyd set nearly every passing mark in school history.

2014 could be a bit different for Tiger fans and the Tigers on the field. Boyd, Watkins and Martavis Bryant are gone, being replaced by Cole Stoudt, Adam Humprhies and Mike Williams and at running back the Tigers are looking for a feature back from a group of 5 (or 7 if you count true freshmen).

A lot of yards and touchdowns are now in the NFL.

My working hypothesis is that the Tigers rely on the “smash mouth” portion of Morris’ Smash Mouth Spread slightly more this season after being fairly balanced in rushing the ball 53% of the time (including sacks) and throwing 47% of the time in Morris’ first 3 seasons.

More running means less plays, less yards and less yards per play.  I don’t expect a monumental shift, but rather a small, subtle one.

The second part of that hypothesis is that while the Tigers were able to withstand the loss of Hopkins and Ellington, the loss of Boyd and Watkins is greater.

There will also be a corresponding drop in explosive plays.  Replacing Rod McDowell, even if it’s by committee, is less difficult than replacing Watkins, Bryant and Boyd and it’s a leap to expect Stoudt and his receivers to obtain the same level of cohesiveness.

Of course, there’s a chance that Stoudt could replace Boyd almost seamlessly in the short to medium game and I’ve even forecast him to leave Clemson with the highest completion percentage in a year and for a career. The question is the long game which Boyd and Watkins (along with Martavis Bryant) were so good at.

Watkins turned 3 yard passes into 20 yard gains and 14 yard passes over the middle into 66 yard touchdowns. Bryant averaged 19.7 yards per catch. Replacing that explosiveness is going to be difficult, perhaps impossible. Sammy was drafted 4th overall for a reason.

The Tiger offense will be good, but I don’t expect it to be 507.7 yards per game good.

I hope I am wrong again.

Breakout season: 960 Plays (80 per game), 540 Points (45 per game), 6,120 TY (510.0 per game), Rushing 2,240 yards (187 per game), 26 TD; Passing 3,880 yards (323.0 per game), 37 TD.

Bust: 864 Plays (72 per game), 396 Points (33 per game), 5,000 TY (416.7 per game), Rushing 1,900 yards (158.3 per game), 20 TD; Passing 3,100 yards (258.2 per game), 28 TD.

2014 Outlook: 912 Plays (76 per game), 456 Points (38 per game), 5,542 TY (461.8 per game), Rushing 2,172 yards (181 per game), 24 TD; Passing 3,370 yards (280.8 per game), 33 TD.

2014 Forecast: Freshmen/Redshirts – A look at the rest

Watson

WatsonThe forecast for the players below will be in a little different format.  They’re all freshman and while I expect most of them to play to some extent, I didn’t forecast “bust” or “breakout” seasons, because I believe expectations are limited.  I fully recognize that a sizeable portion of the Clemson fan base believes some (Watson, for example) will see significant playing time in 2014. 

The analysis below is based on several assumptions, which you may or many not agree with, but it does provide a framework for the forecasts that follow.

Here are my assumptions:

  1. Cole Stoudt is and will be the starting quarterback barring injury.
  2. With 5 backs that will not redshirt (Howard, Brooks, Davidson, Gallman, Dye) and two of those being freshmen, the coaching staff will opt to redshirt Jae’lon Oglesby and Adam Choice given a choice (pun not intended).  This not only provides an opportunity for these two to acclimate to the college game, but avoids having 4 freshmen backs at the same time thereby spreading out eligibility and recruiting needs in coming years. (more on this below)
  3. Trevion Thompson may play due to the relative thin wide receiver corps. Two of the three wide receiver positions only have two players listed and the only other two wide receivers listed on the roster are Daniel Rodriguez and Andrew Maas.

Deshaun Watson

Five star players don’t enroll early to sit, but Watson was injured in the spring and sat out the spring game.  That was a setback in Watson’s drive to start and it’s going to be difficult to overcome when the competition has 3 years in the offense.

Many fans and pundits believe Watson will start at some point in the season, if not in week 1 vs. Georgia.  Others think Stoudt starts but Watson sees significant time and perhaps eventually takes over.

As my forecast for Stoudt indicated, I believe in Cole Stoudt more than that.

Watson takes over next year and before he’s done he challenges many of Tajh Boyd’s records (assuming 4 years).

2014 Outlook: 57.1 cmp% – 173 PY – 2 TDs/1 INT – 88 RY/2 TDs – 4 total TDs

Trevion Thompson

Perhaps the 3rd player at the 9 wide receiver spot, Thompson has a chance to see the field in 2014, especially if he shows versatility.  As documented above, two of the three wide receiver spots go only two deep and this provides an opportunity for Thompson who is listed at 6’2 and runs a 4.5. 

2014 Outlook: 16 receptions, 167 yards, 1 TDs

Tyshon Dye

Perhaps the most difficult running back to get a read on because of injuries he’s suffered since arriving at Clemson.

Dye has redshirted (back injury), but his subsequent Achilles injury makes him a huge question mark in 2014. With 3 experienced backs ahead of him along with fellow redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman, it’s going to be difficult for Dye to see the field for any extended amount of time.

2014 Outlook: 22 carries, 101 yards, 1 TD

Adam Choice

Many expect Choice to lead Clemson in rushing this season (see poll on my website).  I expect him to redshirt because of the sudden log jam at running back.  If Choice plays, that would give Clemson 3 freshmen running backs and while that’s not impossible, my gut says it’s unlikely unless Choice has an incredible fall.

2014 Outlook: Redshirt

Jae’lon Oglesby

The home town favorite,  I believe Oglesby redshirts, too for similar reasons as Choice.  If I’m correct Clemson’s 2015 running back picture (assuming no losses) would look like this: Brooks (Sr.), Davidson (Sr.), Gallman (So.), Dye (So.), Choice (Fr.) and Oglesby (Fr.).  Two seniors, two sophomores, two freshmen.  This means that the future needs are more equally distributed and four running backs are not lost in the same season.

2014 Outlook: Redshirt