June 20, 2018

Geek Speak: Why Red Zone Scoring is Crucial


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I offer the statistics below knowing that I risk being labeled Captain Obvious. But within the numbers below there are some interesting discoveries.

I don’t think anyone is surprised at the high correlation between points scored on red zone possessions and total points scored for both offense and defense. The majority of points are scored on possessions that reach the red zone.

The interesting part for me is that for both red zone points to total points and red zone points to wins the offensive numbers have higher correlations than the defensive numbers.

Red Zone Correlations
As I expected, each is a strong correlation, but the offensive numbers are far above the defensive numbers, suggesting that it is more important to score offensively when in the red zone than it is to stop the other team from scoring when they are in your red zone.

The other interesting number is found in the data below. The % of offensive points scored and defensive points given up on red zone possessions are very close on average for FBS teams and Clemson’s offensive average is right in that range.

Sometimes we get lost in the circus catches, bombs and explosiveness and forget that 63% of the Tigers points came on drives that made it to the opponents red zone.

However, if you look at the defensive numbers you’ll see Clemson averaged giving up significantly less points (as a percentage) on red zone possessions, confirming the “big play” issues that have been the bane of the Clemson defense.

The 58.9% mark meant Clemson was 101st (of 120 teams) in this statistic. Only 19 teams gave up a higher percentage of points on non-red zone possessions.

Red Zone Averages
For reference sake, the two teams that played for the national title, Alabama and Notre Dame, were 4th and 5th respectively in this stat. They simply did not give up big plays.

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