Did Florida upgrade when they acquired Gray after Warren went to Georgia? A statistical breakdown.

A hot topic on Twitter, at least for a few minutes, was Georgia’s poaching of Florida cornerbacks coach Charleton Warren. Florida coach Dan Mullen responded by bringing back one defensive backs coach Torrian Gray. The general consensus was that Florida upgraded. Taking a look at the numbers from each coach’s one year spent in Gainesville, it appears as if Florida did indeed come out ahead in this series of transactions.

Taking each coach’s statistics at Florida (Gray in 2016, Warren in 2018), I analyzed opponent QB ratings. There are several other metrics that could be included, but I chose this one because I thought it provided a good overall view of how the defensive backs performed. I analyzed how the team performed relative to the previous year. So for Gray, I used 2015 and 2016 statistics. For Warren, I used 2017 and 2018.

I was generally looking to see how much improvement each team showed under the coach compared to the previous year. I then compared the raw data to the national average and to how they stacked up compared to the rest of the SEC. Here’s how it played out:

warren ranks

Coach Warren saw his unit improve from an average opponent passer rating of 130.9 in 2017 to 122.9 in 2018. Overall, Florida ranked 38th in the nation in 2018 (way up from 68th in 2017). When standardized against the rest of the SEC, Florida showed the 3rd best improvement from the previous year. Not at all a bad job by coach Warren.

gray ranks

In coach Gray’s only year in Gainesville, he saw his defensive backs move from 11th best in the nation in terms of opposing QB rating all the way to number 1. Relative to the rest of the SEC that year, Florida had the second-best improvement behind Arkansas. The Razorbacks, however, had been so horribly horrendous the previous year that even with the excellent improvement, they were still worse than average. Florida, under gray, went from very excellent to the best.

What the numbers in the charts mean:

In columns 3 and 4 (from left), this is the overall opponent QB rating for that year. The columns marked with a ‘z’ is the standardized score for the SEC. The lower the score the better. The improvement score shows the difference from the year the coach was there compared to the previous year. Again, the lower the number, the better. When you look at the two charts, you can see that Florida improved -0.948 standard deviations better under Gray in his one year than they did under Warren in his year with the Gators. Given the findings, I believe the Gators upgraded after all is said and done.

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