Analytics Posts

The Argument for Kyle Trask as 2020’s Best QB

Projecting the Gators’ QB’s total yards and total touchdowns over a 12 game schedule shows just how far ahead of the competition Trask was this year.

So much has already been said about Trask and the fact that his stats came against an all SEC schedule, etc. It seems as if there is some sentiment that Florida’s 3 unfortunate losses are being held against Trask, which is absurd.

The University of Florida Gators 2020 Football Team is highly likely one of the better teams in the nation despite having 3 losses prior to the Cotton Bowl against the University of Oklahoma Sooners. Three low probability plays lead to three narrow defeats, any of which-if prevented- could have resulted in wins instead of losses. If Malik Davis doesn’t fumble on the Gators’ final drive against Texas A&M. If Marco Wilson doesn’t throw a shoe against LSU. If Trey Dean looks left and protects himself against getting vaporized on an interception return against Alabama. Though none of these plays guaranteed victory in any of those games, they were each pivotal in the outcome. They were also each very unlikely to occur, yet they did.

When put into context, the sum of points in those three defeats, is equal to the closest point differential in any of Florida’s 8 victories, 12 against the University of Tennessee. Florida was dominant in all of its games except in its three losses, and in each of those, Florida could have just as easily won, but lady luck was simply not on their side.

The above scatter plot shows data for total yards and touchdowns (rushing and passing) for 103 college QBs in 2020 (https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/2020-passing.html) as they would project over 12 games. Trask projects for the most TDs overall while Ole Miss’ Matt Corral projected to have the most yards, but a big chunk of those yards actually projected from rushing (625). Trask projected to have the most passing yards (4500) and most TDs (47)

Here is another look at the same data with each QB listed:

Touchdown passes by game for SEC QBs that started each game
Cumulative yards by passing by SEC QBs who started each game

The consolidation of power in college football recruiting since 2005

Since 2005, it appears as if a few teams have become recruiting super powers. Of course, there were good recruiters and power house teams before that. But it seems as if many of the top recruits have been ending up at the same ‘ol schools – Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Georgia. In looking at this, some noticeable trends emerged.

I took all the teams that had an average composite recruit rating of at least 1 standard deviation above the Power 5 mean and separated them out from the rest of college football. The full list is at the bottom of the page. There were 14 teams. I then counted up how many recruits each of these teams had each year back to 2005 that were rated at least 0.9300. It is this rating that I have found to be a sort of ‘cutoff’ to probability for getting drafted by an NFL team. Players rated over 0.9300 are more likely to be drafted than those under.

Below we can see the proportion of how these teams powered up.

So, over time we can see how the concentration of recruiting power has moved from the bottom left to the top right. We can also see how good UF was under Meyer and how bad we were under Mac. Furthermore, it shows that LSU, Alabama, and Georgia are soaking up a ton of talent in the SEC, making the task of winning the conference (if you’re not one of those teams) probably much harder.

The data:

Teamoverall avgrankStandardized5-stars4-stars3-starsConf.
USC0.921412.1774815499Pac-12
Ohio State0.920122.1333218882Big Ten
Alabama0.916932.02152202126SEC
Texas0.912641.86624204116Big 12
Georgia0.910251.78342174135SEC
Florida0.909161.74430177132SEC
LSU0.908171.71027192133SEC
Florida State0.903681.54936152153ACC
Notre Dame0.902391.50413180142Ind
Oklahoma0.8982101.35915162152Big 12
Michigan0.8939111.20812173167Big Ten
Clemson0.8895121.05225125168ACC
Miami0.8894131.04913131175ACC
Auburn0.8886141.02113155178SEC
The above graph shows the recruiting classes for each SEC team from 2005-2020

The above graph shows each SEC team’s recruiting as it correlates with with percentage

A look at the Gators’ problems on 3rd down.

All of us Gators have heard – 3rd and Grantham. We certainly feel it each week, but is it backed up by data? Yep.

Using EPA has a measure of whether a play was won or lost, I took a look at how each SEC team has performed thus far in 2020. Definitely not a good finding for UF, and confirms what a lot of us Gators already knew. Now we know it even more (if that is a thing).

In the above table, we can see that Florida is winning on 3rd down (overall) 45.8% of the time, 8th in the SEC in 2020. However, they are only winning 46.3% of the time on 3rd and 7 or longer. That is 12th in the SEC, better than only Vanderbilt and Arkansas.

In this bar graph, you can see a visual of just how poorly UF has performed on 3rd down.

Do Heisman Trophy-winning schools get a boost in recruiting?

The Heisman trophy is a prestigious award that supposedly goes to the best individual college football player. Whether that is true or not is not the point here. What is pretty much universally agreed upon is that it does go to a very good player, and usually that player is a key part of a winning team. That player is usually a QB and, as of late, an underclassman. But I digress…

Heisman winners obviously garner a lot of attention for themselves, but also for their program. Any coach who has a player win the Heisman has an obvious recruiting pitch to the upcoming recruiting classes. But does the Heisman actually help a program in recruiting in any tangible way? I decided to take a look.

Using 10 years of Heisman winners (2007-2016), I compared the team’s recruiting average rating from the 2 years prior to the Heisman year (HY), the HY, and two years post-HY. I was simply looking to see if there was an uptick in overall recruiting after the HY as compared to how the school was doing prior to and during the HY. Of course, there are several confounds that could impact recruiting along that 5-year stretch. As of this writing, I am not attempting to unearth those confounds, but to simply see if there is an upward trend.

The table above shows that the two years post-HY were associated with an increase in average recruit ratings in 8 out of 10. Again, there could be a lot of reasons for that, but in general recruiting appears to trend up after a school has a Heisman winner. Logically, having a Heisman winner shouldn’t hurt recruiting, and it clearly didn’t show any evidence of that here.

SEC Performance Rankings through Week 2

Using a straightforward approach of comparing points-per-play (PPP)on offense and defense, then calculating the difference, we can see how teams are doing overall. The difference was then standardized to give a sense of “distance” between teams beyond just that of ordinal ranking.

TeamPPP Differential
Alabama0.932
Florida0.668
Georgia0.540
Tennessee0.391
LSU0.317
Auburn0.069
MSU0.018
Arkansas-0.110
Ole Miss-0.168
Kentucky-0.415
Texas AM-0.504
USCe-0.540
Missouri-0.578
Vandy-0.621
Standardized PPP Differential

Below is how each team ranks in PPP overall, offensively, and defensively:

TeamRank overallOffensive RankDefensive Rank
Alabama114
Florida228
Georgia361
Tennessee453
LSU546
Auburn6112
MSU777
Arkansas8125
Ole Miss9314
Kentucky10812
Texas AM111011
USCe12913
Missouri131310
Vandy14149

Alabama is looking like a clear number one. Florida’s offense is humming, but need to shore up that defense. Georgia is very close to Florida overall and can easily pass them as the weeks go on. Tennessee is performing pretty good through 2 weeks as well.

Some looks at College Football Spending on Recruiting and Various Outcomes

Recently, an analysis of recruiting spending was put out (https://watchstadium.com/this-is-how-much-it-costs-to-land-one-of-college-footballs-top-recruiting-classes-07-24-2019/), and I thought it was excellent. It got me curious, so I used their data and ran a couple of correlations and plotted them. (I normalized all of the variables, correlation is below each graph).

4-star
r = .761

5-star
r = .766

2018 Class Ranking
(Recruiting ranking for 2018 – forgot to invert the scale) r = .641

2019 Class Rankings
Recruiting Rankings for 2019, r = .621

2019 win percentage
2019 win percentage, r = .448

Blue Chips
Blue Chips (4 and 5 star recruits), r = .798

The SEC Championship Game History: A Breakdown.

As a Florida Gator fan, I hear a lot of fans groan about UF’s current recruiting. I understand it. From a composite ranking point of view, UF is doing quite well nationally, but is middle of the pack in the SEC (7th ranked in terms of team talent on roster in 2019, https://247sports.com/Season/2019-Football/CollegeTeamTalentComposite/?Conference=SEC). A lot of fans are also very happy with the improvement of the team since Dan Mullen took over, and expect the team to continue to improve and make a championship run. I’m an optimist, so I’ll go with the latter. But, to see where UF currently sits relative to previous SECCG participants, I took a look at the 4-year moving average (MA) of recruit ratings for each SEC team going back to 2003. And for fun, I looked at the SECCG results and found some interesting superlatives, which I put at the bottom of this post.

The density chart below shows the 4-yr MA for each team that has participated in the SECCG since 2003:

dens

The vertical lines are the averages for each group. You can see the distribution is left-skewed. The outliers, as determined using Median Absolute Deviation (MAD) were all on the low end. I kept them in, as I don’t need a Gaussian distribution for this effort.

UF’s current 2020 MA (blue vertical line) is between the average winner MA (green vertical line) to the right and average loser MA (red vertical line) to the left. The scores on the x-axis are standardized by year to control for fluctuation in national ratings. Here is the data table:

data table 1

Florida’s current 2020 MA for average recruit rating is 90.41, which is 1.692 standard deviations above the national average. Looking at that same data table with heat mapping on the scores, you can see how teams have ebbed and flowed over the years:

data table 2

A couple things are obvious from the table above. The first is that the SEC got much better overall around 2009-2010, Another is that UF clearly faded a bit from 2015-2018 in terms of 4-year MA. Back to the point: How does UF’s current average recruit rating (RR) rank relative to previous SECCG participants:

SECCG barchart

This bar chart shows the 4-year MA for RR of winners (orange) and losers (blue) of the SECCG since 2003. UF 2020 is the green bar.

Here is the same data by year, which shows the difference between the opponents:

SECCG bar chart by year Clearly there have been some talent disparities in the SECCG. The biggest disparity occurred when Missouri (4-yr MA of 85.15, Std_Score of 0.764) played Alabama (4-yr MA of 93.12, Std_Score of 2.421) in 2014.

Where Florida Stands Now vs History:

Florida’s current 4-yr MA is 90.41, or 1.7 standard deviations above the national average. This would put the current UF roster in the 65th percentile of historical (2003-present) SECCG participants. UF would be in the 54th percentile of SECCG winners and in the 76th percentile of SECCG losers.

Some Superlatives:

data table 3

Way to go, dawgs.

Various data sets:

data1

big table

credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEC_Championship_Game

 

2019 1000 Yard Rushers in CFB

You can scroll across the table using the bar at the bottom.

Player School Conf G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD TD Att/G z_att/g
Chuba Hubbard Oklahoma State Big 12 13 328 2094 6.4 21 23 198 8.6 0 21 25.2 2.310
Malcolm Perry Navy American 13 295 2017 6.8 21 0 0 0 21 22.7 1.534
J.K. Dobbins Ohio State Big Ten 14 301 2003 6.7 21 23 247 10.7 2 23 21.5 1.169
Jonathan Taylor Wisconsin Big Ten 14 320 2003 6.3 21 26 252 9.7 5 26 22.9 1.584
Jaret Patterson Buffalo MAC 13 312 1799 5.8 19 13 209 16.1 1 20 24.0 1.934
AJ Dillon Boston College ACC 12 318 1685 5.3 14 13 195 15 1 15 26.5 2.698
Travis Etienne Clemson ACC 15 207 1614 7.8 19 37 432 11.7 4 23 13.8 -1.186
Javian Hawkins Louisville ACC 13 264 1525 5.8 9 4 58 14.5 0 9 20.3 0.805
Darrynton Evans Appalachian State Sun Belt 14 255 1480 5.8 18 21 198 9.4 5 23 18.2 0.164
LeVante Bellamy Western Michigan MAC 13 266 1472 5.5 23 15 55 3.7 0 23 20.5 0.852
Lynn Bowden Jr. Kentucky SEC 13 185 1468 7.9 13 30 348 11.6 1 14 14.2 -1.054
Kenny Gainwell Memphis American 14 231 1459 6.3 13 51 610 12 3 16 16.5 -0.360
Tra Barnett Georgia State Sun Belt 13 248 1453 5.9 12 16 69 4.3 0 12 19.1 0.428
Zack Moss Utah Pac-12 13 235 1416 6 15 28 388 13.9 2 17 18.1 0.122
Clyde Edwards-Helaire LSU SEC 15 215 1414 6.6 16 55 453 8.2 1 17 14.3 -1.023
Brenden Knox Marshall CUSA 13 270 1387 5.1 11 14 129 9.2 0 11 20.8 0.946
Kylin Hill Mississippi State SEC 13 242 1350 5.6 10 18 180 10 1 11 18.6 0.287
Josh Johnson Louisiana-Monroe Sun Belt 12 201 1298 6.5 11 13 122 9.4 0 11 16.8 -0.284
Jalen Hurts Oklahoma Big 12 14 233 1298 5.6 20 2 25 12.5 1 21 16.6 -0.316
Xavier Jones SMU American 13 244 1276 5.2 23 20 90 4.5 2 25 18.8 0.334
Caleb Huntley Ball State MAC 12 248 1275 5.1 12 7 25 3.6 0 12 20.7 0.914
Xazavian Valladay Wyoming MWC 12 247 1265 5.1 6 11 211 19.2 2 8 20.6 0.889
Michael Warren II Cincinnati American 14 261 1265 4.8 14 21 153 7.3 2 16 18.6 0.295
Charles Williams UNLV MWC 12 212 1257 5.9 11 7 54 7.7 0 11 17.7 -0.003
Najee Harris Alabama SEC 13 209 1224 5.9 13 27 304 11.3 7 20 16.1 -0.489
CJ Verdell Oregon Pac-12 14 197 1220 6.2 8 14 125 8.9 0 8 14.1 -1.103
D’Andre Swift Georgia SEC 14 196 1218 6.2 7 24 216 9 1 8 14.0 -1.125
Gaej Walker Western Kentucky CUSA 13 241 1208 5 8 24 140 5.8 0 8 18.5 0.263
Bryant Koback Toledo MAC 12 195 1187 6.1 12 8 69 8.6 2 14 16.3 -0.436
Rodney Smith Minnesota Big Ten 13 228 1163 5.1 8 7 70 10 0 8 17.5 -0.042
Elijah Mitchell Louisiana Sun Belt 14 198 1147 5.8 16 10 70 7 1 17 14.1 -1.081
Cam Akers Florida State ACC 11 231 1144 5 14 30 225 7.5 4 18 21.0 1.016
Rakeem Boyd Arkansas SEC 12 184 1133 6.2 8 19 160 8.4 0 8 15.3 -0.717
Jonathan Ward Central Michigan MAC 12 183 1108 6.1 15 34 329 9.7 1 16 15.3 -0.742
Jason Huntley New Mexico State Ind 12 154 1090 7.1 9 40 192 4.8 2 11 12.8 -1.481
Torrance Marable Coastal Carolina Sun Belt 12 204 1085 5.3 11 38 295 7.8 3 14 17.0 -0.207
Eno Benjamin Arizona State Pac-12 12 253 1083 4.3 10 42 347 8.3 2 12 21.1 1.042
Ben LeMay Charlotte CUSA 11 193 1082 5.6 9 19 242 12.7 4 13 17.5 -0.040
Kobe Lewis Central Michigan MAC 14 182 1074 5.9 12 23 164 7.1 0 12 13.0 -1.430
Justin Henderson Louisiana Tech CUSA 13 188 1062 5.6 15 24 200 8.3 1 16 14.5 -0.983
Pooka Williams Kansas Big 12 11 203 1061 5.2 3 27 214 7.9 2 5 18.5 0.238
Joshua Kelley UCLA Pac-12 11 229 1060 4.6 12 11 71 6.5 1 13 20.8 0.961
Asher O’Hara Middle Tennessee State CUSA 12 199 1058 5.3 9 0 -5 0 9 16.6 -0.334
Tra Minter South Alabama Sun Belt 12 193 1057 5.5 5 32 209 6.5 0 5 16.1 -0.487
Kadin Remsberg Air Force MWC 13 181 1050 5.8 8 3 24 8 0 8 13.9 -1.148
Shamari Brooks Tulsa American 12 227 1046 4.6 6 9 49 5.4 1 7 18.9 0.379
Frankie Hickson Liberty Ind 13 187 1041 5.6 12 11 96 8.7 1 13 14.4 -1.007
Kevin Marks Buffalo MAC 13 227 1035 4.6 8 12 41 3.4 0 8 17.5 -0.066
Ke’Shawn Vaughn Vanderbilt SEC 12 198 1028 5.2 9 28 270 9.6 1 10 16.5 -0.360
John Rhys Plumlee Ole Miss SEC 9 154 1023 6.6 12 0 0 0 12 17.1 -0.173
Tre Harbison Northern Illinois MAC 11 230 1021 4.4 8 6 47 7.8 0 8 20.9 0.988
Salvon Ahmed Washington Pac-12 12 188 1020 5.4 11 16 84 5.3 0 11 15.7 -0.615
George Holani Boise State MWC 14 192 1014 5.3 7 26 206 7.9 3 10 13.7 -1.212
Kevin Mensah Connecticut American 12 226 1013 4.5 9 8 91 11.4 0 9 18.8 0.354
Kennedy Brooks Oklahoma Big 12 13 155 1011 6.5 6 10 79 7.9 0 6 11.9 -1.760
Michael Carter North Carolina ACC 13 177 1003 5.7 3 21 154 7.3 2 5 13.6 -1.242

Which states received the best recruits? 2019 Blue Chip Migration Rates by State

There are a lot of articles about how it is important to successfully recruit talent in a school’s own state. Here is how each state did in terms of Blue-Chip (composite 4 and 5-stars) acquisition.

MigMap19

The percentages in the map and waterfall chart represent the net gain/loss for the number of blue-chips for that state. The totals are outlined in the table below.

chartmig19

 

tablemig19

Ultimately, 252 (66%) of 382 Blue-Chips left their home state. Texas, Florida, Georgia, and California had the highest levels of loss. To control for population differences, I then standardized the number of Blue-Chips produced and received and subtracted the produced from received to see how the states did proportionally.

stdmapmig19

stdtablemig19

When controlling for number of players produced, Florida moves up some and Texas moves up a bunch.