Archive for July, 2007

Points Per Play in 2006

July 31, 2007

Athlon Sports recently pointed out that Nebraska led the nation in offensive plays in 2006 with 965.

“It tells you we’re moving the chains” Bill Callahan says. “It means the system is working.”

That got me thinking more about the efficiency of our offense last season. So I took a quick look at how are scoring output fit with the number of plays we ran. Last year we scored 428 points off of those 965 plays. That works out to .44 points/play, which ranks 25th nationally.

To put that in perspective, the national average was roughly .38,

In addition, here are the Top 10 teams in terms of offensive plays in 2006 as well as their points per play quotient (plays, pts/play).

1. Nebraska (965 plays, .44)
2. Oregon (958 plays, .40)
3. Purdue (941 plays, .39)
4. Houston (935 plays, .49)
5. NM State (930 plays, .40)
6. Missouri (922 plays, .42)
7. Hawaii (913 plays, .72)
8. TCU (909 plays, .42)
9. Oregon St. (899 plays, .43)
10. Oklahoma (897 plays, .47)

And here are the Top 10 teams nationally in points per play a year ago.

1. Hawaii (913 plays .72)
2. West Virginia (823 plays, .61)
3. Boise St. (857 plays, .60)
4. Louisville (867 plays, .57)
5. Ohio St. (820 plays, .55)
6. Texas (854 plays, .55)
7. Oklahoma St. (843 plays, .54)
8. Brigham Young (889 plays, .54)
9. LSU (818 plays, .54)
10. Pittsburgh (712 plays, .54)

Ultimately I think we had a pretty good offense in 2006. By many measures we were among the nation’s best. However, when we look at measures of offensive efficiency we seem kind of middle of the road. That seems to indicate we left a lot of points on the field a year ago. What says you?

1998 Texas at Nebraska on YouTube

July 27, 2007

From a Longhorn POV, but still worth your time. The game features two Heisman winners in Williams and Crouch. Also remembered for Mike Brown’s 21 tackle performance. This game was also the only home game Nebraska lost during my time as a student at UNL. Sometimes I still can’t believe I live in Texas.

First Half:

Erin Andrews Picture of the Week

July 27, 2007

Now with handy guide for stalking…

The Atlanta Journal Constitution provides Erin’s favorite hangouts in the ATL. Enjoy.

Big 12 Preseason Blogger Poll

July 26, 2007

Peter at BON has the final tally of votes, but here is my individual ballot for the Big 12 Preseason Blogger Poll.

South

1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. Oklahoma State
4. Texas A&M
5. Texas Tech
6. Baylor

North

1. Missouri
2. Nebraska
3. Kansas State
4. Kansas
5. Colorado
6. Iowa State

All-conference team, by UNIT. List your top two schools only.

Quarterback:
1. Texas
2. Missouri

Runningback:
1. Texas A&M
2. Oklahoma

Wide Receivers:
1. Texas
2. Oklahoma

Offensive Line:
1. Oklahoma
2. Texas A&M

Defensive Line:
1. Texas
2. Oklahoma

Linebackers:
1. Nebraska
2. Texas

Secondary:
1. Oklahoma
2. Texas Tech

Offensive Player of the Year:
1. Colt McCoy, Texas

Defensive Player of the Year:
1. Reggie Smith, OU

Best Offense (Team), Big 12:
1. Oklahoma State
2. Missouri

Best Defense (Team), Big 12:
1. Texas
2. Oklahoma

Most exciting/interesting/compelling conference game of the season (you may not vote for a game involving your school. e.g. the red river shootout is not a choice for texas or oklahoma bloggers.)

Oklahoma vs. Texas

Most exciting/interesting/compelling non-conference game of the season (same as above; don’t vote for a game involving your team)

Oklahoma State vs. Georgia

Here are the other Big 12 blogs who participated.

Quick Hits

July 26, 2007

I don’t have much to say, but felt the urge to post something.

Big 12 Media Days have seemed like kind of a let down. I don’t know what I was expecting, but they didn’t seem to generate much real news. I think that has a lot to do with Corey McKeon being left behind in Lincoln. J.B. Phillips? Really?

I watched the Texas game last night to finish breaking it down and charting it. It was actually the first time I had seen the complete game since that cold, cold day. A couple of thoughts:

When our defense plays like that, we seriously have a chance to beat anyone.

Secondly, the atmosphere was really, truly unbelievable. The DVD I watched had the radio audio and Matt Davison said he had never experienced anything like that during his time as a Husker.

Zac Taylor had a really bad game and we struggled with UT’s blitzes. Jim Rose kept telling the listener how Texas hadn’t blitzed all year long prior to our game. Both Marlon Lucky and BJax missed key blitz pickups that cost us sacks.

We ran the toss sweep two times prior to the halfback pass to Swift. Both were from a One Back, 3 TE set. On the halfback pass, you guessed it, we were in a One Back, 3 TE set.

Once I get through all of the games, I will be able to tell you more fascinating stuff like that. Unfortunately the game breakdowns take FOREVER! Hopefully I will complete them soon. Like before the 2007 opener.

And finally, just because here is the Sidetracks Band with a clip of the infamous Blowjob Song (NSFW – Unless you sign your own paychecks).

Returning QBs and Preseason Favorites

July 24, 2007

The consensus seems to be that Missouri will win the Big 12 North, as most have them pegged as the preseason favorites. I tend to agree with this assessment for the time being. When I look at both teams on paper and examine the schedules I see Missouri as having a slight advantage over the Huskers.

One of the key areas I focused on in my assessment of the two teams was the quarterback position. Don’t get me wrong, I’m elated to have Sam Keller in the scarlet and cream. However, we have to remember that the guy has just eight career starts and has appeared in just 20 games. Missouri on the other hand, has Chase Daniel who although only a junior, has already started 13 games in his career. Daniel knows what it takes to QB a Big 12 team. While Keller was busy garnering the Scout Team MVP, Daniel was earning 2nd-Team All-Big 12 from the coaches.

I’m not the only one to use the QB position as a key measuring stick for my prognosticating. Coach Callahan addressed that very issue Monday at the Big 12 Media Days. He said:

“Well, my understanding is that the Big 12 writers essentially pick the team to win the division predicated on a number of factors. And the first factor is the quarterback. And since they have a starting quarterback that’s established in their program that’s been productive, I can see where that’s going.

Personally, no, I don’t agree with it. But I love our football team and I think they’re capable of doing some great things. And I understand how it all works and why people make the decisions and do the things that they do. And motivation — we’ve got plenty of motivation with Nevada, you know, in the opening game. during the regular season. During the 9-3 season we did do a good job like I said with the one faltering — we faltered against Texas late in the game.”

But before I put all of my preseason prediction eggs in one basket, I wanted to determine if a returning quarterback really mattered in college football. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do the analysis myself. Matt at Statistically Speaking had already done that for me.

I’ll try to briefly describe what he found.

First,

“Teams with a returning experienced quarterback had a collective record of 375-357 (.512) in 2005. When their experienced quarterbacks returned in 2006, their combined record jumped to 469-337 (.582). That’s an increase of roughly 7 percentage points in winning percentage.”

Likewise,

Teams who lost their quarterbacks after 2005 had a collective record of 341-309 (.525) in 2005. When they lost their quarterbacks, they regressed to a combined 316-384 (.451) in 2006. That’s a decrease of roughly 7.4 percentage points in winning percentage.

You’ll obviously notice that the gain in winning percentage among teams that returned their quarterback is almost equal to the losses in winning percentage of teams that lost their quarterback. What a coinky-dink.

In Part II of his QB analysis Matt stripped away some riff-raff by limiting the teams’ performances to conference play.

Here are the highlights of those findings:

The teams (62 total) that returned an experienced quarterback in 2006:
Went a collective 238-248 in conference play (.490)
Equates to just under a 4-4 record in a standard 8-game conference schedule.

In 2006, those same teams improved to 269-223 in conference play.
This is a winning percentage of .547 and equates to a 4.37-3.63 record in a standard 8 game conference season.
This is an improvement of roughly 1/2 game in the conference standings.

The teams (53 total) that did not return an experienced quarterback in 2006:
Went a collective 214-204 in conference play in 2005 (.512).
Equates to a conference record of 4.10-3.90 in a standard 8 game conference season.

In 2006, those same teams regressed to 188-234 in conference play.
This is a winning percentage of .445 and equates to a conference record of 3.56-4.44 in a standard 8 game conference season.
This is a regression of a little more than 1/2 game in the conference standings.

He also looked at the percentage of teams that improved/declined by a certain number of games. He found:

Of those teams returning an experienced QB:
21 teams (33.9%) improved by at least 2 games in the conference standings.
8 teams (12.9%) improved by at least 3 games in the conference standings.
13 teams (21%) declined by at least 2 games in the conference standings.
5 teams (8.1%) declined by at least 3 games in the conference standings.

Of those teams not returning an experienced QB:
10 teams (18.9%) improved by at least 2 games in the conference standings.
5 teams (9.4%) improved by at least 3 games in the conference standings.
21 teams (39.6%) declined by at least 2 games in the conference standings.
10 teams (18.9%) declined by at least 3 games in the conference standings.

Matt concludes by noting:

“I will say this, it appears that it may not be as valuable to return your starting quarterback (12.9% that returned theirs improved by at least 3 games and 9.4% that did not improved by at least 3 games) as it is damaging to have him leave (more than double the chance–18.9% to 8.1% of declining by at least 3 games).”

Now, I know Sam Keller is considered by many to be a returning quarterback even after sitting a season out and entering a new system. While I agree that his situation doesn’t exactly fit with this model, we have a talented QB who is new, and raw in Callahan’s version of the WCO. The bottom line is that we just don’t know how it will play out. And frankly that’s what makes this upcoming season so great – all of the unknowns. But for now, I stand my preseason selection of Missouri to win the Big 12 North. And I’ll continue to stand by that pick for at least the next few days.

VERSUS Announcing Team for Big 12 Coverage

July 23, 2007

I’ve written about the Big 12 moving to VERSUS on the FanHouse. Today we found out the announcing team for the network’s Big 12 coverage.

The announce team for Mountain West telecasts includes Joe Beninati as the play-by-play announcer, Tim Neverett as sideline reporter and Glenn Parker as the analyst. Ted Robinson is the play-by-play announcer for Pac-10 games and Ron Thulin will call the games for the Big 12 telecasts. Kelly Stouffer is the analyst and Lewis Johnson is the sideline reporter for all Pac-10 and Big 12 conference games on VERSUS.

The play-by-play man will be familiar to Nebraska fans:

Ron Thulin is the former play-by-play announcer for Pac-10 and Big 12 on TBS and also served as the play-by-play announcer for the NBA on TNT and TBS for seven seasons. His broadcast experience also includes positions with FOX, ABC, ESPN, Raycom and Prime Network, covering a variety of events, including the 1992-1994 Winter Olympics alpine events, basketball during the 1990 and 1994 Goodwill Games, the 1991 Pan Am Games, and SEC college football for Prime Network.

And the Pride of Nebraska’s Rushville High will provide the color:

Kelly Stouffer is an NFL alumnus who spent his four year professional career with the Seattle Seahawks. He is currently the color analyst for Minnesota Vikings pre-season games and for ESPN college football games.

On the sideline:

Lewis Johnson, a former all-American middle-distance runner at the University of Cincinnati, is currently a reporter for NBC sports and for Notre Dame football home games. In 2001 and 2002 he served as a reporter for the NBA Finals on NBC and for the network’s Arena Football telecasts from 2003 through 2006.

College Football’s Dirtiest Programs

July 23, 2007

FanHouse plug alert.

Pete Holiday one of my colleagues at the House is running an amazing series on college football’s dirtiest programs. He explains his methodology here and his first entry on the #10 team is here.

I’ve seen the final tally and the completed list, and it is fascinating.

Keller & Lucky Heisman Darkhorses?

July 20, 2007

That’s what Heisman Pundit believes. Here is his rationale:

So, who has a shot of coming out of nowhere to win this thing?

First, I’d say to look no further than the Big 12. The conference has been the home of unexpected Heisman runs of late, from Josh Heupel’s second-place in 2000, to Jason White’s 2003 win to Adrian Peterson’s 2004 runner-up finish.

The league seems to be conducive to quick-starting candidacies.

Sam Keller, QB, Nebraska–I can’t seem to shake the possibilities with Keller. Think about it. He plays for a traditional Heisman power that has been fairly mediocre of late. He has good name recognition and is respected as a pro prospect. He comes to the Big 12 from a quarterback league, so he could conceivable pick up where he left off at Arizona State (where he averaged 316 yards per game as a starter). The Nebraska schedule has plenty of big games for him to make his case, from USC in game 3, to Texas in game 9 and a potential Big 12 title game.

What’s more, his team does not have to go undefeated for him to win the Heisman. He could lead the Huskers to an impressive 11-2 record and a Big 12 title and get credited for leading a resurgent program, much like Carson Palmer did with USC in 2002. Beating USC would be huge, but even a close loss in which he played well would help if combined with a strong season in which he put up Jason White-like numbers. Keep an eye on him.

Marlon Lucky, RB, Nebraska–I know. What the hell is this guy doing here, you might ask? Well, after all, these are dark horses. But consider the case of Mr. Lucky (great name, by the way). He plays for a traditional power that might get a boost this year because of improved quarterback play from the aforementioned Keller. It stands to reason that an improved passing game will lead to a more effective running game. Hence, Lucky’s rushing yardage seems likely to go up.

Lucky, for those who don’t remember, is a talent. He was one of the top backs in the country coming out of high school. He got lost in the cornfields as a freshman, but he ran for 728 yards and six touchdowns last year, though a great chunk of his yardage came against horrible competition. He also did well as a receiver, catching 32 balls. When you take into account the early entry in the draft of Brandon Jackson, you would do well to assume that Jackson’s 969 yards will be reapportioned elsewhere. The likely beneficiary of most of those yards is Lucky. What if he gets 1,500-plus yards and has big games against USC and Texas? Well, he just might luck his way into the Heisman race.

Heisman Pundit, definitely knows his way around the famous stiff-arm statue, so his mention of these two Huskers should be duly noted.

I told you it wasn’t playcalling…

July 20, 2007

The Needham Hex killed us against Auburn.

(via EDSBS)