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Friday, October 19, 2012

Penalty Profiles

I introduced penalty profiles during the offseason, and I suggest you check it out for the brief explanation and a look at 2011 penalty profiles. Essentially, I have listed teams with penalties per 100 plays (thus as a percentage), and I grouped these penalties into seven categories. Boise State, for example, is good at avoiding procedural penalties (e.g., false start, illegal shift, etc.) but not so good at avoiding logistic penalties (e.g., delay of game, illegal substitution), while Auburn does the opposite. 

Some of this is driven by sparsity in the data - a single delay of game penalty can have a substantial impact on a team's penalty profile. But the results are also consistent with what we would expect: Army commits few penalties per play, but commits a relatively high number of procedural and offensive holding penalties. These are somewhat predictable given the nature of the offense and level of talent at West Point. Navy also commits a relatively high number of procedural and holding penalties. Surprisingly, the Midshipmen have also committed a relatively high number of player contact penalties (e.g., face mask, block in the back, etc.).

Troy is the nation's more frequently penalized team per play. USC comes in second with an especially high number of logistic, procedural, holding and pass interference penalties. The first two are clearly associated with less-than-stellar coaching, while the last two are a product of poor coaching unless the team is just overwhelmed by superior talent on the other side (which is the not case for USC). So, either USC is poorly coached (big shocker) or referees hate the Trojans (wouldn't surprise me either).

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