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Monday, May 6, 2013

Statistical Review: Virginia #85

It seemed through 2011 that Mike London was orchestrating a turnaround in Virginia. The Cavaliers doubled their win total from 2010. Meanwhile Richmond, London's old stomping grounds, fell from national FCS power to 6-5 in 2010 and closing out 2011 with an 8 game losing streak (though they did beat the mighty Blue Devils of Duke earlier in the season). Then 2012 happened.

Offensively, Virginia was consistently bad in virtually all aspects. They finished between 75th and 95th nationally in 90% of the performance stats I track. This outrageously unsatisfying experience on offense encouraged a season long QB battle between Michael Rocco and Alabama transfer Phillip Sims (or, perhaps, I have confused cause and effect). The stats show that Rocco was, unequivocally, the better performer, but he has since decided to head out to the greener pastures in Richmond. Sims 56% completions and .013 EPA per play is not a real positive sign for things to come.

The Virginia D was in the top half nationally in most areas, but fell short in two critical areas. First, they recorded only 17 sacks all season, or 4.3 sacks per 100 passes. Because pressure often leads to bad decisions, it makes sense that Virginia picked off only 4 passes all season. On the other hand, they were among the very best at preventing yards after the catch, clearly a bend but don't break strategy to pass defense. They were also very good at getting stops on 3rd downs.

When reviewing teams, consistent sub-par performance is discouraging. While a team can focus on and correct one major flaw, it is harder to resolve across-the-board mediocrity. This is where Virginia has set up camp.

The Statistical Review breaks down teams along a number of performance categories, everything from red zone scoring to field goal percentage, and compares that performance against the rest of the FBS. All 124 teams will be reviewed from 124 to 1 by the hybrid rankings. You can find short descriptions of the stats used in the table below.

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