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Monday, June 24, 2013

Statistical Review: West Virginia #52

People didn't play a lot of pass defense when West Virginia was on the field in 2012. Four of the eight most productive performances happened in West Virginia games - West Virginia against Baylor and Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma against West Virginia. The defense was torn apart by explosive plays, allowing 25 or more yards on 10% of pass plays. The offense was unimpressive in yards and explosive plays per pass, but was 3rd nationally in completion percentage.

The truth of the matter is that, outside of big performances against Marshall, Baylor and Kansas, West Virginia was pretty unexceptional on offense. Geno Smith and crew managed more than 4.8 points per possession in three games, but less than 2 points per possession in five others (Oregon and Alabama were held under 2 points per possession once each all season). Fourth in the conference in points per possession, third in EP3, fourth in EPA per pass. The unit's best quality was avoiding turnovers, and they ranked second in the Big 12 in turnovers per possession.

And the defense was legitimately bad. They finished the season 116th in points per possession allowed, which improves to 76th when we adjust for context and competition. Only Colorado and Army allowed a higher EPA per pass. As noted earlier, they were particularly susceptible to long pass plays. Without the 45 pass plays that went for 25 or more yards, West Virginia would have reduced its EPA per pass from .33 to .05 (which would place them just below the national average). This kind of defense generally leads to bad 3rd down defense as well, where teams converted 45% of the time against the Mountaineers.

Take home message is if you want to get your quarterback in the Heisman discussion, schedule Baylor and Marshall early and often.
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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