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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Statistical Review: Louisville #21

Louisville scored more than 33 points four times in 13 tries in 2012. One of those came against Missouri State. They were projected to 17 points by Vegas and this site in their bowl game. But they scored 33. Teddy Bridgewater was anointed as a superstar in waiting and the preseason accolades started rolling in for the 2013 variant of the Cardinals.

Only one problem. Louisville wasn't that good. In the three games before Florida, Louisville lost to UConn, lost to Syracuse by 19 and beat Rutgers by 3. They finished 44th in the power rankings. Bridgewater was a respectable, but not elite, 16th in schedule adjusted EPA/pass. He was 11th in situation adjusted completion percentage and 8th on 3rd and long, but he averaged less than 13 yards per completions. The offense was slow but efficient: 15th in EP3+, 11.8 possessions per game; it was not elite. Louisville played defense, they just didn't do it well (68th in EP3+ allowed).

The reason for the late season struggles is straightforward, even if the explanation is incomplete. For three straight games, Louisville couldn't run the ball. The correlation with RBs Senorise Perry's injury is strong. Mr. Perry wasn't that good (66th in EPA+/rush), but Jeremy Wright was even worse (156th of 180 qualifying running backs in EPA+/rush). Whatever the cause, Louisville was mindbogglingly inept.

The love for Louisville is based on a belief that they finished the season strong, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Texas A&M finished the season strong. So did Baylor. I'd even accept Stanford. But not Louisville. The receiving corp should be better. Teddy Bridgewater could be better. The line might be worse and the running backs will not inspire. The defense will be average by national standards. If things go well, Louisville could be a top 25 team. I mean this as no slight to Louisville, but folks putting them in the top 15 are either moronic or click-baiting.
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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