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[+] Team Summaries

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Statistical Review: Texas #18

We use stats at cfbtn because we believe that teams and players should be evaluated based on their entire body of work. Traditionally, we watch a game, remember a few key plays, and draw broad conclusions from those plays. This is the way our brains naturally function, and it's a flawed approach. It's a source of superstition, prejudice and (non-clinical) irrational phobias. Those are bad. 

But there is a reason our brains work that way. With limited resources we have to filter out the bulk of what we see, enhance a few things, and use those as markers. It's called stereotyping. It's the root of prejudice, which leads to discrimination, which can be a really bad thing, but when you're a caveman deciding whether or not to hug the tiger, discrimination is a really good thing. 

Which brings us to the Longhorns. While I would usually eschew using film to sum up hundreds of plays over the course of the season, I need only one play to explain Texas' defensive woes:

Texas was fairly good at catching runners in the backfield. They were top 10 in sacks per pass. The schedule adjusted completion percentage was top 20. But they were 80th in schedule adjusted explosive plays per rush and 103rd in EPA+/rush.

The offense was one of the best we've seen so far in our countdown; not quite elite, but very good. The single most important quality that kept them short of elite is inconsistency. David Ash was a top 25 player by EPA+ and was the country's 12th most efficient passer by EPA+/pass. Texas scored a 20+ EPA in two games (Ole Miss and Iowa State) and +15 in another three (Tech, Oklahoma State and New Mexico). But they paired that with negative performances against TCU, Oregon State and Kansas(!) and sub-3s against Kansas State and Oklahoma (games that could have redefined the season). 

If Ash grows up a little more and Texas spends time on tackling drills in practice, there's no reason they're not the class of the Big 12. 
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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