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MrSEC.com Stat Analysis: Quick Strike

For the past five years we’ve tried to bring you sets of numbers and statistics that provide a different glimpse into the world of SEC football.  One of the most telling stats we’ve come up with is what we call the “Quick Strike” measure.

The goal in football is to put up as many points as possible.  Obviously.  The fewer snaps it takes a team to do that, the less chance for errors like penalties and turnovers.  Quick Strike provides a simple look at how many points each offensive snap is worth to a given team.  Literally, it reveals the number of points scored per offensive play run.

But Quick Strike is not just an offensive measure.  Special teams scores and long returns can speed up how quickly a team piles up points.  Turnovers can provide short fields for offenses.  Defensive touchdowns are even more valuable as a team does not even need to run an offensive play and risk a turnover or penalty in order to put points on the scoreboard.

Turns out, we aren’t the only math geeks out there who like this stat.  A bigger math geek than we here at MrSEC.com — and we mean that in a good way — has tested our numbers, applied them to the Big Ten, and found that there’s a clear correlation between a good Quick Strike number and wins in that league as well.  You can find the analysis of ElevenWarriors.com here. 

Now, the deeper we get into the season, the more telling this statistic will become.  Eventually, we’ll begin using only numbers from SEC-versus-SEC games.  For now, however, we must use the points scored and plays run against all FBS opponents.

For those who wish to argue a certain point — someone always does — we already know that a) the season is in its early stages, b) some teams have played more FBS opponents than others, and c) some teams have played better FBS opponents than others.  There’s no need to make those cases.  Take the numbers or leave the numbers, we just believe that at the quarter-pole of the season, it’s a good time to start eyeballing them.  No one’s trying to inflate or deflate the work done so far by your favorite team.  The numbers speak for themselves.

So without further ado, here are the Quick Strike numbers to date for the SEC’s 14 teams versus FBS competition.

 

  School   Pts/Scored vs FBS   Off. Plays vs FBS   Pts/Off. Play
  Alabama   128   179   .715
  Georgia   142   199   .713
  LSU   145   205   .707
  S. Carolina   114   194   .587
  Miss. State   58   126   .460
  Ole Miss   59   133   .443
  Florida   84   191   .439
  Kentucky   92   219   .420
  Texas A&M   65   156   .416
  Tennessee   55   151   .364
  Auburn   60   186   .322
  Missouri   44   168   .261
  Arkansas   31   128   .242
  Vanderbilt   26   126   .206

 

So what does that mean all mean?  Well, against FBS opponents Alabama is scoring about 7/10ths of a point for every offensive snap the Tide runs.  In comparison, Vanderbilt is only scoring about 2/10ths of a point.  As a team, Vanderbilt — offense, defense, special teams — has to work a helluva lot harder than Alabama to score points.

The biggest surprise so far is Ole Miss’ ranking, but again, it’s early.  The UTEP game helped the Rebels’ numbers and once we get deeper into SEC play, we’ll dump those kinds of nonconference stats altogether.

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SEC Stat Analysis: Quick Sand

Yesterday morning we showed you a stat we call Quick Strike.  It’s a simple measure of points-per-offensive-plays-run that shows us which SEC teams score with the greatest ease. 

Today, we bring you the opposite measurement.  We call it Quick Sand.  It’s designed to show you which SEC defense force opponents to run the most plays in order to put points on the scoreboard.

As was the case with our Quick Strike numbers, this is a team measure.  We include all points allowed by a team (including on special teams and via turnover returns) and then divide that figure by the total number of defensive plays run.

Bad special teams play and bad offense can obviously impact the yardage a team has to defend and the number of points a team will give up.

Below are the numbers from across the SEC.


Quick Sand (Points-Allowed-Per-Play in SEC contests only)

School
SEC Record
Points Allowed
Defensive Plays
Points Allowed Per Play
LSU
6-0
47
338
.139
Alabama
6-1
53
373
.142
S. Carolina
6-2
135
516
.261
Georgia
6-1
135
424
.318
Miss. State
1-5
138
418
.330
Arkansas
5-1
139
417
.333
Vanderbilt
2-5
160
475
.336
Florida
3-5
191
548
.348
Auburn
4-3
204
480
.425
Tennessee
0-6
191
389
.491
Kentucky
1-5
216
426
.506
Ole Miss
0-6
209
409
.511



Observations:

* The top six teams in our Quick Sand rating have a combined SEC record of 30-10.  The teams on the bottom half our table are 10-30.  You do the math.

* It’s remarkable that LSU and Alabama — through a combined 13 conference games played — are still so close defensively.  Each play their opponents run is worth less than 15% of a single point.  That’s “all-time” type good.

* On the other end of the spectrum, each play a team runs against Kentucky or Ole Miss is worth more than half a point on the scoreboard.  Hard to win games — regardless of what your offense is doing — when your defense is giving up points by the bushel barrel.

* MSU’s defensive performance — combined with its overall SEC record — shows that Dan Mullen’s problem isn’t on defense, it’s with his own offense.  More and more it’s looking like the offense Urban Meyer brought from Utah (and Mullen then took to Starkville) requires either a suffocating defense to go with it or a hall-of-famer at quarterback to run it if it’s going to reach top o’ the conference heights.

* How ’bout Arkansas’ defense?  They aren’t known for being particularly wicked, but the Razorbacks don’t surrender points easily.  Willy Robinson’s squad might not be flashy, but they’re getting the job done.  Of course, having an offense that gets ahead and consistently makes opponents one-dimensional helps, too.

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SEC Stat Analysis: Quick Strike

With just a couple of weeks left in the regular season, the sample of in-conference games is large enough now that we can begin to trot out a few more statistical analysis pieces.

First, we’ll look at a figure we call Quick Strike.  It measures how easily a team can score points.

The stat is a simple one.  Take a team’s total number of points scored.  Divide that number by the number of plays an offense runs… and there’s your points-per-play ratio, your Quick Strike number.

This isn’t just a measure of offense, however.  Obviously, non-offensive points are counted in this as well.  Special teams and defensive plays also help to set up offenses with short fields.

This statistic simply gives you an idea of which teams have the ability to score the quickest.


Quick Strike (Points-Per-Play in SEC contests only)

School
SEC Record
Points
Offensive Plays
Points Per Play
Arkansas
5-1
205
382
.536
Alabama
6-1
229
464
.493
LSU
6-0
187
381
.490
Georgia
6-1
215
515
.417
S. Carolina
6-2
206
551
.373
Florida
3-5
166
470
.353
Vanderbilt
2-5
148
439
.337
Auburn
4-3
146
458
.318
Miss. State
1-5
97
402
.241
Ole Miss
0-6
87
390
.223
Kentucky
1-5
74
394
.187
Tennessee
0-6
58
367
.158




Observations:


* So how important is the ability to score quickly?  The five highest-rated teams in this category are a combined 29-5 in SEC play.  the bottom seven teams are 11-35.  Conclusion: points-per-play is a pretty good stat to keep an eye on.

* At the top of the league, every play Arkansas runs on offense is worth more than half a point on the scoreboard.  If you want to beat the Hogs — and this is no surprise — you’d better keep their offense off the field with a time-consuming, ball control offense of your own.

* For all the shots leveled at the offenses of Alabama and LSU by the national media following their 9-6 overtime slugfest, it’s pretty clear that the Crimson Tide and the Tigers can score with ease on just about everyone except one another.

* For the second time in three years, Gus Malzahn’s offense ranks in the bottom half of the league in points-per-play.  Last year — with Cameron Newton — that was far from the case.  Three years in and the jury is still out as to whether or not Malzahn’s offense is truly “special” in the SEC when it doesn’t have a Heisman-candidate at the controls.

* Pity Kentucky and Tennessee.  For every play those teams run, they’re putting up less than 20% of a point.  The last-ranked Vols played the top-ranked Razorbacks this past weekend and sure enough, Tennessee ran 77 plays to Arkansas’ 57, but the score at the end of the night: Hogs 49, Volunteers 7.

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SEC Stat Analysis – Slow Grind (Defensive Efficiency)

For our next trick, let us turn our attention to defense.  Below you will find our Slow Grind statistic.

Slow Grind is our means of measuring a team’s defensive efficiency.  The object of the game is to score points.  The harder you make your opponent work for his points, the more likely you’ll win the game.  Makes sense, no?

In our Slow Grind analysis, we compare the number of touchdowns allowed by each team to the total number of offensive plays run against that team.  Obviously, this also measure’s a team’s overall strength.  A good offense limits an opponent’s time of possession.  A good special teams unit hurts an opponent’s field position.  Those teams that force their opponents to run the most amount of plays in order to score — causing a “slow grind” for their opponents — are ranked at the top of our standings.

Again, we used only numbers from each team’s eight SEC games.


Slow Grind Rankings

Rank
School
Defensive Plays
Opponent TDs
Opponent Plays/TD
1 Alabama
508
16
31.75
2
Miss. State
545
19
28.68
3
S. Carolina
517
21
24.61
4
Florida
516
21
24.57
5
LSU
496
21
23.61
6
Tennessee
558
25
22.32
7
Arkansas
552
25
22.08
8
Georgia
505
26
19.42
9
Vanderbilt
607
32
18.96
10
Auburn
515
29
17.75
11
Ole Miss
515
32
16.09
12
Kentucky
519
33
15.72



Observations:

* Two defenses were far away better than the rest when it came to SEC play this year.  Alabama — despite replacing at least eight starters — was still nasty.  Who would expect less with Nick Saban running the show?  The other great D was… Mississippi State.  We’ve touted the work of Manny Diaz all year and this stat shows why.  The average SEC fan would probably have a hard time naming a single player from State’s defense, yet as a unit they were excellent.  Bama, folks should have seen coming… but MSU came out of nowhere.  Kudos to both.

* And coming in third… South Carolina.  The Cocks’ secondary has been porous at times this year, yes, but SEC foes still struggled to drive the ball consistently against Ellis Johnson’s bunch.  And where’s Auburn?  Waaayyyy down at 10th in the league.  One defense seemed bad, the other was bad.  Will that make a difference tomorrow in the Georgia Dome?  Or is Cam Newton so good that he can offset even the best defenses he faces.  (Ask Alabama.)

* On average, Carolina’s defense is on the field for 65 plays per contest.  Auburn’s D is on the field for 64.  Using their Slow Grind ratios, Carolina should allow 2.64 touchdowns tomorrow while Auburn should give up 3.60.  Go back and figure that up with our Quick Strike projections and you’ve got yourself a betting guide.  Probably not a good one, though.

* Florida’s and LSU’s defenses were solid, but neither lived up to expectations.  Could it be that their offenses put them in bad positions way too often.  Yes, it could be.

* Tennessee and Arkansas looked pretty bad on defense at times this season, but look at the plays run against them.  Sure, some of that goes back to not getting off the field on third down, but some of it is also attributable to the teams’ offenses.  Tennessee’s couldn’t stay on the field for much of the year.  Arkansas’ would score quickly.  Only Vandy’s defense played more snaps than UT’s and UA’s this season.

* Ole Miss and Kentucky had the worst squads in the SEC in 2010 in terms of defensive efficiency.  Kentucky needs an infusion of talent.  That’s easy to explain.  But at Ole Miss, the Rebels were expected to be solid on the defensive side of the ball.  And coordinator Tyrone Nix was a much sought-after guy last offseason.  He didn’t forget how to coach overnight.  Mississippi’s defensive woes were a head-scratcher.  And a killer.

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SEC Stat Analysis – Quick Strike (Offensive Efficiency)

Heading into tomorrow’s SEC Championship Game, we felt it appropriate to unveil some of our own favorite MrSEC.com stats.  This will give you a good idea of how Auburn and South Carolina stack up in a number of areas.

Below are our offensive efficiency numbers.  We call this the Quick Strike stat.  It measures how many offensive plays a team must run — on average — to score a touchdown.  This is also a good measure of a team’s overall performance.  Solid defense and good special teams will give a team a shorter field to work with, obviously.  That should decrease the number of plays an offense needs to run to score and, thus, drive up the team’s Quick Strike rating.

We used only the numbers from each team’s eight SEC games.


Quick Strike Rankings

Rank
School
Offensive Plays
TDs
Plays/TD
1
Auburn
555
37
15.00
2
Arkansas
530
35
15.14
3
Georgia
488
27
18.07
4
S. Carolina
523
27
19.37
5
Alabama
505
24
21.04
6
Ole Miss
564
26
21.69
7
Kentucky
588
27
21.77
8
Florida
558
25
22.32
9
Tennessee
484
21
23.04
10
LSU
525
22
23.86
11
Miss. State
546
19
28.73
12
Vanderbilt
487
10
48.70



Observations:

* As spectacular as Auburn’s Cam Newton-led offense was in 2010, Arkansas’ attack was nearly as productive against SEC foes.  I mean almost exactly as productive.  That’s mighty impressive considering just how good Auburn was.

* Georgia’s Mike Bobo doesn’t get much love — what offensive coordinator does? — but once again his unit ranks near the top of our Quick Strike ratings.  It may not be pretty.  It may not be as consistent as Dawg fans would like.  And it may be all AJ Green.  But UGA’s offense can put up some points.  In a hurry.

* Look who’s ranked just behind Auburn on this chart… South Carolina.  You tend to think of the Gamecocks as a grind-it-out offense with Marcus Lattimore playing the role of Earl Campbell or Jerome Bettis.  This stat reveals that only four schools ran fewer offensive plays in conference play than Carolina.  The Cocks score quickly.

* On average, Auburn runs about 70 plays per game in SEC contests.  Carolina runs about 65.  Using their plays-to-touchdown ration, we would suggest that AU will score 4.66 touchdowns tomorrow to USC’s 3.35.  (I know, “How do you score .66 of a touchdown you mo-ron.”)

* Perspective is an interesting thing.  Florida and LSU have talent and had big expectations.  Their offensive coordinators are in hot water for their lack of production.  Tennessee has little talent and had no expectations, so their offensive coordinator is drawing praise for his team’s improvement in the final month of the season.  Yet all three teams ran between 22 and 24 plays per touchdown.

* I keep reading write-ups of Dan Mullen being an offensive genius.  His departure is supposedly responsible for Florida’s tank job, I’ve heard (though Florida did quite well without him last year).  But look at MSU’s ranking in offensive efficiency and you’ll find that the only team less productive on offense was Vanderbilt.  Mullen is a good coach.  He might be great with State’s offense as he adds talent.  But the Bulldogs won with defense in 2010.

* Look at those Vandy numbers.  On second thought, no, don’t.

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