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Advanced Stats: OU and Texas Tech

Welcome to the Robinson Era.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings all - what follows is a brief statistical breakdown of the OU game and the forthcoming matchup between TCU and Texas Tech, utilizing Bill Connelly’s S&P numbers, which are the best football analytics we have at our disposal. It’s about time FOW got a little more nerd-friendly; my goal for the rest of the season is to take us boldly into that great statistical beyond.

The index page with each team’s Statistical Profile can be found here.
Glossary of Terms

Last Week:

Oklahoma Sooners 38 (10th in S/P+, 1st in offense, 116th in defense)
TCU Horned Frogs 20 (13th, 40th, 13th)

You can view the carnage five factors box score here.

What went right?

TCU had a 6% win expectancy in this game. (Note: this is the first game all season that TCU, based on the statistical performance, should not have won.) The offense played in the 23rd percentile, and the defense in the 22nd. Nothing went right.

What went wrong?

I’m tempted to call out passing downs. 11% success rate is abysmal, in any facet of the game, but TCU only had 6 passing attempts on passing downs*, so that may not mean as much as I want it to. Instead, I want to look at two key elements of the game. First, TCU had 3.50 points per opportunity. The national average is 4.31. TCU had the ball inside the 40 six times, and simply could not convert. The failure to convert essentially explains the game - playing an elite offense requires scoring touchdowns to survive. Instead, TCU brought a knife to a gun fight. Heck, the TCU offense brought a yo-yo to a gun fight, and might even not have been totally sure that a fight was happening. Second, that second quarter success rate borders on the unholy. Oklahoma gained sufficient yardage on 67% of their plays in the second quarter. They put up about as dominant a quarter as you could fathom, and somehow, mercifully, only scored three times in that 15 minute rage. Ignoring the second half cruise control, TCU’s defense was wholly incapable of restraining the Sooners, and TCU’s offense couldn’t score enough to keep pace.

*Passing downs are 2nd down >8 yards to go, or 3rd/4th, >5.

Moving on to more pressing matters:

This Week

TCU Horned Frogs 20 (13th, 40th, 13th)
at Texas Tech Red Raiders (52nd, 15th, 99th)

What does Texas Tech do well?

  • Offensive Efficiency: 47.1% Success Rate, 12th in the nation
  • Explosiveness: 1.26 IsoPPP on offense (29th), 1.11 IsoPPP on defense (44th)
  • Turnovers: +10 Margin (10th)

The Red Raider offense is classic Texas Tech, ranking near the top in the nation in Passing Success Rate, First Quarter and First Down S/P (12th and 17th in the nation, respectively), and Pace (37th in the nation).

On Standard Downs, Tech’s passing attack really shines, as they are capable of moving the ball, posting outstanding marks in efficiency, success, and points per play on those crucial, drive-starting opportunities.

On Defense, the Red Raiders don’t do much well, but they do have some strengths. Tech limits big runs, evidenced by their Rushing IsoPPP (.84, 34th in the nation). This will be potent for a TCU offense lacking one of its feature running backs, and with the health of the offensive line resolving itself this week.

In terms of pass defense, Tech has shown themselves to limit big plays (Passing IsoPPP (1.31, 27th)) and challenge opposing receivers well - their Passes Defended to Incompletion ratio is 15th in the nation, and will provide a test for an average Kenny Hill or an uncertain Shawn Robinson.

In general, on defense, the line is the biggest strength. Their Opportunity Rate (35.9%, 43rd) and DL Havoc Rate (49th) indicate a unit who does not get pushed around often, and when you do run on them, you have to earn it.

Other fun facts: Tech is 30th in the nation in defensive 2nd Down S/P+, which is worth about as much as you think its worth.

What does Texas Tech do poorly?

  • Defensive Efficiency: 45.6% Success Rate, 107th in the nation
  • Finishing Drives: Defense 4.72 Pts per opportunity (98th), Offense 4.55 (57th)
  • Defensive Field Position: 29.3 yard line (73rd)

With great [passing] comes [poor rushing]. - Uncle Ben, Spiderman (2002).

Tech’s rushing attack is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. They rush successfully, (47% rate), and their overall rushing S+P + is 19th in the country, but the nitty gritty obscures that; they rank in the nineties in rushing isoPPP and power success rate, indicating that they don’t run for long gains well, and they don’t run for short gains (when they need to) well either. This is odd, because the have some good backs and an overall good attack, but at the margins, their rushing attack fails them. I wonder if this is not due to play selection more than anything else - perhaps they use the pass so often in tight situations to bail themselves out that that the few times they’ve run unsuccessfully are skewing the numbers. Their Standard Downs Line Yards Per Carry, (a near ridiculous name for a statistic that is a crude measure of offensive line rushing success) is an inditement on their offensive line’s inability to consistently impose their will on defenders, as is a relatively poor Adjusted Sack Rate.

Their Passing Downs IsoPPP (1.46, 83rd in the nation) indicates that Tech often uses the pass game to escape tight spots, instead of hitting home runs in tough situations. TCU could use this to their advantage - by forcing Tech to stumble on first down, TCU could instigate the Raiders into ‘safety mode’ and escape the deep threat.

Lastly, on offense, Tech is extremely slow in the fourth quarter (106th in S/P+), good news for a TCU team that has left second half opponents in a smothering wake of despair the last few weeks.

The Defense struggles, plain and simple, and with rate stats (as opposed to total defense, per-game measures), we can see that deficiency is not a result of a high powered offense.

The Red Raider defensive front gets pushed around - Adjusted Line Yards put them 93rd in the country, and a Power Success Rate of 70.7% is 89th. Considering those and acknowledging the Red Raiders’ Stuff Rate (120th), we have a picture of a front seven on defense who have trouble stifling plays at the line.

Another area Passing Defense: S/P+ 91st, Success Rate 48.6% (123rd), Sack Rate (106th), 3rd down S&P+ (75th in the nation), Overall Havoc Rate (125th), driven by a weak (123rd) LB core.

What are TCU’s opportunities?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: TCU is playing a team with a lights out offense and a shaky defense, this time in the weirdest place in the Big 12. What could go wrong?

Like Jamie mentioned earlier this week, the key matchup in this game is TCU’s defensive line versus Tech’s offensive line. The Frogs were uncharacteristically incapable of antagonizing that Oklahoma QB last week, and Tech has struggled when the less-than-mobile Shimonek feels pressure. Tech’s passing downs sack rate is 85th in the country, and if TCU can pull up another big game from the defensive line, they could really take the pressure off of a depleted secondary unit.

Another facet: Texas Tech’s run rate is very low, compared to national averages. (49.5% on standard downs (116th), 23.4% on Passing Downs(121st). Understanding the lack of diversity in Tech’s play-calling can set the Frogs secondary up to disrupt the pass with regularity.

Post Script:

All of this comes with a grain of salt, as I’ve just heard the news that Kenny Hill is officially out for the Frogs. Shawn Robinson has his time to shine, and he will get to do so against a less than imposing Texas Tech passing attack. The run game becomes all the more important for the Frogs, as supporting and taking the pressure off their young QB will be a key to this game. With the saddle trophy on the line, and TCU’s offensive schemes hampered by injuries, expect to see a race to 40 points in this one.

Around the League:

Here, I’ll provide a few of the most interesting match-ups of the week with a brief explanation of what makes them worth watching.

SMU Mustangs (48th in S&P+, 7th in offense, 106th defense) at
Memphis Tigers (30th, 11th, 90th):

If you like points, you’ll find them here. Two top 15 offenses and two bottom 40 defenses, laced with overtones of coaches auditioning for a P5 job.

Texas Longhorns (61st, 98th, 27th) at
Western Virginia Mountaineers (33rd, 12, 83):

Top 15 offense versus a top 30 defense is prime viewing.

NC State Wolfpack (38th, 29th, 60th) at
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (29th, 26th, 55th):

Two shockingly similar teams, and Wake just scored 64 on the team that beat Clemson.