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Processing the Numbers, Week 7 | Arkansas

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Get ready to see a lot of this guy.

John Weast

All statistics are courtesy of Football Outsiders, home of the F/+ Combined Ratings for college football.
The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) was created by Brian Fremeau; check out his website BCFToys for other goodies.
The S&P+ rating was created by Bill Connelly; check out his college football analytics blog, Football Study Hall.
Hat tips to Addicted to Quack's kalon and FO's 7th Day Adventure column for the inspiration.

How’d last week go?

Well, in terms of the prediction here, pretty damn accurate — in terms of the quality of life of the fanbase, not so great. I went way out on a limb and said it was going to depend on which Bo Wallace showed up (it was Good Bo, sometimes Great Bo, occasionally Perfect Bo), and to not be surprised if we didn’t come away with it (… yeeeaaah). This is just my opinion, but this loss felt very different to me from the previous ones under Saban. I didn’t watch the Oklahoma game at the end of last season, but in the previous 4 losses to that (2012 aTm, 2011 LSU, and the two games that didn’t happen against Auburn in 2010 and 2013) I felt like Alabama was the better team, but things just didn’t break our way that day — more that we lost the game than the other team beat us. Make no mistake about it — Ole Miss beat us, and while I would have been very happy if we’d managed to get the ball to Howard on that last play instead of Golson, I’d have also felt like we’d stolen one. Ole Miss is #1 in F/+ this week, and #2 is Mississippi State, and I can’t really disagree with either of those based on what I’ve seen so far. The SEC West may run through the Egg Bowl this year. What a world.

The Goods

Overall Quality
F/+ 21.4% (4) F/+ 9.4% (30) ALABAMA
FEI 0.196 (13) FEI 0.092 (46) ALABAMA
S&P+ 244.7 (3) S&P+ 218.6 (22) ALABAMA
Spread -9.5 Spread +9.5 ALABAMA

The Matchups
OS&P+ 123.9 (2) DS&P+ 101.7 (50) ALABAMA
DS&P+ 120.8(8) OS&P+ 116.9(9) ALABAMA
STE -1.88(100) STE -3.131(118) ALABAMA
FPA 0.442(116) FPA 0.524(36) BACON

Wondering what all these terms are?

  • FEI: The Fremeau Efficiency Index, an overall team quality metric that is drive-based and opponent-adjusted. For a more detailed discussion of FEI, check out the PTN primer.
  • OFEI: The offensive component of FEI.
  • DFEI: The defensive component of FEI.
  • FPA: FEI Field Position Advantage, a measure of how much field position value a team earned against its opponents.
  • STE: FEI Special Teams Efficiency, a composite measure of a team's efficiency in all facets of special teams (kicking, punting, and returning), based on points per game.
  • S&P+: Another overall team quality metric, S&P+ is primarily play-based and consists of three components: Success Rate, Equivalent Net Points per Play, and a drive efficiency component. The "+" refers to opponent adjustments. For a more detailed discussion of S&P+, check out the PTN primer.
  • OS&P+: The offensive component of S&P+.
  • DS&P+: The defensive component of S&P+.
  • Rush OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on rushing plays for the offense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at running the ball.
  • Rush DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on rushing plays for the defense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at stopping the run.
  • Pass OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing plays for the offense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at throwing the ball.
  • Pass DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing plays for the defense — a good measure of a team's effectiveness at defending the pass.
  • PD: Passing Downs, defined as later downs with medium yardage or more to go (3rd, 4th downs in excess of 5 yards to go), as well as 2nd down with more than 8 yards to go.
  • SD: Standard Downs, defined as all downs that are not Passing Downs.
  • SD OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on standard downs for the offense — a good measure of a team's offensive effectiveness on earlier downs and short yardage.
  • SD DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on standard downs for the defense — a good measure of a team's defensive effectiveness on earlier downs and short yardage.
  • PD OS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing downs for the offense — a good measure of a team's offensive effectiveness on later downs and long yardage.
  • PD DS&P+: S&P+ calculated on passing downs for the defense — a good measure of a team's defensive effectiveness on later downs and long yardage.
  • F/+: The F/+ combined ratings combine FEI and S&P+ into one metric that serves as Football Outsiders' official rankings for college football. For a more detailed discussion of F/+, check out the PTN primer.
  • Off. F/+: The offensive component of F/+.
  • Def. F/+: The defensive component of F/+.
  • ST F/+: The special teams component of F/+.
  • Swanson Giddiness Index: Easily the most accurate predictor of success in college football, the Swanson Giddiness Index is a qualitative, completely unsupportable metric that is presented via the tone of that week's image/animated gif of Ron Swanson — beloved Parks and Recreation character and official spirit animal of Processing the Numbers.

Wondering what all of this means? Check out the PTN primer!

The Disclaimer

For the first seven weeks of the season, these metrics are based partially on a few projection factors, namely recent program performance, the effects of roster attrition, recruiting rankings, and sweet, sweet voodoo*.

As the season progresses, data from games played will be factored in, with a progressively lighter emphasis on the projection factors. Starting after Week 7, these metrics will be based purely on games played this season. At that time, we’ll also get splits for offense, defense, and special teams, as well as insights on how teams handle passing and short-yardage situations and how they manage field position.

* This last one's not true.

So, what do we know?

That we still don’t have full stats! I yet again missed the boat on when exactly the preseason projections were going away. That’s going to be after this week. Next week we’ll have opponent-adjusted statistics for passing and rushing plays, as well as short-yardage plays and passing down plays. FEI will be split into offensive and defensive components, and we’ll just have a whole lot more to talk about. Maybe I will have also learned to read by then.

As far as this week’s opponent, we’ve got a pretty clear edge in overall quality and the offensive and defensive matchups (maybe not "clear" on the defensive one, but an edge nonetheless), but things get a little more interesting in the special teams area of the chart (I suspect this will be the case all year, unfortunately). We’re not actually the worst team in the state of Alabama in these metrics, thanks to the all-encompassing ineptness of the Troy Trojans, but we’re among the worst teams in FBS in both. Yet Arkansas somehow has worse special teams than we do, which is quite an achievement. This is worth noting, as special teams play was arguably the difference in the game last week.

We didn’t freefall too much as a result of the loss to Ole Miss, which is how it should be. The main difference from last week is our FEI rating, which is significantly lower. That’s what happens when you don’t finish drives, and give your opponents short fields and great opportunities to score. This is two games in a row now that we’ve had critical turnovers deep in our own territory that made life too easy on the opponent. It’s very difficult to win games when you lose the turnover battle, especially so when you turn the ball over so close to your end zone. I talked about penalties quite a bit in this week’s Charting the Tide, but the turnovers are an even larger problem. I’m thinking ball security may be a focus at practice this week.

That being said, overall we have a pretty comfortable margin for error here, even on the road. Arkansas is very one-dimensional on offense, and while 1600 pounds of choice bacon the stout Razorback offensive line**, Alex Collins, and Jonathan Williams will compile yards and generally knock us around a bit, ultimately they will be shut down. One-trick ponies don’t tend to fair too well against Saban’s defenses.

** Did you know one of their tackles is 6’10"? A 6’10" football player!

I feel Arkansas is still a year away from being a real threat like Bielema’s peak teams at Wisconsin were, and with a pretty tepid defense I think we’re going to cover the spread easily. This team should be royally pissed after last week, and I think you’re going to see them play angry on Saturday. Next week’s game against aTm in Tuscaloosa looms large, but I think the team stays focused on this week and handles Arkansas.

Any intangibles to consider?

The weather looks pretty unpleasant for Saturday in Fayetteville — 60% chance of rain and temperatures in the 60s. Arkansas was going to run a lot anyway, but if it’s raining you might not see as much passing from us on Saturday.

Injuries may be the story this week. Kenyan Drake was lost for the season due to a broken leg, and that’s all I’m going to say about that rather sickening play (aside from hoping he has a speedy and successful recovery). Denzel Devall and Ryan Kelly will both be out, and while the loss of Devall didn’t seem to impact the defense too much, it hit the fan when Kelly went down. We still put some nice plays together on the final drive, but there was some discombobulation with Bradley Bozeman once he took over. Hopefully the first-team reps this week help sort some of that out. I’m not sure Blake Sims was 100% last week (some of his throws just looked… weird), but given how Saban’s treated QB injuries in the past we’ll probably never know for sure how injured Blake is unless he doesn’t play at all. I spent an extended period of time*** trying to determine if Arkansas is dealing with any notable injuries, and I was unsuccessful.

*** Like 5 minutes on Arkansas Fight

This is another road game, which is worth mentioning again. The Tide’s actually only 5-4 all-time in Fayetteville, but we do own a 3 game winning streak in their house. I suspect whatever jitters this team had in their first road game will not make an appearance this week.

Swanson Giddiness Index

Swanson - Bacon

Ron had all of the Lagavulin after last week. What’s the best thing to eat after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol? Greasy, fried deliciousness, like a heaping plate of bacon. Ron sure does love bacon.

THE PICK: It won’t be 52-0, but the Alabama Crimson Tide should win handily.