FanPost

A comparative look at Cal's defense

There's been a fair amount of discussion recently regarding Cal's defense, including much citing of statistics, and while the discussions have been very interesting, I feel like we might be approaching some of these statistics in the wrong way. The usage of statistics seems to fall mostly into the following two categories, both of which are problematic:

1. Looking at statistics in a vacuum - e.g. "Wazzou passed for 350 yards against us, so our secondary is doing badly".
--> Hypothetically, Wazzou could be passing for 400+ yards against everyone else. We know that this isn't the case, but the point is that the frame of reference is somewhat arbitrary/subjective.

2. Looking at statistics in terms of Pac-10 ranking - e.g. "Cal is second in the Pac-10 in points per game".
--> Hypothetically, the next eight Pac-10 teams could just have really terrible offenses. Also, this fails to account at all for strength of schedule, which is definitely relevant to a team's statistics.

For the purposes of this fanpost, I decided to use a slightly different method of evaluating Cal's defense: comparing opponents' performance against us to their average performance this season. In other words, instead of looking at whether our defense performed better or worse than average against each opponent, I'm looking at whether our defense made opposing offenses perform better or worse than they usually do. This isn't a particularly original idea, and it has its own flaws (again, it doesn't take schedule into account at all), but it has the virtue of demonstrating in what manner opposing offenses are able to perform well against us, compared to their other performances.

Continue reading this post »

Data is from ESPN and cfbstats.com. Note that a few of the categories do not include last week's games. The categories are also somewhat arbitrary. My goal is to get a sense of whether any statistics in particular jump out at us. If there is interest, I can put together a more detailed version of this post later on.

The index below is the ratio of how an opposing offense performed against Cal to how they normally perform, i.e. a higher index means they did better against us than they usually do; a lower index means that they did worse against us than they usually do.

 

MARYLAND Average vs. Cal Index
Points 22.83 13 0.57
Total YPG 328.83 303 0.92




Rushing YPG 90.43 136 1.5
Rushing YPA 2.73 3.16 1.16




Passing YPG 237.97 167 0.7
Passing YPA 6.97 5.6 0.8
Completion % 59.1 56.7 0.96
Passer Rating 124.42 103.43 0.83




First Downs 16.2 17 1.05
3rd Down % 0.4 0.24 0.6
Red Zone % 0.87 1 1.15
Turnover Margin -1.43 -2 x

(This game was the reverse of all the others in terms of rushing/passing indices, but Maryland is a horrible team, so I wouldn't read too much into it.)

 

MINNESOTA Average vs. Cal Index
Points 23.7 21 0.89
Total YPG 322.09 270 0.84




Rushing YPG 112.38 37 0.33
Rushing YPA 3.76 1.76 0.47




Passing YPG 209.71 233 1.11
Passing YPA 6.68 6.9 1.03
Completion % 53.79 64.7 1.2
Passer Rating 110.98 133.75 1.21




First Downs 15.24 14 0.92
3rd Down % 34.86 33.33 0.96
Red Zone % 0.83 1 1.2
Turnover Margin -0.19 -3 x

OREGON Average vs. Cal Index
Points 34.69 42 1.21
Total YPG 380.91 524 1.38




Rushing YPG 232.91 236 1.01
Rushing YPA 4.92 4.54 0.92




Passing YPG 148 288 1.95
Passing YPA 6.49 9 1.39
Completion % 57.99 78.1 1.35
Passer Rating 117.79 184.67 1.57




First Downs 19.14 26 1.36
3rd Down % 31.05 46.67 1.5
Red Zone % 0.91 1 1.1
Turnover Margin 0.95 -1 x

(This is one of those cases where the stats don't show how horrible the beat-down was...also Oregon has been beating a lot of other teams down as well, which probably explains the relatively low indices.)

USC Average vs. Cal Index
Points 30 30 1
Total YPG 421.91 457 1.08




Rushing YPG 193.43 174 0.9
Rushing YPA 5.63 4.14 0.74




Passing YPG 228.49 283 1.24
Passing YPA 9.13 8.1 0.89
Completion % 61.1 57.1 0.93
Passer Rating 147.56 119.35 0.81




First Downs 18.63 20 1.07
3rd Down % 32.8 40 1.22
Red Zone % 87.3 100 1.15
Turnover Margin -0.63 1 x

 

UCLA Average vs. Cal Index
Points 19.03 26 1.37
Total YPG 285.6 448 1.57




Rushing YPG 97 137 1.41
Rushing YPA 3.29 5.27 1.6




Passing YPG 188.6 311 1.65
Passing YPA 5.57 7.4 1.33
Completion % 54.11 50 0.92
Passer Rating 100.86 107.44 1.07




First Downs 15.86 17 1.07
3rd Down % 29.25 31.25 1.07
Red Zone % 80.95 100 1.24
Turnover Margin 0.78 -2 x

 

WSU Average vs. Cal Index
Points 14.83 17 1.15
Total YPG 260.34 440 1.69




Rushing YPG 79.34 55 0.69
Rushing YPA 2.27 1.96 0.86




Passing YPG 181 385 2.13
Passing YPA 5.91 9 1.52
Completion % 52.66 67.4 1.28
Passer Rating 101.29 158 1.56




First Downs 14.29 20 1.4
3rd Down % 22.04 35.29 1.6
Red Zone % 73.53 50 0.68
Turnover Margin -0.3 1 x

(Those passing numbers are kind of embarrassing...)

ASU Average vs. Cal Index
Points 26.7 21 0.79
Total YPG 354.6 329 0.93




Rushing YPG 132.8 82 0.62
Rushing YPA 4.48 3.2 0.71




Passing YPG 221.9 247 1.11
Passing YPA 6.1 8.2 1.34
Completion % 53.6 0.57 0.01
Passer Rating 112.31 134.49 1.2




First Downs 18.9 15 0.79
3rd Down % 29 0.33 0.01
Red Zone % 86.21 0.75 0.01
Turnover Margin 1.14 -1 x

 

Finally, here are the index "averages" - note that these are averaged across games, not across plays (i.e. so the average YPA would be the average of each game's YPA, not the average of all attempts over the season).

 

OVERALL Index
Points 1
Total YPG 1.2


Rushing YPG 0.92
Rushing YPA 0.92


Passing YPG 1.41
Passing YPA 1.19
Completion % 0.95
Passer Rating 1.18


First Downs 1.1
3rd Down % 0.99
Red Zone % 0.93
Turnover Margin x

 

Again, this is a pretty unscientific way of looking at the numbers - but I think it provides some context to the discussion.

Thoughts? Criticisms? Suggestions? Honkings?

The opinions expressed in a FanPost are, in every way, reflective of the opinions of every California Golden Blogs Marshawnthusiast. Moreover, they are reflective of every employee of SBNation, including Tyler "Blez" Bleszinski.

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