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Cal Football Evans Hall Advanced Stats: Pac-12 Points Per Possession

As an economics alum I have a slight obsession with efficiency. In this installment I will look at how well each Pac-12 team utilized their offensive possessions and defended their foes' possessions.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Economics is often thought of as a subject where only grand aggregate numbers such as GDP, GNI, and M3 money supply. Economics also focuses on how efficient these numbers are on a per person/industry basis. David Ricardo theorized Comparative Advantage in terms of maximizing each nation's efficiency in trade.

In this article I will try to translate the understanding of efficiency into college football (Prof. Olney would be proud... I think). I used data from both Sports-Reference and CFBStats to arrive at a measure of a per-possession efficiency in the Pac-12.


Offense and Defense Per Possession

School Points Per Offensive Possession Points Scored Against per Opponent’s Possession Offense/Defense Ratio
Arizona 3.143 2.865 1.097
Arizona State 2.507 2.331 1.076
California 3.267 2.462 1.327
Colorado 2.085 2.336 0.893
Oregon 3.525 2.809 1.255
Oregon State 1.776 3.338 0.532
Southern California 3.168 2.301 1.377
Stanford 3.706 2.280 1.626
UCLA 2.683 2.162 1.241
Utah 2.684 1.931 1.390
Washington 2.615 1.661 1.574
Washington State 2.763 2.379 1.161

We can see here that there are three clusters:

  • Stanford, California, Oregon, Southern California, and Arizona,
  • UCLA, Utah, Washington State, Washington, and Arizona State,
  • Colorado, and Oregon State
The first group of teams has very potent offenses that were expected to score more than a field goal on a per possession basis.
The second group of teams was not as prolific offensively, however, they were able to offset the lower efficiency on offense with better performance on defense keeping the ratio between offensive and defensive efficiency above 1.
And finally we have teams whose ratio was less than 1. In both cases poor defense was the cause, with Oregon State's surrendering more than a FG per opponent's possession.

Future For Cal

Cal had a very efficient offense that was lead a veteran QB and WRs. I expect a drop-off in offensive efficiency as the new QB and WRs will have to get used to playing with each other in the Spavital Offense (Spaffense?). It would take a drop-off of nearly 1 point per possession (slightly lower than ASU's 2015 offense) to make the ratio 1:1. I doubt this would be the case due to the talent pool Cal operates with.

I expect the defense to step up and become mediocre in the Pac-12 pushing the points per possession to 2.35-2.4 levels, which does not seem to be a huge number, yet it can be a difference of 17.82 to 9.72 points per season for Cal (Cal's defense faced 162 opponent possessions).

Class Dismissed