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S&P+ Preview of the Cal Football Offense

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Now that the dust of NSD has settled, time to review the past S&P+ performances of the new staff. In this edition I will look at the offensive staff.

Washington State  vs Oregon September 27, 2003 Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Welcome back!

As we wrapped up the 2016 season I was planning to do comparisons between Cal and other Pac-12 schools as well as trend analysis for the Dykes era. However, on January 8th the Cal administration threw a wrench into my schedule by firing HC Dykes.

So from now on till the end of the series 2 months from now I will, on a bi-weekly basis, breakdown each of the hires I have data on from an S&P+ analysis level. Please note that the most important hire on offense in my opinion: Beau Baldwin will not have info since he coached at an FCS level. Likewise with Coach Edwards and Coach Alexander.

The one coach we have information for and the one I will be looking into is the Offensive Line Coach Greatwood. There was a lot of talk about how good Coach Greatwood has been for the better part of the last... 33 years!

Unto the Numbers

Greatwood’s Offensive Lines

Year Adj. LY Rk Std. Downs Line Yards Rk Pass. Downs Line Yards Rk Opp. Rate Rk Power Success Rate Rk Stuff Rate Rk Adj Sack Rate Rk Std. Downs Sack Rate Rk Pass. Downs Sack Rate Rk
Year Adj. LY Rk Std. Downs Line Yards Rk Pass. Downs Line Yards Rk Opp. Rate Rk Power Success Rate Rk Stuff Rate Rk Adj Sack Rate Rk Std. Downs Sack Rate Rk Pass. Downs Sack Rate Rk
2016 108.7 36 3.25 28 3.62 30 45.00% 11 68.40% 60 17.30% 44 89.2 88 6.90% 105 6.70% 48
2015 117.5 11 3.46 4 3.74 21 45.60% 3 61.00% 99 16.10% 17 73.3 109 6.20% 88 12.40% 125
2014 136.8 1 3.79 1 4.25 2 45.80% 12 68.80% 54 13.60% 6 119 41 4.10% 51 9.40% 97
Oregon Offensive Line S&P+ FootballOutsiders

This is a great hire from a run blocking standpoint. In 2014-2015 Greatwood’s offensive lines ranked in the top 25 of the country in every statistic except for Power Run Rates. Which makes sense since the system they ran in Oregon was spread offense that valued quick and athletic linemen who could go block in space and get to the second level. What this meant that they weren’t recruiting and playing with the same players like the Big 10 would: big power-run linemen who could maul at the point of attack.

There was a small drop-off in some of the statistics in 2016. This can be seen in the adjusted line yards stat (adjusted line yards are run game yards that are attributed to the offensive line, this is then normalized to the rest of the NCAA giving a value where 100 is average). Even with the drop-off we can see that the Greatwood line stood above average.

What does worry me is the lackluster pass-blocking statistic. To see that we just need to look at the Adjusted Sack Rate where only in 2014 (Oregon’s College Football Playoff Season) did it rank above average. While in 2015 the Oregon offensive line ranked 125th in the passing down sack rate. Both of these, however, could be attributed to the good or terrible QB play, an offensive line can only pass-block for 2-3 seconds at a time, and if a QB can’t sense pressure, or has a deficient clock (feel for when to bail on his reads and run) then the sack rate, whether good or bad should not be attributed to the offensive line.

Quick Comparison with the Cal 2016 Line

We know that 3 of the starters on the 2016 offensive line will not return whether due to graduate transfer (Aaron Cochran) or expiring eligibility (Steven Moore, and Chris Borrayo). Taking that into account we can see that the Cal line was much more successful.

Cal 2016 Offensive Line

Team Adj. LY Rk Std. Downs Line Yards Rk Pass. Downs Line Yards Rk Opp. Rate Rk Power Success Rate Rk Stuff Rate Rk Adj Sack Rate Rk Std. Downs Sack Rate Rk Pass. Downs Sack Rate Rk
Team Adj. LY Rk Std. Downs Line Yards Rk Pass. Downs Line Yards Rk Opp. Rate Rk Power Success Rate Rk Stuff Rate Rk Adj Sack Rate Rk Std. Downs Sack Rate Rk Pass. Downs Sack Rate Rk
Cal 111.8 24 3.19 33 3.46 47 42.50% 33 68.00% 66 16.30% 24 248.2 3 2.30% 9 3.00% 4
Oregon 108.7 36 3.25 28 3.62 30 45.00% 11 68.40% 60 17.30% 44 89.2 88 6.90% 105 6.70% 48
FootballOutsiders

In nearly every statistic Cal was either equal if not superior to the Oregon line. One exception would be the opportunity rate where the difference is 2.5%, which over the number of rushing snaps in the season (roughly 350) means a difference of 8-9 fewer rushing attempts where a runner gets > 5 yards.

What To Expect

We can expect coach Greatwood to maintain offensive line competency out of the players and talent Cal offers. There may be some concerns with pass-blocking if it turns out that the pass pro woes of 2015-16 were caused by the offensive line rather than poor QB play. One thing will remain more certain: we will run the ball and run the ball well with such coaching that Greatwood offers.

Go Bears!