Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2015 Adjusted Pythagorean Record: Big 10

Last week, we looked at how Big 10 teams fared in terms of yards per play. This week, we turn our attention to how the season played out in terms of the Adjusted Pythagorean Record, or APR. For an in-depth look at APR, click here. If you didn’t feel like clicking, here is the Reader’s Digest version. APR looks at how well a team scores and prevents touchdowns. Non-offensive touchdowns, field goals, extra points, and safeties are excluded. The ratio of offensive touchdowns to touchdowns allowed is converted into a winning percentage. Pretty simple actually.

Once again, here are the 2015 Big 10 standings.
And here are the APR standings sorted by division with conference rank in offensive touchdowns, touchdowns allowed, and APR in parentheses. This includes conference games only with the championship game excluded.
Finally, the Big 10 teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.
Northwestern was the only Big 10 team with a record substantially different than their expected record based on APR. There was also a positive disconnect between the Wildcats record and their expected record based on YPP. We covered that last week, so unlike Marco Rubio, we won't repeat ourselves here. Instead, we'll take a closer look at Paul Chryst and his first Wisconsin team.

Last week I introduced a new throwaway metric to measure the impact of a coach changing jobs at the FBS level. Since Paul Chryst was the reason I researched the issue, I decided to name the metric after him. Now this week, I want to take a look at how the Badgers performed offensively under Chryst in his first season at the helm. I really have no personal vendetta against Paul Chryst. These are merely observations.

I have touchdown and yards per play data (in conference play) for every FBS team going back to 2005. The chart below lists the offensive touchdowns scored and yards per play averaged by the Badgers in Big 10 play since 2005 with their rank in the conference in parentheses. For easy reference, the chart is color coded based on who was coaching the team. Four different gentlemen have guided the Badgers on the gridiron during this time span: Barry Alvarez (2005), Bret Bielema (2006-2012), Gary Andersen (2013-2014), and Paul Chryst (2015).
Obviously, Chryst’s struggles stand out like a sore thumb. The Badgers endured their lowest touchdown and yards per play output under his watch. Not only, were their raw numbers the lowest in the period examined, but their place among the other Big 10 teams was also at its nadir. Sure, the Badgers suffered injuries in 2015, but their precipitous decline from their historical baselines and particularly from the prior season (when they were second in touchdowns and first in yards per play) has to be at least a little disturbing for Badger fans. Chryst was the team’s offensive coordinator from 2006-2011, when they were running roughshod over the rest of the Big 10 with their power running game and solid, but unspectacular quarterback play (with the exception of their one-year rental of Russell Wilson), so maybe things will turn around. Or maybe Chryst is in over his head as a head coach as could be inferred from his wholly mediocre three seasons at Pitt. In all likelihood, we will get to find out.

I’ll close with a little more statistical minutia regarding the impotence of the Wisconsin offense in 2015. For the first time since 2004, Wisconsin failed to have a single back top 1000 yards rushing. Dare Ogunbowale led the Badgers with 819 yards on the ground in 2015. This total would have ranked behind the second leading rusher for Wisconsin teams in 2014, 2013, 2010, and 2008 (and just 13 yards more than the second leading rushing in 2012). From 2005-2014, six Badgers rushed for over 1000 yards in a season. These six backs (Brian Calhoun, PJ Hill, John Clay, Montee Ball, James White, and Melvin Gordon) combined for twelve 1000 yard seasons. Four of those backs, Calhoun, Ball, White, and Gordon, were drafted by NFL teams.

No comments: