Thursday, January 17, 2019

2018 Adjusted Pythagorean Record: AAC

Last week (or more accurately, a few days ago), we looked at how AAC 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 2018 AAC 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 AAC teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.
I use a game and a half as a line of demarcation to determine if teams drastically over or under perform their APR. By that standard Tulsa was the only team that saw their record differ significantly from their APR. Tulsa finished with a losing record for the second consecutive season, putting Phillip Montgomery on the hot seat and costing me a few bucks. Tulsa was 1-3 in one-score conference games, including a heartbreaking 25-24 loss against South Florida where they blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead.

A Definitive Historical Examination of the Defense of the 2018 Connecticut Huskies (Peer Reviewed)
Everybody knows Connecticut had a terrible defense last season. But how bad was it? I’m going to make some points of comparison so you can decide for yourself just how bad their defense was.

If you read last week’s post, you know that in conference play, the Huskies collectively allowed AAC opponents to average 8.94 yards per play against them. That number was more than two yards per play below Navy, the second worst defense in the AAC last season. So over, the course of a few hundred defensive plays last season, Connecticut opponents averaged about nine tenths of a first down per play! That was by far the worst in-conference per play defense at least since 2005 (when I began tracking such things).
In addition, have been only four offenses to average at least eight yards per play over the course of a conference season (out of nearly 1700 total team seasons). If we take the collective performance of the AAC teams on Connecticut's schedule, they would boast one of the best offenses of the past fourteen years.
Basically, the 2018 Huskies made opposing quarterbacks look like some amalgamation of Colt Brennan, Case Keenum, Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray. However, not only did the Huskies allow a lot of yards, opponents frequently turned those yards into points. AAC opponents scored 55 touchdowns against the Huskies in eight conference games. If you are lacking a calculator, that is nearly seven touchdowns per game or about one and three quarters per quarter. For comparison, the best defense in the AAC (Cincinnati and UCF) allowed 18 touchdowns, or roughly a third of that amount! As with the YPP data, I have been tracking APR data since 2005, and Connecticut was the worst in terms of touchdowns allowed.
Only Bob Davie’s second New Mexico team comes close to catching the Huskies. However, that New Mexico team can take solace in the fact they allowed merely 7.68 yards per play to their Mountain West opponents.

So, yes, we can conclude that Connecticut was historically bad defensively in 2018. There is no question about that. The good news for Connecticut fans (if any) is that things cannot possibly get worse (at least defensively).

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