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» Catch Radius: The Bigger, the Better?

Our season finale of catch radius focuses on the growing size of Josh McCown's talented receiving duos, including breakout stud Alshon Jeffery. Also: Anquan Boldin's incredible year.

12 Sep 2012

FEI Week 2: Warm-Ups

by Brian Fremeau

The season is young, but last weekend featured a handful of upsets that made an immediate impact on expectations and the road to the BCS bowls. The biggest move in the FEI rankings was Arizona's climb from 79th to 44th on the heels of its explosive and opportunistic victory over Oklahoma State. Cincinnati and Kansas State made leaps as well after big victories over teams FEI was previously fond of.

We've had losses by top-10 teams in the major polls over the first couple of weeks, but no major shockers from top-10 FEI teams yet. None of them have played one another, of course. Virginia Tech is the only FEI top-25 team to have played another current FEI top-25 opponent, beating Georgia Tech in Week 1. Michigan State is the only other FEI top-25 team to have knocked off a current FEI top-30 team, Boise State. Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida each have a victory over an FEI top-40 team.

Since preseason data is still a big factor (roughly two-thirds of each team's rating on average), it isn't worth fretting over the handful of teams that appear to be out of whack. Whenever I doubt a particular team's rating, I'm often surprised to see that team perform closer to FEI expectations the next week than to my own personal expectations. Florida and Notre Dame are probably a bit too high, Oregon is a bit too low. But I'm confident teams will shift and settle in appropriately over the coming weeks. Three games coming up this weekend feature FEI top-25 teams: Florida at Tennessee, Notre Dame at Michigan State, and USC at Stanford.

One thing I'm paying attention to over the first few weeks of the season is the new kickoff rules and their impact on the game. Kickoffs were moved forward to the 35-yard-line this year (from the 30-yard-line), and touchbacks on kickoffs are now placed at the 25-yard-line (instead of the 20-yard-line). From my observations, some teams are still trying to figure out how to handle the new rules.

Many kickers have plenty of leg strength to boot the ball through the end zone every time, but it appears that some are being coached to kick the ball short enough to force a return. If the kickoff coverage team can make a stop inside the 25-yard line, it is a good play, but is the risk of allowing a longer return worth it? Probably not.

The difference in field position scoring expectations between a team's own 20-yard-line and its own 25-yard-line is only about 0.1 points per drive. That will add up, over the course of a season, to a little more than six points on the year. That's negligible on a game-by-game basis. The average starting field position following kickoff returns last year was a team's own 28-yard-line. So far in 2012, the average field position is a team's own 26-yard-line.

Kickers capable of consistently booting touchbacks would be wise to do so. Through the first two weeks of the year, 37 teams are averaging better than a 50 percent touchback rate. Last year, only two kicking teams had a touchback percentage better than 50 percent. It is a better-than-average play for the kicking team, and under the new rules, it is well within the means of many teams to execute it.

Week 2 Revisionist Box Scores

This weekly feature identifies the games played each week that were most impacted by turnovers, special teams, field position, or some combination of the three. The neutralized margin of victory is a function of the point values earned and surrendered based on field position and expected scoring rates.

Week 2 Games In Which Total Turnover Value Exceeded Non-Garbage Final Score Margin
Date Winning Team Non-Garbage
Final Score
Losing Team TTV
+
TTV
-
TTV
Net
TO Neutral
Score Margin
9/8 Louisiana Tech 56-49 Houston 7.3 0.0 7.3 -0.3
9/8 NC State 10-7 Connecticut 11.9 3.4 8.5 -5.5
9/8 Oregon State 10-7 Wisconsin 6.5 0.0 6.5 -3.5
9/8 South Florida 32-31 Nevada 12.0 3.4 8.6 -7.6
9/8 Toledo 34-31 Wyoming 11.6 0.0 11.6 -8.6
9/8 Wake Forest 28-27 North Carolina 7.0 5.0 2.0 -1.0

Week 2 Games In Which Special Teams Value Exceeded Non-Garbage Final Score Margin
Date Winning Team Non-Garbage
Final Score
Losing Team STV
+
STV Neutral
Score Margin
9/8 Rice 25-24 Kansas 3.6 -2.6
9/8 Virginia 17-16 Penn State 10.6 -9.6

Week 2 Games In Which Field Position Value Exceeded Non-Garbage Final Score Margin
Date Winning Team Non-Garbage
Final Score
Losing Team FPV
+
FPV
-
FPV
Net
FPV Neutral
Score Margin
9/8 Iowa State 9-6 Iowa 26.5 17.7 8.8 -5.8
9/8 Louisiana Tech 56-49 Houston 30.7 22.0 8.7 -1.7
9/8 Rice 25-24 Kansas 21.3 18.8 2.5 -1.5
9/8 UCLA 36-30 Nebraska 33.4 23.8 9.6 -3.6
9/8 Wake Forest 28-27 North Carolina 23.6 19.7 3.9 -2.9

2012 totals to date:

  • Net Total Turnover Value was the difference in 14 of 86 FBS games (16.3 percent)
  • Net Special Teams Value was the difference in 6 of 86 FBS games (7.0 percent)
  • Net Field Position Value was the difference in 11 of 86 FBS games (12.8 percent)
  • Turnovers, Special Teams and/or Field Position was the difference in 19 of 86 FBS games (22.1 percent)

FEI Week 2 Top 25

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) rewards playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punishes losing to poor teams more harshly than it rewards defeating poor teams. FEI is drive-based and it is specifically engineered to measure the college game.

FEI is the opponent-adjusted value of Game Efficiency (GE), a measurement of the success rate of a team scoring and preventing opponent scoring throughout the non-garbage-time possessions of a game. FEI represents a team's efficiency value over average. Strength of Schedule (SOS) is calculated as the likelihood that an "elite team" (two standard deviations above average) would win every game on the given team's schedule. SOS listed here includes future games scheduled.

Mean Wins (FBS MW) represent the average total games a team with the given FEI rating should expect to win against its complete schedule of FBS opponents. Remaining Mean Wins (FBS RMW) represent the average expected team wins for games scheduled but not yet played.

Offensive Efficiency (OE) is the raw unadjusted efficiency of the given team's offense, a measure of its actual drive success against expected drive success based on field position. Defensive Efficiency (DE) is the raw unadjusted efficiency of the given team's defense, a measure of the actual drive success of its opponents against expected drive success based on field position. Field Position Advantage (FPA) is the share of the value of total starting field position earned by each team against its opponents.

Only games between FBS teams are considered in the FEI calculations. Since limited data is available in the early part of the season, preseason projections are factored into the current ratings. The weight given to projected data will be reduced each week until Week 7, when it will be eliminated entirely. Opponent-adjusted offensive and defensive FEI ratings will also debut in Week 7.

These FEI ratings are a function of results of games played through September 8. The ratings for all FBS teams can be found here.

Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
OE OE
Rk
DE DE
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
1 Alabama 2-0 .292 1 .403 10 .117 29 9.3 7.4 .379 27 -.928 6 .657 2
2 Oklahoma 1-0 .278 2 .187 28 .079 15 8.7 7.8 .092 51 -.848 10 .494 61
3 LSU 2-0 .263 3 .425 7 .106 26 8.8 6.8 .803 14 -.922 7 .580 22
4 Georgia 2-0 .234 11 .216 24 .178 42 8.8 7.1 .091 52 -.616 18 .592 13
5 Ohio State 2-0 .227 6 .248 18 .255 60 10.1 8.2 .403 26 -.402 32 .554 36
6 West Virginia 1-0 .226 7 .500 4 .102 23 8.1 7.2 2.399 1 -.061 63 .556 32
7 USC 2-0 .222 5 .349 12 .204 51 9.7 7.8 .493 21 -.517 23 .611 8
8 Florida 2-0 .222 4 .099 36 .071 7 7.7 6.0 -.055 65 -.170 51 .554 34
9 Notre Dame 2-0 .217 9 .236 20 .073 9 8.6 6.8 .657 16 -.509 25 .528 43
10 Florida State 0-0 .215 10 - - .143 35 7.9 7.9 - - - - - -
11 Michigan State 2-0 .206 24 .278 16 .206 52 9.4 7.7 .218 41 -1.023 3 .503 54
12 Virginia Tech 1-0 .205 8 .034 45 .109 28 7.7 7.0 -.285 80 -.474 27 .545 38
Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
OE OE
Rk
DE DE
Rk
FPA FPA
Rk
13 Clemson 2-0 .196 12 .218 23 .146 36 7.8 6.1 .814 13 -.132 54 .514 49
14 Oregon 2-0 .194 14 .350 11 .264 61 8.8 6.8 .963 10 -.509 26 .487 65
15 South Carolina 2-0 .191 17 .259 17 .073 11 7.1 5.3 .110 50 -.856 9 .506 52
16 Kansas State 1-0 .191 39 .538 3 .068 5 7.1 6.3 1.142 8 -.973 4 .586 17
17 Tennessee 1-0 .190 23 .143 30 .074 12 7.2 6.6 .172 46 -.300 43 .567 28
18 Cincinnati 1-0 .189 44 .421 8 .348 78 7.9 7.0 1.124 9 -.966 5 .473 76
19 Texas Tech 1-0 .186 29 .625 2 .091 20 7.3 6.3 1.836 2 -.257 45 .629 4
20 Stanford 2-0 .185 18 .248 19 .183 43 9.0 7.1 .041 55 -.678 13 .623 5
21 Texas 2-0 .172 15 .429 6 .081 16 7.8 5.8 .944 11 -.377 35 .589 16
22 Wisconsin 0-1 .170 26 -.036 64 .248 59 8.1 7.5 -.742 110 -.571 20 .557 31
23 TCU 0-0 .168 22 - - .090 19 7.4 7.4 - - - - - -
24 South Florida 1-0 .165 27 .010 53 .213 54 7.7 7.0 1.163 6 .162 78 .396 104
25 Georgia Tech 0-1 .156 16 -.034 63 .120 31 7.0 6.7 -.429 93 -.330 40 .455 87

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 12 Sep 2012

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