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22 Nov 2017

FEI Week 12 Ratings

by Brian Fremeau

Last weekend's college football action was largely unremarkable. Several top teams ran away from overmatched opponents with blowout victories, and only a few modest upsets were tallied. With only a little bit of jostling in the rankings, the top 15 teams last week are the same top 15 teams again in this week's FEI ratings. The upcoming weekend will feature a bunch of key games for conference championship races and the College Football Playoff picture, and I anticipate that more dramatic shifts in the ratings may result.

When the game results in a given week don't provide much intrigue, I'm inclined to take such opportunities to take a closer look at statistical minutiae instead. One such area of interest is field goal kicking. Generally speaking, college football only pays close attention to kickers in big moments -- game-winning opportunities, or kickers who make or miss frequently over the course of a game.

On Monday, the Lou Groza Award finalists were announced, with kickers from Auburn (Daniel Carlson), Utah State (Dominik Eberle), and Utah (Matt Gay) in the running for "college football's top kicking award." In basic placekicking measures, all three finalists have been good this year, and it's clear from the Groza Award press release that the committee values kickers who have made long field goals. Carlson has made 19 kicks out of 25 attempts, tied for the 57th-best success rate nationally, but he has had four successful kicks of more than 50 yards, tied for second-most nationally. Eberle is 16-for-18 on the year, and his accolades include "a 52-yarder that is the longest field goal made by an FBS kicker who has made at least 87 percent of his attempts." Gay is 25-for-29 on the year, including five field goals of more than 50 yards.

On one hand, I'm in support of the award selection committee's process of valuing long field goals above success rate alone. Nothing is guaranteed, but field goal attempts from inside the 15-yard line are common in college football, and kickers rarely miss from short distances. In all FBS vs. FBS games, field goal attempts on drives that ended at the 15-yard line or closer to the end zone have been 87 percent successful this season. In my evaluation of the kicking game, most of the value earned on such field goals was tallied by the offense putting the team in close field goal range.

The opposite is true for long field goals, of course. In all FBS vs. FBS games this season, teams have only been successful on 128 out of 266 attempts on drives that end at or outside the 30-yard line. In those cases, most of the value earned on a successful attempt is earned by the kicking team -- the offense may have earned a fraction of value by moving (barely) into field goal range, but the field goal unit earns the lion's share of the three points on the scoreboard.

With that lens, we can evaluate every field goal attempt as a calculation of the value opportunity gained or lost by the kicking team. In terms of total value gained, the three finalists for the Groza Award have all been good, but not tops in the nation. Auburn's Carlson has 15 successful attempts against FBS opponents in non-garbage time this year, and has averaged 0.52 net points gained per attempt, the 12th-best rate nationally. Utah State's Eberle ranks 17th nationally with a 0.44 net points gained per attempt average. Utah's Gay ranks 15th nationally with a 0.46 net points gained average.

Which kickers may have been overlooked? How about San Jose State's Bryce Crawford? He's 11-for-13 in FBS games this year (12-for-14 overall) and his only misses have come from 51 and 52 yards out. He has made three kicks of more than 50 yards and has an average field goal net value gained of 0.78 points per kick, best in the nation. Florida Atlantic's Greg Joseph ranks second nationally in net points per attempt (0.72). Or how about Florida's Eddy Pineiro, who holds the nation's best overall success rate (16-for-17; 15-for-16 in FBS games) and has the nation's third-best efficiency rate (0.67 net points per attempt) on field goals?

Very few of the numbers I track can be singularly affixed to a player, and in fact, field goal success rates themselves are at least in part the result of all 11 special teamers doing their job to make a kick and not just the kicker. But of all the college football individual awards, field goal success rate seems to be the one most easily evaluated based on data alone. The Palm Beach County Sports Commission can certainly grant the Groza Award to whoever it chooses for its honor. If I were a coach, though, I'd rather have the most efficient kicker on my roster and the one that provides the most net value, rather than whoever is named the award winner this year.

FEI 2017 Week 12 Ratings

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency. Approximately 20,000 possessions are contested anually in FBS vs. FBS games. First-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores are filtered out. Game efficiency (GE) is a measure of net success on non-garbage possessions, and FEI opponent adjustments are calculated with special emphasis placed on quality performances against good teams, win or lose. Strength of schedule (SOS) ratings represent the average number of losses an elite team (two standard deviations better than average) would have against the team's schedule to date.

Offensive FEI (OFEI) is value generated per drive adjusted for starting field position and opponent defenses faced. Defensive FEI (DFEI) is value generated per opponent drive adjusted for starting field position and opponent offenses faced. Special Teams Efficiency (STE) is the average value generated per possession by a team's non-offensive and non-defensive units.

Ratings for all 130 teams can be found here.

Rk Team Rec FEI GE Rk SOS Rk OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk
1 Clemson 9-1 .278 .216 9 1.24 34 2.77 26 1.01 5 .00 57
2 Auburn 8-2 .271 .266 6 1.47 19 2.95 14 .71 1 .06 24
3 Georgia 9-1 .262 .275 5 1.34 26 3.49 4 .88 2 -.01 65
4 Oklahoma 10-1 .256 .210 11 1.50 15 4.07 1 2.28 69 -.03 84
5 Alabama 10-0 .250 .345 1 .54 93 3.42 5 .96 4 .08 16
6 Miami 9-0 .242 .152 15 .67 82 2.86 21 1.05 6 -.03 90
7 Wisconsin 11-0 .231 .244 8 .56 92 2.68 34 .88 3 .05 28
8 Notre Dame 9-2 .225 .197 12 1.57 11 3.29 8 1.42 17 .00 64
9 Penn State 9-2 .217 .256 7 1.05 51 3.28 9 1.42 18 .10 9
10 TCU 8-2 .215 .176 13 1.60 8 2.48 40 1.38 14 .17 2
11 Ohio State 9-2 .205 .308 3 1.09 46 3.72 2 1.35 11 .04 35
12 Central Florida 9-0 .194 .312 2 .33 116 3.12 13 1.28 9 .08 17
13 Washington 8-2 .190 .276 4 .51 98 3.18 11 1.34 10 .04 34
14 Oklahoma State 8-3 .187 .162 14 1.41 21 3.66 3 2.12 56 -.10 124
15 Iowa State 6-4 .173 .094 28 1.50 16 2.59 37 1.73 29 .03 36
Rk Team Rec FEI GE Rk SOS Rk OFEI Rk DFEI Rk STE Rk
16 Iowa 6-5 .157 .059 41 1.65 7 2.41 47 1.41 16 .00 58
17 Mississippi State 7-3 .147 .149 17 1.78 3 2.88 20 1.43 19 .03 38
18 USC 10-2 .144 .089 30 1.22 36 2.95 15 2.04 49 .01 54
19 Stanford 8-3 .139 .117 22 .98 59 2.91 17 2.21 63 .09 12
20 Washington State 8-2 .129 .088 31 .70 81 1.96 87 1.14 7 -.07 112
21 Boise State 9-2 .125 .149 16 .44 105 2.68 33 1.91 40 .09 13
22 North Carolina State 6-4 .121 .031 55 1.52 14 2.70 30 2.05 52 -.07 117
23 Purdue 5-6 .112 .062 40 1.17 40 2.23 57 1.59 23 -.03 86
24 Virginia Tech 7-3 .112 .134 19 1.38 23 2.17 62 1.36 12 .11 6
25 Michigan 8-3 .111 .114 23 1.29 29 2.24 55 1.37 13 .03 41
26 Wake Forest 6-4 .108 .033 53 1.67 6 2.75 28 2.05 51 -.03 83
27 Texas 6-5 .102 .064 39 1.89 2 1.65 113 1.21 8 .00 61
28 Florida Atlantic 7-3 .101 .133 20 .67 83 3.22 10 2.54 92 .11 7
29 Boston College 6-5 .100 .039 51 1.55 12 2.12 72 1.48 20 .06 25
30 LSU 7-3 .098 .069 37 1.35 25 2.68 32 1.82 30 -.02 74

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 22 Nov 2017

1 comment, Last at 24 Nov 2017, 6:09pm by justanothersteve

Comments

1
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 11/24/2017 - 6:09pm

And down goes Miami