Thursday, December 11, 2008

Florida – Oklahoma: The Offenses

First in a series of statistical comparisons between the BCS Title game opponents

Oklahoma is an unstoppable offense, while Florida presents a stout defense, or so is the conventional wisdom forming about the BCS title game this year.

Just how true is that wisdom?

While I have, as of yet, been unable to statistically solve the “sub-plot” of whether Big 12 offenses are strong because Big 12 defenses are weak, or correspondingly SEC defenses are strong because SEC offenses are weak, we can at least compare the salient statistics of the teams. In doing our comparisons for this series I intend to look beyond the obvious statistics toward those elements which I think could constitute the difference.

The Offenses

Everyone “knows” Oklahoma has the number one offense in the NCAA, or at least anyone who has spent 2 minutes watching ESPN. This slice of conventional wisdom is based on the NCAA FBS Scoring Offenses which does indeed rank the Sooner’s first. What is often overlooked is the same statistic ranks the Gators third.

NCAA Scoring Offense Ranks

1. Oklahoma – 54 ppg
3. Florida – 45.15 ppg

As has been well reported Oklahoma – at 702 total points this season – is having one of the best scoring seasons in NCAA history. Not to mention that, although the difference between NCAA ranks here is slim – 1st to 3rd – the difference in points is huge at 8.85 ppg. In fact the same nearly 9 points per game is the difference between Florida in 3rd and Nebraska in 18th at 36 ppg.

There is no doubt Oklahoma is a scoring machine (though Florida is no slouch).

Just how effective an offense a team possesses is better indicated by our next statistic, Total Offense.

NCAA Total Offense Ranks

3. Oklahoma – 562.08 ypg
18. Florida – 442.38 ypg

With a nearly 120 more yards per game average Oklahoma appears the much more effective offense. However a deeper look at the statistics here tells a more favorable story for the Gators. Oklahoma ran an NCAA high 1036 plays this season, while Florida had a total of 800 offensive plays in 2008.

An extra 236 plays between two teams which both played 13 games is a startling number, and it equals an extra 18 offensive plays per game. The number is made even more startling by the fact that the two teams possessed the ball for an almost identical average amount of time this year, 29:46 for Oklahoma and 29:44 for Florida (72nd and 73rd in the NCAA). However it can be explained by the mixture of passing to rushing offensive utilization, which we will cover later.

Taking into account the number of plays, Florida’s is the slightly more effective offense –

Florida average yards per play – 7.19
Oklahoma average yards per play – 7.05

If the NCAA was to rank teams by yards per play, Florida would be 3rd in the nation, while Oklahoma would be 7th.

In other words, when it comes to yards gained per play run, these teams are nearly identical.

NCAA Rushing Offense Ranks

11. Florida – 229.77 ypg
19. Oklahoma – 205.54 ypg

Once again this doesn’t tell the whole story. Florida ran the ball 501 times this year to Oklahoma’s 560, giving us –

Florida average yards per rush – 5.96
Oklahoma average yards per rush – 4.77

By this metric Florida is much better than Oklahoma, and would rank 3rd nationally if the NCAA kept such a statistic, while Oklahoma would be 27th. Florida in fact has better yards per carry than such “running” powerhouses as Navy (5.37), West Virginia (5.49) and Georgia Tech (5.65).

NCAA Passing Offense Ranks

3. Oklahoma – 356.5 ypg
61. Florida – 212.6 ypg

The biggest disparity – on its face – is the extra 143.9 ypg the Sooners get from passing over Florida. Yet, again, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Oklahoma average yards per pass attempted – 9.74
Florida average yards per pass attempted – 9.24

Once again, were this an NCAA stat, Oklahoma would rank 3rd while Florida would rank 5th, much, much closer than the Passing Offense ranks indicate.

This set of statistics also demonstrate how Oklahoma had so many more total plays this season than Florida with a virtually identical time of possession – Oklahoma threw the ball a lot more, resulting in more clock stoppage.

Oklahoma Pass Attempts – 476 (324 complete, or 68.07%)
Florida Pass Attempts – 299 (193 complete, or 64.55%)

NCAA Passing Efficiency Ranks

1. Oklahoma – 180.92
5. Florida – 174.36

Here the teams are very close, at the top of the NCAA, as one would expect from a deeper examination of the passing stats as performed above.

Overall Offensive Efficiency – Points per Play

A statistic I devised to demonstrate overall offensive efficiency is Points per Play which measures exactly as advertised – how many points a team scores for each play run. In this statistic Florida is number one in the nation, and Oklahoma 2nd. Since the NCAA doesn’t keep this stat, here are your top 10 (with ppp)-

1 Florida 0.73
2 Oklahoma 0.68
3 Missouri 0.62
4 Tulsa 0.61
5 Oklahoma St. 0.61
6 Texas 0.61
7 Texas Tech 0.59
8 Penn St. 0.58
9 Boise St. 0.57
10 Oregon 0.57

Conclusion – Florida – Oklahoma Offenses

While Oklahoma averages many more points per game, Florida averages about the same in yards per play and yards per pass attempt, while being significantly better in yards per rush. Florida is also slightly better in Points per Play.

These offenses are evenly matched despite the media narrative.

Next – The Defenses


GridWizard said...

What you fail to address is WHY OU runs more plays than Florida. The answer is because they can. They run a hurry up style of offense that means their average time per possession and average time per score is much lower that tht of Florida.

Florida's offensive plan then should be to run the kind of time chewing offense they ran against Bama. Keep OU off the field.

Anonymous said...

typo in third paragraph. SEC defenses...SEC defenses.

Troy said...

To what degree is the Points Per Play skewed by field position? The Gators seem to have had a lot of possessions begin on the opposing team's side of the 50 this year. Did Oklahoma generally have much more room to cover, and maybe that's why it takes them more plays to score? It would be interesting to know what kind of impact that has on the PPP number.

Clark said...

While the yards per play statistics are interesting, you can't totally dismiss the fact that OU moves the ball more and scores more in the same amount of time. Just going off of per play stats, a team that throws a ten yard pass, has a ten yard run and manages to take 10 minutes off the clock doing it (hyperbole, obviously they couldn't take that much time) would come out ahead. However, that made up team wouldn't be a good offensive team. They'd never score, which is the real purpose of offense.

The stat that would be most interesting to see would be points per possession. What do you do when you get the ball?

DolFan 316 said...

This confirms that the Sooners score 60 points a game because they deliberately run up the score. I want karma to bite them in the rear SO bad! I wouldn't normally endorse this behavior, but I *really* want Meyer to punch one in with the gators up by 30 or more in the last 2 minutes just to spite Stoops.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Ugh. Like the Gators don't run up the score? Please. Everyone that can do it does it. Clark, I have a feeling that OU's quick strike prowess has more to do with the dearth of defense in their conference than anything else. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That seems like a hell of a lot of work. Good Work! It was incredible to see how many more plays Oklahoma runs than Florida. I would have to agree with Henry above that the reason Oklahoma gets more plays is not only because they pass the ball, in effect stopping the clock, but also their defense allows big and quick scoring drives. If this is the case, it bodes well for the Gators who by the looks of these standardized statistics are about equally efficient.

Anonymous said...

As Anon said earlier: "or correspondingly SEC defenses are strong because SEC defenses are weak" - the second 'defenses' should be 'offenses'.

Also, 28 extra plays per game? Isn't 236/13=18.15?

Great analysis otherwise though.


Mergz said...

Corrections have been made - everyone who commented on my incorrect use of "defense" when I meant "offense" was right, and indeed the math for extra plays per game should have been 18 (it was a typo).

I also agree that Oklahoma's extra plays per game are largely a result of their hurry up style.

Anonymous said...

One difference I have noticed is that Sam Bradford is typically still in the game in the fourth quarter and still slinging the ball around. Although I think Tim Tebow is often left in the game one series too long , we have often had our second and third string guys in there during blow-outs, usually running alot more than throwing. It can sure affect the stats.

Adam Silverstein said...

Troy and Anonymous both make great points.

1) Florida often started in enemy territory or in the red zone due to turnovers caused by our defense and special teams. This gave us less ground to cover and the need to run less plays.

2) Tebow often came out of games in the middle third or beginning of the fourth. As did Percy and a few of our other players. I didn't watch tons of OU games, but I am pretty sure Bradford was in most of them for the duration.

3) How about a comparison of the red zone offenses? I would bet UF is significantly better in that regard, both in time of possession and efficiency.

Anonymous said...

"What you fail to address is WHY OU runs more plays than Florida. The answer is because they can."

More like "they HAVE to."

During their "amazing" streak offensive streak, OU has given up a minimum of 21 points in its last 8 games (an AVERAGE of almost 32 PER GAME).

By comparison...
Florida has only given up 21 twice all year...and haven't yielded OU's average in ANY game. Combine THAT with scoring 45 per game, and you can EASILY see why Florida's O hasn't put up the "numbers" that OU has.

Because they DON'T have to.


RHOmea said...

"Florida has only given up 21 twice all year...and haven't yielded OU's average [31.x] in ANY game. "

Umm does Ole Miss ring a bell?

Anonymous said...

31 < 31.1

Call it a misleading statistic

Aaron said...

Good work, Mergz. Knew I could count on you.

Aaron said...

Good work, Mergz. Knew I could count on you.

miguel said...

Great work, Mergz. I'd be curious to know how the offensive numbers you drummed up would change if you limited it to the toughest 4 or 5 teams that each team played.

Saw somewhere that against TCU & Texas, the Sooners only rushed for 100 yards or so combined.

SRQDawgs15 said...

Adam, OU is the best in the country in Red Zone offense. I doubt UF is "better" in that category. The numbers are:
OU 76-80 (95%) 69TDs (48 Rushing/28 Passing), 7-9 FGs, 1INT, 1TOD
UF 53-58 (91.4%) 44TDs (30 Rushing/14 Passing), 9-9FGs, 2 Fumbles, 2TOD, 1 Other

I don't know where to find the Red Zone Time of Possession, but if you have to distort all these stats so much to find some way UF is better I think it shows you all are just grasping at straws here. Also, the disparity in number of plays is what it is. UF isn't going to have more plays all of the sudden and OU isn't going to have much less. This should be a great game, but please spare us the whole "UF's offense gets no respect" BS. And can you really complain someone else running up the score when your team is Florida? You people are seriously delusional if you truly believe either of these things.