2013-2014 Baylor Football Advanced Stats Recap

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

After spending the vast majority of the year in the top 10 by F/+, the Baylor Bears ended the season as the #7 team in the country with an amazing, sometimes painful, journey along the way.

Those of you who have been around the blog for a while now should recall the 2012 Statistical Recap post I did last January tracking the trends from that year in Baylor Football. I started, as much as I could, from the beginning, showing where we had finished 2012 in terms of advanced stats and how we had progressed throughout the year. The point was to demonstrate how strongly the 2012-2013 team (Nick Florence's, if you're confused) finished the season, especially on defense.

Since it was so well-received, I've tried to set things up as best I could this season to repeat that post again. It should give us a look not only at how much we improved from one year to another but also how the team evolved inside of this season, where our peaks and valleys occurred, and how individual games affected the team's rankings.

Below I've manipulated my standard stats preview sheets into something tracking the team from the start of the 2013-2014 season through the end. As you can see, some of the stats we have later in the season aren't available at the beginning. That is by design; an FEI stat based on Baylor's one game against Wofford, for example, doesn't really say much. Inside of a given column, the stats show where the team was in the week before that game. So if you want to see how the OSU loss affected our rankings, you'd look under the column for the TCU game, since that would be the following week. Unlike last year, where things were relatively unorganized, I've broken down the stats again by Overall, Offense, and Defense, just as I do in each game's stat preview. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

One note: I've added back in offensive and defensive F/+ to my sheets in preparation for including that next year. I did not track that specifically through this season.

This post is the culmination of all of the weekly stats previews that I've done. Next year, they'll all go into their own additional hub, like a little farm where all the stats previews can run and play together. And in case you're wondering why I leave the blanks, I'm setting up for next year's recap post.

Overall:

Category/Year

2013 Final (9-4)

Buffalo (1-0)

ULM (2-0)
WVU (3-0)

KSU (4-0)

ISU (5-0)

KU (6-0)

OU (7-0)

TT (8-0)

OSU (9-0)

TCU (9-1)

Texas (10-1)

UCF (11-1)

2014 Final (11-2)

Overall F/+ Rk 33
28
10 5 1 6 5 5 4 3 4 8 7 7
Overall FEI Rk 18 32
28 11 17 12 8 6 5 6 9 10 7 11
Overall S&P+ Rk 32 29
5 3 1 3 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3
Field Position Advantage 49 --- --- --- --- --- 30 31 28 18 20 13 16 14

Want to shock your friends? Tell them that not only did Baylor finish in the top 10 in F/+ this season, we also appeared in that top 10 every week this season since the first game. We were also one spot off of finishing in the top 10 in both FEI and S&P, which swapped their appreciations of us completely. Instead of being loved by FEI and scorned (relatively) by S&P+, we got the opposite. Aside from the differences in what each tries to do (FEI is drive-based, S&P+ is play-based), I think the disparity relates to the appreciation of each for our schedule.

After a very short ranking at #1 following the West Virginia game (where, you'll notice, most of the components of EI had not yet updated), the highest ranking we would achieve again was third heading into Oklahoma State. Baylor occupied an F/+ ranking of 7th or better in 10 of 13 weeks this year, including the final ranking.

Offense:

Category/Year

2013 Final (9-4)

Buffalo (1-0)

ULM (2-0)
WVU (3-0)

KSU (4-0)

ISU (5-0)

KU (6-0)

OU (7-0)

TT (8-0)

OSU (9-0)

TCU (9-1)

Texas (10-1)

UCF (11-1)

2014 Final (11-2)

OFF F/+ Rk 2
---
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 4
Offensive FEI
1
--- --- --- --- 5 10 5 3 9 11 10 12 10
Raw OE
3 ---
--- --- --- --- --- 1 1 1 2 4 6 6
First Down Rate
1 --- --- --- --- 1 1 1 1 1 1 5 6 4
Available Yards Rate
3 --- --- --- --- 1 1 1 1 2 2 4 8 9
Explosive Drives
8 --- --- --- --- 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 3
Methodical Drives
9 --- --- --- --- 101 85 94 80 89 101 85 78 88
Value Drives
3 --- --- --- --- 4 2 2 2 3 5 10 11 14
Offensive S&P+
11 3 11 11 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3
Play Efficiency
11 --- --- --- --- 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 5 6
Std. Downs S&P+
20 --- 1 1 1 5 4 2 2 2 2 2 3 3
Pass. Downs S&P+
5 --- 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 8 12
Rushing S&P+
12 --- 4 2 1 15 15 15 14 12 10 12 15 19
Passing S&P+
12 --- 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2
Drive Efficiency
17 --- --- --- --- 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Difference in Net Points
46 --- --- --- --- --- --- 2 1 2 2 2 3 4

Didn't expect to see us fall of a bit according to FEI, did you? Well, from 2012 to 2013, we apparently did. I'm not worried about it.

Our offensive zenith this season seems pretty clear. Going into the Oklahoma State game, we were not only #1 in offensive S&P+, we were also #3 in FEI. I don't know, but I strongly suspect, we were #1 in the combined F/+ that week, as a result. Of course, we all know what happened in the weeks directly preceding the Oklahoma State game; we lost Spencer Drango against Texas Tech and the trio of Glasco Martin, Tevin Reese, and Lache Seastrunk versus Oklahoma. Though all three of that trio would eventually return for the bowl game, we played in Stillwater that awful Saturday night without them. Drango did not return in the 2014 season.

The impact of these losses combined with the strengthening of the defenses we faced the rest of the way is clear. Where once we looked the juggernaut, we eventually fell off. A big part of that was the relative failure to create first downs. We saw more 3 and outs in our final games than we had any reason to expect going into them, and it took its toll on our offensive efficiency. Losing Drango also hurt us in pass protection, leading to a drop in efficiency on passing downs (not having Reese surely played a role there, as well). Baylor finished the season with the fourth-best offense in the country according to F/+, which is about where I'm comfortable, all things considered. Give Petty another year of practice and tutelage and we should see a lot of the mistakes/inconsistency from late in the year gone.

Defense:

Category/Year

2013 Final (9-4)

Buffalo (1-0)

ULM (2-0)
WVU (3-0)

KSU (4-0)

ISU (5-0)

KU (6-0)

OU (7-0)

TT (8-0)

OSU (9-0)

TCU (9-1)

Texas (10-1)

UCF (11-1)

2014 Final (11-2)

DEF F/+ Rk 83 ---
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 25
Defensive FEI
85 --- --- --- --- 42 24 24 17 15 22 24 19 27
Raw DE
114 ---
--- --- --- --- --- 9 5 14 23 25 17 24
First Down Rate
109 --- --- --- --- 40 16 5 2 9 9 12 9 12
Available Yards Rate
109 --- --- --- --- 56 27 12 10 14 21 23 16 19
Explosive Drives
105 --- --- --- --- 51 25 28 14 25 59 59 43 60
Methodical Drives
120 --- --- --- --- 69 61 43 45 37 20 18 13 8
Value Drives
102 --- --- --- --- 55 24 11 11 16 24 23 20 24
Defensive S&P+
60 30 15 67 38 32 16 11 7 9 12 20 15 21
Play Efficiency
85 --- --- --- --- 40 32 25 9 9 23 32 23 30
Std. Downs S&P+
69 --- 10 10 8 46 44 35 10 10 28 30 27 31
Pass. Downs S&P+
90 --- 51 44 11 66 43 25 19 18 20 35 21 28
Rushing S&P+
71 --- 4 2 2 65 50 60 14 14 15 24 26 38
Passing S&P+
77 --- 104 68 45 52 48 25 11 12 44 47 29 34
Drive Efficiency
45 --- --- --- --- 28 10 9 4 8 9 16 13 17
Difference in Net Points
49 --- --- --- --- --- --- 1 1 2 2 2 2 3

From 83rd at the end of last season to 25th-- our defense has truly come a long, long way.

Contrary to what is probably public opinion, the worst defensive performance of our season (in terms of what it did to our rankings) did not occur in the Fiesta Bowl or Stillwater. No, that honor would go to our game against TCU, where we allowed a very poor TCU offense led by Casey Pachall to throw on us basically at will. That game, combined with the previous week against Oklahoma State, destroyed our rankings against the pass. It took the wonderfulness of Case McCoy to build them back up somewhat before Blake Bortles knocked them down again.

Depending on which measure you favor, our defensive zenith this season either in the game against OU or the following week against Tech. In the aftermath of the latter, our defense was ranked 17th (FEI) and 7th (S&P+). After the former, we were 15th and 9th, respectively. We started falling after the Tech game, no doubt, due to the injury of MLB Bryce Hager, who did not play again this season.

The fact that our defense can rank so highly in drive efficiency and DNP (difference in net points) while being listed so much lower elsewhere is probably a reflection of a bend-but-don't-break style working as well as possible. Buoyed with the confidence that our offense would eventually score points, we were willing to give up yards at times as long as we didn't give up points, focusing for much of the season on stopping big plays. Other teams knew of our offensive prowess, as well, and chose to go for it on fourth downs where they might not otherwise, resulting in situations where other, similar defenses might have given up a field goal and ours did not.

All in all, the fact that we ended the year with a top-25 defense by F/+ (at #25) is nothing short of extraordinary. We've longed for years for a defense that was even average, telling ourselves that we could finally reach our goals once we had one. This year, we did. And we did.

Special Teams:

Category/Year

2013 Final (9-4)

Buffalo (1-0)

ULM (2-0)
WVU (3-0)

KSU (4-0)

ISU (5-0)

KU (6-0)

OU (7-0)

TT (8-0)

OSU (9-0)

TCU (9-1)

Texas (10-1)

UCF (11-1)

2014 Final (11-2)

F/+ Special Teams
102 ---
--- --- --- 119 109 105 98 75 56 80 90 88
Special Teams Efficiency
102 --- --- --- --- --- --- 102 98 75 56 80 90 88
Field Goal Efficiency
79
---
--- --- --- --- --- 45 72 82 80 77 82 93
Punt Return Efficiency
91 --- --- --- --- --- --- 117 114 95 88 93 88 89
Kickoff Return Efficiency
47 --- --- --- --- --- --- 47 35 28 31 39 39 42
Punt Efficiency
81 --- --- --- --- --- --- 124 108 75 45 72 98 91
Kickoff Efficiency
117 --- --- --- --- --- --- 49 75 63 61 62 65 64
Opponent Field Goal Efficiency
40 --- --- --- --- --- --- 22 14 13 14 20 18 27

Somehow, despite all evidence to the contrary, we managed to not only improve from last year in special teams, but improve (for the most part) from game to game, as well. Aaron Jones is obviously graduating, to be replaced by freshman Chris Callahan, who either did or did not grayshirt this past season, and Spencer Roth is returning. Hopefully, we continue to see improvement going into 2014, otherwise I have no idea what I'll do.

There's not much here that should surprise anyone. For a variety of reasons mostly relating to injuries, I'd say Baylor peaked in the blackout of the Sooners on that amazing Thursday night. That represents a stark contrast to last year, when we saw the Bears rally back from an extremely disappointing stretch to reel off 4 wins in a row, including a 49-19 blowout of UCLA in the Holiday Bowl. Of course, had we taken care of business in the Fiesta this year, I wouldn't be saying most of what is in this paragraph. Instead, we'd be celebrating a 12-1 year. All we could really hope for this season was to continue building, and we did that. There's little doubt that the latest iteration of the Baylor Bears football team was the best in our history. Now we focus on getting even better.

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