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Baylor vs. K-State: Advanced Stats Preview

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What F/+, FEI and S&P+ have to say about this Saturday's matchup with the Kansas State Wildcats

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday's matchup is the final regular season game for the Baylor Bears, so we're throwing everything out there. Since the Bears are squaring off against K-State, you know the Bears will have their hands full with an excellent team. But what do the advanced stats have to say about this matchup? Let's take a look, shall we?

Before We Begin...

The past couple of weeks in the these posts we've made mention of the fact that Football Outsiders started attempting to track stats for offensive and defensive lines, and that we would be taking a closer look at those stats to see about incorporating them into these posts. When doing the First Look post this week I was intrigued by the absolute stats I was seeing for K-State and decided to take a closer look at their offensive line to see if that gave us any indication of what was going on. I'll discuss the advanced stats for each side of the ball below, but that requires an introduction into some new stats. As usual, these definitions come from footballoutsiders.com.

Run-blocking Stats

Adjusted Line Yards: Originally developed for the NFL side, it's one of two opponent-adjusted stats in the O-Line/D-Line analysis. For a full explanation of the statistic you can read it here, but the essence is that the stat examines each individual rushing play, attempting to separate the ability of the offensive line from the running back's ability. The stat is presented on a scale where a score of 100 is average; anything above 100 is above average, and less than 100 is below average.

Standard Downs Line Yards per Carry: Raw, per-carry average of line yards gained per rushing attempt on Standard Downs (Standard Downs = 1st down, 2nd & ≤ 7, 3rd & ≤ 4, 4th & ≤ 4).
Passing Downs Line Yards per Carry: Same thing as above, just for Passing Downs.
Opportunity Rate: The percentage of carries (when five yards are available) that gain at least five yards, i.e. the percentage of carries in which the line does its job, so to speak.
Power Success Rate: The percentage of runs, 3rd or 4th & ≤ 2 yards to go, that achieved a first down or a touchdown.
Stuff Rate: The percentage of carries by running backs that are stopped at or before the line of scrimmage.
Front 7 Havoc Rate*: Combines the total tackles for loss, fumbles caused, and passes broken up by the defensive front (D-line and linebackers) and divides by total plays.

*Havoc rate comes from the Defensive S&P+ page, and doesn't have an offensive component, so there won't be a comparison on the stat below. Bill C. tracks havoc rate for both Front 7 and Secondary, combining them to give you a look at the total havoc rate for the defense. If you want more info on Havoc Rate, check out his explanation of the stat.

Pass-Blocking Stats

Adjusted Sack Rate: Opponent-adjusted version of a team's sack rate: sacks divided by (sacks plus passes), presented again on a scale where 100 is average, greater than 100 is above average and lower is below average.
Standard Downs Sack Rate: Unadjusted Sack Rate for standard down passing attempts.
Pass Downs Sack Rate: Unadjusted Sack Rate for passing down attempts.

Overall

Category

Baylor(10-1)

KSU(9-2)

EDGE

Overall F/+ Rk 11 (25.7%)
18 (20.0%)
EVEN
Overall FEI Rk 14 (.207)
25 (.157)
Baylor
Overall S&P+ Rk 8 (244.0)
24 (222.5)
Baylor
Field Position Advantage 6 (.558)
11 (.547)
EVEN

From the overall stats, these are two very evenly matched teams. That lines up with records and everything else about these two teams that we've seen thus far. While Baylor is slightly higher ranked in each of these stats, functionally, they're statistically even for this game. On a neutral field or away, K-State is every bit as good as Baylor.

A Look at the Individual Units in this Game

  1. Kansas State Special Teams (4 overall in F/+)
  2. Baylor Defense (13 overall in F/+)
  3. Baylor Offense (14 overall in F/+)
  4. Kansas State Offense (24 overall in F/+)
  5. Baylor Special Teams (33 overall in F/+)
  6. Kansas State Defense (38 overall in F/+)

When Baylor Has the Ball...

Category

Baylor Off

KSU Def

EDGE

Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
17 (.387)
37 (-.241)
Baylor
Raw OE/DE 10 (.471)
58 (-.090)
BAYLOR
First Down Rate 4 (.794)
36 (.624)
Baylor
Available Yards Rate 5 (.592)
47 (.424)
BAYLOR
Explosive Drives 11 (.206)
13 (.079)
EVEN
Methodical Drives 12 (.191)
99 (.168)
BAYLOR
Value Drives 11 (.523)
47 (.347)
Baylor
Offensive/Defensive S&P+
12 (120.3)
30 (111.6)
Baylor
Play Rating
21 (121.9)
28 (114.4)
EVEN
Std. Downs S&P Rk 22 (121.0)
28 (112.4)
EVEN
Pass. Downs S&P Rk 33 (120.3)
27 (120.1)
EVEN
Rushing S&P+ Rk 26 (117.6)
19 (122.1)
EVEN
Passing S&P+ Rk 14 (127.8)
37 (110.3)
Baylor
Drive Rating
11 (127.0)
24 (120.7)
Baylor

FEI and S&P+ disagree on the overall level of this matchup? Inconceivable! This has become par for the course for the Bears offense, where FEI continues to highly value Baylor's offensive prowess, while S&P+... slightly less. Both see the unit as a Top 25 unit overall, but FEI, as always, likes us a little bit more. As the managing editor of BOTC indicated yesterday in the First Look post, Snyder concerns himself with big-play prevention at the expense of shorter-yardage gains. If the Snydercats take that approach and don't attempt to play press coverage, Baylor may be content to throw short yardage to the WRs for 5-7 yards per play and march down the field methodically. After all, the Bears are better this season at moving the ball methodically rather than explosively. Insofar as the stats are concerned, that appears Baylor's strongest advantage over the K-State defense. S&P+ appears to agree, and the Bears' run game may struggle to get moving against front 7 of K-State. Speaking of which, let's look at that now, shall we?

Baylor's O-Line vs. K-State's D-Line

Category

Baylor(10-1)

KSU(9-2)

EDGE

Adj. Line Yds 31 (112.1)
32 (109.1)
EVEN
Std. Down Line Yds 32 (3.21)
69 (2.94)
Baylor
Pass Down Line Yds 3 (4.33)
54 (3.15)
BAYLOR
Opp. Rate 25 (0.43)
30 (0.351)
EVEN
Power Success Rate 18 (0.754)
11 (0.556)
EVEN
Stuff Rate 6 (0.133)
35 (0.216)
Baylor
Adj. Sack Rate 58 (106.8)
62 (103.4)
EVEN
Std. Downs Sack Rate 84 (0.057)
64 (0.046)
K-State
Pass Downs Sack Rate 20 (0.044)
90 (0.061)
BAYLOR
Front 7 Havoc --
89 (8.3%)
--

Some really interesting stuff going on here. Opponent-adjusted, Baylor's offensive line vs. K-State's defensive line is absolutely even. This lines up with what S&P+ has to say about our rushing attack vs. their defense. From an unadjusted perspective, Baylor's offensive line holds a slight edge on standard downs, but are far more successful on passing downs than K-State's defense is. An interesting matchup will be the "power game," meaning 3rd and 4th downs with 2 yards to go or less. Both Baylor and Kansas State are very good in this situation. That could be a very crucial point to watch during the game on Saturday night. Which one will prevail?

These numbers suggest to me that Baylor may be best served focusing on picking apart K-State's secondary early on in the game in order to help set up the run. If Snyder is focused on preventing the big play, then Baylor's best chance of success is to operate like it did in the first drive of the second half of the Oklahoma game: 5-7 yard passes and take whatever the secondary gives them.

When K-State Has the Ball...

Category

Baylor Def

KSU Off

EDGE

Offensive/Defensive FEI Rk
21 (-.385)
23 (.340)
EVEN
Raw OE/DE* 27 (-.269)
17 (.428)
Kansas State
First Down Rate 8 (.543)
26 (.724)
Baylor
Available Yards Rate 15 (.367)
13 (.555)
EVEN
Explosive Drives 97 (.173)
32 (.173)
KANSAS STATE
Methodical Drives 10 (.079)
72 (.133)
BAYLOR
Value Drives 25 (.306)
10 (.523)
Kansas State
Offensive/Defensive S&P+
7 (123.7)
31 (110.9)
Baylor
Play Rating
25 (115.6)
37 (114.0)
Baylor
Std. Downs S&P Rk 32 (111.1)
43 (110.0)
Baylor
Pass. Downs S&P Rk 23 (122.8)
25 (126.2)
EVEN
Rushing S&P+ Rk 18 (122.8)
51 (106.4)
Baylor
Passing S&P+ Rk 40 (109.9)
28 (120.6)
Kansas State
Drive Rating*
3 (147.8)
30 (115.0)
Baylor

I'm going to come right out and say it: OH CRAP. The dreaded Explosive Drive for our defense rears its ugly head. We got torched by Texas Tech and even Oklahoma State in this regard. While I would argue (and have done so) that Tech's success was due to number of options and isolating Terrell Burt in coverage, which I'm not 100% sure will happen that often against Kansas State. That being said, Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton are forces to be reckoned with, and Xavien Howard and Ryan Reid will have their hands full. From a rushing perspective, K-State has not been very successful whatsoever, while Baylor's run defense has only become more dominant as the weeks have gone by. If K-State tries the ball-control method of gameplay against Baylor in this game, they will fail.

The interesting thing about this is that it doesn't seem like it fits the recent Snyder blueprint for winning by controlling the ball and playing keep-away. It will be interesting to see how he plays this game, especially in front of what is almost certainly going to be a very hostile crowd. But hey, let's look at KSU's O-line vs. our D-Line!

K-State's O-Line vs. Baylor's D-Line

Category

KSU(9-2)

Baylor(10-1)

EDGE

Adj. Line Yds 113 (85.4)
6 (129.4)
BAYLOR
Std. Down Line Yds 113 (2.54)
12 (2.48)
BAYLOR
Pass Down Line Yds 93 (2.96)
3 (2.15)
BAYLOR
Opp. Rate 71 (0.39)
15 (0.33)
BAYLOR
Power Success Rate 113 (0.583)
3 (0.5)
BAYLOR
Stuff Rate 106 (0.221)
11 (0.243)
BAYLOR
Adj. Sack Rate 84 (91.3)
14 (133.7)
BAYLOR
Std. Downs Sack Rate 68 (0.047)
42 (0.056)
Baylor
Pass Downs Sack Rate 65 (0.071)
39 (0.087)
Baylor
Front 7 Havoc --
19 (11.8%)
--

Oh. Oh wow. We all knew Baylor's defensive line was good. But this good, and K-State's line THAT bad? I did not expect that. If Snyder attempts the keep-away strategy by plodding along on the ground, the defensive line may actually swallow a running back whole. No wonder K-State doesn't have an individual rusher with 500 yards. Their offensive line is objectively terrible in run protection. They're marginally better in pass protection, and that may be their saving grace. Baylor's pass rush on the defensive line is not quite as dominant as they are against the run. The front 7 does enjoy a very nice havoc rate, though, disrupting play in the backfield, forcing fumbles and breaking up the passes. As an aside, one thing that struck myself and others on Saturday: why hasn't Shawn Oakman knocked down more passes at the line this season? The man has the wingspan of a Pelagornis sandersi. But I digress.

The blueprint on this side of the ball seems clear to me: get in the backfield and disrupt Waters' rhythm while keeping containment and not allowing him to use his legs. He's a decent runner, and could burn us if our defense gets overzealous and fail to contain him. If they can keep him scrambling and not allow him to lock onto Sexton or Lockett, the defense should have a pretty good day.

Special Teams

Category

Baylor(10-1)

KSU(9-2)

EDGE

F/+ Special Teams
33 (1.6%)
4 (4.7%)
Kansas State
Special Teams Efficiency
33 (.941)
4 (2.703)
Kansas State
Field Goal Efficiency
45 (.102)
65 (.004)
Baylor
Punt returns vs. punt efficiency
78 (-.127)
90 (-.006)
Baylor
Kickoff returns vs. kickoff efficiency
19 (-.043)
30 (-.213)
Baylor
Punting vs. punt return efficiency
18 (-.246)
2 (.367)
Kansas State
Kickoff vs. Kickoff return efficiency
89 (-.092)
12 (-.011)
KANSAS STATE
Opponent Field Goal Efficiency
22 (-.325)
27 (-.233)
EVEN

I don't have a whole lot to say here, but we usually bring these to you, so here they are yet again. Baylor's gotten better at preventing crazy returns on kickoffs, mostly by ceding the yardage through the pooch kick. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Bottom Line

Make no mistake: Kansas State is very good. If the Bears come out limp and give Kansas State any room to breathe, this could be a very tense matchup for Baylor. But with College GameDay on campus Saturday morning and a fanbase that is almost certain to be extremely angry and ready for blood, I'd be surprised if the team isn't ready for this one. If Petty can exploit soft coverage the way he did against Oklahoma, the Bears will move the football with relative ease. But if they hold out for the long ball, it may be a long evening in Waco. Personally, I'll be surprised if they come out and are anything other than angry and hungry.