FanPost

Why So Many Yards and So Few Points?

Some big returns from John Ross would help the Husky scoring output - Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

I was at another site earlier today and saw a discussion of why the Huskies have managed "so few" points despite being among the national leaders in total offense. Predictably, a whole host of reasons were offered up in response. A couple people honed right in on the issue right away, but lots of others seemed to be a little mystified and offering explanations that didn't really fit the data.

As usual, I put on my nerd hat (a Spongebob trucker-style hat with propeller, naturally) to really over-engineer the answer.

Skipping to the conclusion, the answer is field position, as I already highlighted here. Sorry to ruin the suspense. But the fun part is really that the question itself is exactly wrong. The real question should be "Why are the Huskies scoring so many points with all that horrible field position?" The truth is that the Dawgs are outperforming from a scoring standpoint massively. Massively. MASS. IVE. LY.

Allow me to elucidate. Field position has an underlying value. Common sense tells us that if a team gets the ball at the opponent's 20 yard line, it can expect more points on that possession than if it gets the ball at its own 20 yard line. With me so far? Good.

Through the blessed existence of much bigger nerds than me and the magical qualities of this here internet, we can look up what the value of any given field position is. You don't even need to search for it, as I have already Googled that, a recipe for making my own spicy dill pickles, and a number of other things I am not particularly proud of. But...I digress.

Brian Fremeau is a writer for Football Outsiders and a wonderful college football stats nerd. In addition to his writing for FO, he also maintains a great little stats web site called BCF Toys. This is all relevant because Brian has taken the data from every possession in every FBS football game from 2007-2012 and tossed it into a big pot, stirred it, added a dash of what I think is smoked paprika and created a wonderful jambalaya of field position data. Have a look-see. Don't be scared. Numbers don't bite.

On his table you can see an expected points value for a possession for every possible starting field position on the field on which we (the royal we) play American Football. By defintion, this assumes perfectly average offenses and defenses, since it contains the data for everybody in FBS over six years.

The interesting part is what happens when we juxtapose (SAT word!) the expected field position values for the 21 offensive possessions the Huskies have had this year where they were trying to score (eliminating a clock kill drive at the end of each game) with the points that the Huskies have actually scored. Behold:

Expected

Actual

Side

Yd Line

Points

Points

Diff

Own

25

1.7

0

-1.7

Own

16

1.5

7

+5.5

Own

17

1.4

0

-1.4

Own

25

1.7

3

+1.3

Own

25

1.7

0

-1.7

Own

16

1.5

0

-1.5

Own

39

2.1

7

+4.9

Own

36

2.0

7

+5.0

Own

22

1.5

7

+5.5

Own

48

2.6

7

+4.4

Own

6

1.2

0

-1.2

Own

26

1.7

0

-1.7

Own

23

1.6

7

+5.4

Own

6

1.2

0

-1.2

Own

9

1.3

3

+1.7

Own

25

1.7

7

+5.3

Own

15

1.4

7

+5.6

Own

22

1.5

7

+5.5

Own

30

1.8

0

-1.8

Own

13

1.5

0

-1.5

Own

32

2.0

3

+1.0

34.6

72

+37.4

Kind of changes your perspective, doesn't it? Okay, maybe it doesn't change your perception, because you are a uniquely insightful individual and a Hell of a nice person too, I'm sure. But it should radically alter the perception of lazy fans and other assorted nitwits.

The truth is that the Husky offense has been startlingly effective through two games at both racking up yardage and generating points but has been held back by generally lousy field position. You may have noticed that not a single possession has started in opposing territory. This points to causing more turnovers and better play in the special teams phase of the game as key areas for needed improvement.

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