Sunday, July 1, 2007

APP Breakdown: The ACC

I've been taking awhile to post all of these series (APP and Swing Players), but I don't really disappoint myself. It's like a practice of "hurry up and wait." I can get all of these done quickly, and we'll still be in July. Still weeks and weeks away from the promised land of beer, chips and dips, hard liquor, cheering, booing, drinking, drinking, drinking, sleeping, typing, and all because of this little sport we love.

Anywho, the ACC was ridiculed in 2006 for being an awful, awful conference. I think it was a little better than the pundits thought, but really, the argument was hard, so I stopped. The conference was deep, it seemed. Eight teams made a bowl, but only one to the BCS: an 11 win Wake Forest team that not only had a coach with a rabbit's foot in his pocket, but must have been owed a favor by the Man Upstairs.

I knew as soon as 2006 hit 2007 that in 5 months, I'd be talking about how Wake Forest was charmed and would return to the mean in 2007. I knew I'd talk about how Florida State and Miami were statistically pretty good, but their achievements were poor. I found the ACC APP Breakdown to be the most interesting, but I can't tell you why. Maybe you can figure it out. Oh, and for those just joining me in progress, here is the original explanation for the APP, as well as the breakdowns for the SEC, Pac 10, Big 10, and Big 12.

Here is the ACC's Total Offense Adjusted Performance Percentage (TOAPP):

1. Clemson 125.3
2. Boston College 111.7
3. Georgia Tech 108.4
4. Maryland 103.7
5. NC State 102.3
6. Florida State 98.6
7. Duke 98.3
8. Virginia Tech 94.2
9. Wake Forest 93.8
10. North Carolina 90.8
11. Miami 87.3
12. Virginia 85.4

It seems like the ACC was a defensive-heavy conference. Only 5 teams scored above average, and the entire conference was pretty jumbled in regards to the TOAPP scores. Virginia in last with an 85.4 is pretty decent for a last place score. Florida State, who fired Jeff Bowden and hired Jimbo Fisher, wasn't terrible - barely below average. Could it be that there is more to the problem than the offense? Miami's offense has fallen so far since the early part of this decade. If they can get that offense up to average, they'd be in the driver's seat.

Best Rush Offense (Best ROAPP):

No surprise here. CJ Spiller and James Davis combined for over 2,000 yards last season, all with a mediocre QB in the backfield with them. They return for 2007, along with 3 OL starters, so they could produce just as well (160.9 ROAPP). Florida State and Miami ranked 11th and 10th, respectively, in ROAPP, better than only Duke. This is where their offenses struggled. Georgia Tech finished 2nd, pointing to the assumption that Tashard Choice saved the team from Reggie Ball.

Worst Rush Offense (Worst ROAPP):

What else would you expect? Duke is the worst BCS conference program. I will say that Re'quan Boyette might be a tiny light at the end of the tunnel, as he averaged 4.5 yards per carry. At Clemson, Arkansas, and other successful rushing attacks, 4.5 ypc might be awful, but at Duke, it's a miracle. Boyette only had 87 carries, so he didn't have much to do with the offense. I'd like to see the Blue Devils give him some more carries in 2007, he might help them win A game.

Best Pass Offense (Best POAPP):

Admittedly, I was on the 2007 Matt Ryan for Heisman bandwagon as soon as the 2006 season ended. However, his 3:2 TD:INT ratio is a little concerning, as well as his 6.89 yards per attempt. He had a better 2005 than 2006, so I'm not sure why I'm so high on him. BC's receivers contain 4 guys who can contribute, but none are stars. I think the Eagles will put up better passing numbers than 2006, but I have concern about new starters on the offensive line.

Worst Pass Offense (Worst POAPP):

They scored an 81.7, which isn't all that terrible. It's bad, don't get me wrong, but in other conferences, the last place POAPP scores were out of this world bad. The Cavaliers had to break in redshirt James Sewell over the last 7 games, and while his numbers were "meh," he started to show some progress. He had a good game against a great Miami defense. He should improve in 2007, thus improving the entire offense. Oh, and surprisingly, Wake Forest had the 11th rated pass offense. I knew they were below average, but this low?

On the other side of the ball, you might find some surprises. Here is Total Defense Adjusted Performance Percentage (TDAPP):

1. Virginia Tech 137.8
2. Clemson 122.0
3. Miami 118.1
4. Florida State 113.6
5. Virginia 109.7
6. Georgia Tech 99.9
7. NC State 99.0
8. Boston College 98.4
9. North Carolina 91.2
10. Wake Forest 89.6
11. Maryland 81.6
12. Duke 74.3

While there are only 5 teams above average for RDAPP, take a look at teams 6 through 8, all right there around average. Miami and Florida State are still taking care of business on defense. Look at Clemson at #2. How could a team with a good offense and a good defense finish in the middle of the ACC? We'll talk about that later. Notice Wake at #10 - the idea that the defense won them the ACC Title is hogwash, and this is more evidence that Wake will crash back to earth this upcoming season. The same can be said for Maryland, who will either improve their defense or finish in the lower quarter of the conference.

Best Rush Defense (Best RDAPP):

Miami finished with a 166.4 score, showing they still have the nastiness on defense. Overall, 8 teams (!!!) were above the average mark for rush defense. GT, FSU, and VT all scored very well, and BC, Clemson, UVA, NCST, and Wake all came in above 100. The Canes' defense must replace tackle Kareem Brown and tackle Bryan Pata (sorry). Still, McCray returns, as well as highly talented Hendricks and Bailey. All in all, it could be just as difficult to successfully run the ball in the ACC in 2007 as it was in 2006.

Worst Rush Defense (Worst RDAPP):

Ouch! The only BCS team who did worse in their conference in RDAPP was Purdue in the Big 10. The Terps scored a 68.3, which in the simplest terms, is putrid. They lose their NT and 2 of the top 3 tacklers, who were LBs. They have untested talent in their 2 deep in the defensive line, but I really can't see them improving that much to make a difference. NC State and North Carolina were almost as bad.

Best Pass Defense (Best PDAPP):

No surprise here. The Hokies always seem to produce at least 1 NFL draft pick from their secondary. But here's why VT could make a run to the national title game: even with the loss of ROV Aaron Rouse, VT returns the best secondary in the ACC. Brandon Flowers was 3rd team All American, Victor Harris was a full time starter, and backup CB Roland Minor started 12 games in 2005. DJ Parker is a returning starter at FS. Their new starter at ROV? SO Dorian Porch, who runs a 4.4, squats 500 pounds, and has a 40 inch vertical. Sounds like the secondary will be fine. Clemson, NC State, and Virginia all scored very well, and all 3 return at least 2 starters in the back.

Worst Pass Defense (Worst PDAPP):

Hello again, old friend. We all understand - you don't have the talent or speed to compete with these vertical passing attacks. Maybe JR Jabari Marshall, who was a RB last year, can help with his sub-4.4 speed. I doubt it, though, as the passing games in the ACC will only get better in 2007. We'll root for you, and pray, too.

Now, the big money shot, if you will. It all comes together to see how the teams fared overall. Here is Complete Adjusted Performance Percentage:

1. Clemson 123.7
2. Virginia Tech 116.0
3. Florida State 106.1
4. Boston College 105.1
5. Georgia Tech 104.2
6. Miami 102.7
7. NC State 100.7
8. Virginia 97.6
9. Maryland 92.7
10. Wake Forest 91.7
11. North Carolina 91.0
12. Duke 86.3

This is why the ACC APP Breakdown was so fun. The ACC standings were the most inaccurate in comparison the stats. Wake Forest, who won the conference, was the 10th best statistical team. The top 4 teams in CAPP didn't play for the title. What does it all mean? Well, without taking any other variables into consideration, you could expect Maryland and Wake Forest to really fall hard in 2007. If you're a betting person, please fade those two clubs over the first 3 or 4 weekends. Miami and Florida State should rebound to their normal areas. NC State could see a rise. But what about Clemson? #1 statistically, middle of the pack finish. Normally I would predict a top finish for them, but I feel that this is more than variance for them. I think Tommy Bowden is an awful coach. Thus, no change. Sometimes a team can play well and lose close games, but Clemson didn't. They were -1 in CGVR for the regular season (close games), and that was the game against South Carolina. I think Bowden is 100% to blame.

I feel like if I have any ACC readers, they should give some feedback.

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