Wednesday, July 30, 2008

APP Breakdown: SEC

Well, I've gone and wasted my summer by not writing here at the CFB Authority, and now, I'm down to 4 weeks until kickoff. I have all the APP Breakdowns to get to the public, I have my predictions out and about, and I have some other features before August 28th, too. Ouch. Maybe I'll cowboy up and do all of it.

For those of you who may not have followed the APP last year when I debuted it, here is a link that explains what APP is (and it's branches) and the 2006 SEC APP. I don't feel like explaining it in depth again, but basically, it takes the conference games of a team, looks at how they performed against those specific team in relation to their averages. It's better than straight statistics because it takes schedule strength into account.

Let's get onto the APP Breakdown for the best conference in the country, the Southeastern Conference.

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

1. Florida 119.9
2. Arkansas 117.7
3. Kentucky 110.5
4. LSU 110.4
5. Tennessee 101.5
6. South Carolina 100.6
7. Georgia 98.5
8. Ole Miss 98.4
9. Alabama 97.9
10. Auburn 88.1
11. Vanderbilt 80.5
12. Miss State 77.3

I think the most interesting note here is that Georgia ranked 7th in the conference offensively, and was a tad below average. Bulldog fans are incredibly hyped about their season, and rightfully so. However, they need to improve their overall offensive efficiency to win the conference. Also, notice Ole Miss at 8th. I find that surprising, as their offense didn't score a lot. With the additions of Enrique Davis, Jevan Snead, and Houston Nutt, I think they'll punch it in the endzone far more often.

Best Rush Offense (Best ROAPP):

BREAKING NEWS COMING OFF THE WIRE AS WE SPEAK ..... Arkansas could run the ball really, really well! This isn't surprising, groundbreaking, or even interesting. We all knew this before the 2007 season even kicked off. I was surprised, however, that LSU was second in the conference, and it wasn't that close. Florida was 3rd, Auburn 4th, and Georgia 5th. For Arkansas, imagine how their statistics will change without McFadden and Jones.

Worst Rush Offense (Worst ROAPP):

The Gamecocks had a wretched 64 ROAPP, which means they performed 36% below average! I would say the two big reasons were playcalling and the offensive line. Cory Boyd was actually a very solid back in the conference, but you know the Ol' Ball Coach: he becomes the Ol' Throw Coach. Miss State was 11th and Tennessee was actually 10th. I'm very worried about the Gamecock offense, because Blake Mitchell was a decent QB last year, and with NO quarterback and losing a good RB, what can they do?

Best Pass Offense (Best POAPP):

The Cats have always been known to toss the pigskin around, and with a great collegiate QB in Andre Woodson and a nice package of receivers, why not keep it up? They scored a 133.2, so they were in the "great" category. They do lose Woodson and Burton, as well as a receiving RB in Rafael Little. South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee were 2nd-4th, respectively.

Worst Pass Offense (Worst POAPP):

The only player who regressed more over his career than Brandon Cox was Georgia Tech legend Reggie Ball. Cox was horrific his last season at the Barn, so you can see why Ears went out to find a new coordinator and a new system. Auburn scored a 72.2, so they were bad, but not the worst ever. Vanderbilt was 11th, and Arkansas was 10th. Mississippi State was also bad here, too.

Now, the other part of the equation is the SEC's Total Defense Adjusted Performance Percentage (TDAPP):

1. Auburn 129.1
2. LSU 112.2
3. Georgia 110.3
4. Miss State 104.3
5. Vanderbilt 102.8
6. Alabama 100.5
7. Florida 97.2
8. South Carolina 96.5
9. Kentucky 91.5
10. Arkansas 90.8
11. Tennessee 90.1
12. Ole Miss 88.8

Before I highlight any team scores, I want to point out that the SEC's disparity in defense from top to bottom is much smaller is than the offensive disparity. There is a 42.4 point difference between the #2 offense and the #12 offense. However, defensively, there is only a 23.3 point difference from the #2 defense to the bottom. Auburn was the only great defense in the conference last year, which is a big reason people are picking them to win the West.

Best Rush Defense (Best RDAPP):

I think if people were going to bet on this beforehand, they would have chosen LSU. However, the Bayou Bengals didn't finish first, nor second, nor third. Auburn returns 5 of their front 7, but the two losses were Quentin Groves and Pat Sims - four huge shoes to fill. Still, I expect them back at #1 in 2008. Florida finished 2nd (everybody threw on them), Alabama was 3rd, and LSU was 4th. All four scored 120.6 or better.

Worst Rush Defense (Worst RDAPP):

Nice to see you again. When you can't run the ball, nor stop the run, in the SEC, you're bound to be in trouble. South Carolina definitely was last year. Ole Miss and Kentucky were the only other two schools comparable in rush defense issues. Carolina can blame some of the issues on injuries, and they get a boatload of front 7 players back in 2008. If they improve here, watch out.

Best Pass Defense (Best PDAPP):

No weaknesses on the Auburn defense in 2007. They stopped the run cold, and also, with the benefit of two draft picks in Jon Wilhite (missed some games) and Patrick Lee at cornerback. Eric Brock was also steady at safety. Jerraud Powers and Zac Etheridge also played very well. South Carolina, Miss State, and Georgia also scored highly.

Worst Pass Defense (Worst PDAPP):

I think I expected Tennessee to score poorly, but didn't realize they'd be last. Inexperience and an odd affinity for giving 20 yard cushions are the reasons for this. The Vols scored an 80.9, which isn't THAT bad for being the worst pass defense, but it's still far below average. Even jumping up to average would mean wonders for the team. Florida, Arkansas, and Alabama were almost as bad.

Now that we've broken it down, the most important aspect of this is to look at the Complete Adjusted Performance Percentage (CAPP) and the 2007 conference finish in parenthesis:

1. LSU 111.3 (1st)
2t. Auburn 108.6 (4th)
2t. Florida 108.6 (5th)
4. Georgia 104.4 (3rd)
5. Arkansas 104.3 (6th)
6. Kentucky 101 (10th)
7. Alabama 99.2 (8th)
8. South Carolina 98.6 (9th)
9. Tennessee 95.8 (2nd)
10. Ole Miss 93.6 (12th)
11. Vanderbilt 91.7 (11th)
12. Miss State 90.8 (7th)

What you need to understand is that any team more than a spot off either direction either overperformed or underperformed. For example, Tennessee finished 2nd in the SEC, but was 9th (!!!) statistically, hinting at a regression in record in 2008. On the flipside, Auburn finished 4th, but was 2nd statistically, so expect a better record in 2008. Miss State is a team you need to bet on regressing, as well. They were the worst statistical team in the conference, but benefited from a lot of close wins.

Remember, there are other variables to take into consideration: close games, draft losses, returning starters, turnovers, and schedule. But this gives a nice little look into who could really surprise us in terms of 2008 play. I'm worried about my Vols.

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