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Offensive and Defensive Efficiency

Posted by cuorange on September 10, 2009

cuorange_exclusiveThe 2008 season was an offensive nightmare for Clemson with the Tigers finishing 87th in total offense, 99th in rushing offense and a middling 60th in scoring offense.  Things will be much better this year right?  After all, the demon that was Cullen Harper is gone and he has been replaced by Kyle Parker, the new crowd favorite after one game against a Sun Belt Conference team.
To be fair Parker made few mistakes on Saturday, showed the ability to scramble, and played a solid game.  But then again he wasn’t asked to do a lot.  The Tigers never threw a pass on 1st down in their own territory and ran the ball twice as much as they threw it overall.  In short, it’s clearly obvious the potential is there for Parker to be a very good college quarterback.
But let’s not put the cart before the proverbial horse.  By my calculations Parker led 12 drives that accounted for a grand total of 23 points.  Not terrible, but also let’s be realistic – it was Middle Tennessee State.  The game plan was vanilla.  The play calling was vanilla.  That makes it hard to judge after week one, but the point is that it wasn’t as outstanding as some fans believe it was.  Is the potential there?  Absolutely.  But let’s not make too much of an average performance against a team that was 5-7 in the Sun Belt last year.  Time will tell how good MTSU is this year, but for now you have to question the Tigers offensive output.
Below, is the formula I have created to measure offensive efficiency (similar to that used in college basketball).  This is a measuring stick tool and not intended to be precise.  What this shows after week one is that Clemson’s offense average 1.64 points per possession.  Very similar to last years “horrific” offense that averaged 1.59 (and that was for a full year including two SEC teams and a Big 12 team, not to mention a top 10 defenses in Boston College).  You can begin to see that the performance against MTSU is obscured a bit by the 14 points on returns and discussion of Willy Korn’s ineptitude.

Offensive Efficiency

Opponent TD FG Punts Turnovers Downs Half Possessions Points OE
MTSU 2 3 3 2 3 1 14 23 1.64

 Certainly the numbers look a little better if you take out Korn’s 2 possessions (1.92), but still not overwhelming.  For comparisons sake let’s see what Texas averaged against a Sun Belt Conference team on Saturday: 4.21. 
I don’t expect Clemson to approach Texas’ numbers.  Anything around the 2.3-2.5 range (which would have meant 32-35 offensive points and 45-49 total for Clemson) would be good against a Sun Belt team.
On the other hand, maybe 1.64 is good enough if the Clemson defense plays like it did Saturday and the offense avoids turnovers.  The defense gave up 7 points on 15 possessions.  Outstanding.

Defensive Efficiency

Opponent TD FG Punts Turnovers Downs Half Possessions Points DE
MTSU 1 0 7 3 3 1 15 7 0.47

Though the 7 points scored on a turnover count for NCAA statistical purposes, we don’t count them here.  For reference, Clemson’s defensive efficiency number for the 2008 season was 1.46.

I understand the reluctance of some readers to embrace statistics as a useful tool in evaluating performance.  Sometimes statistics don’t show the entire story of what happened in a game.  Willy Korn is 0-1 with an interception because a ball he threw hit his target in the hands, was bobbled and intercepted.  On the other hand, cold, hard, statistics don’t include human biases and selective memory if used correctly.  Personally, I use both statistics and the old “eye ball” test to judge.


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