Tony DeMeo

Meaningful Stats in 2014

How meaningful are “Meaningful Stats” formula in today’s high tempo, wide open, high octane racehorse football? Many coaches ask me this question: Are the point totals too low?

Let’s examine the evidence. I use the bowl games as my “lab” because they are usually pretty evenly matched.

The first point I want to make is that averages are meaningless in football. What a team does against a weak opponent has no bearing on what that team will do with a strong opponent. Last season Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks was one of the best scoring machines in NCAA history and were scoring a record number of points averaging over 50 points per game yet could only score 14 against Stanford. This loss cost them a chance at a National Championship. So forget averages.

The first Meaningful Stat – Score a Baseline of 25 Points. This is the Stat that comes under fire as being too low because of the “high powered” offenses in today’s game. In 35 Bowl Games this season (Yes 35 Bowl games) only 35 times did a team score 25 or more points – only 50% of the time. So maybe 25 points is a relevant number after all. If a team scored 25 or more points in a bowl they won 77% of the time. Only 3 teams scored 25+ and lost.

The second Meaningful Stat – Hold Your Opponent to Less than 16 Points. In the 35 Bowl Games, 11 teams held their opponents to 16 or less and they all won. 100%. So 32% of the time the winning team held their opponent to less than 16 points. Again there is a misconception that defenses can’t hold up to the spread offenses but the stats don’t agree. Great defense still wins.

The third Meaningful Stat – Score a Non Offensive Touchdown. In the Bowls there were 17 Non Offensive TDs scored. 14 of the 17 were by the winning team or 83% of the time. Only 3 times did a team that scored a Non- Offensive TD lose. The National Championship Game was really decided by a Non Offensive TD. FSU probably wouldn’t be National Champs without their 100 yard Kick- Off Return.
The last Meaningful Stat – Have a Plus Two Turnover Margin. As a Head Coach my teams never lost a game in which we had a +2 turnover margin. In the bowls, 10 teams had a Plus Two Turnover Margin and they all won. So a Plus Two Turnover Margin basically guarantees victory. Ball Security may not be “sexy” but it wins games.

So 2 of the Meaningful Stats had a 100% correlation with the outcome of the games, +2 Turnover Margin & Holding the Opponent to less than 16 points. Pretty strong correlation. The Non Offensive Touchdown was 83% & only 22% of the teams lost that hit the baseline of 25 points.

These Meaningful Stats should be given serious consideration when putting together your strategic formula for winning.

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