By Richard Hefner
Editor’s Note: This is a little late this week, and I apologize. Hurricane Zeta came through Atlanta on Wednesday night and just like the Zeta house on campus, they did a number on the city. (I’m kidding, I have no idea what the Zeta house at Pitt does or ever did, or if there even is one). A tree blew over in our neighborhood and knocked out power until yesterday evening. All is well now though so lets get the show back on the road!
Normally in this series of articles, I would give a quick review of last Saturdays game & our upcoming opponent. Well Pitt lost. Notre Dame won. And all heck broke loose. That is all I will say on the matter.
Next week is Bye. Not much data on Bye. Have not seen him/her/it since the start of the season. The ACC season started on 9/12. According to the ACC calendar last week was week #7. Pitt will be playing Bye in week #8. Unless you are using the ESPN calendar where next week is week #9, since 13 FBS teams played either each other or FCS opponents.
Below is a chart by school, w/e date and if Game was played, a Bye was scheduled, or original game was either Postponed or Cancelled. There is also a column labeled “Streak” for longest number of games played between “Byes”.
This is the schedule as of Tuesday 10/27/2020. It can be changed if there is a Covid related outbreak. The chart has four colors. Yellow & gray to separate rows, blue (but lighter) to represent Pitt opponents during the week scheduled. Finally, there is an orangish color to highlight longest streaks.
The bad news, Pitt plays two opponents the week after there second tussle with Bye. Pitt plays Clemson. The good, Pitt plays Va. Tech the last week of their 9-game streak.
As of the 10/24, 101 FBS teams have now played at least 1 game. 25 teams have played 1 game, 2 teams played 2, 7 teams played 3, 14 teams played 4, 27 teams played 5, 21 played 6 and 5 played 7. Of the 5 who have played 7games (Army 6-1, Middle Tennessee 2-5, Pitt 3-4, Texas State 1-6, & UT-San Antonio (UTSA) 4-3), only Pitt did not face Bye. (Before you go nuts over Army’s 6-1 record, they have played & beat 3 FCS teams including a 14-9 beatdown of The Citadel. I have family connections to The Citadel.)
If you use stats, please use the relevant one when throwing out numbers and rankings. NCAA stats usually give two different sorts of the same data: sacks, TFL, penalties and so on. You can see a stat that uses totals or another on a per game basis. A total stat that shows one team with 10 ranked #23 & another with 60 ranked # 82 out of 101, are, on a per game basis, ranked the same if #23 has played 1 game while the other has played 6.
In a normal year, difference in games played are not as divergent. In the year of the Covid, this discrepancy will be everlasting as comparisons will have some teams playing 6 & others playing 11.
On to some comparisons. Usually, I review both offense & defense of our upcoming opponent. Due to personal, data gathering, formatting, rabbit holes and other waste of my available time, I decided to limit my article to only present stats on the offense.
I am going to start the offense review with QB’s. Before we begin, the NCAA has minimum requirements to be ranked. For passing efficiency, the NCAA requires that a QB meet two requirements:
- 15 attempts per game
- Must play in 75% of team played games
The second definition leads to some strange NCAA rankings in QB related stats. For example, Kenny Pickett is not ranked in Passing efficiencies because he did not meet the minimum requirement of team games played (75% of 7 = 5.25 games. Kenny has played only 5). Passing efficiency has 91 players ranked. While KP is not ranked in Passing Yards per Game, Amari Rogers, a Clemson WR (passing stats- 1/1 for 8 yards) is ranked #130 of 131 because he has played in all 6 games as a WR.
Hopefully, you can read the above chart. I made it as large as I could. The chart is sorted on “Passing Efficiency”. The NCAA Ranking is based on “Passing Efficiency”.
I tried assign a starting QB to every team based on my limited knowledge of what is happening at individual teams.
The last 5 either started or where ranked at one time. Blackman at FSU started first two games and replaced by Travis. Leary at NC State started last 5 games in the 2019 season. He was the presumed starter in 2020 but missed first two games due to Covid quarantine. He broke his Fibula 10/17 against Duke & is out 4-8 weeks. Stone replaced an injured Armstrong at Virginia but is now back on the bench. His stats got him ranked at one time. Burmeister at Virginia Tech started for the first two games, got ranked and lost his job when Hendon Hooker returned from a Covid quarantine. I added Yellen to add more fuel to the fire. I could have looked up what is going on at Syracuse with Danny DeVito. But I did not. I do have a small semblance on how to manage my time.
In the ACC, KP is 8’th in passing efficiency. If ranked and if KP met the NCAA requirements (with his same numbers) he would be ranked 50’th out of 92.(If you rank him, you have to increase the total number of ranked players from 91 to 92.)
Reed can fill us in on KP’s YPA and where it stands hypothetically in the ACC & NCAA. I need & I demand reader participation for my herculean efforts. (Not really, I read or heard the words herculean and yeoman in the last week and decided to work them in. I succeeded.)
On to team offense. The first chart is ACC team Pass Offense.
First off, I want to say that the charts were arranged alphabetically – Pass before Rush before Total. Not because it puts Pitt in the best light.
Secondly, the charts are sorted by Yards per Game. Makes sense considering the ACC had 1 team playing 7, 9 playing 6 & 5 playing 5.
I knew North Carolina had a super rushing attack. Their top two backs, Williams & Carter, have accounted for 1,146 of team rush total 1,245 yards. VT’s Herbert, a transfer from Kansas, was a steal pickup with 656 yards in 5 games. Throw in Hawkins from Louisville with 693 yards, The ACC has 4 of the top ten in total rushing yards. Though in rushing yards per game, they all fit in to the top 14.
Just think if Pitt was ranked 67’th( bottom of middle third of 101 teams) with around 136 yards/game instead of 91’th with 98 yds./game. We may not be undergoing the catharsis we are experiencing.
Using above data from Team Offense charts, we can calculate the Pass/Run ratio. By golly, Pitt is 3’rd in the ACC in being pass heavy. You now have proof!!!
Actually, the ratio is understated due to QB “sacks” being counted as a run play. Passing percentage will not change but actual run percentage will go down, increasing he difference. I propose adding a third NCAA category called “QB Sacks”. Use same metric used to record sacks including negative yardage. Since that will not happen, use already available allowed sack data. Speaking of available allowed sack data, here it is:
The real only value of this next chart is it breaks out plays by 3 categories. It shows averages that can be used to compare teams or opponent DL payed better than worse than average. As I have said before stats are good if used in context. A single stat may look good, bad or average. You do not really know unless it is in the context of comparing to something or ranked.
That is the offense side of the Bye week. Hopefully, I can work up the defense side before we get into new articles dealing with press conferences and latest Pitt atrocities.