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Possession Efficiency Primer

 

I'm frequently asked questions about the origins of my work with college football data. After witnessing a 2002 victory by Boston College over Notre Dame, a game in which the Eagles failed to advance a single offensive possession across midfield, I had questions that traditional box scores were unable to sufficiently answer. I began collecting drive data to define the fluid value of field position, quantify the impact of turnovers and special teams, evaluate offensive and defensive team strengths, and develop new measures of success. The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) and its numerous other companion statistics found on this site were created as a result of those inquiries.

This primer is intended to simply present the fundamentals of college football possession efficiency I have developed to date, in order to share my work and contributions to the advanced stats community, and potentially to inspire others to join the conversation and do the same. Let's get started.

 

Game Results and Available Data

 

There are final scores

I'm frequently asked questions about the origins of my work with college football data. After witnessing a 2002 victory by Boston College over Notre Dame, a game in which the Eagles failed to advance a single offensive possession across midfield, I had questions that traditional box scores were unable to sufficiently answer. I began collecting drive data to define the fluid value of field position, quantify the impact of turnovers and special teams, evaluate offensive and defensive team strengths, and develop new measures of success. The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) and its numerous other companion statistics found on this site were created as a result of those inquiries.


Football Outsiders Almanac 2011
Football Outsiders :: July 2011

The college football portion of our annual Football Outsiders book includes complete projected rankings and win expectation tables for every FBS team, chapters covering each of the AQ conferences and the best of the non-AQ teams, plus detailed introductions to all of our play-by-play and drive-based stats. The F/+ projections for 2011 are a combination of my FEI ratings and Bill Connelly's S&P+ ratings, and are a function of recent history, recruiting success, talent lost to the draft, returning starters and more. I wrote the Non-AQ and Big Ten chapters, and the rest of the college chapters were written by Bill, Rob Weintraub, and David Gardner. :: Football Outsiders Almanac 2011 is edited by Aaron Schatz and can be purchased here. A downloadable PDF version of the college section of FOA 2011 can be purchased here. A free preview of the Big Ten Leaders section can be read here.

 

Irish Kickoff 2011 :: Field Position and Success
Maple Street Press :: July 2011

Every possession in college football is measurable. How much value does the kickoff return team generate, how effective is the offense realtive to starting field position expectations, how costly is the turnover or missed field goal, and which units deserve the credit/blame for every score? In this article, I frame these concepts around Notre Dame's 2010 season and in particular, its late-season surge. ND's victory over USC in November was the biggest Irish triumph over field position disadvantage in at least a decade. The performance of the ND defense down the stretch bodes well for a strong season this fall. :: Irish Kickoff 2011 is edited by former Blue-Gray Sky blogger Pat Mitsch and can be purchased here.

 

Wolverines Kickoff 2011 :: Inside Michigan's Offensive Numbers
Maple Street Press :: July 2011

With a healthy Denard Robinson at the helm, Michigan's spread option offense was lethal in 2010. Robinson might not be quite as prolific under center this fall, but that doesn't mean Michigan can't be just as productive. The key for Michigan will be consistency, avoiding three-and-outs that aggravated poor special teams and defensive play a year ago. Moving the chains more consistently can cover up for those deficencies and keep stronger opponents from blowing open a lead. In this article, I break down these and other factors to watch for in Brady Hoke's debut season in Ann Arbor. :: Wolverines Kickoff 2011 is edited by MGoBlog blogger Brian Cook and can be purchased here.