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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2017 Season Review: University of Texas



2017 Season Review:  University of Texas
By B.R. Battle
Photo by Will Gallagher (Inside Texas)

Although BattleStat Sports analytics is my primary mission regarding this site, I am also a proud graduate of The University of Texas.  In the words of Rod Babers from 104.9 The Horn, I'm a "card carrying" member of this University...Lifetime Longhorn, Texas Ex to be exact. 

In saying all of this, I tracked the efficiency ratings for the Longhorn football team over the course of 2017.  When we speak of efficiency, we quantify how successful the offense and defense of the studied team was using down and yardage scenarios to calculate offensive and defensive success rates.  Additionally, we also calculated explosive plays to showcase the lethality and instant-strike ability an offense has. 

Let’s view how Texas faired this past season on the offensive side of the ball.  The NCAAF average Offense Success Rate (OSR) is 40%.  As you can see from the chart below, Texas met or exceeded that overall average only 5 times last year.  4 of those 5 games were won by the Longhorns. On the contrary, the Longhorns possessed an OSR less than 40% 8 times last year, including the Texas Bowl against the University of Missouri. 
 
On the defensive side of the ball, the average NCAAF Defense Success Rate (DSR) is 45%.  Texas had one outlier the entire season with the season opener against Maryland.  The Longhorns could not stop anyone on that offense last year; however, from that point on, the Texas defense was one of the tops in the nation.  They posted DSRs of 45% or greater 11 out of 13 times this year.    Actually, their average per game DSR was over 54%.  
This defense played well enough all season, sans the Maryland and possibly the Oklahoma games, to win every contest on their schedule.  They held Oklahoma St, the nation’s #2 offense averaging 45 points/game, to just 13 points in a loss.  Oklahoma, who was the nations #1 offense, averaging over 45 points as well, was limited to just 29 points in another loss.  USC, the nation’s #13 offense, averaging over 33 points/game, was limited to just 27 points including overtime, resulting in another loss.  And finally, the SEC’s #1 and nation’s #8 offense in Missouri, was limited to just 16 points…more than half of their yearly average, in a Texas Bowl win for the Longhorns. 

Earlier this week, Texas Head Coach Tom Herman, named Sophomore Quarterback Sam Ehlinger the starter for the upcoming season.   This should not be a surprise to Longhorn fans as with 4 of the 5 games in 2017 that the Texas offense had an OSR of 40% or above, Ehlinger was the starter…with all 4 games resulting in wins.  Ehlinger’s ability to adlib and make plays when there seems to be a breakdown within the offense, is what is needed for this team to win, especially with the uncertainty of the Texas offensive line (in Herb Hand I trust).  With one year of experience in learning the offense, Ehlinger should be able to minimize the turnovers from last year that eventually cost the Longhorns 3 wins (see USC, Ok St, and Texas Tech games).

Additionally, this upcoming season, Texas will not be facing the likes of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Mason Rudolph, or Drew Lock…3 2018 NFL draft picks and a 2019 potential 1st round draft pick.  The defense was lights out last year against this caliber of opponent and I expect similar results in 2018.  A calmer and more steady Sam Ehlinger, coupled with a Todd Orlando defense should have Texas fans thinking of at least 9 wins and the possibility of a Big XII championship. 

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