Tall Tree Cards topple Dawgs

The following grades the Huskies' positional effort for the game against the Stanford Cardinal. UW lost the game 31-14..

But first let me get my two cents in.

First, the headline above. The Spanish words "Palo Alto" mean "tall tree" in English. Stanford's nickname is Cardinal, which is in reference to one of the school colors. Reference this link. The following was taken from the linked article.

"There is no official mascot at Stanford University. The 'Tree,' which is a member of the Stanford Band, is representative of El Palo Alto, the Redwood tree which is the logo of the city of Palo Alto. Since Stanford University and Palo Alto are almost inextricably intertwined in interests and location, it is a natural outgrowth of this relationship. The tree still exists and stands by the railroad bridge beside San Francisquito Creek it is the site where early explorers first camped when settling the area."

Click on this link for the statistics: Stats Stanford Game

El Palo Alto ran off 72 plays to the Huskies' 45, controlled Time of Possession 40:05 to 19:55 and won the offensive line efficiency battle 266.58 to 181.74. The Dawgs' offensive effort reminded me of the 2008 (0-12) season under Tyrone Willingham (UW head coach from 2005-2008, 11-37). The hiring of a coach who was fired at Notre Dame for allegedly being a "poor" recruiter, among other reasons, is a complex issue that I've addressed before, and am loath to repeat herein. Anyway, after being axed at South Bend, Willingham signed a 5-year contract with Washington at $1.4 million per year.

Sounds crazy doesn't it? Well, insanity ruled the roost back then.

Quarterback; Grade D -- K. J. Carta Samuels completed 9 of 21 passes for 118 yards, his efficiency rating being  90.06. UW ranks last in the conference in Total Offense and is likely to post a 3-9 season, losing out the rest of the way. Frankly, I don't see a winnable game, except maybe against OSU and WSU.

Offensive Line
; Grade D: The Huskies Offensive Line Efficiency rating was 181.74 compared to the Trees' 266.58. Whoever wins this stat usually wins the game. The OL is the most important positional unit on the team, which is why this stat tracks with wins and losses. (See the calculation below).

Pass Receivers: Grade D: 118 yards passing, 13.1 yards per completion won't cut it in the Pac-12.

Ball Carriers; Grade D Plus: 113 yards rushing is hardly worth writing about. However, Myles Gaskin ran for 108 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.0 yards per carry.

Special Teams: Grade B - minus: Tristan Vizcaino kicked off three times, averaging 62.7 yards per kickoff, with no touchbacks. Korey Durkey punted seven times, averaging 44.9 yards per punt.

Defense; Grade D: The defense yielded 478 total yards. Kevin Hogan's PE was 191.50 on the night; his pass efficiency is 174 on the season. Christian McCaffrey totaled 300 all-purpose yards, posting 109 yards rushing, 112 yards receiving and 79 yards on kickoff returns.

It's hard to fault a defense that was on the field for 2/3 of the game.

Coaching; Grade F: The coaches need some study time in Suzzallo, followed by a nocturnal visit from Gil Dobie (1908-1916, 59-0-3). Dobie - his ghostly visage -- has been rumored to have haunted losing coaches at UW, though none of them will admit it for fear of a psychiatric evaluation down at the med school.

Computing a hypothetical per game offensive line efficiency

Our hypothetical measure is a function of a team's passing efficiency rating, its rushing yards per carry, its rushing touchdowns, its third-down conversions; its number of offensive plays; its offensive line's penalty yards and its sacks allowed. That is,

OLE = PEO + YPC * X + RT * Y + TDC * NOP - OLPY - 5 * SA

Where PEO = pass-efficiency offense; YPC = yards per carry; x and y = normalizing numbers; RT = rushing touchdowns; TDC = third-down conversions; NOP = number of offensive plays; OLPY = offensive line penalty yards; SA = Sacks Allowed

In the game against Stanford, the OLE's were:

UW Offensive line efficiency = 90.06 + 4.7*20.57 + 2*5.09 + 45 * 4/11 - 0 - 5 * 1 = 181.74

SU Offensive line efficiency = 191.50 + 3.9*20.57 + 2*5.09 + 72 * 6/14 - 26 - 5 * 2 =  266.58

(*) The normalizing numbers X=20.57 and Y=5.09 were chosen so that YPC plus RT would be equivalent to a Passing Efficiency Rating of 100. X and Y are the averages for the Pac-12 stats involving YPC (X = 90/4.375) and RT (Y = 10/1.96) for the 2013 season. The numbers 90 and 10 were chosen so that YPC would have more weight in the computation than RT; the numbers 4.375 and 1.96 are the Pac-12 averages for YPC and RT. To guard against a meaningless rating resulting from a limited number of carries, the normalizing number x needs to be restricted. For one, if the number of carries is less than z then set x=1, with the value of z yet to be determined. Alternatively, the value of the factor yuck * x could be controlled in a similar way to the limits placed on the NFL's passer rating computation.

More specifically, the equation for OLE is a function of 12 metrics:

  • Pass attempts (PA)

  • Pass completions (PC)

  • Yards passing (TY)

  • Number of passing touchdowns (TD)

  • Number of interceptions (I)

  • Yards per carry (YPC; sack yardage figures into the calculation)

  • Rushing touchdowns (RT)

  • Third-down conversions (TDC)

  • Number of offensive plays (NOP)

  • Offensive line penalty yards. (OLPY)

  • Sacks allowed (SA)

  • The values for x and y (Pac-12 averages for the 2013 season)

The complete equation is as follows:

OLE = (TY*8.4+PC*100+TD*330-I*200)/PA + YPC * X + RT * Y + TDC * NOP - OLPY - 5 * SA

Note that this hypothetical computation correlates with UW's won/lost record (9-4) for the 2013 season, with UW dominating the statistic in its 9 wins and losing the stat in its 4 losses.



Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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