Which of these plays is more “explosive?” Well, my fancy graphics have tipped my hand, but let’s go down the rabbit hole and talk about Explosive Plays and Predicted Points Added
Coach Smart talked a lot going to 2019 about creating “havoc” plays on defense. When someone says “havoc” and “defense” it conjures up Greg Blue and other hard hitting DGDs, but it’s actually a measurable stat. Any defensive play where there is a tackle for loss, forced fumble, or pass defended. These plays divided by total plays gives a havoc rate for game.
While UGA’s defense was #2 overall in YPP, their Havoc Rate was near bottom of SEC. Only 19% of plays on defense resulted in one of the above stats. Clearly, that is not the only metric that matters. No UGA fan would trade our defense. In fact, UGA was 2nd in SEC in Success Rate Allowed and in Explosive Plays allowed.
Coach Smart has talked about being more explosive on offense, and while last year’s Havoc Mantra didn’t result in high havoc rate, UGA set themselves apart in other defensive metrics and made it possible for a 12 win season with a pedestrian offense.
One of the reasons I wanted to do a blog, was to learn and share what I was studying on these stats. One of the things I read and saw “explosive rates or plays”. I can read an advance box score and see when we had a high explosive rate, or at least a higher explosive rate than our opponents. This was more likely the case due to the fact that our defense was second in SEC explosive rate allowed while our offense hovered around the national average of 42% Success Rate. Bur, I am not gonna tell you that I understood it. But, if you watched when Bob and Greg had me on “Threading the Needle,” I admitted that I will just dig into a spreadsheet until I figure something out.
That is the case here. I have scraped off UGA’s 918 Offensive plays from College Football Data and added that to my data to bring you some insight and highlights sharing with you what I’ve learned
What is an explosive play? Similar to a categorizing a play successful or not, explosive plays give additional value to each successful play based on PPA or “Predicted Points Added.” Just like Success Rate, which judges a play not just by its yards (5 yards gain on 1st and 10 has more value that 5 yards gained on 3rd and 12) but adds value above that binary determination. Just like not all 5 yards runs are equal, not all successful plays are equal.
Back to PPA. Each play, based on a formula created by https://collegefootballdata.com, has an expected points value based on down, distance, and field position. Somewhere on your 40 yard line, a 1st and 10 has positive value. The PPA takes that value at the beginning of the play and subtracts it from the down, distance, field position value at the end of the play and expected points at the end of the play.
So, back to those two 9 yard plays. The 3rd down conversion to Wolf was given more value, because it converted a 3rd down, flipped the field, and put the Dawgs in positive Predicted Points Added territory. The 9 yard gain on first down was also an explosive play, but did not add as many predicted points as the conversion to Wolf. Dawgs were in good field position and almost guaranteed 3 points. Dawgs get no chance at points without the catch to our TE. Incidentally, both drives were capped off by TDs. Kirby even tweeted about this play on Saturday.
Any football fan can argue the importance of the ND play, but it’s really good example of the difference of two 9 yard plays and puts a value on each. OK, don’t worry. Now I’m just gonna show you some plays and highlight the 10 most successful plays against Power 5 Opponents of the season.
The point to this stat is to give context to plays beyond yards and success of the individual play. The Explosive Rate for a games is the average of all the successful plays’ PPA. I’ll leave you with this chart that shows how the Dawgs did on Offense and Defense with these stats