division 3 football computer rankings
division 3 football computer rankings
division 3 football computer rankings
division 3 football computer rankings
division 3 football computer rankings

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Mid-Season Team Awards

October 7, 2016

Half of the college football season is already gone. A lot of people give out mid-season awards at a time like this, so I'm going to do it, too. 

 

What to award though? Seeing how this is supposed to be a somewhat-advanced analytics site, I should probably use some fancy stat that only half of you have heard of, right? Well that's exactly what I'm going to do. I've decided to award teams based on their raw and opponent-adjusted Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt in rushing defense & offense, passing defense & offense, and total defense & offense.

 

For opponent adjustments, I will be doing only two iterations of the calculation. Since it's too early in the season for every team to be connected by mutual opponents, too many iterations would cause results to diverge, instead of converge. Preseason expectations are completely removed from this calculation.

 

Adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) was developed by Pro Football Reference, and it's a pretty useful tool. The calculation is also pretty simple:

 

Yards + 20*Touchdowns - 45*Turnover

Attempts

 

The coefficients for touchdowns and turnovers were derived from the approximate yardage-value equivalent of each. The actual derivation of the value is pretty tedious, but not too hard to understand. Assume every yard gained has a point value (my old head coach used to say 100 yards of field position is worth 7 points, it's actually more). Scoring an actual touchdown is worth 6 points, but gaining yards on the way to the endzone also contributed to those points. So the act of scoring itself is worth about 20 yards, and turning the ball over, on average, costs your team the equivalent value of 45 yards.

 

So ANY/A is a great statistic because it accounts for pace and volume ("per attempt"), scoring, and turnovers, while also catching components of explosiveness and efficiency. The one little bit of fudging I've done with the numbers is on fumbles lost/recovered. The NCAA doesn't specify whether fumbles occurred on passing or rushing plays, so I have weighted every fumble proportionally to each team's run-pass ratio. I also have included sacks in passing yardage instead of rushing.

 

So here are you mid-season leaders:

Rushing Offense

 

Raw ANY/A Leaders:

1. UW-Oshkosh: 10.58

2. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 8.61

3. Trine: 8.51

4. Salve Regina: 8.37

5. Hendrix: 7.73

6. Salisbury: 7.44

7. UW-River Falls: 7.35

8. East Texas Baptist: 6.98

9. Guilford: 6.95

10. Beloit: 6.91

 

Opponent-Adjusted ANY/A Leaders:

1. UW-Oshkosh: 9.94 (Avg Opponent's Rush D: 4.06)

2. Salve Regina: 8.20 (4.23)

3. UW-River Falls: 8.15 (3.44)

4. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 7.84 (4.06)

5. UW-Whitewater: 7.67 (3.19)

6. Bethel: 7.11 (3.47)

7. Heidelberg: 6.98 (3.01)

8. Salisbury: 6.85 (4.46)

9. East Texas Baptist: 6.81 (3.68)

10. Hendrix: 6.77 (4.49)

 

Get used to seeing UW-Oshkosh on these lists. They've played some pretty poor competition so far this year, which I don't think is getting fully integrated into my calculations, but the shear margin by which they're outpacing everyone else in the country is staggering nonetheless. As a team, they're averaging over 8.5 YPC, with 18 touchdowns and only 2 fumbles. Yikes.

 

In the opponent-adjusted numbers, a couple surprises are Salve Regina and UW-River Falls. Both teams are averaging over 6 YPC, and Salve Regina can boast 20 rushing touchdowns on the season. I don't care who you play against, that's impressive. UW-River Falls' big boost? No turnovers on rushing plays all season.

Passing Offense

 

Raw ANY/A Leaders:

1. Salisbury: 15.35

2. Washington and Lee: 13.39

3. UW-Oshkosh: 12.82

4. St. John's: 12.54

5. Merchant Marine: 12.38

6. Western New England: 12.29

7. Washington and Jefferson: 11.59

8. Coe: 11.53

9. Monmouth: 11.51

10. Linfield: 11.43

 

Opponent-Adjusted ANY/A Leaders:

1. Salisbury: 19.00 (2.26)

2. Washington and Lee: 16.81 (2.60)

3. Merchant Marine: 13.40 (4.42)

4. UW-Oshkosh: 13.38 (4.57)

5. Western New England: 13.12 (4.31)

6. North Central Ill.: 12.99 (4.29)

7. St. John's: 12.54 (5.13)

8. Huntingdon: 12.52 (3.65)

9. St. Thomas: 12.22 (3.66)

10. St. John Fisher: 12.00 (4.12)

 

If ANY/A has a nemesis, it's triple option offenses. They barely throw the ball, and when they do, they're often big gains. I'm going to ignore the option teams (UW-O, while an "option-lite" team, will be talked about enough later) on these lists and instead focus on St. John's and North Central. Both teams are starting freshmen quarterbacks, people.

 

The two most efficient passing teams in the country have three years to develop their most important position on the field, and they're already better in that phase than every other team in the country. Not only that, but these are two programs that have shown the ability to develop young talent over the years. MIAC, CCIW, nation... You've been warned.

Rushing Defense

 

Raw ANY/A Leaders:

1. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 0.96

2. St. Thomas: 1.18

3. UW-Oshkosh: 1.32

4. Widener: 1.71

5. St. Lawrence: 1.71

6. UW-Whitewater: 1.78

7. Salve Regina: 1.81

8. DePauw: 1.98

9. Wheaton Ill.: 1.99

10. Guilford: 2.13

 

Opponent-Adjusted ANY/A Leaders:

1. John Carroll: -0.46 (5.88)

3. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 1.49 (4.47)

4. Ohio Northern: 1.49 (5.14)

5. UW-Platteville: 1.51 (4.95)

6. Mount Union: 1.70 (4.83)

7. North Central Ill.: 1.76 (4.72)

8. St. John's: 1.81 (4.87)

9. Wittenberg: 1.84 (4.74)

10. Monmouth: 1.90 (4.71)

11. UW-Whitewater: 1.91 (4.54)

 

Yes, John Carroll's value is negative. No, that's not a mistake. They've allowed only 402 yards on 2.74 YPC, with only three TD's against, and 4 fumbles for. Do that against above average competition (the #1 rushing team in the country was their first opponent), and yeah, you're going to have a pretty impressive number.

 

Mary Hardin-Baylor is another team on a lot of these lists. In raw numbers, it's easy to see why they're receiving so many votes for #1 in the d3football poll. No rushing TD's against, barely 300 yards, and 6 fumble recoveries? Talk about making a team one-dimensional.

Passing Defense

 

Raw ANY/A Leaders:

1. St. Lawrence: 0.33

2. Stevenson: 1.07

3. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 1.09

4. Guilford: 1.23

5. MIT: 1.41

6. St. John's: 1.44

7. UW-La Crosse: 1.70

8. Rowan: 1.74

9. UW-Oshkosh: 2.01

10. Delaware Valley: 2.07

 

Opponent-Adjusted ANY/A Leaders:

1. Johns Hopkins: -3.15 (8.41)

2. Albright: -2.58 (8.74)

3. SUNY-Maritime: -2.26 (8.73)

4. Southern Virginia: -2.15 (8.87)

5. St. John's: -1.95 (7.22)

6. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps: -1.85 (8.25)

7. Montclair State: -1.64 (9.41)

8. UW-Stout: -1.44 (8.48)

9. Belhaven: -0.97 (8.85)

10. North Central Ill.: -0.91 (7.39)

 

I don't know if you've heard this, but St. Lawrence is having a damn good year on defense so far. Three shutouts, 4 TD's against total, and fewer than 500 yards against in both rushing and passing. Here's the number of yards their first four opposing quarterbacks gained: 94, 101, 97, 36!

 

Because there's more variance in passing statistics than rushing, some of these opponent-adjusted number look a little funky. But most of these teams have been crazy good. SUNY, So. VA, & Belhaven are in the list because they've played a lot of option teams (SUNY), or teams don't need to pass on them (So. VA ranks in the 200's in rushing D), or they held one really good opponent to a low passing total, but gave up 500 yards rushing (Belhaven vs. UWW). Larger sample will even that out.

 

Hopkins though; they're the real friggin' deal: >5.0 YPA, 2 TD, 11 Int versus competition nearly 2 ANY/A above average.

 

Total Offense

 

Raw ANY/A Leaders:

1. UW-Oshkosh: 11.37

2. Hendrix: 9.51

3. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 8.78

4. East Texas Baptist: 8.56

5. Salisbury: 8.45

6. Monmouth: 8.42

7. Trine: 8.19

8. Huntingdon: 7.91

9. Coe: 7.89

10. Western New England: 7.80

 

Opponent-Adjusted ANY/A Leaders:

1. UW-Oshkosh: 11.47 (4.36)

2. Salisbury: 9.32 (4.19)

3. UW-Whitewater: 9.24 (3.48)

4. Hendrix: 8.90 (4.99)

5. East Texas Baptist: 8.74 (4.00)

6. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 8.67 (4.35)

7. Huntingdon: 8.65 (3.96)

8. Wesley: 8.56 (4.05)

9. St. Thomas: 8.30 (3.98)

10. Wheaton Ill.: 8.19 (4.23)

 

If you're surprised to see UW-Oshkosh at the top of these lists, you skipped the previous portions of this article and have never heard of DIII football. Two of the top three offenses in the country play tomorrow, and in their first meeting last year the final score was 10-7. I have no idea how this game will play out.

Total Defense

 

Raw ANY/A Leaders:

1. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 1.02

2. St. Lawrence: 1.17

3. UW-Oshkosh: 1.67

4. Guilford: 1.76

5. St. Thomas: 1.85

6. St. John's: 2.26

7. Rowan: 2.34

8. Case Western Reserve: 2.42

9. North Central Ill.: 2.44

10. Delaware Valley: 2.57

 

Opponent-Adjusted ANY/A Leaders:

1. St. John's: 0.18 (6.01)

2. John Carroll: 0.31 (6.36)

3. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 0.74 (5.61)

4. UW-Stout: 0.86 (6.95)

5. UW-Platteville: 0.99 (5.95)

6. North Central Ill.: 1.01 (5.88)

7. St. Norbert: 1.41 (5.66)

8. Albright: 1.42 (6.19)

9. Southwestern: 1.61 (6.69)

10. Thomas More: 1.77 (6.06)

 

Mary Hardin-Baylor is really good at defense. St. John's is really good at defense. Nobody will argue with that. John Carroll and UW-Stout? I wouldn't fault you for arguing with me about that. The box score thinks John Carroll's game against UW-O was actually really close (and UW-O is really good), but UW-Stout has given up 45 or more in 3 of their 4 games. I'm really not sure how they're in this list. Kinda makes me lose a little credibility doesn't it? Oh well. Sample size?

Overall Net Yardage

 

Raw ANY/A Leaders:

1. UW-Oshkosh: 9.70

2. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 7.76

3. Guilford: 5.78

4. St. Thomas: 5.54

5. Hendrix: 5.32

6. St. Lawrence: 5.32

7. Salisbury: 5.24

8. Delaware Valley: 5.15

9. Case Western Reserve: 5.04

10. Salve Regina: 5.01

 

Opponent-Adjusted ANY/A Leaders:

1. UW-Oshkosh: 8.36 (1.61)

2. Mary Hardin-Baylor: 7.93 (3.41)

3. North Central Ill.: 7.05 (2.21)

4. UW-Platteville: 7.04 (3.19)

5. St. John's: 6.76 (1.99)

6. UW-Whitewater: 5.97 (3.61)

7. UW-Stout: 5.81 (3.86)

8. St. Thomas: 5.68 (2.38)

9. Wheaton Ill.: 5.68 (2.07)

10. John Carroll: 5.61 (2.99)

 

If you take UW-Stout out of the second list, and throw Mount Union (ranked 14th) in, that's a pretty solid top 10. The order may be a bit off, but all things considered, any voter who had those ten teams in his ballot would have a solid case to make. My lesson learned from all of this: BEING BALANCED IS REALLY IMPORTANT (and if you're UW-Oshkosh or Mary Hardin-Baylor, being the best and being balanced really helps).

 

UW-Platteville only showed up in the Top 10 of two lists other than this one, but they're fourth in the country in Net ANY/A. Why? Because they're pretty good at everything they do (forget about rushing last week versus UW-W, their advantage was through the air, so they attacked through the air).

 

 

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