EPA, Gameplans and Leadership
If you are reading this there is a 99% chance you said words you do not want your children to repeat on Saturday. I can probably name the exact 5 plays they happened on. And unfortunately, those plays cost the Cougars a victory.
Expected Points Added
I have written about this before over at CSI - but it's time for a refresher because it really puts things in context. The idea was initially created by BYU's very own Virgil Carter while playing for the Bengals and attending grad school at Northwestern.
We know a touchdown is worth 7 points - but how do you break that value up over the drive leading up to said touchdown? Gunner Romney's propensity to catch a 50 yard bomb then get tackled at the one yard line is probably worth more than the 1 yard run following to actually get the score.
To get to EPA, we take a weighted average of the next possible score between two plays and compare them. For example, on first and goal we might look at the ways either team could score and have an 70% chance of scoring a TD (+7), 15% chance of kicking a field goal (+3) , 10% chance of us getting nothing and the other team driving down and kicking a field goal (-3), and 5% scoring a touchdown (-7). There's a small chance of safeties for either team in there too, but let's skip those.
If we do that math - (7*.7) + (3 * 0.15), etc - we end up with the expected points from that point in time being 5.4 points. Now if we take a loss on that first down, and before the next play the math works out to 4.5 points, then that loss was worth roughly -0.9 points.
It's confusing, but bare with me.
On Saturday, 3 uncharacteristic fumbles, a head scratching series on first and goal, an off-day 4th down stuff at midfield and a late 500 ball interception added up. But the fumbles were the most deadly:
On the only two TD drives of the day, the Broncos mustered a whopping 36 yards of total offense. Giving the other team the ball in the red zone twice and then turning it over on their 13 yard line is a recipe for disaster, and thanks to Brother Carter, we can guesstimate how big of a swing that was:
The first fumble was -4.70 points.
The second immediately following was -4.77
The last fumble was -4.02
The fourth and goal miss was -3.26
The PI in the 4th quarter to extend their drive was -3.01
It's painful to look at - and it's almost a 20 point swing on and handful of plays. These key moments were the deciding factor in the game.
There's no excuses, we have got to play better and Boise capitalized on those, but they aren't systemic - which is a good sign
The Cougars have shown a knack for coming out of the gate and getting up early - the game plans have been sound. The script is working. On Saturday we had no problems moving the ball, in fact we outgained the Broncos by 111 yards.
The offense is moving the ball, and the defense is (in ugly fashion) keeping points off the board. They stuffed the run much more than we expected and IMO we ran too much outside zone and didn't throw enough, but Jaren Hall still completed 60% of his passes and threw for over 300 yards.
Defensively, we didn't have enough TFLs, but they didn't move crazy well - they ran for 145 yards, but it took them 45 carries to do it. We dared Hank Bachmeier to beat us with his arm and other than a phenomenal effort from Khalil Shakir to snag a deep ball, he struggled passing downfield.
But, after getting up to a lead we have shown a knack for letting teams back into the game. A former player shared thoughts we a GEHB subscriber pointing out that this is a player leadership issue - the coaches have everybody tuned in, but then once the game starts and the lead gets comfortable, it seems we lose focus a bit.
Looking at this team, I can't think of who the dominant, vocal leader is. I thought it could be Hall, but his injury seems to have slowed that progression. On defense, we have solid players like Chaz Ah You and Peyton Wilgar, but they are not the "get in your face we expect better" type - they lead by example. Tyler Allgeier is a freak and showed great leadership with his effort against ASU and never quitting - but he isn't the vocal type either to rally the troops.
This team lost more production than just about everybody in the country - we are very young, adn still performing well. Leadership comes with time, experience and confidence - but this is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses: who will be the guy we can count on to make a play when our backs are against the wall and find a way to inspire others to do the same.