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The Effects of Missed Opportunities and Louisville's Early Season Challenges

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The Cardinals Have Things to Correct. Mainly Reverse the Miscues

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The theme of Bobby Petrino’s talks over the last couple of weeks has been to focus on the offense in order to relieve the pressure on the defense. Over the years, this has been exactly what his teams have been able to accomplish. Pretty simple right? Get the ball first, put 7 on the board and let the defense attack. This season has been nothing short of disappointing in that area. The Cardinals have had one interception and 2 punts in their initial possessions thus far.

More importantly, is the lack of discipline on the offense. Anyone following Louisville understands that turnovers, poor QB play, and a porous offensive line have caused most of the offensive woes. The purpose of this is to illustrate just how impactful this has been in the outcome. Those of you that read these articles know that we (www.cfbratings.com) use an efficiency metric as a component to predict games. With each drive there is an expected number of points based on starting field position. With that premise, each drive was analyzed for drive-ending penalties, turnovers, and missed field goals; then a Self-Destruct Rating was developed.

The Self Destruct Rating looks at the number of times a team commits an error (displayed as a % of offensive possessions) and what that costs them in terms of expected points. Throwing a pick 6 or allowing a fumble return for a touchdown only counts as an error and does not change to points lost. This keeps it conservative early in the season as there is a lot of fluctuation in the first 3-4 weeks in offensive production of teams.

To calibrate the reader, teams this season have a missed opportunity rate of 15.5% (turnovers and missed FGs) and a drive-ending penalty rate of 12.1%. This gives a Self-Destruct Rating of 27.6% and an average of 16.7 points. Only FBS -v- FBS opponents were used. To see all 128 teams click here.

Below is a game-by-game breakdown of Louisville’s Self-Destruct Rating in their first 3 games.

Opponent

Missed

Opportunity %

Penalty

%

Self-Destruct %

Lost Points*

Actual Margin

Auburn

36.4%

0%

36.4%

(7.5)

(7)

Houston

35.7%

14.3%

40.0%

(15.1)

(3)

Clemson

21.4%

14.3%

35.7%

(10.4)

(3)

Total

30.8%

10.3%

41.1%

(32.7)

(13)

*Rounded to nearest tenth. Aggregate will not match exactly based on average starting field position.

Louisville’s offense ranks 111th in the SD Rating and has squandered nearly 33 points (11 per game). Louisville is missing opportunities at a rate of 2.4 times more than the average team.

What does this mean? Through the first 3 weeks of the 2015 season, the top 25 teams in SD Rating have a combined record of 62-11 (.849); the bottom 25 have a combined record of 32-40 (.444). Last season the top 25 teams in SD Rating had a combined record of 189-128 (.596) and 19 went to bowl games (1 was ineligible due to NCAA regulations, it could have been 20). Conversely, the bottom 25 teams had a combined record of 129-182 (.415) and 9 teams played in the post-season.

The correlation of win percentage to SD Rating is not the strongest, we will look at the defensive side and put it all together. With last season’s defense, the Cardinals’ were able to minimize the miscues and missed opportunities to the point it cost them 2.2 points per game. This season’s defense has only been able to negate those miscues by a total of 5 points in 3 games. This nets to an average of 9.3 points per game the Cardinals are spotting their opponents just on missed opportunities.

We can easily ascertain that just by cleaning up some mistakes and taking a little better care of the football, a team can go from a trend of winning 5 games at best to 7+ wins being more likely. In Louisville’s case, it is easy to say they could be 2-1 or possibly 3-0 if they played perfectly. In the meantime, we will continue to refine this rating as the season progresses.