Kentucky Football: F/+ Projects Kentucky vs Georgia

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

A weekly look at how the F/+ advanced statistical model projects the upcoming Kentucky football match-up.

FEI is the Fremeau Efficiency Index, created by Brian Fremeau. Fremeau is an author at Football Outsiders, ESPN and BCFToys. FEI is an advanced statistical measure for college football that tracks drive efficiency instead of per-play success.

S+P is created by Bill Connelly. Connelly is an author at SBNation, RockMNation, Football Study Hall and Football Outsiders. S+P is an advanced statistical measure which combines success rate, explosiveness per play and opponent adjustments.

The combination of these two ranking systems provides the F/+ ranking.

This is how Fremeau and Connelly describe their rankings:

The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) considers each of the nearly 20,000 possessions every season in major college football. All drives are filtered to eliminate first-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores. A scoring rate analysis of the remaining possessions then determines the baseline possession expectations against which each team is measured. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams - win or lose; and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams.

The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from both play-by-play and drive data from all 800+ of a season's FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays). There are four key components to the S&P+

If interested, here is a glossary that might be helpful. Lastly, keep in mind that the F/+ percentage ratings measure every team against a perfectly average team. So, if the F/+ rating of a team is 0% that team is considered perfectly average by this rating system.

The F/+ and S&P+ View

OVERALL

When UK Has the ball...

When Georgia has the ball...

Category

UK

UGA

UK Off

UGA Def

UK Def

UGA Off

F/+ Rk (Overall)

91 (-12.3%)

19 (22.4%)

F/+ Rk (Off.)

62 (0.1%)

4 (20.8%)

F/+ Rk (Def)

108             (-12.0%)

57                 (1.2%)

F/+ Rk (Spec Teams)

76 (-0.4%)

62      (0.4.%)

S&P+ Rk (Overall)

79 (196.0)

16 (241.1)

63 (103.1)

41(110.4)

89 (96.6)

8 (130.7)

Rushing S&P+ Rk

32 (114.5)

32 (115.5)

95 (91.1)

33 (114.4)

Passing S&P+ Rk

68 (98.1)

25 (118.8)

70 (98.1)

4 (151.1)

The advanced statistics make clear that Georgia is not a good match-up for this Kentucky team despite Georgia's 25-30 injuries they've suffered this season. There are wide disparities when Georgia's balanced offense matches up against Kentucky's defense. Aaron Murry is having a great senior year and is poised to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season for the fourth season in a row. Murray has accomplished this tremendous feat despite a litany of injuries striking Georgia's offense this season; thereby forcing him to take an even bigger role in scoring. Murray has had a great career at Georgia. It's impressive enough to start at Georgia for four years and to throw for 3,000 yards each season, but he also owns the SEC career passing touchdown record previously held by Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, and he broke Tim Tebow's SEC all-time leading passer record as well.

Georgia's receivers are also dangerous.  The leading receivers are Chris Conley and Michael Bennett. Both receivers stand 6'3'' and will challenge Kentucky's smaller secondary that will be missing starting cornerback Nate Willis due to injury, and Erick Dixon for the first half due to last week's targeting penalty. These are further disadvantages in the secondary that Kentucky didn't need.

Georgia's vaunted passing attack makes their running game all the more potent. Leading rusher Todd Gurley missed the entire month of October due to an ankle injury but he has already returned to form averaging 100 yards per game this season. Gurley will arguably be the most talented running back that Kentucky faces this season. The remaining Georgia running backs are comprised of talented freshmen and a sophomore who are also dangerous since Kentucky cannot sell-out on trying to stop the run. Sad news for UK's rushing defense despite the modest improvements since the Alabama game.

Kentucky's offense may be competitive against a middling Georgia defense, according to the statistics. Once again, UK's rushing offense has an equal match-up against the opposition's rushing defense, but the passing offense is sorely lacking. Georgia will likely utilize a similar game plan as most teams have this season, and force Kentucky to beat them by either sustaining long drives or by throwing the ball. This will continue to place Kentucky at an obvious disadvantage until quarterback and offensive line issues are resolved. Matters are not helped when Kentucky's player-makers do not go beyond their regular duties and make "explosive plays" that are required for this offense to sustain drives.

Kentucky's running backs need to make defenders miss tackles in space, and the receivers need to make big catches. For example, Jalen Whitlow's second interception against Vanderbilt was an instance where receiver Javess Blue had an opportunity to make a big catch but instead a turnover occurred which killed Kentucky's momentum.

Perhaps more interesting is Kentucky's slide in offensive efficiency since the Mississippi State game. At that point of the season Kentucky had completed its toughest stretch of games, and better offensive and defensive performances appeared to be on the horizon yet this hasn't occurred.  In fact, Kentucky's offensive efficiency has dropped precipitously. Nagging injuries, quarterback play, poor field position, and a spike in turnovers last week are probably all contributing factors.  These statistics also incorporate opponent's performances so the drop in Kentucky's offensive efficiency could simultaneously be a downgrade in previous opponents' defenses.

Comparing Track Records

Kentucky's Performances

Opponent

Off. S&P+

Def. S&P+

Outcome

Florida

97 (86.4)

11 (135.1)

7-24 (L)

South Carolina

19 (118.4)

23 (121.0)

28-35 (L)

Missouri

17 (120.9)

14 (127.2)

17-48 (L)

Vanderbilt

68 (97.3)

45 (108.8)

6-22 (L)

Georgia's Performance

Opponent

Off. S&P+

Def. S&P+

Outcome

Florida

97 (86.4)

11 (135.1)

23-20 (W)

South Carolina

19 (118.4)

23 (121.0)

41-30 (W)

Missouri

17 (120.9)

14 (127.2)

26-41 (L)

Vanderbilt

68 (97.3)

45 (108.8)

27-31 (L)

The above chart illustrates the outcomes of Georgia and Kentucky previous match-ups against SEC East opponents. In short, Kentucky was 0-4 against these teams and Georgia was 2-2 and Georgia likely feels it should have won the Vanderbilt game. Looking solely at these numbers suggest Georgia should score in excess of 40 points while Kentucky will probably score 14 points, and some of that may come in garbage time.

Going back to 2006, Kentucky has been more competitive against Georgia than it has any other top tier SEC school. Kentucky won in 2006 and 2009, and the greatest margin of loss during these same years was 13 points. So, recent history is on UK's side but historical precedent will not be enough. This game is on the road, and it will be Georgia's Senior Night. It doesn't help that Georgia is a match-up nightmare for Kentucky.

TL;DR

Vegas currently has Georgia as a 23.5 point favorite, and that seems too low, frankly. Georgia sports one of the best quarterbacks, competent receivers, and one of the best running backs in the entire league against a mediocre Kentucky defense that will be missing at least two starters. Meanwhile, Kentucky's offense has regressed in the back half of the season.  It's become more predictable and roster weaknesses have become exposed in the game film. The secret is out: focus on limiting Jalen Whitlow's mobility and force Kentucky to beat you by throwing the ball downfield. Kentucky should be able to move the ball against Georgia in spurts, but hasn't proven capable of sustaining multiple drives.

Underdogs typically rely on big plays, winning special teams, and causing turnovers. Kentucky is not particularly adept in these three variables despite early season success in "explosive plays" and special teams. Georgia does have a -8 turnover margin for the season, but Kentucky has not proven capable of capitalizing on their weakness.

The score could get ugly given the potency of Georgia's offense, and limitations of Kentucky's offense. The renewed sense of team pride and mental toughness instilled by Coach Stoops and his staff this season will largely be rendered irrelevant by Georgia's superior athletes.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join A Sea Of Blue

You must be a member of A Sea Of Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at A Sea Of Blue. You should read them.

Join A Sea Of Blue

You must be a member of A Sea Of Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at A Sea Of Blue. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker