That was a gut-punch of a loss in many ways, but I think there’s a lot we as Texas A&M football fans can take away that is still positive. With that in mind, this is a new weekly post I’ll be making looking at how the Aggies performed statistically. I’ll look at both more basic and advanced statistics, with an eye moreso towards the latter. That said, let’s jump into it.
Offense improves significantly
This will surprise absolutely nobody, but this was the best offensive showing for this Texas A&M football team thus far on the year (Sam Houston excluded. Sorry, Bearkats). Here’s a look at some of the raw numbers (via cfbstats.com) and where they rank in Aggie games against FBS competition so far:
- 338 total yards (1st)
- 7.7 YPA (1st)
- 4 passing TDS (1st)
- 158.17 passer rating (1st)
- 0 INTs (T-1st)
The running game wasn’t too shabby, either, going for 142 on 4.9 YPC. In the end, it wasn’t enough to get the win, but given what we’ve seen so far, these numbers are a welcome sight.
So how about some advanced metrics? What do they say about the Aggies’ performance?
Efficiency-wise, this was one of the A&M’s better games, gaining a 47% success rate for the game per collegefootballdata.com (if you don’t know, success rate is a measure of down-to-down efficiency that accounts for down and distance. A play is considered successful if 50% of required yardage is gained on 1st down, 70% on 2nd down, or a conversion is achieved on 3rd/4th). That’s A&M’s second-best mark on the year, behind the Mississippi State game, where the Aggies really had the running game going.
Something I’ve been doing this season is tracking points per play (PPP) as a measure of scoring efficiency and adjusting for opponent (obviously, in order to account for the strength of the defense you’re playing). By this metric, the Aggies had their best performance of the season as well, with a 0.466 adjusted points per play number.
Let’s talk now about percentage of opponent averages gained. This is basically a way of calculating metrics, from the simple to the advanced, that has a sort of “built-in” opponent adjustment. The idea here is taking the, for example, yards per carry that you gain in a game, comparing it to the average yards per carry that your opponent allows, and turning that into a percentage. This same school of thought can be applied to most stats: yards per attempt, success rate, points per play, etc.
So for this game, the Aggies, once again, had some of their best offensive numbers thus far in the season. Most notably, they gained 114% of Ole Miss’s average YPA allowed. I say that this is notable because it is the first time this season the Aggies have exceeded what an opponent averages allowing through the air, which is, frankly, pretty unbelievable. But also? At the same time? Extremely believable.
The passing game has been bad, is what I’m saying. But that’s not really news.
Some other numbers in this vein: the Aggies ran for 4.9 YPC, as I mentioned; this was good for 123% of Ole Miss’s average YPC allowed. The Aggies’ aforementioned 47% success rate was good for 110% of what Ole Miss averages allowing— another near-season high, coming in right behind the Mississippi State game again. A&M also had a season high in percentage of PPP gained, with their 0.384 unadjusted number good for 128% of what the Rebels have allowed so far this season.
All these statistics say two very important things: not only did the Aggies have their best offensive performance so far this season, but they, for the first time this year, truly and fully outplayed a defensive unit, exceeding the Rebels’ defensive averages in each of the categories I mentioned above.