Net Success Rate Has Texas A&M Football As Dominant Force
I talk a fair amount on here about success rate when I’m breaking down Texas A&M football games or upcoming opponents. I try to define it whenever I put it in—it’s not a statistic often referenced on your everyday broadcast—but it is a very useful advanced metric, and one of the most predictive when it comes to team quality.
There are several ways to define success rate, but what everyone agrees on is that it is the number of successful plays a team’s offense has divided by the total number of plays that team runs. Conversely, of course, defensive success rate (or success rate allowed) would be the opponent’s success rate against a team’s defense. The trick comes when you define what a “successful play” is: some build it off of an expected points model where a successful play is any play that results in a positive number of expected points added; others, like me, use a simpler definition. An easy way to conceive of which plays are successful is to think of it this way: a play is considered successful if it gains at least 50% of required yards on 1st down (so usually five yards on 1st and 10), 70% of required yards on 2nd down, or 100% of required yards on third or fourth down (thus, third down and fourth down success rate is identical to third down and fourth down conversion rate). You can read more about it about midway down on this page.
Net success rate, which the below graphic shows, is the difference between a team’s average offensive success rate and average defensive success rate. A high net success rate, therefore, means that you are very successful offensively and good at preventing teams from being successful defensively. All that said, consider the following chart:
I’ll get my disclaimers out of the way up front: this is not opponent adjusted. It does not take into account strength of schedule other than filtering out FCS games. However, I will also say this: in my own opponent adjustments (which use a simple averaging method rather than something more complex such as a ridge regression), the Aggies’ number adjusts upward rather than downward, meaning that this chart, in all likelihood, understates the statistic for Texas A&M football here.
The raw statistic here shows the Aggies as the third most dominant team in the nation—second in the SEC behind UGA. That is the headline here. Now, as the season goes on, I’m not necessarily bullish that they’ll stay there—the loss of Conner Weigman is obviously Not Good for the offense, but Max Johnson’s developing command of that side of the ball will continue as the season goes on, and it seems like the defense is just beginning to round into form here in these last two games, though, so it’s definitely possible.
Quite a bit lower on this chart is the Aggies’ upcoming opponent, the Alabama Crimson Tide. We’ll obviously have to wait to see how the actual on-field matchup shakes out, but this is another mark on the ledger of confidence that Texas A&M football has a real shot at beating the Tide on Saturday.