WSU Football's pace under Mike Leach

Allan Henry-US PRESSWIRE

The Air Raid is typically associated with a quicker pace. How fast were the Cougars last season?

SB Nation's Bill Connelly, of Football Study Hall and Football Outsiders, created an interesting data table on pace.

Bill is attempting to rank teams based on "pace", which he defines by the total number of plays in a game. He notes the caveat that some teams may run more plays in a particular game because the opponent they're playing against run a lot of plays, thereby raising their season average.

He adjusts the rankings based on an "observed - expected" statistic, the initial math in a chi squared analysis of a predictive model. Expected values were generated via linear regression using percentage run/pass, with total plays per game as the determinant variable.

What does this mean in English?

We are looking at two variables (run/pass percentage and total plays per game) that may relate to each other in any number of ways, most importantly; they may be independent (not related), codependent (trend together based on some other more influential variable), or dependent (one directly influences the other). By using a linear regression, you assume that the variance in total plays per game is due to the run/pass percentage and not 1. some other variable or 2. random chance.

So what is a linear regression?

When you have discrete data points, like individual statistics for every team, a regression allows you to project the value of one dependent variable when you can only measure the other. In this case, the percentage run/pass is being used to project the total plays in a game.

The difference in this statistic will essentially tell you how many (more or less) plays a game a team ran compared to the average number of plays a team with a similar run/pass percentage would run.

By ranking teams based on this number, Bill is listing teams based on how many more plays they ran than the national average of teams with a similar run/pass.

WSU ran 72.9 plays per game (rank: 43) but was 2.4 plays less than the projected 75.3 plays per game, dropping their rank to 72 when ordered by the difference (-2.4).

What can this tell us?

That WSU ran about two plays less than the national average for teams that had a similar run/pass. Since we've already established nobody had a similar run/pass percentage, a regression model based on that data is less accurate for outliers like WSU. I'm not entirely convinced this statistic relates pace very well, as interesting as it is to see.

When I think of pace, the first thing that comes to mind is plays per game. But, like Bill mentions, if you're playing an uptempo team, or a team prone to turnovers, or suffer bad field position, or don't get a lot of explosives, you'll increase plays per game without gaining much description by "pace".

For me, a different description of pace may involve counts of plays per scoring drive and plays between scoring drives. When a team decreases either, the "pace" of the game is significantly accelerated as the opponent tries to match scoring. Think of the Oregon game last season, and really most of Oregon's second half play all season, they begin scoring at a clip that can't be matched by the opponent. At that point game plan needs to be adjusted, and the game play is impacted.

What do you think of Bill's study? How would you look at pace? Here is Bill's full list for your perusal:

Offense Games Plays Rushes Passes Plays/
Game
Rk Rushes/
Game
Passes/
Game
% Run Expected
Plays
Diff Rk
Marshall 12 1087 452 635 90.6 1 37.7 52.9 0.416 72.5 +18.1 1
Louisiana Tech 12 1052 512 540 87.7 2 42.7 45.0 0.487 71.5 +16.1 2
Nevada 13 1080 656 424 83.1 3 50.5 32.6 0.607 69.8 +13.3 3
Tulsa 14 1159 681 478 82.8 5 48.6 34.1 0.588 70.1 +12.7 4
Oregon 13 1059 669 390 81.5 9 51.5 30.0 0.632 69.5 +12.0 5
Baylor 13 1072 578 494 82.5 6 44.5 38.0 0.539 70.8 +11.7 6
Arizona 13 1080 526 554 83.1 3 40.5 42.6 0.487 71.5 +11.6 7
Clemson 13 1061 557 504 81.6 8 42.8 38.8 0.525 71.0 +10.6 8
Houston 12 984 375 609 82.0 7 31.3 50.8 0.381 73.0 +9.0 9
Rice 13 1025 592 433 78.8 14 45.5 33.3 0.578 70.2 +8.6 10
Ball State 13 1035 529 506 79.6 12 40.7 38.9 0.511 71.2 +8.4 11
Troy 12 963 442 521 80.3 10 36.8 43.4 0.459 71.9 +8.3 12
Syracuse 13 1028 540 488 79.1 13 41.5 37.5 0.525 71.0 +8.1 13
Arizona State 13 1012 561 451 77.8 18 43.2 34.7 0.554 70.6 +7.3 14
NC State 13 1037 432 605 79.8 11 33.2 46.5 0.417 72.5 +7.2 15
Oklahoma State 13 1014 507 507 78.0 16 39.0 39.0 0.500 71.3 +6.7 16
Air Force 13 952 795 157 73.2 40 61.2 12.1 0.835 66.6 +6.6 17
UCLA 14 1090 547 543 77.9 17 39.1 38.8 0.502 71.3 +6.5 18
Ohio 13 996 569 427 76.6 24 43.8 32.8 0.571 70.3 +6.3 19
Penn State 12 930 454 476 77.5 20 37.8 39.7 0.488 71.5 +6.0 20
Akron 12 945 342 603 78.8 15 28.5 50.3 0.362 73.3 +5.5 21
BYU 13 1000 475 525 76.9 23 36.5 40.4 0.475 71.7 +5.2 22
Fresno State 13 1006 443 563 77.4 21 34.1 43.3 0.440 72.2 +5.2 23
Indiana 12 934 381 553 77.8 19 31.8 46.1 0.408 72.6 +5.2 24
West Virginia 13 1001 446 555 77.0 22 34.3 42.7 0.446 72.1 +4.9 25
Offense Games Plays Rushes Passes Plays/
Game
Rk Rushes/
Game
Passes/
Game
% Run Expected
Plays
Diff Rk
Nebraska 14 1040 627 413 74.3 31 44.8 29.5 0.603 69.9 +4.4 26
Army 12 847 730 117 70.6 59 60.8 9.8 0.862 66.2 +4.4 27
Georgia Tech 14 1000 794 206 71.4 51 56.7 14.7 0.794 67.2 +4.3 28
Northwestern 13 964 579 385 74.2 34 44.5 29.6 0.601 69.9 +4.2 29
Western Michigan 12 915 384 531 76.3 26 32.0 44.3 0.420 72.5 +3.8 30
Duke 13 989 420 569 76.1 27 32.3 43.8 0.425 72.4 +3.7 31
UL-Monroe 13 988 423 565 76.0 28 32.5 43.5 0.428 72.4 +3.6 32
North Carolina 12 897 446 451 74.8 29 37.2 37.6 0.497 71.4 +3.4 33
Texas Tech 13 992 380 612 76.3 25 29.2 47.1 0.383 73.0 +3.3 34
Ole Miss 13 961 519 442 73.9 35 39.9 34.0 0.540 70.8 +3.2 35
Northern Illinois 14 1023 596 427 73.1 42 42.6 30.5 0.583 70.2 +2.9 36
Kansas 12 871 533 338 72.6 46 44.4 28.2 0.612 69.8 +2.8 37
Toledo 13 961 494 467 73.9 35 38.0 35.9 0.514 71.1 +2.8 38
Arkansas State 13 951 525 426 73.2 41 40.4 32.8 0.552 70.6 +2.6 39
Texas A&M 13 959 479 480 73.8 37 36.8 36.9 0.499 71.3 +2.4 40
Tennessee 12 890 406 484 74.2 32 33.8 40.3 0.456 72.0 +2.2 41
Michigan State 13 956 470 486 73.5 38 36.2 37.4 0.492 71.5 +2.1 42
UAB 12 894 374 520 74.5 30 31.2 43.3 0.418 72.5 +2.0 43
Virginia 12 890 392 498 74.2 32 32.7 41.5 0.440 72.2 +2.0 44
Purdue 13 956 450 506 73.5 38 34.6 38.9 0.471 71.8 +1.8 45
Virginia Tech 13 943 482 461 72.5 47 37.1 35.5 0.511 71.2 +1.4 46
Buffalo 12 862 459 403 71.8 50 38.3 33.6 0.532 70.9 +1.0 47
East Carolina 13 946 430 516 72.8 44 33.1 39.7 0.455 72.0 +0.8 48
Missouri 12 867 424 443 72.3 48 35.3 36.9 0.489 71.5 +0.8 49
South Alabama 13 936 456 480 72.0 49 35.1 36.9 0.487 71.5 +0.5 50
Offense Games Plays Rushes Passes Plays/
Game
Rk Rushes/
Game
Passes/
Game
% Run Expected
Plays
Diff Rk
Oregon State 13 946 408 538 72.8 44 31.4 41.4 0.431 72.3 +0.5 51
North Texas 12 850 473 377 70.8 56 39.4 31.4 0.556 70.5 +0.3 52
Florida International 12 854 452 402 71.2 52 37.7 33.5 0.529 70.9 +0.2 53
Ohio State 12 836 530 306 69.7 64 44.2 25.5 0.634 69.4 +0.2 54
Iowa State 13 923 445 478 71.0 54 34.2 36.8 0.482 71.6 -0.6 55
Wyoming 12 850 415 435 70.8 56 34.6 36.3 0.488 71.5 -0.7 56
TCU 13 911 483 428 70.1 63 37.2 32.9 0.530 70.9 -0.8 57
Massachusetts 12 854 378 476 71.2 52 31.5 39.7 0.443 72.2 -1.0 58
UNLV 13 918 427 491 70.6 58 32.8 37.8 0.465 71.8 -1.2 59
Louisville 13 915 432 483 70.4 61 33.2 37.2 0.472 71.7 -1.3 60
San Jose State 13 914 421 493 70.3 62 32.4 37.9 0.461 71.9 -1.6 61
Oklahoma 13 921 387 534 70.8 55 29.8 41.1 0.420 72.5 -1.6 62
San Diego State 13 885 543 342 68.1 81 41.8 26.3 0.614 69.7 -1.7 63
South Florida 12 836 405 431 69.7 64 33.8 35.9 0.484 71.6 -1.9 64
UTEP 12 831 425 406 69.3 69 35.4 33.8 0.511 71.2 -1.9 65
Notre Dame 13 893 488 405 68.7 75 37.5 31.2 0.546 70.7 -2.0 66
Hawaii 12 836 399 437 69.7 64 33.3 36.4 0.477 71.7 -2.0 67
Washington 13 904 428 476 69.5 67 32.9 36.6 0.473 71.7 -2.2 68
Texas 13 891 477 414 68.5 77 36.7 31.8 0.535 70.8 -2.3 69
SMU 13 916 366 550 70.5 60 28.2 42.3 0.400 72.8 -2.3 70
New Mexico 13 841 677 164 64.7 109 52.1 12.6 0.805 67.0 -2.3 71
Washington State 12 875 195 680 72.9 43 16.3 56.7 0.223 75.3 -2.4 72
LSU 13 883 495 388 67.9 84 38.1 29.8 0.561 70.5 -2.6 73
Utah State 13 892 456 436 68.6 76 35.1 33.5 0.511 71.2 -2.6 74
Bowling Green 13 895 438 457 68.8 72 33.7 35.2 0.489 71.5 -2.6 75
Offense Games Plays Rushes Passes Plays/
Game
Rk Rushes/
Game
Passes/
Game
% Run Expected
Plays
Diff Rk
Kent State 14 942 563 379 67.3 88 40.2 27.1 0.598 70.0 -2.7 76
Middle Tennessee 12 812 461 351 67.7 86 38.4 29.3 0.568 70.4 -2.7 77
Colorado 12 829 376 453 69.1 70 31.3 37.8 0.454 72.0 -2.9 78
Stanford 14 946 529 417 67.6 87 37.8 29.8 0.559 70.5 -2.9 79
Wake Forest 12 829 375 454 69.1 70 31.3 37.8 0.452 72.0 -2.9 80
Florida Atlantic 12 826 384 442 68.8 73 32.0 36.8 0.465 71.8 -3.0 81
Wisconsin 14 924 607 317 66.0 100 43.4 22.6 0.657 69.1 -3.1 82
Vanderbilt 13 873 502 371 67.2 90 38.6 28.5 0.575 70.3 -3.1 83
California 12 817 414 403 68.1 79 34.5 33.6 0.507 71.2 -3.2 84
Pittsburgh 13 884 451 433 68.0 82 34.7 33.3 0.510 71.2 -3.2 85
UTSA 10 680 344 336 68.0 82 34.4 33.6 0.506 71.3 -3.3 86
Arkansas 12 825 349 476 68.8 74 29.1 39.7 0.423 72.4 -3.7 87
Boise State 13 872 469 403 67.1 91 36.1 31.0 0.538 70.8 -3.7 88
UL-Lafayette 13 872 467 405 67.1 91 35.9 31.2 0.536 70.8 -3.8 89
Miami-OH 12 834 302 532 69.5 68 25.2 44.3 0.362 73.3 -3.8 90
Central Florida 14 937 504 433 66.9 94 36.0 30.9 0.538 70.8 -3.9 91
Florida State 14 938 486 452 67.0 93 34.7 32.3 0.518 71.1 -4.1 92
Miami-FL 12 818 354 464 68.2 78 29.5 38.7 0.433 72.3 -4.1 93
Cincinnati 13 863 477 386 66.4 96 36.7 29.7 0.553 70.6 -4.2 94
Connecticut 12 807 386 421 67.3 89 32.2 35.1 0.478 71.6 -4.4 95
Southern Miss 12 791 450 341 65.9 101 37.5 28.4 0.569 70.4 -4.4 96
Utah 12 796 421 375 66.3 97 35.1 31.3 0.529 70.9 -4.6 97
Georgia 14 922 499 423 65.9 103 35.6 30.2 0.541 70.8 -4.9 98
Boston College 12 817 312 505 68.1 79 26.0 42.1 0.382 73.0 -4.9 99
Illinois 12 795 404 391 66.3 98 33.7 32.6 0.508 71.2 -5.0 100
Offense Games Plays Rushes Passes Plays/
Game
Rk Rushes/
Game
Passes/
Game
% Run Expected
Plays
Diff Rk
Minnesota 13 846 496 350 65.1 108 38.2 26.9 0.586 70.1 -5.0 101
South Carolina 13 855 453 402 65.8 104 34.8 30.9 0.530 70.9 -5.1 102
Kansas State 13 840 512 328 64.6 110 39.4 25.2 0.610 69.8 -5.2 103
Navy 13 808 631 177 62.2 123 48.5 13.6 0.781 67.4 -5.2 104
Iowa 12 793 382 411 66.1 99 31.8 34.3 0.482 71.6 -5.5 105
Memphis 12 771 466 305 64.3 113 38.8 25.4 0.604 69.9 -5.6 106
Alabama 14 898 547 351 64.1 115 39.1 25.1 0.609 69.8 -5.6 107
Western Kentucky 13 839 481 358 64.5 112 37.0 27.5 0.573 70.3 -5.8 108
Kentucky 12 789 378 411 65.8 105 31.5 34.3 0.479 71.6 -5.9 109
Maryland 12 775 433 342 64.6 111 36.1 28.5 0.559 70.5 -5.9 110
Tulane 12 815 248 567 67.9 85 20.7 47.3 0.304 74.1 -6.2 111
Idaho 12 797 326 471 66.4 95 27.2 39.3 0.409 72.6 -6.2 112
New Mexico State 12 791 348 443 65.9 101 29.0 36.9 0.440 72.2 -6.3 113
Florida 13 825 501 324 63.5 117 38.5 24.9 0.607 69.8 -6.4 114
Mississippi State 13 848 406 442 65.2 107 31.2 34.0 0.479 71.6 -6.4 115
Temple 11 689 448 241 62.6 121 40.7 21.9 0.650 69.2 -6.6 116
USC 13 851 376 475 65.5 106 28.9 36.5 0.442 72.2 -6.7 117
Texas State 12 771 385 386 64.3 113 32.1 32.2 0.499 71.3 -7.1 118
Michigan 13 818 484 334 62.9 120 37.2 25.7 0.592 70.0 -7.1 119
Eastern Michigan 12 756 426 330 63.0 119 35.5 27.5 0.563 70.4 -7.4 120
Rutgers 13 823 420 403 63.3 118 32.3 31.0 0.510 71.2 -7.9 121
Central Michigan 13 826 400 426 63.5 116 30.8 32.8 0.484 71.6 -8.0 122
Colorado State 12 750 369 381 62.5 122 30.8 31.8 0.492 71.5 -9.0 123
Auburn 12 695 401 294 57.9 124 33.4 24.5 0.577 70.2 -12.3 124
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