College Football Week 12, 2021: Thursday notes and observations

The Citadel’s game notes

Brent Thompson’s weekly press conference

Chattanooga’s game notes

Chattanooga’s weekly press conference (featuring head coach Rusty Wright and two players)

SoCon weekly release

Broadcast information

The Citadel at Chattanooga, to be played at Finley Stadium – Davenport Field in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with kickoff at 1:30 pm ET on November 20, 2021.

The game will be streamed on ESPN+. Play-by-play will be handled by Chris Goforth, while Scott McMahen supplies the analysis. Dave Keylon is the sideline reporter.

The contest can be heard on radio via The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. Other stations carrying the game include WQXL in Columbia (100.7 FM/1470 AM) and WDXY in Sumter (105.9 FM/1240 AM).

Luke Mauro (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) calls the action alongside analyst Lee Glaze.

“Live Stats” for the game

Here is my weekly compilation spreadsheet of FCS stats:

FCS statistics through games of November 13, 2021

I did not have time this week to further summarize the stats (top 5/bottom 5, matchup comparisons, etc.). Apologies for anyone interested, but I’ve been rather busy this week, which is why there wasn’t an earlier post.

Statistically speaking, Chattanooga generally fares well across the board, particularly in defensive categories. The Mocs are 11th in points allowed per game in FCS, and fourth in estimated points per Red Zone possession. Chattanooga is also second nationally in interceptions per opponents’ passes, behind only St. Thomas; Chattanooga has picked off a pass every 17.87 opponent attempts this season.

UTC is 4th in FCS in time of possession (averaging 33:29 TOP per game). This is in keeping with the Mocs’ general pace on offense (Chattanooga is also 4th in seconds per offensive play). 

On the whole, I would describe Chattanooga as being rather conservative on offense. The “go rate” for the Mocs is 4th-lowest in FCS; only Eastern Kentucky and Montana State have fewer fourth down attempts.

Chattanooga is 15th in run percentage (60.2% of its offensive plays are rushes).

Roster review:

–  Of the 112 players on The Citadel’s online roster, 61 are from South Carolina. Other states represented: Georgia (18 players), Florida (11), North Carolina (9), Virginia (4), Alabama (2), Texas (2), and one each from New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Tight end Hayden Williamson played his high school football in Okinawa, Japan.

– There are 94 players on Chattanooga’s roster. Of those, 32 are from Georgia, while another 30 are from Tennessee. The remaining players are from the following states: Alabama (13), Florida (4), South Carolina (4), North Carolina (2), Ohio (2), and one each from Arizona, Indiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia.

Long snapper Bryce Coulson is from Brisbane, Australia, while wide receiver Jahmar Quandt is a native of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

– The Mocs’ squad includes players who transferred from the following four-year institutions and junior colleges: Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Austin Peay, Bethel, Cincinnati (2), East Mississippi CC, Eastern Illinois, Georgia Military, Hutchinson CC, Jacksonville State, Lafayette, Louisville (2), Mercer, Middle Tennessee State, Minot State, Mississippi State, Naropa, North Dakota State, Northern Illinois, Old Dominion, Purdue, Rhode Island, South Carolina (2), Tennessee Tech (2), and Western Kentucky (4).

As has been the case over the latter part of the season, FCS spreads and totals are not readily available. There are some lines out there, and I’ll list those involving SoCon teams here:

  • Wofford is a 38½-point underdog at North Carolina
  • VMI is a 10½-point favorite over Western Carolina
  • Samford is a 2½-point favorite over Furman
  • East Tennessee State is a 4½-point favorite over Mercer
  • Chattanooga is a 23½-point favorite over The Citadel

Finally, here are this week’s numbers from my projection system, which as I’ve mentioned before is very much a work in progress. I’m not quite sure how much progress I’ve really made, to be honest.

At any rate, here is what the system has to say about this week’s FCS games (including four of the games listed above; I don’t run numbers for FCS contests against teams from outside the subdivision).

 

Road team Home team Road tm score Home tm score
Nicholls State SE Louisiana 29.9 36.6
Butler Marist 16.8 34.8
Dartmouth Brown 41.2 19.6
Harvard Yale 24.7 20.6
Lafayette Lehigh 20.7 17.7
Georgetown Morgan State 24.6 22.5
Campbell Robert Morris 29.9 24.8
Duquesne Wagner 34.6 15.5
St. Francis PA Central Conn. State 24.9 21.0
Western Carolina VMI 30.6 41.6
Sacred Heart Long Island 29 13.1
Fordham Colgate 32.9 23.9
San Diego Stetson 35.3 22.1
Columbia Cornell 26.1 22.4
Bryant Merrimack 27.1 23.9
Murray State Eastern Illinois 27.5 19.7
Holy Cross Bucknell 39.9 8.9
Indiana State Illinois State 17.7 26.4
Princeton Penn 27.7 16.7
Youngstown State Southern Illinois 22.7 40.8
Maine New Hampshire 27.0 21.6
Villanova Delaware 30.6 14.2
Albany Stony Brook 19.6 23.5
Furman Samford 34.2 36.0
Northwestern State McNeese State 15.9 35.2
Gardner-Webb North Carolina A&T 22.2 30.6
Monmouth Kennesaw State 25.3 26.2
North Alabama Hampton 30.2 29.1
Drake Davidson 17.0 30.3
Mercer ETSU 23.0 27.7
The Citadel Chattanooga 13.8 36.1
UT Martin SE Missouri State 32.3 23.1
Sam Houston State Abilene Christian 40.5 17.3
Presbyterian St. Thomas 27.3 46.8
Morehead State Valparaiso 27.6 30.9
South Carolina State Norfolk State 28.1 27.6
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Alabama A&M 27.0 40.0
Montana State Montana 21.0 22.5
Jacksonville State Eastern Kentucky 23.3 26.7
Rhode Island Elon 23.6 25.4
Alcorn State Jackson State 17.3 28.9
Delaware State NC Central 22.0 24.4
Western Illinois Northern Iowa 18.6 35.8
Towson James Madison 13.2 37
Texas Southern Alabama State 29.3 33.3
Tennessee Tech Austin Peay 15.9 36.5
Incarnate Word Houston Baptist 46.7 20.2
Northern Colorado Weber State 10.4 33.8
Idaho Idaho State 29.7 25.9
North Dakota South Dakota State 18.9 29.8
South Dakota North Dakota State 17.4 27.3
Florida A&M Bethune-Cookman 32.2 18.7
Richmond William and Mary 22.3 21.5
Eastern Washington Portland State 41.8 26.9
Stephen F. Austin Lamar 36.3 13.2
Central Arkansas Tarleton State 34.6 25.8
Northern Arizona Cal Poly 32.0 24.3
Sacramento State UC Davis 26.0 24.8
Missouri State Dixie State 41.5 16.7

Note: the game between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman is actually a neutral-site contest taking place in Orlando.

In terms of posts, this will probably be it from me for a couple of weeks or so. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

College Football Week 11, 2021: Thursday notes and observations

Wofford prepares to tackle The Citadel’s option offense

The Citadel’s game notes

My blog post from Tuesday, primarily a preview/review of statistics for The Citadel, Wofford, and FCS in general

Broadcast information

Wofford at The Citadel, to be played on Sansom Field at historic Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina, with kickoff at 2:00 pm ET on November 13, 2021.

The game will be streamed on ESPN+. Play-by-play will be handled by Dave Weinstein, while Jason Kempf supplies the analysis.

The contest can be heard on radio via The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. Other stations carrying the game include WQXL in Columbia (100.7 FM/1470 AM) and WDXY in Sumter (105.9 FM/1240 AM).

Luke Mauro (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) calls the action alongside analyst Lee Glaze. 

“Live Stats” for the game

Roster review:

–  Of the 112 players on The Citadel’s online roster, 61 are from South Carolina. Other states represented: Georgia (18 players), Florida (11), North Carolina (9), Virginia (4), Alabama (2), Texas (2), and one each from New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Tight end Hayden Williamson played his high school football in Okinawa, Japan.

– Of the 111 players on Wofford’s online roster, 48 are from South Carolina. The remaining Terriers are from the following states: Georgia (19 players), Florida (12), North Carolina (12), Tennessee (5), Ohio (4), Alabama (3), Texas (2), and one each from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Wofford added several transfers to its roster after the spring campaign, including a few junior college players. Two of the transfers on the squad began their collegiate careers at Appalachian State; two more are from Presbyterian. The others are from ASA College (Miami, FL), Hutchinson CC, Iowa Central CC, Independence CC, Jacksonville State, and Navy.

FCS lines are now not readily available until Saturday morning, at least in terms of consensus spreads and totals. As such, I won’t be listing any lines and totals for the subdivision as a group. There are some spreads out there for the games involving SoCon teams this Saturday (though not totals), and I’ll list those here. 

  • Florida is a 31½-point favorite over Samford 
  • The Citadel is a 3-point favorite over Wofford
  • Furman is a 2½-point favorite over VMI
  • East Tennessee State is a 10-point favorite at Western Carolina
  • Chattanooga is a 6-point favorite at Mercer

I do have numbers again from my own projection system; as must be noted, it is highly experimental and very dubious. This is what my numbers say about Saturday’s FCS games (I include the tenths of a decimal point to show how precise these calculations are, even though there is nothing really precise about them):

Road team Home team Road tm score Home tm score
Wagner Sacred Heart 8.7 32.2
Merrimack St. Francis PA 20.0 27.0
Central Conn. State Duquesne 19.4 26.0
Valparaiso Butler 31 21.6
Robert Morris Monmouth 16.7 39.6
Davidson Dayton 31.1 26.9
Georgetown Lehigh 21.4 23.1
Bethune-Cookman Grambling State 26.8 28.4
Penn Harvard 13.1 29.6
North Dakota State Youngstown State 32.8 13.5
Colgate Lafayette 14.7 24.2
Holy Cross Fordham 33.0 30.0
Brown Columbia 30.3 41.5
Stony Brook Villanova 13.0 28.9
Morgan State Albany 9.8 30.3
Southern Illinois Indiana State 34.5 21.9
Yale Princeton 22.2 26.4
Eastern Kentucky Sam Houston State 18.2 37.2
Long Island Bryant 18.8 29.4
St. Thomas Drake 18.5 14.6
Stetson Morehead State 26.5 40.9
Marist Presbyterian 44.7 32.2
Hampton Campbell 25.0 32.7
Norfolk State Delaware State 26.4 23.7
New Hampshire Rhode Island 21.5 26.7
North Carolina Central Howard 24.3 23.7
Charleston Southern Gardner-Webb 34.2 30.6
North Carolina A&T South Carolina State 24.4 22.1
Cornell Dartmouth 11.1 31.6
Alabama State MS Valley State 23.9 18.4
East Tennessee State Western Carolina 38.6 27.0
VMI Furman 27.9 27.1
SE Missouri State Murray State 28.2 24.6
South Dakota State South Dakota 28.3 21.4
Tarleton State Abilene Christian 28.7 25.6
Elon Towson 21.2 25.2
Delaware Richmond 15.3 23.2
Wofford The Citadel 24.7 25.9
UT Martin Tennessee Tech 32.6 15.6
McNeese State Houston Baptist 38.2 21.2
Alabama A&M Texas Southern 39.7 33.2
Prairie View A&M Alcorn State 26.5 21.9
Austin Peay Tennessee State 31.4 23.8
Kennesaw State North Alabama 32.5 19.0
Chattanooga Mercer 26.3 21.3
Idaho Montana State 15.6 37.0
Florida A&M Arkansas-Pine Bluff 33.8 18.4
Northern Iowa Missouri State 22.6 25.6
Illinois State North Dakota 17.9 24.8
Montana Northern Arizona 34.3 21.2
James Madison William and Mary 30.1 16.2
Weber State Southern Utah 35.2 16.0
Incarnate Word Nicholls State 35.1 34.9
Jacksonville State Lamar 29.8 14.9
Stephen F. Austin Central Arkansas 29.3 33.2
Jackson State Southern 29.8 19.9
Northwestern State SE Louisiana 21.2 47.3
Eastern Washington UC Davis 39.5 36.1
Idaho State Cal Poly 30.8 25.6
Portland State Sacramento State 21.2 30.2

Happy Homecoming, everyone.

College Football Week 11, 2021: Tuesday notes and observations

Brent Thompson’s Monday press conference

Wofford game notes

Willie Eubanks takes aim at the NFL

A quick summary of Wofford’s season to date:

The Terriers have a record of 1-8 with two games remaining, this Saturday’s contest against the Bulldogs and a trip to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina on November 20.

Wofford won its season opener at Elon, prevailing 24-22 after partially blocking a 46-yard field goal attempt by the Phoenix with eight seconds remaining. The next week was the Terriers’ bye week. Since then, Wofford has lost on eight consecutive Saturdays by an average score of 35-18.

Going back to the spring campaign, the Terriers have lost eleven straight SoCon games.

Here is my working spreadsheet for FCS statistics:

FCS statistics for games through November 6, 2021

It wasn’t the easiest week for compiling stats. Among other things, the NCAA’s website screwed up the total number of games played for several teams, leading to a lot of errors. I think I found all of them. 

This week features an NCAA attendance update, and the spreadsheet includes a tab for those numbers. The NCAA attendance totals are still missing two games, which I’ve noted at the bottom of the tab. It is not inconceivable there are a few more games missing (in terms of attendance; the other statistics should be okay).

I’ve also included a tab for the ever-popular onside kick numbers, a category dominated by Presbyterian. Incidentally, PC’s game at Valparaiso on Saturday resulted in one of the more entertaining box scores of the season; if you’re a true stats nerd, you might want to check it out: Link

In summary, the spreadsheet includes three offensive and three defensive tabs, including one each for Red Zone possessions; a separate tab for defensive interceptions; and tabs for punting, turnovers, penalties, time of possession, onside kicks, and attendance.

Neither The Citadel nor Wofford has had a good year on the field, and that is reflected in a lot of these numbers. I’ve listed some of the more relevant stats for each school below, along with the top five and bottom five in FCS for each category; I also occasionally note other SoCon schools that are high (or low) in those areas.

Also, for the uninitiated: I include sack numbers in passing statistics, rather than running stats. That is what the “adjusted” part of adjusted yards per rush and adjusted yards per pass is referencing.

Offense

– Yards per play (national average: 5.42; there are 128 teams in FCS)

  • Top 5 in FCS: Eastern Washington (7.30 yards per play), Southeastern Louisiana, South Dakota State, Incarnate Word, Nicholls State
  • Bottom 5 in FCS: Bucknell (3.38), Lehigh, Houston Baptist, Grambling State, Wagner
  • Wofford is 65th (5.37), The Citadel 89th (5.06). ETSU is 14th, Mercer 15th.

– Adjusted yards per rush (national average: 4.73)

  • Top 5: Sam Houston State (6.63), Nicholls State, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, ETSU
  • Bottom 5: Georgetown (3.02), Bucknell, Cal Poly, Robert Morris, Alabama State
  • Wofford is 30th (5.22), The Citadel 64th (4.65). Mercer is 11th, Chattanooga 17th.

– Adjusted yards per pass (national average: 6.12)

  • Top 5: Davidson (10.20), Kennesaw State, Eastern Washington, Southeastern Louisiana, South Dakota State
  • Bottom 5: Lehigh (3.51), Bucknell, Grambling State, Houston Baptist, Wagner
  • The Citadel is 37th (6.66), Wofford 85th (5.70). Mercer is 11th, ETSU 24th.

According to the NCAA’s “raw” stats, The Citadel is 8th nationally in yards per pass attempt (8.53). However, the Bulldogs also have the 5th-worst sack rate against in FCS (12.1%). Those sacks really have an impact on the actual yardage gained on pass plays.

The Citadel’s quarterbacks have been sacked 16 times this season, while attempting 116 passes. Southeastern Louisiana’s offense has also suffered 16 sacks — but the Lions have thrown 396 passes.

– The Citadel’s 116 pass attempts ranks as the third-fewest in the subdivision. Only Davidson (81 pass attempts) and Kennesaw State (108) have thrown fewer. Wofford has attempted 154 passes, fifth-fewest; Mercer has thrown the seventh-fewest.

– Not surprisingly, Davidson, Kennesaw State, and The Citadel rank 1-2-3 in percentage of run plays, with the Wildcats rushing on 84.6% of all plays from scrimmage. The Bulldogs run the football 79.5% of the time.

The SoCon as a whole prefers the ground attack. Wofford (68.6%) is 5th nationally in run rate, Mercer 8th, Chattanooga 13th, ETSU 20th, and Furman 22nd.

– Presbyterian has a pass play rate of 73.4%, tops in FCS. The rest of the top 5: Western Illinois, Morehead State, Incarnate Word, and Southeastern Louisiana. The Blue Hose are averaging 59.3 passes per game.

– Points per offensive play (national average: .383)

  • Top 5: South Dakota State (.627), Eastern Washington, Southeastern Louisiana, Sam Houston State, Central Arkansas
  • Bottom 5: Bucknell (.161), Lehigh, Dixie State, Cal Poly, Drake
  • Wofford is 91st (.320), The Citadel 96th (.313). Mercer is 12th, Samford 16th, ETSU 20th.

– Third down conversion rate (national average: 37.52%)

  • Top 5: Davidson (54.81%), Southeastern Louisiana, Eastern Washington, Incarnate Word, Missouri State
  • Bottom 5: New Hampshire (22.52%), Bucknell, Wagner, Eastern Illinois, Grambling State
  • The Citadel is 32nd (42.03%), Wofford 97th (33.33%). ETSU is 12th, Mercer 13th.

 – Fourth down conversion rate (national average: 48.99%)

  • Top 5: Kennesaw State (88.24%, 15 for 17), Furman and Delaware (tied for 2nd at 80.0%, 8 for 10), Norfolk State, Davidson
  • Bottom 2: Howard is 1 for 11 on 4th down, while Lehigh is 2 for 16
  • The Citadel is tied for 46th at exactly 50% (16 for 32), while Wofford is tied for 105th (36.36%, 4 for 11)
  • VMI is 7th, Mercer 9th (albeit on only 7 attempts), Samford 17th.

– Fourth down attempts

  • Presbyterian is 22 for 70 on fourth down attempts. Stetson has the 2nd-most attempts (38), followed by Eastern Illinois and (in a tie for fourth) The Citadel and Central Connecticut State.
  • Montana State has the fewest fourth down tries, with 5 (one successful). Eastern Kentucky and Central Arkansas have gone for it six times; Mercer and Chattanooga have each made seven attempts.

– Go rate

  • Presbyterian’s go rate of 87.5% leads the nation, as expected. Stetson, Davidson, Brown, and Southeastern Louisiana round out the top 5.
  • The Citadel is 8th (41.56%), Wofford 105th (15.15%).
  • Montana State has the lowest go rate, at 7.81%; Chattanooga is third-lowest.

– Red Zone offense (scoring)

  • Holy Cross has an estimated points per red zone possession rate of 6.15, best in FCS. The rest of the top 5: Youngstown State, Central Arkansas, Southeast Missouri State, and Southeastern Louisiana.
  • Bottom 5: Arkansas-Pine Bluff (3.03), Cal Poly, Lehigh, Dixie State, Indiana State
  • The Citadel is 65th, Wofford 101st. 

– Red Zone offense (possessions)

  • Southeastern Louisiana leads the nation in red zone trips per game, at 6.11. The national average is 3.51.
  • Other teams with lots of trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line: Eastern Washington, Norfolk State, Samford, and VMI.
  • Lamar (1.00) has the fewest red zone trips per game.
  • The Citadel ranks 74th (3.33), Wofford 117th (2.44).

– Fastest/slowest offenses

  • Top 5, fastest: Samford (18.76 seconds per play), Presbyterian, Charleston Southern, Eastern Washington, Brown
  • Top 5, slowest: Delaware State (31.65 seconds per play), Lamar, Duquesne, Chattanooga, North Dakota State
  • The Citadel has the 67th-fastest offense (27.49 seconds per play), Wofford 120th-fastest (30.18). The national average is 26.96.

– Curious statistic that I thought was worth mentioning…

The Citadel’s offense has only picked up seven first downs via penalty this season. The Bulldogs have run 645 offensive plays, so the first down via penalty rate on a per-play basis is just 1.085%, which is the lowest rate in all of FCS. Wofford, by comparison, has a rate of 2.107%, slightly below the national average (2.571%).

No, I don’t know what it all means either…

Defense

– Yards per play (national average: 5.55)

  • Top 5: Jackson State (3.74), James Madison, Harvard, Prairie View A&M, Villanova
  • Bottom 5: Southern Utah (7.15), Western Illinois, Youngstown State, Brown, Butler
  • Wofford is 116th (6.45), The Citadel 122nd (6.74). Chattanooga is 14th, Mercer 21st.

– Adjusted yards per rush (national average: 4.81)

  • Top 5: James Madison (2.93), Harvard, Sam Houston State, Montana, Villanova
  • Bottom 5: Youngstown State (6.34), Lamar, Western Illinois, Butler, Alabama A&M
  • Wofford is 114th (5.63), The Citadel 118th (5.77). Chattanooga is 24th.

– Adjusted yards per pass (national average: 6.31)

  • Top 5: Jackson State (3.27), Sacred Heart, Prairie View A&M, Merrimack, Dartmouth
  • Bottom 5: Southern Utah (9.14), Brown, The Citadel (8.05), Idaho State, Robert Morris.
  • Wofford is 108th (7.49). Chattanooga is 15th, ETSU 23rd.

Jackson State’s prowess against the pass is best illustrated by its sack rate of 12.9%, tops in the nation.

– VMI’s opponents have run the football on 62.1% of their plays from scrimmage, the highest percentage in FCS. The rest of the top 5 in that category: Butler, Eastern Illinois, Western Carolina, and Samford. 

There are several other SoCon schools in the top 25, including Furman (11th), The Citadel (12th), Mercer (22nd), and Wofford (25th).

– Harvard’s opponents have passes (or attempted to pass) on 60.7% of their plays from scrimmage, the highest rate in the subdivision.

– Points allowed per play (national average: 4.04)

  • Top 5: North Dakota State (.172), Montana State, Harvard, Montana, Jackson State
  • Bottom 5: Presbyterian (.835), Brown, Lamar, Western Illinois, Wagner
  • Wofford is 99th (.484), The Citadel 118th (.544). ETSU is 16th, Chattanooga 19th.

– Third down conversion rate against

  • Top 5: North Dakota State (23.4%), Yale, Harvard, James Madison, Prairie View A&M
  • Bottom 5: Southern Utah (54.6%), Lamar, Idaho State, Jacksonville State, LIU
  • The Citadel is 112th (45.3%), Wofford 122nd (49.2%). Chattanooga is 8th.

– Fourth down conversion rate against

  • Top 5: St. Thomas (17.6%, 3 for 17), Holy Cross, Alcorn State, Harvard, Furman (2 for 8). 
  • The Citadel is 70th, Wofford 79th.
  • Bethune-Cookman has allowed 12 of 13 fourth down conversion attempts (92.3%). North Alabama and Mercer have each allowed 11 of 14 (78.6%).

– Fourth down attempts against

  • Four teams have faced only eight 4th-down attempts: Furman, Youngstown State, The Citadel, and Drake.
  • William and Mary has faced 28, the most of any team not named Presbyterian or that has not played Presbyterian.

– Havoc Rate

  • Jackson State (23.46%) leads the nation in Havoc Rate, followed by James Madison, Chattanooga, Prairie View A&M, and Stephen F. Austin.
  • Wofford is last in Havoc Rate (9.16%). The rest of the bottom five includes Southern Utah, Bucknell, The Citadel (10.78%, fourth-worst), and Marist.

Of the bottom 25 teams in Havoc Rate, only two have winning records — Fordham and VMI.

– Red Zone defense (scoring)

  • Top 5: Dartmouth (2.84 estimated points per red zone possession), Harvard, North Dakota State, Montana, Kennesaw State
  • Bottom 5: Western Carolina (6.28), Columbia, Lamar, Brown, Butler
  • The Citadel is 59th, Wofford 101st. Chattanooga is 6th.

– Red Zone defense (possessions)

  • Top 5: James Madison (allowing 1.44 red zone possessions per game), North Dakota State, Sacred Heart, Jackson State, Villanova
  • Bottom 5: Presbyterian, Southern, Houston Baptist, LIU, Western Carolina
  • Wofford is 55th, The Citadel 91st. Chattanooga is 15th.

Miscellaneous

– St. Thomas leads FCS in interceptions per pass attempt (one pick every 16.23 opponent throws). Chattanooga ranks second in this statistic, followed by Holy Cross, Villanova, and Stephen F. Austin. Mercer is 11th, Furman 13th, The Citadel 57th (33.57), and Wofford next-to-last (131.50). Howard has faced 253 pass attempts, but has only one interception.

– Montana continues to set the pace in net punting (44.20). The Citadel is 28th, Wofford 60th, and Presbyterian (predictably) last.

– Furman is averaging the fewest penalty yards per game in FCS (31.00). The rest of the top five includes Bucknell, Wofford (32.67), Princeton, and South Dakota. Mercer is 8th, The Citadel 27th (47.00).

Florida A&M averages the most penalty yards per contest (96.33).

The cumulative record of the ten teams with the worst penalty yardage numbers is 49-40. The cumulative record of the ten teams with the fewest penalty yardage stats is 40-47.

– James Madison has a turnover margin per game of +1.33, tops in FCS. Chattanooga and Montana State are tied for 2nd. The next group of tied teams includes East Tennessee State, McNeese State, South Carolina State, South Dakota State, and UC Davis.

The Citadel is tied for 95th (-0.33), Wofford tied for 77th (-0.11). Presbyterian (-2.56) is last.

– The Citadel is 14th in time of possession, while Wofford is 87th.

– The Citadel’s home attendance per game is 27th-highest nationally; Wofford’s is 88th.

I’ll probably have another relatively short writeup as Saturday’s contest draws closer.

 

College Football Week 10, 2021: Friday notes and observations

From Tuesday, my weekly statistical review/preview (including The Citadel, Samford, and FCS in general)

Keys for The Citadel, from The Post and Courier

Game notes for The Citadel

Game notes for Samford

SoCon weekly release

Broadcast information

The Citadel at Samford, to be played on Bobby Bowden Field at Seibert Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama, with kickoff at 3:00 pm ET on November 6, 2021.

The game will be streamed on ESPN+. Play-by-play will be handled by Curt Bloom, while Damian Mitchell supplies the analysis. Graham Doty is the sideline reporter.

The contest can be heard on radio via The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. Other stations carrying the game include WQXL in Columbia (100.7 FM/1470 AM) and WDXY in Sumter (105.9 FM/1240 AM).

Luke Mauro (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) calls the action alongside analyst Lee Glaze. 

“Live Stats” for the game

Roster review

– Of the 112 players on The Citadel’s online roster, 61 are from South Carolina. Other states represented: Georgia (18 players), Florida (11), North Carolina (9), Virginia (4), Alabama (2), Texas (2), and one each from New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Tight end Hayden Williamson played his high school football in Okinawa, Japan.

– Samford has 119 players on its online roster. Of those, 42 are from the state of Alabama. Other states with players on SU’s squad: Georgia (29), Tennessee (14), Florida (10), Mississippi (8), North Carolina (2), Arkansas (2), Kentucky (2), Louisiana (2), and one each from California, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

The one Palmetto State product on Samford’s team is freshman reserve placekicker/punter Henry Bishop, who attended Spartanburg High School.

The Birmingham Bulldogs’ punter, three-year regular Bradley Porcellato, is from Melbourne, Australia.

– SU has 15 players who transferred in from four-year schools and four others who arrived from junior colleges. Three of the university transfers are from UAB. The others are from Dartmouth, Jackson State, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Murray State, North Carolina State, North Texas, Southern Mississippi, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, William Jewell College, and the University of Sioux Falls.

– Because all of Samford’s players have assigned jersey numbers, 21 of them actually share a number with another player. It isn’t unusual for multiple players to have the same number, of course, but 21 is a lot. Ensuring that two players with the same number aren’t on the field at the same time (particularly on special teams) is probably a regular duty for someone on the coaching staff.

– For Samford to have 119 players on an FCS roster, especially into the month of November, is slightly unusual and arguably rather impressive. It should be noted that SU also had by far the most players on its roster in the spring among SoCon programs (95).

Given that FCS lines are now not readily available until Saturday morning (at least, from what I have been able to determine), I won’t be listing any lines and totals for the subdivision. There are some lines out there for three of the SoCon games on Saturday (but not totals). The Citadel-Samford is the one league contest for which I can’t find any line. 

  • Chattanooga is an 18½-point favorite at Wofford (as of 11/6, the Mocs are 19½-point faves; o/u of 45½)
  • Furman is a 6½-point favorite at Western Carolina (as of 11/6, FU is a 4½-point fave; o/u of 51½)
  • East Tennessee State is a 7½-point favorite against VMI (as of 11/6, ETSU is a 6-point fave; o/u of 59)

Mercer is off this week.

Edit: Saturday, November 6, at 11:45 am ET — Per one source that deals in such matters, Samford is a 9½-point favorite over The Citadel, with an over/under of 77½.

I do have numbers from my own projection system, which as I have mentioned before is highly experimental and even more highly suspect. This is what my numbers say about Saturday’s FCS games (I include the tenths of a decimal point just to look cutting-edge):

 

Road team Home team Road tm score Home tm score
Sacred Heart St. Francis PA 18.5 18.4
Merrimack Wagner 30.6 17.4
Bryant Central Conn. State 24.9 21.4
Drake Marist 15.5 20.2
Kennesaw State Robert Morris 32.0 11.9
Alcorn State Bethune-Cookman 28.9 23.0
Stony Brook Maine 22.2 23.3
Yale Brown 37.0 24.7
Lafayette Holy Cross 15.3 26.8
Fordham Georgetown 38.4 23.4
Cornell Penn 20.2 25.4
Duquesne Long Island 28.0 15.7
Harvard Columbia 25.2 18.4
St. Thomas Davidson 21.1 25.7
Dixie State Sam Houston State 12.0 46.1
VMI ETSU 26.5 29.7
North Carolina A&T Charleston Southern 24.9 29.1
Missouri State Southern Illinois 28.0 32.0
Northern Iowa Illinois State 26.3 14.3
South Dakota Western Illinois 31.0 21.6
Youngstown State North Dakota 18.5 31.8
New Hampshire Albany 21.6 21.2
William and Mary Delaware 22.8 15.5
Lehigh Bucknell 18.4 18.1
Nicholls State McNeese State 28.1 27.2
Dayton Stetson 34.5 27.3
Gardner-Webb Hampton 32.7 29.0
North Alabama Monmouth 19.5 36.8
Chattanooga Wofford 30.8 11.1
Presbyterian Valparaiso 29.4 44.8
Furman Western Carolina 32.8 24.4
Tennessee Tech Murray State 16.7 25.4
Howard South Carolina State 19.6 32.1
Mississippi Valley St. Alabama A&M 23.8 33.7
Towson Richmond 18.9 22.3
Abilene Christian Jacksonville State 20.0 28.5
Villanova Elon 27.7 17.8
Norfolk State NC Central 27.5 21.0
Texas Southern Jackson State 20.0 39.0
Montana Northern Colorado 30.7 12.4
Alabama State Prairie View A&M 15.4 28.0
Grambling State Arkansas-Pine Bluff 25.8 20.7
Eastern Illinois Austin Peay 18.4 35.4
SE Louisiana Incarnate Word 37.4 34.5
The Citadel Samford 33.9 45.9
UC Davis Northern Arizona 32.0 24.1
Portland State Weber State 17.4 32.6
Tennessee State UT Martin 15.1 28.4
North Dakota State South Dakota State 22.1 21.1
Campbell James Madison 14.0 37.9
Morehead State San Diego 27.9 33.3
Southern Utah Idaho 24.6 30.8
Houston Baptist Northwestern State 26.8 33.3
Montana State Eastern Washington 32.9 35.9
Eastern Kentucky Stephen F. Austin 25.2 24.5
Florida A&M Southern 26.8 20.5
Lamar Tarleton State 17.3 29.1
Cal Poly Sacramento State 14.6 38.6

Based on the FCS lines available as of Saturday morning, my numbers favor taking Presbyterian +20, North Dakota State +3, and Eastern Kentucky +3½. All of them are road underdogs.

As far as the totals are concerned, my system likes one over (North Carolina A&T at Charleston Southern, with a current total of 47½) and a bunch of unders:

  • Alcorn State at Bethune-Cookman (total of 59)
  • Yale at Brown (69)
  • Duquesne at LIU (51½)
  • Gardner-Webb at Hampton (68½)
  • Mississippi Valley State at Alabama A&M (64½)
  • Norfolk State at North Carolina Central (55½)
  • Southeastern Louisiana at Incarnate Word (81½)
  • Southern Utah at Idaho (62½)

College Football Week 10, 2021: Tuesday notes and observations

Notes from Monday’s presser, with information on ticket sales and future schedules, from The Post and Courier

Today is the weekly statistical preview/review, including The Citadel, Samford, and FCS in general. This is a busy week for me, so I’m not sure if I’ll post anything else before Saturday’s game. At any rate, I’m not sure what else there is to say…

First, my working spreadsheet: FCS statistics through October 30, 2021

There are no updated attendance numbers this week for the subdivision, because the NCAA releases the compiled attendance information for FCS every other week.

Also not included on the spreadsheet is onside kick data, but I’ll discuss that right here. There is no distinction between ‘surprise’ and ‘expected’ onside kicks in these totals, but I believe they are still interesting.

Presbyterian leads all of western civilization in onside kick attempts, as you might have guessed, with 34 of them so far this season, more than one-fourth of the entire total for FCS (131). Bethune-Cookman, with 4 attempts, is in an extremely distant second place.

PC has successfully recovered 7 of its onside kicks, a rate of 20.59%. That is slightly below the national average of 24.43%; indeed, teams not called the Blue Hose have actually recovered 25.77% of their onside kicks.

Of the many unconventional things Presbyterian head coach Kevin Kelley does, his “never punt” philosophy tends to draw most of the attention. However, the devotion to onside kicks might be more interesting from a cutting-edge game theory standpoint. I have seen one study suggesting that the break-even point (at least in college) for the all-onside kick, all-the-time approach is about 26%, but I’m not completely sure that accounts for the potential variance in the number of possessions in a specific game.

The Blue Hose, for example, throw on average 58.25 passes per game, by far the most in FCS. Presbyterian has the highest pass-play rate in the subdivision (passing or attempting to pass on 72.4% of its plays from scrimmage).

That style of play on offense, combined with short fields PC’s opponents get when recovering onside kicks, would presumably result in a few more possessions per game than the norm (and thus more chances to score). I could be very wrong about this, but I think that might increase the break-even point for the strategy to somewhere around 30%-33%.

Recovering that high a percentage of onside kicks will be hard to do at the college level, but I suspect we’re going to find out in the next couple of years if it is possible.

Offense

– Yards per play

  • FCS average: 5.40
  • Top 5: Eastern Washington (7.54), South Dakota State, Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State, North Dakota State
  • Bottom 5: Lehigh (3.28), Grambling State, Bucknell, Houston Baptist, Wagner
  • The Citadel: 5.21 (73rd nationally out of 128 teams); Samford: 5.92 (27th)
  • Other SoCon teams: ETSU 11th, Mercer 12th

– Adjusted yards per rush (“adjusted” means sacks are counted in passing and not rushing stats)

  • FCS average: 4.73
  • Top 5: Nicholls State (6.59), North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian
  • Bottom 5: Georgetown (2.92), Bucknell, Robert Morris, Cal Poly, Alabama State
  • The Citadel: 4.74 (63rd); Samford: 4.83 (57th)
  • Other SoCon teams: ETSU 6th, Mercer 11th, Wofford 19th, Chattanooga 25th

– Adjusted yards per pass

  • FCS average: 6.09
  • Top 5: Davidson (9.68), Eastern Washington, Southeastern Louisiana, Kennesaw State, South Dakota State
  • Bottom 5: Lehigh (3.05), Grambling State, Bucknell, Houston Baptist, Morgan State
  • The Citadel: 6.96 (27th); Samford: 6.60 (41st)
  • Other SoCon teams: Mercer 10th, ETSU 19th

– Fewest passing attempts: Davidson (71), Kennesaw State (93), The Citadel (104)

  • Wofford has the 6th-fewest (147)

– Most passing attempts: Presbyterian (466, or 58.25 per game, by far the most in FCS)

  • Samford has the 4th-most (370), Western Carolina has thrown the 6th-most

– Completion percentage: Southeastern Louisiana leads the nation at 72.3%; average is 58.8%

  • Samford is 8th (66.5%); VMI is 10th
  • The Citadel has the 6th-worst completion percentage (48.6%)
  • Grambling State is last (44.2%); there are 9 FCS teams below 50%

– Sacks against

  • North Dakota has a sack rate allowed of just 1.1%, tops in the subdivision
  • Lamar has the worst (14.8%)
  • The Citadel is 7th-worst (11.9%); Samford is 6th-best (2.9%)

– Percentage of run plays: Davidson runs the ball 84.2% of the time, most in FCS, followed by Kennesaw State, The Citadel (79.0%), North Dakota State, and Wofford. Mercer is 8th.

– Percentage of pass plays: As mentioned above, Presbyterian has a pass play rate of 72.4%, highest in FCS, followed by Western Illinois, Houston Baptist, Dixie State, and Incarnate Word. Samford (61.2%) has the 9th-highest pass play rate.

– Plays per game: Presbyterian’s offense averages 86.6 plays from scrimmage per game, leading the nation. Samford is 4th (77.9), Western Carolina is 5th. Grambling State (54.8) averages the fewest. The Citadel averages 70.3 plays per contest.

– Points per play (FCS average is .381)

  • Top 5: South Dakota State (.651), Eastern Washington, Southeastern Louisiana, North Dakota State, Sam Houston State
  • Davidson is 6th, Mercer 11th, Samford 23rd (.475), The Citadel 85th (.335)
  • Lehigh is last in the subdivision (.106)

– Points per game (FCS average is 25.6 ppg): Eastern Washington is the national leader, at 51.5 points per contest, followed by Southeastern Louisiana, South Dakota State, Sam Houston State, and Davidson. Samford is tied for 9th (37.0 ppg), The Citadel is tied for 77th (23.5). Lehigh (6.1 ppg) is last.

– 3rd down conversion rate (FCS average: 37.38%)

  • Top 5: Southeastern Louisiana (55.67%), Eastern Washington, Davidson, Merrimack, Hampton. ETSU is 6th.
  • Bottom 5: Lehigh (20.59%), New Hampshire, Wagner, Eastern Illinois, Bucknell.
  • The Citadel: 25th (43.33%); Samford: 40th (41.03%)

– 4th down attempts/conversion rate

  • Chattanooga is 4 for 4 on fourth-down tries, the only perfect team in this category. In second place nationally is Kennesaw State, at 15 for 17 (88.24%); I would give the Owls the nod as the most successful fourth-down conversion offense
  • Presbyterian has gone for it on fourth down 62 times; second-place Stetson has done so 32 times. The Citadel is tied for 6th in attempts (27), while Samford is tied for 23rd (19).

– Go rate (FCS average of 23.26%):

  • Naturally, Presbyterian is way above the competition on this list (89.86%). The Blue Hose have only punted seven times and have not attempted a field goal (the only team in Division I yet to do so).
  • Stetson is 2nd in go rate (54.24%), followed by Davidson, Merrimack, and Southeastern Louisiana. The Citadel is 8th nationally (41.54%). Samford is 28th (28.36%).
  • Last in go rate: Chattanooga (6.45%); Furman is 4th-lowest.

– Red Zone offense (estimated points per offensive RZ possession average): 4.79

  • Top 5: Holy Cross (6.03), Southeastern Louisiana, Central Arkansas, Southeast Missouri State, Fordham
  • Bottom 5: Lehigh (2.35), Northwestern State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Cal Poly, Indiana State
  • The Citadel: 56th (4.96); Samford: 19th (5.51)

– Red Zone offense trips per game (average: 3.50)

  • Top 5: Eastern Washington (6.25), Southeastern Louisiana, Samford (5.13), Sacramento State, South Dakota State/Norfolk State (tied for 5th). VMI is 10th.
  • Bottom 5: Lamar (1.14), Bucknell, Morgan State, Houston Baptist, Northern Colorado
  • The Citadel is averaging 3.25 Red Zone trips per contest (76th)

– Seconds per play

  • Samford averages 18.49 seconds per offensive play, making it the fastest offense in FCS. The rest of the top five includes Charleston Southern, Presbyterian, Eastern Washington, and Austin Peay. Western Carolina is 10th, VMI 21st.
  • Delaware State (32.56 seconds/play) is the slowest offense in the subdivision, followed by Lamar, North Dakota State, Duquesne, and Tennessee State. Chattanooga is 6th-slowest, while Wofford is the 12th-slowest.
  • The Citadel ranks 42nd (27.14 seconds/play).

The three best offenses in FCS are, rather clearly, Southeastern Louisiana, Eastern Washington, and South Dakota State. I would give the nod at this point in the season to Southeastern Louisiana for having the #1 offense.

Lehigh has the nation’s worst offense. An argument could be made that Bucknell has the second-worst offense in FCS. As it happens, those two teams play each other on Saturday. Should be a barn-burner…

Defense

– Yards per play

  • Top 5: Jackson State (3.61), James Madison, Princeton, Harvard, Prairie View A&M
  • Bottom 5: Southern Utah (7.17), Youngstown State, Hampton, Butler, Lamar
  • The Citadel is 121st nationally (6.69), while Samford is 101st (6.16). Chattanooga is 24th, and Mercer is 25th.

– Adjusted yards per rush

  • Top 5: James Madison (2.85), Princeton, Sam Houston State, Harvard, Montana
  • Bottom 5: Lamar (6.63), Youngstown State, Alabama A&M, Butler, Western Illinois
  • The Citadel: 112th (5.58), Samford 83rd (5.10)

– Adjusted yards per pass

  • Top 5: Jackson State (3.44), Prairie View A&M, Sacred Heart, Florida A&M, Princeton
  • Bottom 5: Southern Utah (9.19), Central Connecticut State, Hampton, Howard, The Citadel (8.14)
  • Samford is 109th (7.61)
  • Chattanooga is 19th, ETSU 25th

– Sack rate

  • Top 5: Jackson State (13.0%), North Dakota State, Stephen F. Austin, Florida A&M, Stetson. Chattanooga is 8th.
  • Bottom 5: Idaho State (1.9%), Drake, Butler, VMI, Austin Peay
  • The Citadel is 115th (4.0%), Samford is 102nd (4.7%).

– Percentage of run plays faced: VMI (62.2%), followed by Eastern Illinois, Butler, Albany, and Western Carolina. Furman is 7th on this list, Samford 11th, The Citadel 16th, and Mercer 21st.

– Percentage of pass plays faced: Harvard (61.8%), followed by Princeton, William and Mary, McNeese State, and Monmouth.

– William and Mary has faced 39.6 pass attempts per game, most in FCS; Albany has faced the least (22.6).

– Houston Baptist has allowed a completion percentage of 70.0%, highest in the country (Wofford has allowed the 8th-highest). Prairie View A&M (47.0%) has allowed the lowest.

Plays against: Fordham (83.0 per game) has faced the most, followed by Samford (80.9). Every other SoCon team has faced between 61.8 (Chattanooga) and 72.0 (VMI) plays per contest. The Citadel has faced 65.5 per game.

– Points per play allowed

  • Top 5: North Dakota State (.138), Montana State, Harvard, Jackson State, Montana. ETSU is 19th, Furman 22nd.
  • Bottom 5: Presbyterian (.812), Brown, Lamar, LIU, Alabama A&M
  • The Citadel has allowed .531 points per play (113th), while Samford has given up .478 ppp (94th).

– Points per game against

  • North Dakota State (8.1 ppg) leads this category, followed by Montana State, Harvard, Jackson State, and Dartmouth. Chattanooga is 18th.
  • Presbyterian (51.4 ppg) has allowed the most, followed by Western Carolina, Houston Baptist, Brown, and LIU.
  • The Citadel is 110th (34.8); Samford is 119th (38.6).

– 3rd down conversion rate against

  • Top 5: Yale (21.3%), North Dakota State, Harvard, James Madison, and Florida A&M. Chattanooga is 9th.
  • Bottom 5: Southern Utah (54.9%), Idaho State, Jacksonville State, Illinois State, Southern. Wofford is 120th.
  • The Citadel is 111th (45.4%), Samford 119th (48.5%).

– 4th down attempts/conversion rate against

  • Youngstown State has faced the fewest 4th down attempts (5). The Citadel, Furman, and Idaho State have each faced 7.
  • William and Mary has faced 27, tied for the most, and all the more notable because the Tribe has not played Presbyterian.
  • Furman has only allowed one successful conversion in 7 tries, but the leader in this area is St. Thomas (MN), which has only given up 1 conversion in 13 opponent attempts. The national average is 49.7%.

– Havoc Rate (FCS average: 15.64%)

  • Top 5: Jackson State (24.2%), Florida A&M, James Madison, Stephen F. Austin, Alabama State (which just fired its coach). Chattanooga is 11th.
  • Bottom 5: Wofford (9.89%), Marist, Bucknell, The Citadel (10.88%), Southern Utah
  • Samford is 113th (12.36%)

– Red Zone defense

  • Top 5: Harvard (2.74 estimated points per RZ possession), North Dakota State, Dartmouth, Kennesaw State, St. Thomas (MN)
  • Bottom 5: Western Carolina (6.20), Lamar, Brown, Davidson, Butler
  • The Citadel is 76th, Samford 116th.

– Fewest Red Zone trips allowed per game

  • Top 5: James Madison (1.38), North Dakota State, St. Thomas (MN), Jackson State, Sacred Heart
  • Bottom 5: Presbyterian (7.25), LIU, Texas Southern, Houston Baptist, Dixie State
  • The Citadel is 88th, Samford 103rd.

North Dakota State has the best defense in FCS; I would include James Madison and Jackson State in the top 3.

It is hard to argue against Presbyterian having the worst defense in the subdivision, but the Blue Hose’s D is handicapped by its style of play. Among teams that play “normally”, Southern Utah probably would get the, uh, honor.

Miscellaneous

– Montana continues to lead the nation in net punting (44.59). The rest of the top five: Missouri State, Sacramento State, Davidson, and UC Davis. The Citadel is now 15th (40.06) after a tough day last Saturday.

Samford is 19th in net punting (39.00). Norfolk State has “passed” Presbyterian as the nation’s worst punting team (23.04). The national average is 35.85.

– Princeton is averaging 32.14 penalty yards per game, fewest in FCS. Other top squads at avoiding yellow flags: Bucknell, Wofford, Furman, and Delaware. The Citadel ranks 50th (50.38), while Samford is 72nd (56.38)

The most penalized team, in terms of yardage, continues to be Florida A&M (91.63). Only three of the ten most penalized teams in FCS have losing records.

– Turnover margin: Montana STate (+1.50 per game) leads FCS. Chattanooga is second, followed by Alcorn State and James Madison.

The Citadel is tied for 87th (-0.13 per game), while Samford is 90th (-.025). The worst turnover margin in the subdivision belongs to Presbyterian (-2.50), followed by Brown, Tennessee Tech, Murray State, and Dixie State.

More later in the week (maybe)…