"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Husker Football News: Nebraska Cornhuskers 2018 Spring Game is SOLD OUT and Will be Broadcast Live on the Big Ten Network

It's official as Husker football news:
the April 21, 2018 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Red-White 2018 Spring Game is sold out
and will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.

Nebraska's Memorial Stadium has a capacity of 87,091.
It is the first sold out Husker football Spring Game ever.
Quite a deal for a team scrimmage!

Local and nationwide interest in Nebraska football has skyrocketed since the start of a new University of Nebraska sports era with new Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos and his hiring of new football head coach Scott Frost and staff, together with their signing of a talented 2018 Class of recruits, plus a bevy of promising Nebraska in-state walk-ons. All these developments have led to excited optimism about the Big Red future.

More importantly, add to this the exceptional culture, football savvy and game modernity that was showcased by Frost and Staff at UCF and you have the unmistakable makings of a winner.

Big Red Rising

"Reasonable" Expectations for the 2018 Nebraska Football Season Based on the Precedent of the Scott Frost & Coaching Staff UCF Track Record

"Reasonable" Expectations for the 2018 Nebraska Football Season Based on the Precedent of the Scott Frost & Coaching Staff UCF Track Record

The buoyant optimism that currently marks Nebraska football expectations is surely justified, but just how good will the Huskers be in 2018? What improvement can "reasonably" be expected of the Cornhuskers?

To get a more objective handle on the answer to that question, we turned to our proven major predictive variable: which is team yards per play stats viz. NAYPPA (net average yards per play advantage -- read more here).

Scott Frost Coaching Staff Track Record at the Central Florida Knights:

Scott Frost and Staff inherited a 2015 UCF Knights team that went winless, posting a 0-12 won-loss record.

The 2015 Central Florida Knights scored 13.9 points per game and had 37.7 points per game scored against them, a negative difference of 23.8 points per game.

The 2015 Knights averaged 4.12 yards per play on offense and allowed 6.54 yards per play on defense, a negative net difference of minus 2.42 yards per play. Experience has shown that one-tenth of a yards per play difference can be equated to 1 scoreboard point, so we multiply minus 2.42 by 10 in our to equate that to ca. 24.2 scoreboard points, which in fact turns out to be a close approximation of the actual scoring difference of 23.8 points in 2015.

Now let us look at the development of these stats at UCF in 2016 and 2017, the years of the Scott and Staff UCF era, as compared to 2015:


YEAR..Won-Lost...Scoring...............Yards Per Play offense defense diff

2015...0-12.........13.9-37.7...diff -23.8...4.12ypp...6.54ypp... -2.42 ypp

Scott Frost hired as head coach by AD Danny White....for 2016 season

YEAR..Won-Lost...Scoring...............Yards Per Play offense defense diff

2016...6-7...........28.8-24.6...diff +4.2...4.68ypp...4.78ypp... -0.10 ypp
2017...13-0........48.2-25.3...diff +22.9..7.46ypp...5.74ypp... +1.72ypp

The NAYPPA improvement of 4.14 yards per play in two years is fabulous, equatable in our system (when multiplied by 10) to a net theoretical improvement of 41.4 points per game, i.e. about 6 touchdowns (plus PAT) PER GAME. In other words, the UCF 13-0 undefeated season was not "luck". The 2017 Knights were a championship quality team.


Now let us look at some stats of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Below are the ypp and scoring stats for the Huskers over the last 2 decades, in selected years:

1997 national champions. Scott Frost was the NU quarterback, and it was the last Tom Osborne NU football head coaching year, a year in which Nebraska coincidentally also played UCF (winning 38-24) in a season that started with a game against Akron, who will be the first opponent this coming 2018 season (see the 2018 schedule).

YEAR..Won-Lost...Scoring...............Yards Per Play offense defense diff
(diff= difference, ypp = yards per play)

1997...13-0.........47.1-16.4...diff +30.7....6.6ypp...4.3ypp... +2.3ypp
2003 ...10-3.........24.8-14.5...diff +10.3....4.9ypp...4.4ypp...  +0.5ypp
(head coach fired -- scoring diff 20 points less than 1997, ypp 18 points less)
2007 ...5-7..........33.4-37.9 ...diff  -4.5 .....6.3ypp ...6.1ypp... +0.2ypp
(head coach fired, 5-7 record)
2014 ...9-4.......... 37.8-26.4...diff +11.4.....6.22ypp...5.37ypp...+0.85ypp
(head coach fired, 9-4 record)
2016 ... 9-4.......... 26.5-23.9...diff +2.6...... 5.36ypp...5.53ypp...-0.17ypp
(the 2016 ypp stats indicate that the won-loss record did not tell the tale)
2017 ...4-8..........25.8-36.4....diff -10.6.....5.59ypp...6.34ypp...-0.75ypp
(head coach fired, 4-8 record)

The Husker NAYPPA, "net average yards per play advantage" of offense over defense, within two decades thus dropped a significant 3.05 yards per play, multiplied by 10 making the Huskers a theoretical 30.5 scoreboard points worse per game in 2017 than in 1997 and in fact the average scoring differential on the scoreboard was 41.3 points worse in 2017 than 1997. It must be noted here that the 2016 season may have given a more accurate scoreboard differential, while the 2017 team faded badly at the end, exacerbating the bad stats.

Scott Frost hired as head coach by AD Bill Moos....for 2018 season

2018 ... ???? what will be ????

If Scott Frost and his coaching staff have similar success at Nebraska as they did at UCF, it can be expected that the yards per play stats will improve considerably in 2018, quite apart from the won-loss record that emerges, where serendipity elements of schedule and fortune can play a large role.

The question is: what is a "reasonable" prediction for yards per play improvement as regards a Husker offense that in yards per play was "about average" in FBS in 2017 (67th out of 130 teams) and a defense that was "far below average" in yards per play in FBS in 2017 (112th out of 130 teams). Combine those two stats, and Nebraska ranked about 90th in FBS in 2017.

DEFENSE: If Scott Frost and his coaching staff can bring the defense at least back to "average" ... i.e. a defensive yards per play stat of ca. 5.6 yards per play, that would equate to one TD (plus PAT) per game. To improve by two TDs per game via defense alone, that stat of yards permitted to the opposite team would have to be reduced to ca. 4.9 yards per play.

OFFENSE: If Scott Frost and his coaching staff can bring the offense to "above average", and this is surely a conservative estimate, that would be an offensive yards per play stat of ca. 6.3 yards per play, equivalent to an improvement over 2017 of one TD (plus PAT) per game. To improve by two TDs per game via offense alone, yards per play would have to go to ca. 7.0 ypp.

We think that a conservative expectation for 2018 is an improvement of one TD per game via defense and one TD per game via offense, or a total improvement of 14 points per game over 2017 and a total NAYPPA improvement of 1.4. That might not look like much, but it would put the team rating and ranking near ca. 25th in the nation. Any improvement better than 1.4 NAYPPA in the 2018 season would put Nebraska in the Top 20. If the Huskers were to improve as much in 2018 as UCF did on average in their two years of Scott Frost head coaching, then they would catapult into the Top 10.

Nevertheless, a slower improvement over several years is the more realistic expectation. We shall see, and it should be great fun for Husker Nation.