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Riley to Oklahoma

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Sooners Get Their Offensive Coordinator

Lincoln Riley Goes from ECU to Norman

It is time for the assistant coaching shuffle and the Sooners, who have for the last seven year, struggled to find an offensive identity, have again shifted gears and brought in the former Offensive Coordinator from East Carolina.  As with most coaching moves, there is no way to tell if it is going to truly work out in the long term.  Without casting judgement on the hire as good or bad, let us take a look at some key numbers.

Before going into the numbers, I feel it is important point out the Plays Per Minute (PPM) metric of the Sooners.  You can see that it ranges from a low of 2.47 PPM all the way up to a very fast 3.10 PPM.  In 2009 is was 2.95 and in 2008 it was 2.87 PPM.  This program was on track to have a high pace of play identity, then it made a dramatic change going into the 2012 season.

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The 2008 season for the Sooners, at .593 point per play, was one of the top five marks of the last seven seasons, but the efficiency tanked in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.  Boom, Bob downshifted to a much slower pace and the 2012 scoring efficiency improved per play to its second best number in the last seven years.  However, 2013 and 2014  brought in more sub par scoring efficiency and a change is being made heading into 2015.

Oklahoma vs ECU 2010-2014 offense numbers 2That change is Lincoln Riley. I know it is tough to compare as ECU does not have the Sooners level of personnel; however, the competition was not on par either.  There is no perfect comparison.

From 2010-2014 his offense at ECU average nearly 83 plays per game, 2.80 plays per minute, .401 points per play and 1.13 points per minute of possession. These numbers are all below the five year averages of the Sooners.  The plays per game and plays per minute for Riley, while at ECU, are all above the three year averages of Oklahoma. With this move, we can all see Coach Stoops making an effort to get his offense playing faster.  Fast is fine and ‘Pace’ is a great catch word in today’s fan vocabulary; but plays per minute, plays per game and time of possession provide little to no window into win/loss success.  The key metric, in my opinion and research, is points per play.  Until they change the scoreboard to count anything but points, it is the most important baseline stat on offense or on defense.

In looking at the point per play numbers for OU versus Riley, I am not seeing a big gap in performance between the two.  Their averages are very similar and, overall, favor the Sooners. If the Sooners time of possession and points per play drop to Riley’s five year averages at ECU, this is going to be a tough hire.  Conversely, if Lincoln can produce years that are, on average, mirrors of his last two seasons, the Sooners will be OK.

Side Note: The Sooners, fans and players, set the bar high and start every season expecting to be in the national championship race. Remember this number: In the last seven years, the national title winner averaged over .44 points per play, every play including punts.  2008 was the last season OU was above that level.

Thanks to Allen Kenney of Blatant Homerism, a Sooners homer website, for asking about looking at the Riley/Sooners through a different point of view.



1 Comment

  1. Pingback: New Oklahoma OC Lincoln Riley One To Watch - Today's "U"

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